The .38 Automatic dates from the beginning of the 20th Century. It was the first in a line of semi-auto pistols that were designed by John M Browning that were both licensed to and manufactured by Colt’s Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. It was during this period, from 1900 onwards that the US Army was looking to replace their current military side-arm revolver with a semi-auto pistol. American troops already had had bad experiences with the .38cal Long Colt revolvers lacking stopping when facing the Moro rebels in the Philippines. Testing started with the Model 1900, and with subsequent improvements culminating in the Model 1902. Two important facts were discovered by the military during these trials, firstly that the semi-auto pistol was the future of the military side-arm and secondly that the 38 caliber was underpowered as the request from the military in 1904 was for a semi-auto handgun of no less than 45 caliber. The Model 1902 was considered the prototype for the Model 1911. (Erlmeier, Brandt Ref. 353)





    T2 Combat Tool (shown at 200% scale)

The specimen above is the dummy version of the T2 Combat Tool cartridge. The T2 combat tool was developed by Winchester in 1952 as a fastener cartridge using the commercial .38 Auto cartridge as a propelling round. The exact meaning of the combat tool designation is not known, but it is assumed that the idea was to develop a standard propelling charge that could be used in a number of military and commercial applications. See also HWS 3 p. 505

This is the Model 1900 supplied to Springfield Arsenal in January 1901 as part of the second batch and was based on feedback from the first contract in 1900. As can be seen from the first model above, improvements were made, like shifting the slide serrations to the front and a thicker pair of grips. These were also shipped to the Philippines for testing, and further feedback resulted in the introduction of the Model 1902. The Model 1900 was manufactured for a period of three years with a total of just under 4,300 guns produced.

Shown above is the Model 1902, which was a redesign of the M1900 which incorporated the improvements dictated by the US Army in testing. It was able to be stripped without tools, had a slide stop, and the plug at the end of the recoil spring housing was altered so it could be pushed in which would then take the tension off the transverse bar that locked the slide to the frame. The grip was extended, and this increased the magazine capacity by one round, and a lanyard was added. The slide serrations were also changed to the triangular cuts.


Colt Autos

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