Sunday, May 3, 2020

10 Shots Quick!

When people discuss Savage firearms they are usually referring to rifles and shotguns. A little over a century ago Savage Arms not only made pistols, they gave firearms manufacturing giant Colt and firearm design icon John Browning a run for their money during the 1907 US Pistol and Revolver Trials held by the US Army.

During those trials the US Army sent out invitations to twenty manufacturers to submit a pistol or revolver design for testing.  By the end of the testing the only remaining contestants were what became the Colt Model of 1911 and the Savage Model 1907.  Both pistols were chambered in 45 ACP per the specifications.  The Colt pistol was adopted and went on to serve with the US military through two world wars, Korea, Vietnam, and various other conflicts.
Savage model 1915 on left, Savage model 1907 on right.

Savage on the other hand, never produced any of their .45 caliber pistols other than those for the trials.  Instead the decision was made to use the lessons learned during the pistol trials and sell the same guns in calibers .32 ACP and .380 ACP.  Savage had one of the most aggressive marketing campaigns f the time and made use of endorsements by such notables as Wild Bill Hickok, Bat Masterson, and Dr. Carver, who was a noted wing shooter at the time.  Much like recent advertising slogans that have become part of pop culture, Savage's "10 Shots Quick!" was a recognized, household term at the time.

The decision to pursue commercial rather than military sales and the aggressive advertising campaigns were ultimately successful.  Around 200,000 units were sold between 1907 and the late 1920s, including just under 30,000 sold to the French and Portuguese militaries.  Even the 288 .45 caliber pistols were resold commercially.

The Savage 1907 came on my radar when watching Road to Perdition, a 2002 movie about an on the run mob enforcer played by Tom Hanks who's son witnessed a murder.  One of the assassins sent after them, played by Jude Law used a Savage 1907.  I thought it was one of the most stylish pistols that I have ever seen.  The term "Art Deco before Art Deco was cool" has been used to describe the little Savage pistols.
"Art Deco before Art Deco was cool."

The 1907 line of pistols included several innovations that were not repeated in American firearms production for decades.  The 1907 is a striker fired pistol that was mass produced 76 years before the Glock 17 was accepted by the Austrian military and 79 years before the Glock USA factory was built in Smyrna, GA.  The 1907 was also the first mass produced pistol with a double stack magazine.  The Browning Hi Power, which was noted for utilizing a double stack magazine, wasn't produced until 1935  in Belgium.  That's 28 years after the 1907.  The next American mass-produced pistol with a double stack magazine was the S&W Model 59, which didn't come onto the scene until 1971, 64 years after the Savage 1907.

Savage 1907 in .32 ACP made in 1913.

Savage spent a LOT of time and effort advertising their pistols as premium, defensive pistols.  In order to test that claim I used a modern shooting drill, electronic timer, and a IPSC target to test the viability of the pistol for defensive use.  I used the IDPA 5x5 Classifier as a baseline and shot it from seven yards instead of the proscribed ten, mainly due to the minuscule sights on the gun.  I do not have a suitable holster and those were not considered as important to the use of private citizens as we prefer now.  Since it was advertised as a pocket pistol I worked out of a pocket with a loaded magazine, chamber empty.  I'm only willing to trust the mechanical safeties of a 107 year old pistol so far.  Additionally, the Safety Lever was designed for right handed use and I'm left handed, so chamber empty it was.

The ultimate conclusion's viable a defensive pistol, even by today's standards.  I shot this drill cold taking only three shots to verify function, accuracy, and feeding.  The times were extremely slow.  Drawing from the pocket and chambering a round, then acquiring a sight picture and decent trigger press was tough to start off.  Stage 1 required 5.4 seconds to run through that process.  By Stage 4 I had pared it down to 3.24 seconds.  Splits (the time between shots) were also very slow by today's standards, the average of splits on the first stage was 1.69 seconds.  By Stage 4 that had been whittled down to 1.04 seconds.  Neither is all that great however, keep in mind I ran this cold, with an unfamiliar gun with a very stiff trigger.  Those times could be worked down to an acceptable level.  A decent holster would get the presentation to the first shot down to well under two seconds and I would be satisfied with .40-.50 splits.
Results of the modified IDPA 5x5 drill from seven yards.

So if I'm transported back to that seemingly magical time that existed before the First World War and need to arm myself, the Savage 1907 is going to be at the top of my list.

Author's note:

I edited this post due to the cumbersome wording and numerous spelling mistakes.  My apologies and thanks for those who managed to work their way through the first writing.