With a double action and styling built to compete with Smith & Wesson and Ruger, Colt’s Double Eagle pistol series had high hopes.
By the late 1980s, Colt had been in the revolver business for over a century and the makers of various M1911 variants since, well, 1911. However, at the time, the .45ACP-chambered single-action invention of John Browning was seen as dated in the police and personal defense “combat handgun” market when stacked against contemporary competitors such as the S&W 645/4506 or the various double-action/single-action (DA/SA) “wonder nines” of the era.
In response, Colt rebooted the M1911– why completely reinvent the wheel, right?– and made it DA/SA with a host of Reagan-era features like a squared-off trigger guard with serrations, black synthetic grips, and a matte stainless finish.
In the end, the Double Eagle shared a lot of M1911 parts, including the magazine, and lots of the same feel and surface controls although the grip is notably thicker.
Standard on the Double Eagle line was a rounded combat style hammer spur, reminiscent of that seen on the Browning Hi-Power or Colt’s later Combat Commander, in lieu of the more traditional flat spur of the M1911 series.
While Eagles are typically all-stainless, a small batch of two-tone guns was made by Colt with a blue finished slide over a stainless frame. Besides .45ACP, the pistols were made in .40S&W, 10mm, 9mm, and .38 Super, all of which are harder to find than the typical models.
While the standard Double Eagle used the typical M1911-length 5-inch barrel, there were also Combat Commanders with a 4.25-inch barrel, and Officer’s models with a 3.25-inch pipe.
In the end, the Double Eagle never really caught on for Colt and the line was closed by 1996, surpassed by increasingly popular striker-fired polymer-framed guns like the Glock.
Colt revisited double-action guns later with the All American (Model 2000), 90 Series Pony, the Pocket Nine, Czech-made Z40 and the Model O– but all were DAO guns, not DA/SA like the Eagle. All this further paints the short-lived Double Eagle into an interesting, albeit a very short, branch of the Colt family tree.
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