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By Red McCloud

The Colt Double Eagle was Colt Manufacturing LLC’s attempt to get into the ‘service-ready DA/SA semi-auto market’ in 1989, but it was plagued by a few massive problems at launch. Problems like the lack of quality control, finicky parts, and in general Colt’s lack of caring. The first run of the Double Eagle, the Series 80, was a complete flop which was the main reason the gun gained a horrible reputation and sold poorly. They had almost no quality control, as Colt rushed them out the door in an attempt to beat the likes of SIG SAUER, Ruger, and the rest. The main problem . . .

is that the DA/SA system (which was an unlicensed, streamlined clone of the Seecamp conversion) was extremely fragile, and important springs were held in by the plastic grip panels. That meant that it both broke a lot, and when you took off the grips, the springs would shoot out, hitting you in the eye, or just getting lost.

The next iteration of the gun, the Series 90 (above), ironed-out all the flaws. But by then the damage had already been done.

The Double Eagle was available in a massive selection of calibers for the time: 9mm, 10mm, 11mm/.45 ACP, and later, .40 S&W. The .40 S&W guns are the rarest due to their manufacture near the end of the gun’s life, and, hilariously enough, are not worth very much compared to the others. The 10mm version is the most-wanted variant, and command premiums of easily over $1,000, even in poor condition. The Series 90 was a great line of pistols, but when it came into production around 1990, the bad rep from the Series 80 caught up to it, and sales tanked.

Remarkably enough, the Double Eagle Series 90 was manufactured up until 1997, although in lower and lower amounts as time went on, especially after the infamous 1995 deal in which Colt was bought out and all of the revolver lines (minus their sub-par Single Action Army 3rd Gen.) were controversially discontinued.

Now Colt is in bankruptcy due to an amalgamation of reasons. A lack of quality control, overpriced products, a small product line…the list goes on. In my opinion, if they brought back the Python (which I bet they still have the tooling for) it’d save the company and then some, even if it had an outrageous $5k price tag slapped on it. Overpricing SAA’s and below-average AR-15s and AR-10s wont save a company. Variety and demanded products will.

Hopefully, the ignoramuses heading Colt since the buy-out will realize that the company is rapidly sinking and bring back the most-loved and wanted weapon lines, but I doubt it. At this point, it’s obvious that they only bought the company to milk it dry and then leave it in a ditch by the side of a road.

49 Responses to Contest Entry: The Double Eagle and the Fate of Colt

  1. I keep hoping I win a big enough lottery so I could buy and save Colt. It, umm, “surprisingly” hasn’t happened yet…and unfortunately I think the chances Colt gets turned around by a group that cares aren’t much better.

  2. Been posting the same mindset since Colt lost the “honey money” from Gov. Contracts. They failed to stay in touch with civilian consumers, ignored marketable demographics that wanted those “snake” revolvers, ignored a lower price point that competition kicked their ass in, and rested on their laurels. I blame mgt. not the employees. They failed and stayed in the North East to boot. That Pony has left the stable, maybe it will sink in. And yes, I am a Colt owner.

  3. I’m not sure anyone’s even bothered to bid on Colt. Has the liquidation already been held or not?

    Tom

  4. The proud pony is no more. Colt is now a broken down, swaybacked, toothless old mare. And Donald Zilkha is a horse’s ass.

  5. Colt reminds me of Harley-Davidson. A slow decline, low sales, poor quality yet still expensive. I hope and AMF like company doesn’t buy Colt.

    • Colt won’t be able to convince the government to tax their competition so they can stay in business…

    • You mean like the Freedom Group?

      At least HD came out the other side of AMF. And while I don’t own one, nor want to, I really have to admire both their marketing acumen and their engineering improvements. Switching to belt drive is a great example of the two working together.

      But I digress. One reason Harley managed it is the passion and mystique the brand holds. That’s a thin thread to grasp, especially when the company in question has a lot of really good competition, has a smaller market segment, and has managed to gradually alienate or at least disinterest many of those who should be its code customer.

  6. Oddly enough a Native American tribe is bidding for the remains of Colt. Sadly it seems like a typical private equity story, the Wall Street types come in, line their pockets and run it into the ground. Remington and Chrysler come to mind, because Cerberus made billions while screwing up big-time.

