1909 Colt Army


May 1, 2007, 12:46 AM
My neighbor, gone now, brought me this old revolver and asked me if I would take it as she was afraid of it. I think I gave her $100. for it as I had no idea what it was worth. I took it home and cleaned it and noticed on the bottom, 1909 U.S. ARMY. Wow I was impressed to say the least. It was tight as a drum, but the finish was so so. It looked like it had been refinished. There were some markings on the right side "R.A.C.". I couldn't find out what those letters stood for. I long since sold it. Several years ago I was reading an article and found out what those letters stood for. It was the Army inspectors initals. Renaldo A. Cohen - I'm going from memory. Don't know if I got his name correct or not. It was a robust revolver. I bought a box of ammo and was impressed with it's accuracy and lack of recoil. Anyway, I sold it for $650. and I tried to give her some more money. She wouldn't have any part of it. She was just glad that it wasn't in her house anymore. The Army only used it briefly as their "offical" sidearm, bering replaced by the good old 1911, but I'm sure she saw service somewhere. If only guns could talk.

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May 1, 2007, 05:00 PM
Was this a revolver? I dont seem to be able to find a model 1909 colt revolver but did find a 1909 colt auto.

May 1, 2007, 06:25 PM
The Colt New Service Model 1909 Army was a military revolver built on the large frame and most often seen in .45 Colt caliber.

May 1, 2007, 11:09 PM
The interesting part that I forgot to mention is that the extractor would not catch the ctg. rims. I thought someone had buggered her up. Some years later I learned that the Army specified a larger rim. Go figure.

May 2, 2007, 07:22 PM
Thanks Bill I see it now

Jim K
May 2, 2007, 09:25 PM
The name is Rinaldo A. Carr; he was a civilian employee of the Army Ordnance Department, assigned to the Colt factory as a sub-inspector of small arms. His mark on a part means it was inspected and passed. The head military inspector's initials will be on the grip to show that the gun passed inspection and was accepted by the Army.

I have had a friendly argument with another collector as to whether the M1909 was formally adopted or merely purchased as a stop-gap measure until a suitable auto pistol could be found. I say it was adopted and, since no one knew for sure that an auto pistol would be adopted in the near future, it was intended to be the official military sidearm for an indefinite period.

Colt chambered the M1909 for the standard .45 Colt cartridge (the ".45 Long Colt" not the .45 ACP like the M1917). But the Army found in testing that the small rim of the .45 Colt was often missed by the extractor, hanging up the gun. So the Army had Frankford Arsenal make special ammunition, identical to the .45 Colt, but with a larger rim, and it was that ammunition, the M1909 Cartridge, that was always issued with those revolvers. (Manufacture of special ammunition is, to me, another indication that the M1909 revolver was intended for extensive service, not merely a temporary measure.) The regular .45 Colt can be fired in the Model 1909, though, with no problem.

It is often mentioned that the M1909 cartridge cannot be loaded in the Single Action Army except in every other chamber, due to the rim size, and that it won't fit the S&W Schofield. Those statements are true, but made no difference at all to the Army, since both guns were obsolete in 1909.

M1909 revolvers are sort of the "forgotten gun" of U.S. service, falling between the .38 Colt double action series and the M1911 auto pistol.
They are scarce and highly desireable as collectors items.


May 3, 2007, 12:20 AM
Jim, Many thanks for all your information. I tried researching this revolver, but didn't have much luck. I was able to find out that it took a ctg. with a wider rim. That is one of the reasons that I sold it. I thought someone had messed with the extractor. I had a hard time selling it. I think the book value was around $1200 to $1600 at the time, but I needed the money more than I needed the gun. I could probably buy it back as I sold it to a good friend of mine. By the way I don't recall any markings on the grips. Were the markings on the underside of the grips?

Old Fuff
May 3, 2007, 01:17 AM
At one time the Old Fuff was researcing a book on the Colt Model 1909. It is a very interesting revolver with some great history behind it. Most of it hasn't been touched on.

It was a special revolver, for a special mission, using a special cartridge, for which a special gunpowder was developed... :uhoh: :scrutiny:

Incidentally 10 rounds of those cartridges recently sold at auction for.... $147.00 :eek:

Will he tell? Of course, he's a blabber-mouth of the highest order... :D

But he's not too fast when it comes to typing. You'll have to wait for a day or two. :(

May 3, 2007, 01:44 AM
I'll wait the day or two Old Fuff
My first handgun was a 1909 that my grandfather "liberated".

Still a fine shooter although it is on the semi retired list now.


May 3, 2007, 02:10 AM
I've been lusting after one of those underappreciated beauties for years. They seem to be rare as hen's teeth.

Old Fuff
May 3, 2007, 09:52 AM
Ah.... Sam. :uhoh:

Do you know under what circumstances your grandfather "liberated" his 1909, and about when he did it...?? ;)

Jim K
May 3, 2007, 01:09 PM
True about the DuPont special powder, aptly designated "RSQ" because it "rescued" the Army from embarassment when it could not get the Frankford loading machines to work right with the other powders tried. RSQ was a smokeless powder. As noted above, the Army was making its own cartridges since the commercial .45 Colt would not work properly in the revolver.

While the M1909 was obviously adopted to provide a modern revolver in .45 caliber for the Philippines after the .38 caliber failed there, I have not seen any indication that it was "a special revolver for a special mission." All indications I have found are that it was intended to be THE standard service handgun for some indefinite period until a suitable auto pistol could be found. While we now know that the M1911 would be adopted in just two years, there was no way to be sure of that in 1909, as pistol trials had been ongoing for years, were proceding at a glacial pace and improvements were coming slowly.

I erred on the grip cartouche, as they didn't use that on the M1909; the final inspector's initials F.B. (Maj. Frank Baker) or W.G.P. (Maj. Walter G. Penfield were on the right side of the frame.

The M1909 was, of course, what in civilian life was the Colt New Service. There were really three military models. The Army one was marked Model 1909 on the butt; the accepted production figure is 18,303. Some 1000 more were made for the Navy with the butt marked U.S.N without the Model number, and 1300 for the Marine Corps, marked U.S.M.C. on the butt.


May 3, 2007, 01:46 PM
Jim Keenan, I looked over this revolver pretty well when I had it and I do not recall any of the final inspector's marks on the gun anywhere. Do you think I should buy it back from my friend? I knew when I sold it that there wern't many made, but at the time I was between jobs and didn't have any choice.

Thanks, Ken

September 13, 2007, 12:18 AM
Sorry for the late reply O. F.

I wasn't told what unit he was in when he had to pay for the "lost revolver", He was at Fort Stanton NM when the Columbus raid took place and had it with him at that time. If it helps it is SN 3590X


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