What if Colt Had Become the Importer of the HS2000 (XD Series) Instead of Springfield Armory?

Luis Valdes for TTAG

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.

Colt Z40

Courtesy Rock Island Auction

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.

Courtesy Tales of the Gun

Courtesy Tales of the Gun

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.

Courtesy Tales of the Gun

Courtesy Tales of the Gun

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.

Courtesy Springfield Armory

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.

comments

  1. avatar Marcus says:

    I think Colt was stupid to drop the CZ 40. Even if they didn’t like the association they could have imported Tanfoglio’s and eventually made their own or go to Israel for Jerichos. They had all kinds of options but yet again they chose to rest on their legacy and make more “Classic Colt” guns and sell them at a premium for every other no Colt copy out their.

  2. avatar Dude says:

    Interesting story

  3. avatar Billy Bob says:

    I’ve had my XD 45, it’s the 4″ compact for around 10 years now. I loved it when I first shot it and still love it today. I cant remember any problems, not even one failure to fire or eject or anything. Recently I was able to get a bunch of 13 round mags, with some increased to 15 with extensions, with the mag amnesty in California which lasted for a whole week. Oh boy. Wouldnt it be great if all of our elected representatives learned of and respected our great constitution and ammendments.

    1. avatar Matt(TX) says:

      I also like and carry an XD-45 compact. No problems ever. a compact mag and two regulars with the extension is some serious firepower.

    2. avatar mtnforge says:

      Been always interested in why the XD service pistols never seem to have the notoriety as the Glocks. Not that anything is going to de-throne the Glocks. They are a decent well made high quality product by any measure. Was there something wrong with them and I was totally blind to the causes? But after thousands of rounds thru mine with absolutely no trouble in any way. Never even a miss-fire from like a hard primer or fouling caused lock up timing I was a believer. Results speak for themselves.

      Like my XD 45 too. Tried the XD 9 out at my gun shop/range, asked if a .45 was coming. Put money on it about a month before SA came out with it. Never a single problem. Been thru 3 combat handgun courses now, a full 1000 round case of 230 ball ammo per class, maybe around another 1500 rounds regular practice, never failed in any way. None. Zero. Completely factory original. 14 rounds of .45 reliability, whats not to appreciate in my book.
      Got the XDS45 3.3, and XDe 45 now. Both those have been rock solid.
      I’m a welder by trade, bought a bunch of the XDS and XDe mags on sale, cut the feed lips off 7 round mags, made a spring guide to match two springs together out of delrin, they became my EDC 12 round extended, extra carry mags for the XDS and XDe, for when I don’t carry the XD service 45.
      Found out a really interesting thing about holsters and the XD’s I have above. All three fit the same holster, a Galco King Tuck, and the cheapy factory SA XD outside the belt plastic holster came with the XD45 orginally. Makes life real simple. Just swamp pistol as desired. The extended XDS & XDe mags i made fit in any 1911 style mag pouch like a champ.
      Both the tiny XD 45’s have around 350 230 grain ball rounds thru them, thats the round count where they felt like they had “worn in” or broke in. Kind of feel them running smoother. Been using ATOMIC 180 grain JKT HP defense rounds in all three for carry ammo. They shoot almost exactly like Buffalo Big Bore 180 grain hollow point jacketed. The factory ballistics are same. All three pistols seem to run real smooth and authoritative in how they cycle. Shooting at steel plates from 20 feet they smack those plates pretty hard and way faster than ball 230 grain FMJ. Put 100 rounds of both brands thru all three to check function/reliability. 100% in every respect. No failures of any kind.

      I want to like the Glocks. They seem like the same reliable pistols no doubt and very high quality weapons. But what I have works so reliably why fix what isn’t broke?
      Until I bought the XD 45 4 inch service, I had tried every .45 I could get my hands on. Even every sort of 1911 I could afford. Which I find the most sexy pistol ever created, except for a blue 4 inch S&W Model 29. Except that puppy is not the greatest CCW ever invented. The 1911 just doesn’t fit my big ol’ meathooks, I could never shoot one naturally. Now the XD45, every-time no matter the circumstance those sights are lined up perfect. I think this is the most important criteria next to reliability in choosing a self defense carry pistol where every second counts.
      The first time I pulled the trigger at the gunstore range when I went to pick it up, it was like no mistake it was the .45 ACP caliber pistol I always wanted.

      I think after reading this article, I’m buying some factory replacement parts, wear items, like recoil spring group, striker components, extractor etc, so if they ever fail I will have them. Small cost to keep a fine set of pistols running.

  4. avatar Barry McCown says:

    Colt would’ve screwed it up somehow. They always manage to find a way. They have the most popular rifle with the AR-15, one of the most popular handguns in the 1911, and created the gun that Cowboy Action Shooting centers around…yet they hold a small share of those markets. They trimmed the line down to mostly those three and still only hung on by the skin of their teeth for decades now. No, if Colt had got their hands on the HS2000, it would be as well known now as the Vektor CP1.

