A Rare Savage Pistol

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Emerging from the Phillipine Insurrection, America's soldiers were unhappy with the weaker .38 caliber double-action revolvers that had replaced the reliable .45 Single Action Army sidearm in use since 1873. With the world arms trade begining to embrace semi-automatic technology, American ordnance authorities began to investigate the new Luger design, initially testing examples in .30 caliber. But a replacement semi-automatic service pistol, returning to caliber .45, was eagerly sought. Several firms submitted designs, but the unusual streamlined design offered by the Savage Army Company, initially featuring no screws or flat springs and only 34 parts, made the final selection for military trials in 1907. An initial group of 200 pistols were ordered.

Three troops of cavalry in Georgia, Iowa and New Mexico were issued the new semi-auto handgun. After extensive testing and several trips back and forth to the factory for modifications, the pistols met with one last challenger, a Colt pistol. The resulting shootoff gave the Colt its legendary Model 1911 designation (one which would last for many decades) and retired Savage's hopes of a large service pistol contract. Savage elected to buy back the issued pistols, refinished them and eventually sold them through commercial firms like Tryon of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

Surviving examples of Savage's .45 pistol are rare and rarer still in single digit form. This Savage in the National Firearms Museum collection bears serial number 2 and was first sent to the School of Musketry in 1909 after being received by Springfield Armory in 1908. It was donated to the museum by a Pennsylvania member.