    • “Oddly enough a Native American tribe is bidding for the remains of Colt. ”

      Now that’s interesting.

      I hope they make a go at it. If they manage to pull it off being minority owned will have a huge impact on .gov contracts.

      Not to mention a business where members of their tribe learn and use serious metalworking skills.

      It won’t be easy. A Florida tribe about 15 years back bought a small aircraft manufacturing company but weren’t able to succeed at it.

  7. I’ve always loved these. Like an attractive version of the Ruger P85/89. Joanna Dark used one in Perfect Dark.

    In a lot of ways they suffered the same fate as many AMT products. The initial runs are complete garbage and ruin the reputation of the brand, so nobody buys the very good follow up product.

    • That’s one game which I haven’t thought of in a long while! My kid brother used to get quite irate for two reasons; me hijacking his Nintendo when he wanted to play Turok, and for zapping him constantly in multiplayer by using the laptop-gun in sentry mode.
      Now that I’ve thought about it…. I’d rather track down and buy a “vintage” N64, a full set of controllers, and a couple good games, than spend my money on a Colt Double Eagle.

  8. Colt can’t bring back the Python. There’s no one left who knows how to build them to the quality level that made them desirable. And anyway, selling a bunch of super-expensive revolvers isn’t going to save Colt. Colts problem (besides the investment company that’s been financially raping them for years) is that there’s nothing Colt builds that 50 other companies don’t build as well as Colt but cheaper. Every gun manufacturer in the world builds an M4 clone and a 1911. Colt needs to ditch their financial overlords and innovate. “Innovate or die.”

    • Bingo. I don’t care if you have all the toolsets ready to go- which they assuredly don’t- the tools don’t make the guns. The Python was one of a series of revolvers that were built by craftsmen who had decades of experience. The human capital that allowed for that level of manufacture is no longer there, and would take years to build up. Colt doesn’t have the years or money to build that capacity.

  9. I live in The Peoples Republic of Connecticut and have been to the Colt factory in East Hartford . I have a Diamondback( bought in 1978) that I took to the factory to get checked out . The security guard @ the desk liked it,said name your price . I refused . I’d buy a Match Target AR-15 tomorrow if I could,but the socialists/communists/Democrats in Hartford have banned all evil black weapons here, along with the evil “assault” clips that hold more than 10 rounds

  10. Your assessment was pretty much on.

    Except you missed a couple of things.

    1) Ziens, who bought colt in 95 also tried to buy FN that same year. If he had succeeded. Things in the military market would have gone much differently.

    2) The guys at Sciens Capital, the current owners of Colt are not ignoramuses. They have bled the company dry. The money went right into their own pockets. And now, here is the brilliance. After the Chapter 11 re-org is done, they are the leading contenders to gain control of the company (now free of all debt) again.

    They looted the company and are now bidding to buy the carcass for pennies on the dollar.

    They are assholes. But they are not fools.

    Don

    p.s. CT is a small place. Everybody knows somebody who works at colt. I know two. One works in the custom shop. They leave him alone. He makes money for them. Another worked in accounting. He left a couple of years ago because what he was being asked to do, he felt was unethical.

  11. I think that Double Eagle failed not just for lack of reliability but for unforgivable ugliness, as well. Fact of the matter is, we all have our own styling peccadilloes, and beauty is always in the eye of the beholder. That pistol is beautifully finished, but totally out of proportion. Who in God’s name made that triggerguard?

    I’ve thought about picking up a Colt All-American 2000, just for the novelty of it. They can be had for mid 300’s on Gunbroker from time to time, it appears. However, that’s still a bridge too far considering their unreliability, potential future collector value (I would like to be able to shoot it from time to time at least) and most of all, I can’t waste money like that. Maybe if it were 200 to 250, but even then it would still be wasting good money. Sad but true. More likely, I’ll just have to save up for an older (think 50’s and 60’s, back when they truly made good guns) 1911 of some variety in a few years when I land a better gig. Time will tell.

    Tom

  12. Eye of the beholder; I think it looks awesome. In fact, reading this now feels eerily similar to the R51 rollout and Remington’s tough times. Thanks for posting.

