Sunday, October 03, 2021

Sunday, Savage Sunday #1

Few patents in the firearms industry gave a manufacturer such an effective stranglehold on a market as did Smith & Wesson's licensing of the Rollins White patent for bored-through cylinders in revolvers. Other companies were forced to try and engineer workarounds for more than a decade while Smith basically had a lock on the metallic cartridge revolver until the patent expired in the early 1870s.

The only patent that came close was Colt's Browning patent for a one-piece breechblock and slide that extended forward to enclose the barrel. 

That gave Colt a deadlock on the self-loading pistol market in this country, at least for the most part. The challengers were mostly failures in the marketplace; the only one that came close to being a success was the Elbert Searle-designed Model 1907 from Savage. In some years it even outsold the Colt, but was far more complex and expensive to produce and eventually ceased production in the late 1920s.

There are approximately sixteen different iterations of the little .32 Savage (the constant changes and tweaks over a twenty-ish year production run did nothing to aid profitability) and the pictured pistol is the most common variety.

Manufactured in 1911, it's the variant referred to in James Carr's Savage Automatic Pistols book as a "1907-10 Modification No.2". Some 45,500 of this version alone were made.

Without consulting serial numbers, the main way to tell a "1907-10 Modif. #2" from a "1907-10 Modif. #1" is by the "SAFE" and "FIRE" rollmarks in the frame. While these are sometimes found on earlier guns, they were done after the pistol had been blued, indicating they were probably added after the pistol had been completed, possibly when it was returned to the factory for service.

Incidentally, that thing that looks like a hammer spur? It's not. It's just an external cocking lever attached to the internal striker.

The 1907-10 Modif. #2 still has the first version of the Savage's magazine release. Intended to be operated by the shooter's ring finger, the portion in the recessed divot in the frontstrap is pressed, causing the release lever to pivot on its pin and withdraw the catch from the cutout in the front of the magazine body, allowing the magazine to (at least attempt to) drop free.

By 1912, Savage had made around 65,000 of these striker-fired, double-stack, ten-shot pocket autos with ambidextrous magazine releases. They were, in many respects, way ahead of their time.