The Colt Double Eagle


Remember these? Maybe some of you have never even seen one. This is the Colt Colt Double Eagle series 90 pistol. Made from 1989 to 1997 it was colt’s too late attempt to get in on the double action/single action auto market. This was a time when DA?SA autos were on the rise. The Police had been dumping 6 guns like crazy and buying the DA/SA autos with higher magazine capacity. The DA/SA made lawyers and bean counters rest easier and make people afraid of condition one carry of SA pistols feel all warm and fuzzy inside. Things like awful DA triggers with decockers were ascendant.

Unfortunately the time was not a very good time for Colt and as they have done a few times over the years, they came out with it a day late and a dollar short. They were just a little too late for this one.

The gun uses the same magazines as the 1911 and slide and barrel.

I recall when they first came out, my Dad wanted one bad. Always a fan of Colt and Colt pistols, something about it really spoke to him. Then one day we went into a K-Mart ( if you are a certain age, the idea of K-mart selling any guns is probably a shock. In fact, now that I think about it, you might be thinking “what the hell is K-mart?”) we walked to the gun section and they had a couple. A commander and full sized. Dad’s desire to own one ended as soon as we had it in our hands.

You can see the frame and tell it does not lend well to modern pistol gripping doctrine. That looooong trigger pull was also pretty atrocious.

The series 90 quietly died and went away in 1997. By then the AWB was on and Colt went back to making 1911s the way God intended.

The Double Eagles came in a variety of chamberings, the rarest in 40 S&W. The officers model in 40 S&W is probably the rarest. If some one offers to sell you one some day, buy it for resale.

A few years ago Colt tried another version of a DA/SA and I don’t think it lasted a year. I have never even seen one of the new ones in person or know anyone who has that doesn’t work at Colt.

For the market they wanted , above is the pistol Colt should have refined for LE sales and commercial sales to catch on to the wonder 9 and DA/SA craze. The Colt submission for the “offensive pistol.” for one of the military’s big ideas. No light/laser mount and dumping the break/suppressor mount and a being out in the early to mid 80s would have probably seen a lot more success.


  1. The grip was not a good feel at all on those and I don’t remember selling even one, lots of interest untill you felt it. Oddly enough I have seen several, including an Officer’s model, pop up on our local trading board in the last year. I guess a true Colt collector would need examples to round it out.

  2. Compare and contrast, circa 1950 Colt and Smith & Wesson both build prototype da/sa 9mm pistols for a US Army trial. Colt puts their prototype on the shelf, S&W starts selling theirs as the Model 39 and subsequently adds a double stack magazine (Model 59). Fast forward to the 80s wonder nine craze and Colt is slapping a double action on the 1911 and flopping while S&W is on its third generation of da/sa pistols and has made so many variations you need a poster sized wall chart.
    Worse, the same thing happens again in the 90s, S&W management sees the rise of Glock and starts making the Sigma, Colt dismisses Glock, and the closest they get to a modern striker fired pistol is a failed smart gun based on a CZ.
    While there are things to criticize post 1950 S&W over, they have been consistently smarter about product planning than Colt.

    • Great analysis. There are many things to criticize S&W for, and the Sigma and the overall response to LE’s demand for a double stack DA 9mm are certainly one big one.

      Europe began with 6.35, 7.65 and other mini 9mms (The 9×19 was a BIG caliber). They had the awesome heel magazine release, which most Americans hate.

      And yet, they responded to the needs and desires of the US Civilian, Military and LE market while our domestic firearms makers didn’t.

      Colt, etc… got complacent and it cost them.

  3. Colt’s management was brain-dead by this point. They had grown fat and lazy on the M-16 (and variant) contracts for the military. They had endured the labor strike, but responded to it poorly, remaining in a union state and beholden to the union’s demands. They allowed the elder master gunmakers to leave without transferring knowledge and training to the younger generation of employees.

    If there was a mistake to be made in running a gun company, Colt’s management has done it in the last 30 years.

    • Colt isn’t a gun company. It’s a front for financiers who use it to play games with equity, IP, and subsidies. The fact that it manufactures guns is secondary to that function. I don’t think the people actually running the company are really even aware they make and sell guns, at this point. I mean, yeah, they probably have that in their peripheral vision, but is it why they’re there? Nope.

      It’s kinda like GM, which gradually morphed into a pension and financial services company that also made cars on the side.

      • “I don’t think the people actually running the company are really even aware they make and sell guns, at this point.”

        This is entirely typical for companies that are run by MBAs. The company barely provides a product or service: it’s just a spreadsheet that money moves through. A series of inter-linked “key performance indicators” that all mysteriously trend negative 5 or 10 years after the MBAs implement their “cost-cutting measures” to “right-size the workforce” and “respond to market forces.”


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