Taking a gander at the Savage Model 1907 it's difficult not to ponder what if…
The delayed blowback single-action semi-automatic pistol is obscure as spats nowadays. But the handgun – in it's .45 ACP iteration – stood at the precipice of greatness. The Savage 1907 was, after all, the handgun that went toe-to-toe with the Model 1911.
The pistol was Savage's first and only attempt at procuring a military contract for a sidearm and Elbert H. Searle's design did surprisingly well. The 1907 – along with what became the Colt 1911 – was one of the last two guns standing in the military field trials.
Of course, firearms enthusiasts all know how the story ends – the laurels and glory went to the 1911 and John Browning. The video below, details what happened in this epic battle of designs and what did in the 1907.
Despite the failure as a .45 ACP, the 1907 did go on to find success as a pocket pistol chambered in .32 and .380 ACP. And it went on to influence the designs of the Savage 1915 and 1917.
While it didn't cut muster as a military weapon, Searle's design is interesting. As the National Firearms Museum points out, the pistol is elegantly simple:
This arm contained only 34 parts and contained no screws or flat springs. A distinctive feature of the original design was the inclusion of checkered sheet metal stocks that were held in place by simple friction. The gun incorporated a hammer/cocking piece that was directly connected to the firing pin. This assembly was in turn housed within a modular breechblock that also contained the mainspring and a top-mounted notched extractor that doubled as a rear sight.
Arguably, the 1911 winning the military contract was a factor in its un-paralleled influence on the firearms world. There are few guns on the market that don’t take something from the 1911, whether in action or aesthetics. Which kind of make one scratch their head about what if the Savage 1907 would have won the contract. Would modern pistols designs have favored the svelte barrel lines of the 1907? Would designers have preferred variations on the blowback action? Answers to these and other questions, obviously, will forever linger in the realm of conjecture.
Only 200 or so 1907s chambered in .45 ACP were produced, all for military trials. In turn, the pistol is rare and desirable; The Standard Catalog of Firearms lists a .45 1907 in excellent condition at $13,500. In the end, it appears Savage's loss has turned out to be collectors' gain.