Colt really pioneered the modern small-frame revolver when it introduced the Detective Special, fundamentally an abbreviated Police Positive Special with a 2-inch barrel, in 1927. Introduced at the height of Prohibition and the era of the great automobile-borne gangsters of the “Roaring Twenties,” the Colt Detective soon became a hit and was successful enough to remain in production until 1995, which is one heck of a run.
Immediately after World War II, Colt pioneered making handguns with such “Atomic Age” aerospace materials as early aluminum. With the material dubbed “Coltalloy” at the time, Colt introduced an aluminum-framed variant of the popular Detective Special in 1950 named the Cobra– the company’s very first of an extensive line of “Snake Guns.”
The same footprint as the 21-ounce all-steel Detective, the Cobra lost more than a quarter-pound of weight, hitting the scales closer to 15 ounces with the same 6-shot capacity.
In 1955, Colt responded to the newly introduced and popular S&W Chief’s Special by moving to make the Cobra even more compact. Taking the aluminum-framed 6-shooter and trimming the length of the grip frame down while keeping everything else intact, the Agent was born.
You often hear, when talking about old firearms, “if only they could talk.” Well, they can’t, but sometimes their hidden history tells a story.
Speaking of which, I recently came across a nice early Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless and did some digging on its background. Turned out, it was made in 1911 and was one of 25 pistols of the same type shipped to Honeyman Hardware in Portland some 111 years ago.
To satisfy a military contract for 60,000 modified examples of John Browning’s Model 1910 pistol, stretching that .380 ACP’s standard 3.4-inch barrel an extra inch and bumping up the magazine capacity from 7+1 to 9+1, FN introduced what was initially referred to by some historians as the Model 10/22 (not related to the later Ruger plinker) in 1923.
Later formalized as the Model 1922, or just the M1922, when compared to the preceding M1910, the new pistol had an elongated slide, complete with a small but distinctive barrel lug, over a slightly lengthened frame. The production model went 7-inches long overall and weighed 25.7-ounces.
A forerunner of the later success FN had with the Browning Hi-Power pistol and FAL battle rifle, the M1922 was soon adopted by military and police in dozen countries, and it would continue in active service for over 60 years in this role. Further, the Germans liked it so much that it was their most common handgun in WWII that wasn’t a P-38 or a Luger.
Republican Gov. Greg Abbott last weekend signed a resolution forwarded to his desk by the Texas lawmakers that makes the original 1847 Colt Walker the official handgun of the Lone Star State.
A hulking 4.5-pound 44-caliber revolver, the Walker was so-named after famed Texas Ranger Capt. Samuel Walker and only about 1,100 of the handguns were manufactured by Eli Whitney for Colt. Some 1,000 were promptly sent to Texas– two for each Ranger– and 100 leftovers for the commercial market. The gun was a collaboration between Walker and Colt, based on the latter’s earlier .36-caliber Paterson design, a five-shot revolver that weighed only half of what the Model 1847 would.
Samuel Colt (American, Hartford, Connecticut 1814–1862) Colt Walker Percussion Revolver, serial no. 1017, 1847 American, Whitneyville, Connecticut, Steel, brass, walnut; L. 15 1/2 in. (39.37 cm); L. of barrel, 9 in. (22.86 cm); Cal., .44 in. (11 mm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Gift of John E. Parsons, 1958 (58.171.1) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/24844