Three decades of Colt Commanders

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Three decades of Colt Commanders illustrate the changes that the Hartford gunmaker has incorporated in the “short” Government Model. The Commander was the result of a U.S. Army solicitation in 1950 for a pistol for officers. The spec called for a 9mm weighing less than 25 ounces and shorter than 7 inches. Three candidates raised their hands: FN and Inglis Browning Hi-Powers, S&W’s new Model 39 and Colt’s Commander. Like so many military small arms solicitations, this one went nowhere; no contract was ever awarded. However, Colt had a new pistol on its hands, called the Colt Commander. Production began in 1950 (one of the pistols shown here is 1951 production). Serial numbers of the first production simply added an LW suffix for “light weight” to the number, but in 1969 following passage of the Gun Control Act of 1968, serial numbers were changed to a CLW prefix. A year later, in 1970, Colt introduced a steel frame version called the Combat Commander. Three chamberings have been offered: 9mm, .38 Super and .45 ACP (all three shown here). As a bonus bit of trivia, one pistol sports “Coltwood” grips, a plastic grip supposedly resembling the grain of wood.


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