Many people today know the name Savage Arms for their excellent hunting rifles. But did you know that once upon a time Savage also made automatic pistols? Yes, Savage was once a manufacturer of what was then a very high-tech and top-of-the-line automatic pistol.
Conceived around the turn of the last century, the Savage Model 1907 automatic pistols were truly one of a kind. They are known for several interesting and innovative features. Firstly, they are made entirely out of solid steel yet use no screws in their construction. Everything is either pinned or fits together in some form of interrupted threads; even the grips are held together by a clip system.
The other unique feature, especially for its time, is that they were one of the first successful box magazine design pistols. Made initially in 32 ACP and 380 calibers, the innovative staggered double stack magazines held between 10 and 12 rounds of ammunition. For their time and size, this was a large amount of ammunition, as most gun companies were still making six-shot revolvers or automatics that held at most 7 or 8 shots. For this little pistol to hold as much ammunition as it did was truly groundbreaking design at the time.
Advertisements of the day for the pistol were quite upfront in proudly saying “10 shots quick” which was far more than you could get with any other pistol on the commercial civilian market. Savage also advertised that the gun pointed as naturally as pointing your finger due to its somewhat odd shape.
The Savage 1907 is quite distinctive in shape; its almost 90-degree grip angle is coupled with somewhat square grips and a thin barrel and slide poking out straight ahead. This gives it a very distinctive profile. The controls are decent and made with carrying the gun in a pocket in mind. The Savage 1907 has a heel magazine release and rotating safety and slide lock lever on the left-hand side of the frame. What appears to be an external hammer is a clever linkage to an internal striker mechanism.
Savage was not content with just the commercial market, however. Even before the model 1907 was made, they had produced a 1905 model as a trial pistol for the military.
Savage submitted their pistol to the US military board that was conducting an ongoing search for a new handgun to outfit America's military. There, the Savage would face stiff competition from the likes of pistols like the German Luger, British Webley-Fosbery, and a Colt model that would eventually become the 1911. The Savage did well enough in these trials to almost become the selected pistol. Quantities were made and issued out to American troops for field tests in the beefy .45 caliber cartridge. In these limited trials, the Savage only barely lost out on reliability, but was limited by its odd shape and somewhat awkward controls. The trials guns were returned to Savage and eventually sold on the market as surplus, which is how so many of them survive to this day.
The Savage 1907 may have gone out of production in 1920, but its mark on the world was far from done. Its innovative, staggered feed box magazine would go on to be copied by nearly every manufacturer of automatic pistols. Also, it would have two more lasting effects on pop culture. First is that to this day, the Savage design is still used as the basis for the shape of mass-produced water pistols. Some of the older molds even have the Indian Head on the grip like the Savage did. Its other lasting reference is that the well-loved children's movie Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer features a Savage as the basis of the water pistol that shoots jelly on the Island of Misfit Toys.
Whether through its innovative design features or just the sheer fact of its existence, the Savage has gone on to find a place in shooters and collectors’ hearts. Many are kept in perfect operational condition and even carried to this day by shooters who value them for their small size and relatively large capacity.
Fortunately, it is also relatively easy to still obtain parts for the 1907. Complete and parts guns are available on the secondary market for relatively affordable prices. There are multiple companies that make reproduction magazines if you happen to lose yours. This used to be an Achilles’ heel for these guns, as no other gun company made them originally. And as to the rest of the gun, be it New Old Stock or reproduction pieces, you can obtain almost any part you would need in either caliber online. Maybe you have one tucked away in a drawer some place, and you're waiting on parts to get back up and running. Today could be the day.