    1. avatar Whoopie says:

      Had Colt been the importer instead of Springfield it would’ve cost $100 more just because it had a pony on the slide.

    2. avatar BC says:

      I kinda agree. Colt woulda screwed it up somehow. Still, I would’ve been more inclined to buy one if brought in by anyone but SA, Inc.

      First Name in American Firearms, my rear end. Screw SA, Inc., even before their underhanded IFMA scheme.

  5. avatar MMurcek says:

    I like my Colt .38 Supers and I like my Springfield 1911s. Otherwise, I own SIGs and would consider a CZ (but not 9mm or .40 or 10 mm)

  6. avatar former water walker says:

    Well that’s swell…I’d buy a Colt HS Product. Never will I buy a Springfield(unless it’s used). @Feeling pizzed in ILLinois😩

  7. avatar Texican says:

    Colt declared bankruptcy DURING the greatest gun sales boom in history! That takes a special kind of ignorance to achieve. They don’t innovate and they over price their products. I could turn Colt around in less than a year and I don’t have any manufacturing experience at all. So, in conclusion, Colt would have figured out some way to hose up a deal with the mfr. of the HS2000.

  8. avatar Yes the grammar police says:

    PLEASE hire an editor. What is that “sentence” under the picture of the HS2000?

    1. That’s part of the image of the HS200 ad. It’s not part of this post.

      1. avatar Mmmtacos says:

        I think he’s referring to this:

        “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).”

        It’s a whole paragraph, but most of it is in parenthesis and before that is just half a sentence that goes nowhere.

  9. avatar Slow Joe Crow says:

    Based on Colt’s track record since the 90s they would have found a way to screw up the HS2000 as well. Colt’s recent owners have been more interested in financial engineering that gunmaking which explains why Colt and Remington both managed to go bankrupt during one of the largest boom markets for guns.
    Compare Colt with Smith & Wesson which despite political missteps and occasional QA problems still developed successful DA/SA semi-auto pistols, striker fired semi-auto pistols, and continued revolver production while becoming the largest gun maker in the US.

  10. avatar Specialist38 says:

    I think it is apparent what would have happened.

    Colt would have screw it up like they did everything else be cause they were run by smarmy bastards that catered to the anti-gun and statist crowd.

    They tried an end-run around other manufacturers to secure massive contract if they delivered a “smart gun” so that only the police and military would have access. (I guess kind of similar to what SA did in IL with legislation at the state level).

    It’s what happens when lawyers and accountants run a gun company instead of peop,e who shoot and like guns.

    Colt should have gone out of business but they have hung on like a hair in a biscuit with a couple of bankruptcies.

    The Colt 2000 is one of the most ergonomic handguns but was engineered into oblivion by the idiots running Colt.

    So what should have happened was some decent company buying Colt and making guns instead trying to screw everyone with brother-in-law deals with the government.

    Maybe FNH will buy Colt and bring a gun presence back to the marque.

  11. avatar jarret says:

    This article warms my heart as the first thing that always comes to mind when i think XD is ‘made in croatia’ on the grip. Always loved looking at that and having the owners tell me what a great “American” pistol their gun was because it was ‘made by springfield armory’.

    1. avatar Rammerjammer says:

      Yeah, but where are you supposed to grip the darn things?

      1. avatar BusyBeef says:

        If only there were some part of the grip, a zone, perhaps, clearly labeled so that I knew where to put my hands?

  12. avatar HellBilly says:

    Alternate gun history? I like it. I agree with those above that colt was so mismanaged it would’ve still gone down in flames. Colt is a bit like the Soviet Union in that regard, by the 2000s it had already gotten to the “rearranging the deck chairs on the titanic” phase. I just don’t think the xd line would’ve been enough to save the brand. Even if they secured the deal, they likely would’ve dropped the ball in its release and production.

    Interesting concept though, here’s some more ideas for other gun alternate histories:

    Gatling develops his gun for the confederacy.
    The USSR adopts the Avtomat.
    The US adopts the original concept of garands design.
    The British stick with their .280 Bullpup design instead of adopting the FAL.

  13. avatar Nanashi says:

    It would cost twice as much, but not be tainted by the gun control endorsement of Springfield Armory.

    1. avatar HellBilly says:

      Colt was even more pro gun control then SA, by a long shot. Colts goal was to become like the HK of the US after all private gun ownership was banned, therefore having no competition.

    2. avatar bryan1980 says:

      Colt’s feelings about civilian ownership of firearms was well-illustrated when they all but abandoned that piece of the firearms market. Yeah, SA screwed-up, but so has S&W and Ruger, but at least they continued to market firearms to civilians. All of them were taken to task for their missteps and corrected their courses.

      1. avatar Matt(TX) says:

        S&W = Hillary hole. I won’t own one.

  14. avatar 10x25mm says:

    Colt was primarily concerned by the optics of associating with a Croatian military supplier during the Balkan Wars of the 1990’s. The Croatian military had developed some reputational issues within the Clinton Administration and Colt has been a U.S. Government dependent for some time.

