Tag Archives: Colt

Secret Agent Man…

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.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Colt brings back a Baby Snake

Colt had a new revolver at NRAAM last weekend. A “King Cobra” Target model that looks and feels a lot like a .38/.357 but is actually a 10-shot 22LR.

The King Cobra Target 22 LR is crafted from forged stainless steel construction with a one-piece barrel topped with an adjustable target rear sight and fiber optic front sight. It comes standard with Hogue overmolded rubber grips and is available with 4-inch and 6-inch barrel lengths, both featuring a 1:16RH twist.

Of course, it could have just been called the Diamondback.

While the current King Cobra series, reincarnated in 2019, hit the market as a 6-Shot .357 Magnum big brother of the new line of Cobra wheel guns, the new King Cobra Target .22LR is a return to the company offering double-action rimfire revolvers. Not the first rimfire “snake” gun– Colt marketed the original circa 1950s first issue Cobra in .22LR and made a .22LR Diamondback into the early 1990s– the new Baby Snake fills a hole the company had in its catalog, and by extension is a first for CZ as well.

This 1985-production Diamondback is a 6-inch .22LR model. Surely, it would have been easier and better for Colt to reboot this name than to call the new model a King Cobra of all things…

MSRP on the new King Cobra Target .22LR models is $999. When compared to other DA/SA rimfire revolvers, this is on par with the S&W 63 and 617.

Whispers of a Portland Colt

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.

Who is Honeyman and why is that interesting? Find out in my column at Guns.com.

On Deck for 2022: Colt Combat Pythons and S&W Firestorms

Although they haven’t “officially” announced them, both Colt and Smith & Wesson seem to have new handguns inbound for this year that mines at the tried-and-true vein of gun culture nostalgia.

Smith’s new CSX (Chief’s Special X?), a single-action-only subcompact 9mm that is hammer-fired, has an alloy frame, and a 10+1 or 12+1 magazine capacity, could be a hit with folks that don’t want polymer striker-fired micro 9s and are more familiar with carry-friendly M1911s such as the Colt New Detective or Sig Sauer P938.

The S&W CSX

It also, in my opinion, looks a lot like the old Star Firestar M43, although with a larger magazine capacity.

The Star Firestar was made from 1992-97, and would probably still be in production if the Spanish gunmaker was around as these were well-received little guns

Then there is the Colt Python with a 3-inch barrel.

While Colt produced the original Python in several barrel lengths between 1955 and 1994, including 2.5-inch snubs and commanding 8-inch Python Hunter, Python Silhouette, and Python Stalker models, the big I-frame snake gun rarely came with a factory 3-inch barrel. This was reserved for a short run of “California Combat” guns and a batch of 500 “Combat Pythons” made in 1988 for Lew Horton complete with a special “K” prefix serial number.

This circa 1974 Colt Python with a factory 2.5-inch snub-nosed barrel is sweet, but folks just went ga-ga for the 3-inch version, and Colt could do well to put such a thing back in production

The rebooted Pythons, introduced in 2020, including both a 4.25- and 6-inch model, with nothing shorter. With all that being said, the new 3-incher could prove both a hit with collectors as well as providing a more “carry friendly” Python for a new generation of wheel gun aficionados.

Either way, SHOT Show doesn’t start for another two weeks, so get ready for much more new gun news…I got my bags packed.

Post-9/11 M1911s Downrange

Other than a couple of heirlooms that are steeped in family history, the most cherished firearm in my collection is the Colt M1911A1 mixmaster that I received through the Civilian Marksmanship Program via the “Army’s attic” at Anniston Army Depot.

I just refer to it as “No.24” for obvious reasons. Gotta love the 19-year old PFC that probably put the dummy mark on it…

So far about 20,000 of these veteran pistols have been transferred to the CMP over the past few years from the Army’s stockpile of about 100K held in long-term arsenal storage at Anniston. The guns, remnants of more than two million produced for the Army between 1912 and 1945, were withdrawn from front-line duty in the mid-1980s, replaced by the M9 Beretta.

However, to be clear, some of these guns were very much in recent 21st-century martial service.

Retired Green Beret Jeff Gurwitch covers the “re-adoption” of the M1911A1 by U.S. Special Forces after 9/11 in the below very interesting video. The half-hour piece covers the timeline, how it was employed, accessories, and its performance in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Python Shorty

While most of Colt’s world-famous Python .357 Magnum models were service-sized and longer, some more abbreviated variants were made.

First introduced to Colt’s 1955 catalog for a price of $125 and pitched as “a finer gun than you actually need” to “a limited number of gun connoisseurs,” the big double-action revolvers were most common with barrel lengths in 6-inch and later 4-inch formats. There were even some big 8-inchers that came along eventually.

Downsizing, Colt produced a few short runs of these vaunted revolvers with a 3-inch barrel known to collectors as “Combat Pythons,” and, off and on between 1955 and 1994, the 2.5-inch model, which still sported full-sized grips.

