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I Have This Old Gun: Savage Arms Model 1907

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Savage Arms has always been known for its popular rifles, and at the turn of the 20th century, the company was popular for its Model 99 lever-action design. However, Savage made the decision to jump into the U.S. Army handgun trials, and while the military didn’t choose the Savage as its service pistol, the result was a handy self-defense gun that was popular on the commercial market. Watch our “American Rifleman Television” I Have This Old Gun segment above to learn more.

“The 1907 Savage is one of the more interesting collectable firearms of the early 20th century,” said Phil Schreier, director of the NRA National Firearms Museum. “Savage Gun Company had been around for quite a while, a wide variety of diverse products that Savage was involved in. But the semi-automatic pistol was something that they jumped into pretty quick and, in fact, stole the march on a couple of prominent designers and manufacturers.”

Savage Model 1907 ad showing a woman aiming a pistol at a burglar.

Early advertisements about the Savage 1907 included the line, “10 shots quick,” highlighting the easy shootability of the gun, as well as the heightened magazine capacity offered by its stagger-stack magazine design, the first of its type.

“The Savage 1907 semi-auto pistol was one of the most successful little pocket pistols of its type developed at the beginning of the 20th century,” said American Rifleman Field Editor Garry James. “It was derived from a .45 version that Savage submitted to the U.S. military for the trials, which ultimately adopted the Colt 1911. However, they decided, well, they could downscale it and make a nice, little, handy carry piece.”

Left side of two Savage Model 1907 pistols.

Chambered in .32 ACP, and later in .380 ACP, the Savage Model 1907 included a few unique mechanical elements, including the use of a striker instead of a traditional hammer. The knurled mechanism at the rear of the slide was merely a cocking piece for the internal striker.

“There are no screws in this gun at all,” said NRA Publications Editorial Director Mark Keefe. “It all is mechanically locked together, and the grips just have spring clips that hold them in place. That’s why you see ’em chipped a lot, people trying to get ’em out. No, this is a gun that was made for personal protection, whether it be carried on the person or in the home. And, you know, this little Savage, it’s all-steel, so it’s kind of heavy for a .32. [It’s] very, very shootable and not a bad trigger, even by modern standards.”

Man aiming the Savage Model 1907 on an outdoor range.

Its commercial popularity, combined with a shortage of available sidearms, led the French military to adopt the Model 1907 as a standard service pistol during World War I.

“The difference between it and the actual standard civilian gun was it had a little lanyard ring on it, and it had a cocking indicator,” James said. “Other than that, it was pretty much the same. And these do turn up because the French bought about 40,000 of them and carry them, you know, throughout the war.”

To watch complete segments of past episodes of American Rifleman TV, go to americanrifleman.org/artv. For all-new episodes of ARTV, tune in Wednesday nights to Outdoor Channel 8:30 p.m. and 11:30 p.m. EST. 


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