Following many European militaries’ trend toward the adoption of semi-automatic pistols, in 1907, the United States Army held a series of trials with the aim of selecting a self-loader for its own forces. A number of manufacturers, both foreign and domestic, participated in the event—one of the better arms submitted being a .45-cal. repeater put forward by the Savage Arms Co. of Utica, N.Y.
While Savage designers were working on their big-bore, they were cognizant of the success of the superb .32 ACP 1903 Colt Pocket Hammerless Automatic and realized that many features of the .45-cal. trials gun could also be re-worked into a smaller, handier pistol that would suit the commercial market.
These efforts resulted in the “Savage Automatic Pistol, Model 1907.” Looking much like a diminutive version of the more substantial Savage experimental evaluation piece, this new .32 ACP had a number of innovations of its own. Featuring a delayed-blowback action, the ’07 employed a striker arrangement that could be manipulated by an external hammer-style cocking lever that, when set, permitted the slide to be more easily withdrawn to chamber a first round.
The pistol employed a rotating external safety on the left, rear of the frame where it could be (more or less) easily worked by a right-handed shooter’s thumb. The integral rear-notch sight was non-adjustable, as was the front blade. Interestingly, the Model 1907 employed no screws whatsoever. While many other contemporary semi-automatics could almost boast this feature, they usually had stocks secured by screws. Not so with the Savage—its panels being simply snapped into place. Originally, they were of stamped metal, but were later changed to hard rubber, a material that was standard for the remainder of the run.
One of the gun’s most prominent advantages was the fact that its staggered box magazine could accommodate 10 rounds as opposed to the Colt’s eight. Though this resulted in a thicker grip configuration, it also provided for a good, comfortable hold. Despite its chunkier look, the 1907 actually weighed, at 19 ozs., a full 5 ozs. less than the svelte Colt. The Savage magazine was released by a catch on the front, lower portion of the grip.
Savage promoters immediately seized upon the 1907’s two-round capacity advantage with the catchy slogan “Ten Shots Quick.” The pistol was advertised as being just the thing to deal with “burglars” and “tramps.” It was one of the first guns of its type to be marketed to women, an early advertisement holding that a lady armed with an ’07 would “banish the thought of helplessness” and be “able, without practice, to shoot straight.”
Model 1907s were also touted as being the trusty companions of the famous, to include such celebrities as William F. “Buffalo Bill” Cody, Theodore Roosevelt and former frontier lawman turned New York sportswriter Bat Masterson. Masterson was actually commissioned by Savage to pen a pamphlet about the pistol, The Tenderfoot’s Turn, in which he avowed, “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.”
As well as civilian sales, the Savage saw some military use, especially with the French army during World War I, which ordered 27,600 of them between 1913 and 1915. A Gallic 1907 is immediately identifiable by a lanyard loop added to the rear of the base of its grip.
In 1913, the Savage semi-automatic became available in .380 ACP; however, this chambering was never as popular as the .32. Some 259,000 1907s were eventually produced between 1908 and 1920, making it one of the most popular guns of its day.
The example we see here is in good working order and retains a considerable amount of original finish. As such, it is worth a solid $550.
Gun: Savage Automatic Pistol, Model 1907
Manufacturer: Savage Arms Co.
Chambering: .32 ACP
Condition: NRA Very Good (Modern Gun Standards)