And they are beautiful.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Meet No. 24

Not to toot my own horn or anything, but back in 2015, I was one of the first people in gun media– or any media for that matter– to cover the story of Alabama Congressman Mike Rogers’s effort to include an amendment to the NDAA while the Pentagon spending policy bill was in the House Armed Service Committee. Rogers, who represented the district of Northern Alabama that included the Annison Army Depot and CMP’s headquarters operations, found out that the Army had 100,000 surplus World War II-era M1911s in long-term storage at a cost of $200,000 per year, or about $2 per gun.

The amendment: save Uncle Sam the cash by transferring the guns to the CMP for sale to qualified members of the public, with the funds generated used to support worthwhile marksmanship projects ranging from JROTC to 4H and the National Matches.

I continued to cover the story, which grew legs and captured the imagination of– no joke– millions according to the analytics. Over the course of the next half-decade, I would file at least a dozen updates for a couple different publications. In 2017, after an initial batch had been greenlighted for transfer by the Obama administration (!) on a visit to the “Army’s attic” the Army Museum Support Center at Anniston Army Depot, I was shown crates packed and filled with M1911s pulled from the military’s museum stocks that were in excess of the service’s needs, pending shipment to the CMP once the handgun program got underway.

The thing is, 19,000 people got excited enough about the first round of M1911 sales from CMP and submitted packets for the first 8,000 guns transferred. With that, I felt I had little to no chance of getting one for myself, so I did not wade into the deep waters of trying to get one of these old warhorses through the program.

C’est la vie, right?

However, as CMP announced their Round 2 of the M1911 program earlier this year, I cautiously allowed myself to get optimistic that, perhaps, my chance had come as the really rabid collectors had already shot their bolt– CMP only allows an applicant to get one of these pistols– in the initial go-round.

So I spent a day getting my packet together, sent it in during the open window (January 4 to March 4, 2021), and sat back to wait. On 6 April, I got an email saying I had a randomly generated number (20581) and found out that the current batch of orders was going to start at 20,000.

Nice.

Then, on 20 April, I got the call. All three grades (Service, Field, Rack) were available, so I selected Service– the best– and asked politely for a Colt.

The very next day (after a mandatory two NICS checks!) I walked away from my FFL with this:

The M1911A1 has a Colt GI Military frame, SN 904594, of 1943 production with GHD inspector’s stamp (left) complete with a dummy mark (!) and ordnance wheel/US Property/M1911A1 US Army stamps on the right.

Rather than the original slide, it has a “hard” GI replacement slide with FSN (Federal Stock Number) #7790314 M (magnaflux inspection) TZ (IMI Israeli, who supplied such slides under contract to the U.S.) with a minty chrome-lined barrel marked with FSN #7791193 91. The plastic grips have “24” rack number.

Although I could find no arsenal rebuild stamps, I am theorizing that the gun was reworked at Anniston late in its life, probably in the 1980s, then put back in storage.

I’m totally happy. It was worth the wait.

The 7791193 series barrels have a good reputation for accuracy. I’ll let you know…

The Best Concealed Carry Piece of 1903 Still Looks Good Today

Compact, slim, accurate, and simple. All mantras for the most modern concealed carry pieces today. They all apply to a design introduced 118 years ago as well – the Colt M1903.

While well-engineered semi-auto pistols abound today, the same statement simply wasn’t true in the early 20th Century. Most early autoloaders were downright funky (see the Bergmann 1896), had bad ergonomics (Borchardt C93), were overly complex (C96 Broomhandle, which are notoriously hard to disassemble), and proved to be evolutionary dead-ends (the Luger – not a lot of toggle actions in production these days). 

Enter the gun guru of Ogden, Utah, Mr. John Browning, who largely hit it out of the park with his freshman semi-auto handgun, the FN M1900 of 1896, the first pistol with a slide – let that sink in. A simple blowback single-stack chambered in .32ACP – which he also invented – he followed that up in 1897 with his short-recoil operated Colt Model 1900, a larger gun whose action was recycled into the Colt M1902, which we have talked about before, then scaled down to make the Colt M1903. 

And with a “carry melt,” easy maintenance, and outstanding ergonomics, the new gun is surprisingly modern when compared to today’s offerings.

Boom, sweetheart. 

More on the Pocket Hammerless in my column at Guns.com.

CZ and Colt make it Facebook Official

The Czech-based parent company of CZ and Connecticut’s Colt has come to an agreement, leaving the European gunmaker increasingly American.

Announced on Thursday, the Česká Zbrojovka Group, or CZG, will acquire a 100 percent stake in the historic Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC as well as its Canadian subsidiary, the Colt Canada Corporation. CZG has agreed to a cash and stock deal that includes $220 million upfront and the issue of just over 1 million shares of newly issued common stock. The combined group will have annual projected revenues of over $500 million.

The heads of both companies painted the merger as a strategic step in which both stand to make great gains as brands.

More in my column at Guns.com.

Guns of the U.S. Army, 1775-2020

While you may know of today’s standard U.S. Army infantry rifles, and those of the 20th Century, how about those present at Lexington and Concord or the line of Springfield muskets from 1795 through 1865? What came after?

For all this and more, check out the easy 2,000-word primer I did for this last weekend at Guns.com.

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