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.
Like the CZ 75 and the SIG P210, the slide rides inside the frame, resulting in a very low bore axis.
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.
Minimal sharp surfaces to hang up on clothing while trying to draw.
That would make a sweet ‘Velo-Dog’ pistol while pounding out miles on the bike.
Nice doggie… 🙂
Interesting. It’s touted as striker fired, though an external hammer must be pulled back in order to fire the gun.
IMHO, that’s a hammer fired gun.
Change my mind.
Its not a hammer. Its just a cocking mechanism for the striker. Maybe I explained it poorly. The slide cocks the striker, but this little ‘hammer’ allows you to decock the pistol or manually reset the striker for a 2nd attempt when a gun fails to fire.
maybe it has a striker instead of a hammer. i mean, you’d just grab that little striker tail and pull back. it’s not as if you’re cocking a pivoting hammer.
no idea if you ~have~ to pull that dringus back to cock. probably cocks when racked. i’m guessing four possible modes de carre.
If I’m not mistaken, lowering the “hammer” on a loaded chamber will result in the firing pin resting on the primer of the chambered round. So don’t do that. Otherwise it’s cool.
Had several 1907’s and 1910s back in San Antonio. They used to wash up in pawn shops a lot. Unfortunately pawn shops work both ways.
A very cool pistol. I wouldn’t hesitate to carry it if was all I had, but not my first choice. Based on caliber only. A Savage M1907 for $250? Throw me in that briar patch.
Thoughts on the .32 Acp
Contrary to popular myth the .32 acp is not an anemic cartridge. If you ever wondered why the German army chose the .32 acp over the .380 acp it was because the .32 acp would penetrate a helmet while the .380 bounced off of it.
The .32 acp is a rimmed cartridge and can suffer from rim lock if you load your magazine wrongly.
The only real bitch I have about the cartridge is that its often difficult to find a 71 grain loading that is also an expanding bullet. I dislike the lighter weight bullets because of their shorter overall length which often causes jams in older .32 acp pistols, especially ones with steep feed ramps.
The .32 acp cartridge is also much more pleasant to shoot than the .380 acp as its recoil is not as heavy or sharp. I have suffered more pain shooting a .380 acp pistol in the winter time than I have when I fired a .44 magnum. If you do not believe me try this some time.
The only .32 auto pistol I have ever owned that had really painful recoil was the diminutive .32 acp Seecamp. The back of the Seecamp’s trigger guard will rap your knuckle very painfully when in full recoil. And of course you cannot fire 71 gr. bullets out of it either as the overall length of the cartridge prevents it from being loaded in the magazine so your restricted to the lighter weight bullets for which it was designed for.
The .32 acp can be shot cheaply with lead bullet handloads. Red dot is my favorite powder for this caliber.
Back in the day a boatload of surplus French Walther police .32 acp pistols came into the country, and they sold for only $200. No one wanted them because they were not in .380. which of course was pure ignorance. My friends and I knew better and we all bought two of them each. One I bought was unfired. It was very accurate and reliable. I carried it in a large coat pocket for many years in the winter time and in an in the waist holster in the summer time.
Cool story, brah. Pull the other one. It has bells.
They have a cool look to them. Almost art deco and dieselpunk.
Cool. More like this please.
My last pay test was a fail. I worked my ass off and the boss tested me with minimum wage.
I said hey, Rome wasn’t built in a day, I’ll finish the rest of it in a couple weeks but not for a bunch of grapes and a one night stand concubine.
Yup the gunms of old were, and are, a lot more interesting then the plastic gunms they’re making now.
I picked up a 1913 vintage example a few years back. Points surprisingly well. As an aside, Buffalo Bill Cody and Theodore Roosevelt each owned one, and Bat Masterson was featured in an ad.
I had an employer, Rich I. in the mid 80’s that owned a Savage 1907 in .380 ACP. His father had purchased it in the 1920’s, and it passed down to him. Both of us being gun nuts, we frequently went to the range and I had the pleasure and privilege of firing the gun several times. In .380, it grouped nicely at 7 to 10 yards, and yes, the sights were too miniscule past that. Firing that Savage, was why I ended up purchasing a Walther PPK/S in .380, and when I got my CC permit, it was my CCW for the next 25 years.
I’ve not fired much .32 ACP. I see more .32 ammo on the shelves at LGS’s now, than I recall seeing it 20 to 40 years ago. Being a member of the local municipal range for 40 years now, there’s a few .32’s of various brands among the members, but not any Savage 1907s. Rich passed a number of years back when I was out of the area, and so I never got the chance to offer to purchase that gun (and a few others he owned), when his widow sold his collection. One of those “if only” moments.
Congratulations on your find Travis, and thank you for sharing with your readership. I follow you on GAT Daily and your podcast too.