  13. I have very little experience with wheel guns and have never fired one of the “Snakes”. With that being said, what exactly made them so desirable?

      • That comes across a lot harsher than I meant it to. Pythons, to me, have always looked “tacticool” before most people thought of such things, with the unnecessary underlug and pointless vent rib. And I see devotees constantly referencing “servicing” and “tuning.” My dad’s got a Smith model 28 that will still make one ragged hole at around fifty yards, and it’s only been user serviced for three-and-a-half or four decades now. Can we admit that part of the appeal was that the “snakes” were the bad guys’ guns? Sort of like the boost that Chrysler got after Bullitt and (sort of) Vanishing Point?

  14. “A lack of quality control, overpriced products, a small product line…the list goes on”

    Don’t forget the United Auto Workers, the same thugs that ruined Detroit.

    All labor unions should be outlawed, they do nothing but run companies into the ground and bankrupt governments with their ridiculous unsustainable benefits and wages.

    • That’s right! Who needs the 1st amendment right of freedom to associate? If it saves just one job… Do it for the children!

        • Of course you do — you just have to treat all customers equally, the same as the government has to treat your religion. You only get a pass if your organization is a religious organization.

          In a civilized world, a business owned and run by a private individual or married couple could choose to serve or not to serve as they pleased. Unfortunately, we’re not sufficiently civilized to run things that way yet — if we were, the response to gays wanting to marry would have been shrugs and “It’s their lives!” statements (or a movement to kick government out of marriage altogether and just let people make their own decisions).

      • “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.”

        Nothing about association.

        • It’s there by implication. Or if you reject that, it’s in the “catch-all” Amendment, where all rights are reserved to the people.

          Or are you one of those people who thinks rights come from a legal document ‘owned’ by the government?

    • I’m not a fan of unions as a whole, and they were a drain on American automakers, but a lot of industries deal with unions and still manage to stay profitable. Yeah, there pay and benefits were outrageous, but the big 3 also made garbage cars that no one really wanted to buy.

      • Lumping together all unions is kinda like lumping together all of any organization and smearing them all on account of the worst apples.

        Unions are like any other organization where power gets concentrated: it gets abused. Unions were what built our middle class, and were a shining example of what sensible people could do together — until a few corrupt folks realized what kind of power being in charge of a union gave them. History has shown the same with churches having too much power, and with corporations having too much power, and with political parties having too much power — any time humans band together in a way that gives power over others, corruption comes running in to screw things up.

    • To be fair and consistent, all corporations should be outlawed, too: if people can’t be allowed to choose to band together for one economic reason, they shouldn’t be allowed to band together for any economic reason.

  15. The only colts I miss are the dick special and the woodsman. The dick special saved my fat ass a couple of times and the woodsman was just a hoot to shoot.

    If colt brought back the classic dick special with the unshrouded ejector rod and passable quality I’d buy it just for nostalgias sake.

    • About two or three years ago, I passed up an old school Detective’s Special like you describe for around $200. And I just recently passed on an old Woodsman for less than that. I had reasons, but none of them have held up. Actually, I think I’m going back to the pawn shop that had that revolver, I might make them an offer if it’s still there. I mostly passed because I grew up raised by a S&W fan, and I don’t personally own a single S&W revolver, not even a Model 10. And, sometimes, you just financially have to pass, no matter how great the deal is. $200 is most of my rent.

      However, unless a Woodsman has ordnance marks, I’ve got my Mk II, and I’m happy with that as a .22 pistol.

  16. I bought a bran new Colt Python back when. A nickle plated .357 model. It’s one of those things I kick myself in the ass for getting rid of. Who knew back then!

  17. What is the issue with the 3d Gen SAAs? I mean, other than the fact that they are three times as expensive as the Italian clones?

  18. Now why would the Leadership at Colt give a Damn what happens to this company! Most of the big boys have their golden Parachutes ready!
    All Colt Pistols have been Junk since the 70’s, along with the junk M class of Rifles!
    They will manufacture their line of Junk Overseas or Mexico then charge whopping prices for this junk!
    Another Bloomberg win! buy this company on the QT, bleed it dry! bankrupt it to preserve the profits and help the anti gun movement! sorta of like the freedom group buying up all the competitors bleeding them dry or manufacturing junk under their Name so you will get disgusted and buy under their Name Brand!

