Just as the title says? What if Colt had secured the sole importation, distribution, and marketing rights of the HS2000 for the US Market in 2002?
Colt had previously struck a deal with CZ to develop and import the Z40 and sell it under the Colt brand. The Colt Z40 came out of a deal between Colt Firearms and the CZ.
In the early 90s, Colt was coming off the unsuccessful launch of two designs that they were betting the farm on for serving the law enforcement market, a market that GLOCK, SIG SAUER, Heckler & Koch, and Beretta were stealing away from them.
The Double Eagle Series 90 was a DA/SA 1911 single stack gun with fragile lock-work. It was simply a 1911 Series 80 slide mated to a DA/SA frame.
The gun was a failure, as was the Eugene Stoner designed All American Model 2000. The Model 2000 was actually a hell of a gun on paper as originally spec’d out by Eugene Stoner. But once Colt got their hands on it, it was ruined by the lawyers and sported a trigger pull that you can start on Sunday and it wouldn’t go bang until Thursday.
Colt needed something for the law enforcement duty pistol market so they reached out to CZ, who at the time was looking to enter the US market. The two struck a deal and arranged to produce a pistol made with a 1911-pattern grip mated with the CZ-75 slide assembly and internals.
The guns were chambered in .40 S&W since that was the new hotness for the LE market at the time. Since the 1994 Assault Weapons Ban was in effect, they limited new production magazines to 10 rounds.
But Colt backed out after only about 800-1,000 were sold and dropped the gun from their inventory. Why? Because Colt thought they were going to strike Smart Gun gold. Colt’s Joe Cartabona showed their Smart Gun off in 1998 on the History Channel’s Tales of the Gun series.
I actually have the series on DVD and pulled the following screen captures from my boxed set. Even though it is DVD, this was filmed in the era of VHS still reigning supreme. So the quality isn’t that great but you can clearly see the Z-40.
The gun worked with a special wrist watch that emitted a radio signal that would allow the gun to fire. If the watch wasn’t near the gun, it wouldn’t work.
The gun-buying market hated it, civilians and cops alike. No one wanted their gun to rely on a fragile battery-powered wrist watch that could even be canceled because of interference from their patrol radio. The reception was so negative that Colt ditched the project entirely, and with it, the Z40. They were worried that the gun-buying public would automatically associate the Z40 with the smart sun.
So by 1999, Colt was adrift with no rudder, no sail, and, in their case, not much of a boat. But by late 1999, a small company named IM Metal was making a pistol called the HS2000 and it was being imported into the US by Intrac of Knoxville, Tennessee.
The gun was gaining popularity, especially since it had a MSRP of $419 and a street price of $329. Also it had a nice way to get around the Clinton AWB because it used pre-ban Beretta 92 magazines by simply cutting a new magazine catch slot into the front of the magazine body.
The HS2000 was lightweight, capable, and affordable. It was everything the gun-buying community wanted at the time. It even went through a rapid upgrade to make it match what GLOCK was offering.
The gun was doing so well that in 2002; Springfield Armory, a company with an extensive record of importing foreign made guns (their 1911 and M1A line were made by IMBEL of Brazil, they brought in Greek-made G3 pattern rifles, and also sold a CZ-75 pattern pistol made by Fratelli Tanfoglio of Italy as the P9).
Springfield took notice of the HS2000’s success and anticipated a hot item. SA negotiated the rights to be the sole importer and distributor of the HS2000 and re-branded it as the Springfield Armory eXtreme Duty pistol.
They did so well with the gun that it won the NRA’s Golden Bullseye Award in 2006. And the rest is history.
But in the alternate timeline of our thought experiment, Colt negotiated the deal and the HS2000 is sold and branded under the Colt label. At that time, they were still looking for a solid foothold in the law enforcement market and if Colt played their cards right, they very well could have gotten manufacturing rights and made them stateside.
I firmly believe that if Colt approached IM Metal (now known as HS Produkt) instead of Springfield Armory, the XD line would have a better share of the law enforcement market since IM Metal probably would have agreed to better trade deals with Colt due to their history, stature, and long-established connects to government contracts.
Springfield was never able to make much of a splash in the law enforcement market with the XD because it isn’t their gun. They’re simply the sole importer, marketing the gun in the US.
They don’t manufacture the XD and couldn’t supply parts to agencies. They can’t make specific agency contract requests. If HS Produkt decides to shut down production, Springfield Armory is out of luck. Colt, on the other hand, probably would have secured stateside manufacturing rights or might have even bought the design outright.
With a product like the XD and its later iterations in their lineup Colt’s fortunes might have been very different.
So what do you think? What if the HS2000 had become the Colt XD pistol, possibly even being made stateside? Would the gun have done better breaking into the law enforcement market?
Tell us what you think.