It all started when the United States military wanted to move from revolvers to semi-automatics and wanted a .45 caliber pistol. As we all know, the M1911 won the contract, but one of the pistols submitted for the trials was a new design by Savage.
The Savage entry didn’t win, but that didn’t mean the pistol was canned. Savage realized the gun would work well as a pocket pistol, thus, the Savage M1907 came into being.
The Savage M1907 is an odd-looking little pistol with a somewhat innovative design. Savage initially embraced the .32 ACP caliber for the pistol, and eventually, a .380 ACP chambering would appear. Today’s example is a classic .32 ACP model. I seem to have a bit of luck with these things and in a recent auction, I won this working model of the M1907 for less than $250.
I purchased the pistol just because it was an excellent old gun. Little did I know the Savage had such a rich history and fascinating design.
What Savage Did Differently With the M1907
Micro compacts packing 10 rounds of 9mm are ultra hot these days, but Savage kicked it all off back in 1907 with their 10-round, double-stack magazine. That was pretty interesting for a gun of that time and relatively remarkable for such a small gun from 1907.
Today we look at .32 ACP as a mouse gun cartridge, but it was a popular choice in small automatics back in the day. At the time, small cartridges were far from potent, and the .32 ACP was maybe a bit better than the .38 S&W.
Savage made a big deal out of the M1907 at the time, packing ten rounds. Ads famously touted the tag line, “Ten shots quick!” Even with ten rounds, the gun’s sized about the same as the P365 you’re carrying.
While the M1907 appears to have a hammer, and later models would be called ‘hammerless,’ it’s actually striker-fired. That hammer-like protrusion is a means to cock the striker, and you can de-cock it by thumbing it and riding it home. I see why Savage went with the design in a day and age where hammer-fired pistols ruled.
Normally you’d expect a small caliber pistol to be direct blowback. That system works, especially with smaller caliber rounds like the .32 ACP. Instead, Savage used a more sophisticated delayed blowback system. In fact, they used a rotating barrel system to delay the opening, and the barrel rotated in the opposite direction of the gun’s rifling. I believe the Beretta PX4 Storm uses a similar principle.
A Mean Little Pistol
The M1907 is a bit all over the place in terms of ergonomics. The grip is thin in width, but somewhat long from back to forward. Certainly more than you’d expect for such a compact round. Not a single screw is used in the gun’s construction, and even to attach the plastic-ish grips are fit into place. Those grips, by the way, were made of gutta-percha, the same material used to make golf balls back then.
With ten rounds quick, there wasn’t a lot of concern for reloading early in the 20th centiry. At least that’s my impression from the M1907’s the magazine release. It’s positioned under the pinky when firing. The release is at the very bottom in the front of the grip, and it would be great if I could depress it with my pinky, but that’s not an option.
Instead, I have to use my ring finger to push and release the magazine. That’s awkward and slow. I wouldn’t be doing speed reloads with the M1907.
There’s a manual frame safety that rotates upward into a safe position and downward to fire. It’s easy to disengage, but a little clumsy to engage. The slide doesn’t have last-round hold open, but if you pull the slide to the rear, you can move the manual safety upwards to lock the slide rearward.
Because the slide rides inside the frame, it’s super tiny, but Savage wisely added a raised, heavily textured set of grip points. You can quickly rack the slide with these highly textured sections.
At The Range
The Savage M1907 loads easily, and everything clips and pops like it should. The auction house inspected the weapon and rendered it safe to fire. I used some basic 71-grain PMC .32 ACP rounds and fired 95 rounds through the old fella.
Of the 95 rounds fired, only two failed to fully eject and caused minimal jams. Not bad for a gun made in 1919 (according to a serial number search). The little pistol is all metal and reasonably heavy. That weight along with the delayed blowback action and light-shooting .32 ACP ammo combine for a very soft little shooter.
The M1907 is pretty friendly to the hand and shoots nicely. Accuracy is also not bad, but damn, those tiny sights are tough to see. They’re so small, I can see why Applegate and Fairbairn recommended the technique of point shooting in that period. Even so, I can hit a bad guy in the chest with ten shots quick!
The trigger has a little takeup, followed by a slight wall, then a crisp pull that breaks cleanly. The reset is long, and it’s best to slap the trigger guard between shots rather than ride the reset.
A Classic Carry Gun
This little Savage M1907 is an excellent and innovative firearm from the early oughts (the last ones). It’s well made, at least my century-old model is. The pistol shoots nicely, is reliable, and is packed with features that were innovative for the early part of the last century. This little thing might have taken the top spot in my favorite handguns, even if the ammo costs an arm and a leg these days.