  19. While I would dearly love to see the Python back in production, I don’t believe it will save the company. IMO, Colt needs two things to become profitable.

    1) An AR-15 line that is competitive in price, features, and quality. The AR has become the staple of the American guns market. It’s easy to make and easy to sell, and many gun makers are already doing it. If Colt could produce a milspec AR in the $750 range, their financial woes would mostly disappear. They can build on that with higher priced AR’s with more features, and maybe an AR-10 line too.

    2) A modern pistol that is not a 1911 or a warmed over 1911. No disrespect for the 1911, it’s just not what most shooters want to carry these days. Again, many gun makers have a modern pistol as a staple product. We love variety in our pistols and any new design that works reliably is embraced, even if it isn’t completely new or original. A good quality polymer pistol would generate sales and give them a chance to get some military or law enforcement contracts.

    Without staple products, Colt will ultimately falter again. They need guns that will sell in good times and bad, and guns that average people can afford. Many of us would love to own a SAA or Python, but they are once in a lifetime purchases that come after we have filled our safes with mundane “everyday” guns.

  20. “A lack of quality control, overpriced products, a small product line…the list goes on.”

    You clearly haven’t handled a current production Colt or looked at their prices lately. While the SAA’s are overpriced, their 1911’s and AR’s are no more expensive than their competitors in the mid-range market. Their QC is also leaps and bounds better than it was in the past.

  21. My first weapon was a Colt M-16A1. My first personally owned weapon was a police surplus Col Officer’s .38 that I bought dirt cheap as a poor college student. I shoulda held in to that – they are going for ten times what i bought mine for.

    I know have two Colts in my gun collection, an Officer’s model compact 1911 .45, and a new model Mustang Pocketlite (the all metal version of the Mustang). The quality of the Pocketlite is quite good, but the gun was expensive compare to other pocket .380s, and factory sights kinda suck. It’s a regular in my rotation, thiugh, because it fits in a pocket (Talon wallet holster), it has a better triger than ither pocket guns, and it goes bang every time.

    I hope Colt can turn it around, but if they can’t succeed in today’s booming market, their long term prospects are dim. Their fate rests upon having someone buy them out that actually wants them to prosper over the long run, instesd of the current crop of parasites who are sucking the host dry, will get out if debts bia bankruotcy, and will walk away rich leaving nothing but a hollowed out corpse of a dried up old Pony.

  22. Didn’t Colt hire years ago a retired Marine 3 Star general to provide leadership? Well, maybe the the time has come to hire a forward thinking expert to lead and pay attention to detail. If the company cannot upgrade, then it is time to leave the gun industry and start manufacturing lawn mowers (if they are competent enough).

    • He wasn’t hired to provide leadership, he was hired to provide an “inside track” as a lobbyist for military sales. He failed.

  23. Colt’s AR 15 are not “below average”
    A Colt LE 6920 is exactly the same as an Fn 15
    They are as close to a mil spec M 4 as a civilian can get without going SBR for a 14 inch barrel.
    Both are built to the exact same technical data package as the military guns.
    A Colt LE 6920 costs about $900 new and can be had for a little less by looking for sales on line. That is a fair price for a mid range AR
    A Ruger, Olympic or even Mossberg entry level model goes for $600
    A high end Larue, BCM, H and K or Daniel Defence will be $2,500 or more.
    You can argue all day long about if it is worth it to pay more for “mil spec” or above mil spec. But a Colt will be the exact same as an FN
    You can trust your life to it.
    Our troops do.

  24. I have two of the series 90 (full size and a commander size) Colt fixed the issues plus the fit and finish on both is very good. The SA/DA action on each is nice both have a few thousand rounds of cycling and show very little wear and no breakage! Gun dealers and writer’s alike panned the firearm and could not see the reason for a SA/DA pistol thus, it became a flop poor marketing and Colt management arrogance did little too help. Not a Colt fan but I do like the Double Eagle given a few years and better marketing it might have been a success considering the “Woodie” Guns and Ammo got over the POS high cap Para Ordnance a few years later and how Innovative the DA/SA was! Colt like S & W has been their own worst enemy hopefully they also can be restored too glory but, I wont hold my breath.

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