Colt Early Model 1905 The First .45 ACP Pre-1911 Semi-Auto Pistol, 1906 C&R

SOLD FOR: $2725

LSB#: 221213TA007

Make: Colt

Model: 1905

Serial Number: 952

Year of Manufacture: 1906 (

Caliber: .45 A.C.P.

Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto Pistol with Removable Magazine

Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “PATENTED / APR.20.1897.SEPT.9.1902.DEC.19.1905”, “COLT’S PATENT FIRE ARMS MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CONN. U.S.A.”, and at the rear with a circled Rampant Colt logo. The left side of the frame is marked “952”. The right side of the slide is marked “AUTOMATIC COLT / CALIBRE 45 RIMLESS SMOKELESS”. The left front of the trigger guard is marked with a “VP” in a triangle and at the rear with “1” (inspector John Kinnarney). The right side of the frame rail at the muzzle is marked “3” (assembler Wilson Kay). The bottom of the slide is marked “W” (inspector Axel Hallstrom). The top of the barrel is marked “1” (inspector/assembler John Kinnarney).

Barrel Length: 5”

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a blade fixed to the front of the slide. The rear sight is a rounded-top “U” notch dovetailed into the rear of the slide.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are hand-checkered walnut with smooth diamond patterns around the grip screws. The grips have light handling wear with a few scattered nicks, compressions and scratches. There are areas of discoloration from handling and oil. The left panel has a crack at the top edge which goes down to the screw escutcheon. The checkering is well defined. Overall, the grips are in about Good-Very Good condition.

Type of Finish: Blue

Finish Originality: Original

Bore Condition: The bore is semi-bright with sharp rifling. There is some scattered light erosion and infrequent minor pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion, the bore rates 6 or 7 out of 10.

Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 50% of its metal finish. There is finish wear scattered throughout, most notable on the left-front of the slide and around the top of the right grip panel. Some finish loss appears to be from scrubbing light surface erosion. There are scattered nicks, scuffs and scratches. There is some case color still visible on the hammer. The screw heads range from sharp to lightly tool marked with strong slots. The wedge still has its indexing stud. The firing pin is still the original bronze. Overall, this pistol is in Good condition.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The trigger pull is crisp. The slide shows no play to the frame. This pistol does not have a safety but does have a half-cock position on the hammer. The magazine release is on the bottom of the butt. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with a single 7-round Colt 1905 magazine. The magazine has operational wear, scattered surface erosion, intact feed lips and a strong spring.

Our Assessment: The Ordnance Department of the U.S. Army convened a board of two men, Capt. John t. Thompson and Maj. Louis A. La Garde to determine a minimum handgun caliber for use by the U.S. Military in 1903. In 1904, a month before the report was released, Union Metallic Cartridge Company (U.M.C.) received “figures for the proposed ctgs.”. UMC began work on cartridges, and shortly thereafter Colt set to work experimenting on a .45 caliber pistol based on their 1902 Military model. U.M.C. came up with a rimless .45 cartridge that they were producing by April 1905. Meanwhile, Colt had John M. Browning try to figure out how to handle the stresses caused by higher powered cartridges using the M1902 pistol as a baseline.

By May 1905, Browning had applied for a patent covering a new barrel design with locking lugs on the bottom to lock it to the frame. In 1907, Army tests began on guns from 8 different manufacturers, which was narrowed down to Colt’s Model 1905 and pistols from Savage and Luger. Changes were requested, and Colt came up with a prototype of the new Model 1907 by September, 1907. Only about 207 of this new model were made, making them some of the most desired collector guns in the world. Further modifications resulted in the Model 1911, which was adopted by the Army and is still in use until this day as the M1911-A1.

Although the M1905 wasn’t adopted by the Army, they were made and sold commercially except for those used in government testing. The oil polished mirror finish Colt put on the pistols, with a fire blue or case-colored finish on the smaller parts, made them very desirable. This M1905 pistol was made in 1906, the second year of production. It has about 50% of its original finish remaining, and is in Good condition. The pistol is in excellent mechanical condition and even comes with a Colt 1905 magazine. This model, along with its M1900 and M1902 predecessors, is a must-have amongst Colt collectors as being the first of the large framed Colt semi-automatics. As only 6,210 of the M1905 pistols were made, they become even more desirable with every passing year.

This specific example is also documented as having shipped to the Copper Queen Consolidated Mining Company in Douglas, Arizona in July of 1906 (“The Government Models”, Goddard). Curiously, serial 1044 is recorded in Potocki’s book on the 1905 as having shipped the day before to Copper Queen. It’s very possible that this pistol was guarding the mine during the financial panic of 1907 when the Western Federation of Miners was trying to organize a strike, an effort which would eventually fail. In any case, the pistol’s documented link to the Southern Arizona mine is certainly interesting. We expect the collectors of Colt autos are going to be very interested in this pistol. Please see our photos and good luck!

Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud

Colt Early Model 1905 The First .45 ACP Pre-1911 Semi-Auto Pistol, 1906 C&R
Colt Early Model 1905 The First .45 ACP Pre-1911 Semi-Auto Pistol, 1906 C&R