By David Tong
A look at the history and details of the Savage Arms Model 1915 .380 Auto Pistol.
USA -(Ammoland.com)- What would you say about a slim, striker-fired, single-action pistol for concealed carry that had a double-stack magazine and a loaded chamber indicator in today’s market?
One with both a grip safety as well as a thumb safety that pushes down for fire, the way they should?
One that is snag free from a large pocket or from under just a T-shirt or light sweater?
Savage offered such a pistol, in the Savage Arms Model 1915 .380 Auto Pistol, a startling one-hundred ten years ago!
The company, so well-known for bolt-action sporting rifles today, and lever-action hunting rifles eighty years ago, once was a competitor to Colt for the US Army’s service pistol trials in 1907.
The subject of this article is the Savage Model 1915 .380 Auto Pistol. Designed by Elbert Searle, the earliest version of the handgun, the Model 1907, was chambered in both .32ACP & .380ACP. The company revised the 1907 by eliminating the hammer-like cocking indicator and made it even more snag-free on the draw. However, the follow-up M1917 reverted to the cocking indicator’s installation.
Savage Arms Model 1915 .380 Auto Pistol Specifications
- Type: Single-action, semi-automatic medium automatic pistol
- Construction: Carbon steel, machined from forgings, blue finish. Gutta-percha stocks
- Method of operation: Mechanically-delayed recoil-operated.
- Magazine capacity: 9 rounds .380
- Length: 7.0”
- Width: 0.825” across grips
- Height: 4.1”
- Weight: 21oz.
- Barrel length: 4.25”
The Savage Arms Model 1915 .380 Auto Pistol retained the general outline and control layout of the Model 1907. The slide’s flat hold-open lever (“slide stop”) is located on the right side of the frame where the tip of your straight index finger can reach it. This is elegant engineering – no protruding “slide stop” to add to the width.
Disassembly of the Savage Arms Model 1915 .380 Auto Pistol for Cleaning
Field stripping is “interesting.” After pressing the pinky-operated magazine catch on the lower front strap of the butt, remove the magazine. Clearing the chamber, fully retract the slide and hold it open against the compressed heavy recoil spring. Place the safety on “safe” by rotating upward. Turn the rear of the bolt clockwise ninety degrees and remove straight to the rear. Interrupted lugs retain the piece when assembled.
Push the slide, barrel, and circumferential recoil spring to the front and remove. The pistol is ready for cleaning.
Reassembly is, “in reverse order.” I must say that compressing the very heavy recoil spring and holding the slippery slide / barrel shroud assembly in place, and pushing the safety to safe makes the oft-dreaded 1911 pistol seem like child’s play!
The quality of the machining and smoothness of the internal cuts and polishing harkens back to a day and age where this sort of finish was expected.
How all the parts appear to be interlocked when fully assembled, is actually quite remarkable. The barrel, a removable and rotating part, acts as a fixed item when fired and thus in theory provides decent accuracy.
The very crisp single-action pull weighs approximately six pounds, with approximately 1/16” take up and reset distance with no discernable over-travel.
These are splendid figures even today for a striker-fired pistol. The pull itself is straight-back. This mimics the ideal motion of one’s index finger.
Not so good – the miniscule sighting system. Both sights are machined into the top of the slide, while the front sight is an approximately 3/32” tall inverted V. Needless to say, “aging eyes need not apply.” They might prove accurate if one has all the time in the world to focus and fire at non-moving (usually round bullseye) targets.
The two year production run of the Savage Arms Model 1915 .380 Auto Pistol and the small numbers of the .380 caliber pistols (under 4,000 pieces, according to some) means that it is a desirable item of Americana and an interesting technical development.
** Images: Rock Island Auction Company ( www.rockislandauction.com )