Savage Arms is mostly known these days for its affordable and economical hunting rifles. However, they’ve since expanded into shotguns and handguns. Believe it or not, the latest Savage Stance isn’t Savage’s first handgun. The Savage Model 1907 might be one of the most underappreciated and innovative handguns for its time. Today we are going to take a peek at this classic pistol and detail its innovation and design.
The Model 1907 Design and Details
Savage designed the Model 1907 as a semi-automatic, magazine-fed pistol. Savage produced the Model 1907 after they produced a 45 ACP pistol in 1905 for the US Army’s trial for a semi-automatic pistol. The gun lost to the Colt M1911, but Savage retooled and revamped the gun to become the smaller Model 1907.
Obviously, the design of the pistol looks quite unique. It’s art deco to the max with the oddly exposed barrel and all-metal construction. It’s a looker, to be sure, but it’s more than just a looker.
The weapon used a delayed blowback system that was relatively smart. A cam-action twists the barrel ever so slightly and rotates in the opposite direction of the weapon’s rifled twist. Similar twisting systems have been used in guns like the Beretta PX4 Storm series.
The design lacks any screws at all. It’s precision fitted apparently, and even small things like the grips snap rather than screw into place. Taking the weapon apart is somewhat challenging but doesn’t require any special tools.
The Model 1907s came in both 380 ACP and 32 ACP, and the claim to fame was that the gun held quite a few rounds. Remember, this was 1907, and the Savage Model 1907 held nine rounds of 380 ACP and ten rounds of 32 ACP—pretty ahead of its time.
The First Double Stack Magazine?
The Savage Model 1907 isn’t the first double-stack magazine. The Mauser C96 technically had a double-stack integral magazine. However, you could argue the Savage Model 1907 was the first successfully produced handgun with a removable double-stack, single-feed magazine. The Savage 1907 became quite popular.
In fact, the ten-round magazine became a major selling point. So much so that the gun got an advertising line that said, “10 Shots Quick!” This was an apt description of the little Savage pistol.
The First Micro Compact?
Nowadays, Micro-Compacts rule. The little 9mms the size of a single stack with a double stack capacity have set the standard for concealed carry pistols. The Micro-Compact genre is defined by pistols like the P365 and Springfield Hellcat.
Micro-Compacts are also defined by being 9mm guns. The Model 1907 doesn’t meet that apt description. However, other than caliber, it kind of does. It’s a small platform with a 3.7-inch barrel, an overall height of 4.25 inches, and an overall length of 6.5 inches. It’s not the smallest pistol but packed a concealable punch in 1907.
Funky Features of the Model 1907
As you’d imagine, a weird-looking gun like the Model 1907 has some weird features. Obviously, besides the operating system, the Model 1907 had some silly little features to it. For one, the hammer-looking thing, that’s not a hammer. The Savage Model 1907 is a striker-fired firearm. That ‘hammer’ is a device that cocks the striker.
Like other handguns, you pull the slide to the rear to load the first round. As you do, the barrel’s shroud moves, creating an interesting image. The safety required a very broad stroke to activate and seemed quite small. That same safety can lock the slide open if the user chooses to use it.
One of the more interesting ergonomic decisions was the placement of a toe-mounted magazine release. The magazine release is positioned in front of the grip and at the bottom. It’s similar to a heel-mounted release but positioned on the front of the grip. It’s super awkward.
Marketing and Beyond
The Savage Model 1907 had a great marketing campaign. Not only did they have the “ten shots quick” line, but they had endorsements from actual gunfighters. One of the coolest dudes to ever live, Bat Masterson once said,
“A tenderfoot with a Savage Automatic and the nerve to stand his ground could have run the worst six-shooter man the west ever knew, right off the range.”
Bat knew his stuff and was engaged in a number of gunfights as a lawman before becoming a sportswriter. This might as well have been an opinion purchased by Savage, but I have to give them credence in using real gunfighters in their marketing.
Buffalo Bill claimed he shot the Savage Automatic better than his old revolver, and Savage Arms even marketed the little gun to women to deal with tramps and burglars. One ad featured a letter written by a woman who fought off a burglar with a Savage Automatic. The marketing worked, and well, the gun worked.
The Savage Model 1907 sold extremely well for Savage and became a mainstay of their brand.
When a pistol sells well, you don’t just sit on your laurels and collect that cash. You keep innovating. Heck, look at the Sig P365. There are like a half dozen different models of it. Savage went on to produce the Model 1915 ‘hammerless’ although the 1907 didn’t have a hammer. They took the cocking device off so users could only cock the weapon via manipulating the slide like every other modern striker-fired pistol.
Admittedly that device could theoretically catch when the weapon was drawn from concealment. Also, it’s not like they had modern holsters and tactics and techniques that we do now. Folks also seemed to wear a whole lot more clothes than us, so this concern might’ve been relevant back in the day.
They produced the Model 1917, which wasn’t much different than the standard Model 1907. They made the grip bigger and thicker. Why? Well, maybe for people with bigger hands? These are weird-looking guns, to be sure. The larger grips required larger panels, which finally meant the Savage Model 1907 series got their first screw. A single screw held the grips in place.
Into the Future
While the Model 1907 was an innovative and interesting firearm that sold well, not many other companies tried to compete. Most stuck to single stack automatics in the United States and even abroad. At least until 1935, it seems. The Savage Model 1907 is a fascinating little pistol, and while it wouldn’t be my first choice for a defensive pistol in 2022, it would have been in 1907.