  15. avatar SkorpionFan says:

    Based on how Colt dealt with their partner CZ, I think Colt would not have even been interested in the HS2000, or would have screwed up tbe negotiations. I believe another company’s engineering/product solution would not have fixed Colt’s senior management problems. Case in point is the CZ RAMI story.

    According to an article in Small Arms Review (link below), Colt turned down the CZ 2075 RAMI subcompact pistol. CZ started in May 1997 on drafting an idea plan for a “mini pistol,” which would make use of the existing spare parts range of CZ 75 and certain parts of the then brand new pistol Colt Z 40, and would serve as a companion back up pistol to the Z 40 duty pistol. A wooden model of the proposed RAMI was then brought to one of the numerous meetings at Colt by the Technical Director of Ceská zbrojovka (CZ) – Ing. Jirí Necas – personally. The Colt people in Hartford actually refused to talk about the designed “mini pistol” and instantly rejected the submitted model. Further findings showed they had their own lucky choice: the sub-compact Colt Mustang in 9mm Luger, which was kept secret for a long time with its serial production about to start.
    http://www.smallarmsreview.com/display.article.cfm?idarticles=1634

    The RAMI has gone on to be a market success, still in production, and has seen aluminum and alloyed framed, safety and decocker versions. My friend has one for EDC and raves about it.

    1. avatar Mark N. says:

      The Mustang has gone onto great success–but not with a Colt pony on it. And even when Colt tried to rejoin the game (having allowed it patents to lapse), it screwed that up as well by making a plastic fantastic version that no one wanted. Meanwhile, Sig is making a fortune off the design, and Kimber has the Micro as well that is better than their unlamented Solo.

      1. avatar SkorpionFan says:

        Agree that the subcompact 1911/Mustang-style pistols are good guns…. And Colt screwed up again. Yet another example of how having a good product available didn’t/couldn’t fix the problems with Colt’s senior management.

  16. avatar S.Crock says:

    I’ve had a Springfield XD since 2012. I like it a lot and haven’t had any issues other than a slide not locking back sometimes with one specific mag. I would love to buy more Springfield products but I can’t support a gun company that doesn’t support the 2A.

  17. avatar Chris says:

    Hmmmm…..if Colt imported the HS2000 instead…well, at least it would never have “Grip Zone” emblazoned upon it. However, I’m sure Springfield would’ve found another pistol to put ridiculous scribbles on.

    1. avatar Sprocket says:

      That “Grip Zone” cracks me up. “Springfield: guns for people who don’t know how to hold guns!”

  18. avatar Brandon says:

    I have a serious question and hopefully TTAG can help me out. I see a ton of hate for the XD line of pistols from the more toxic parts of the 2A community that always go something like, “XDs are junk and you will die if you trust one,” or, “only the poors and idiots buy XDs.” I get that SA is not in good graces right now and the XDMs and Mod 2s look goofy, but is there anything mechanically wrong with the guns? Are they really that prone to failure compared to other big names in their class?

    1. avatar Sprocket says:

      Search the Primary & Secondary forum. They don’t get much love from the LEO and training community.

      1. avatar bryan1980 says:

        LEO’s are Glock fanboys, so I wouldn’t put much stock in their opinions. Not taking a shot at Glock, just at fanboys of any brand in general.

        1. avatar Matt(TX) says:

          I have a gen one XD-45 compact that has never given me any troubles. Yes, I still have to pull the trigger to take it down. It’s still a great gun. Mag extensions make it a great full sized gun. 10+1 rounds of 230 grain hollow point .45 is not to be sneezed at. I carry a full sized extra mag so 13 more. Close enough to 1/2 a box of ammo to call.

  19. avatar John in AK says:

    Looking at the Double Eagle, I can see from the outsides that the insides were a nightmare; The 2000 looks like nothing more than a modernized Japanese Type 94 with an elongated grip frame, or maybe a hair-dryer. The Z40, on the other hand, looks like a winner, visually pleasing and based on a sound design, and had Colt not dallied with the SmartGun crowd it might’ve been a contender.
    It even came in a proper calibre.
    All things as they are, though, if Colt had only followed the other large manufacturers, such as Smith & Wesson, bought a couple of Glock 17s to study, and come out with their OWN ‘Glockopy’ (think ‘Cock’), they might have turned themselves around. They could’ve added just enough frippery and extraneous bits (grip safeties, manual safeties, magazine disconnects, bits of felt in the over-complicated trigger mechanisms, take-down levers, giant warnings in huge letters on the sides of the slide, scallops and stippling and forward grasping grooves, things like that) to make the guns ‘unique’ enough to stand out from the Glocks from whence they came.
    Alas.

  20. avatar BusyBeef says:

    I will not purchase anything from the traitors at Springfield Armory.

    1. avatar Matt(TX) says:

      I bought mine before the Illinois debacle. Haven’t bought anything from them since. Still like the gun.

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