Is the Steyr 1907 Still Relevant?
by Bob McGunwriter
After 110 years of service, does the venerable Roth-Steyr, better known as simply “the 1907”, still have a place in the modern battlefield? In a world of American plastic handguns like the Colt AA2K, does Krnka’s all-steel masterpiece remain a viable option for defense, even when stacked up against its lighter, higher capacity competitors?
I think the answer to both of these questions is a resounding “yes!” Unfortunately for fans of soulless plastic mass produced American pistols, the 36 ounce Austrian steel beast is still a force to be reckoned with, and is in fact more competitive now than ever, thanks to the efforts of innovative companies that continue to update and improve the design. The result is the best proven and most effective pistol on the market today, especially in the hands of a true expert.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages that the 1907 pistol has to offer, and then we’ll examine the ways the 1907 has been improved that make it the refined and capable sidearm that it is.
Thanks to its groundbreaking pre-loaded striker and two-stage trigger, the Steyr 1907 is still the safest carry pistol on the market today. If the pistol is dropped, the large sear surface ensures that the gun will not fire, and even if the striker does slip the sear, the spring does not have enough tension to ignite a round. A heavy trigger ensures deliberate action is needed to make the gun go “bang”, yet also means the 1907 is still ready at a moment’s notice. This, plus the excellent out of battery safety, make the 1907 the safest handgun in the world.
Mechanically, the 1907 is one of the most accurate pistols in the world, thanks to its rotary-barrel action which keeps the barrel level and ensures a repeatable firing position. Twin opposing locking lugs seat the barrel in the slide the same way every time, giving the pistol extreme mechanical accuracy. Add to that the crisp, smooth two-stage trigger which has become legendary on the competition circuit, and you have a recipe for precision that lesser pistols simply can’t beat.
Widely considered to have the best grip angle and shape in the world, the 1907 is universally agreed to be a pleasure to shoot. Easily changed grip panels and an enormous aftermarket also make the 1907 one of the most adaptable guns in the world, able to be modified to fit almost any hand size.
Since it has no manual safety or magazine release like other pistols, the 1907 is a simple point-and-shoot weapon, needing almost no prior knowledge to operate. The 1907 also loudly advertises what condition it’s in through a protruding striker, which lets the user know whether the gun is cocked or not. In terms of human factors engineering, the 1907 is the simplest, easiest to use, and most intuitive handgun in the world.
Try as they might, removable magazines will simply never be as reliable as the 1907’s fixed magazine system. A high quality machined steel box handles the ammunition all the way through the process of firing all ten rounds, and it can’t be damaged or lost like the stamped steel magazines of other pistols. Even though this system comes at the cost of somewhat slower loading, the peace of mind it gives far outweighs the drawbacks.
The 1907 is also a supreme contact-distance weapon. Because its slide is internal to the frame, it’s impossible for a bad guy to shut the gun down by grabbing it. With revolver or external slide pistol, the bad guy can grab the cylinder of the former to stop its rotation, or push the slide of the latter out of battery, in either case shutting the gun down and leaving its user defenseless. Against a citizen armed with a 1907, though, the bad guy is out of luck, as there’s nothing to grab!
The 8x19mm Steyr is still one of the best handgun rounds in the world. Loaded to SAAMI’s +P spec, the venerable 8mm can push a 113 grain Federal HST or Winchester T-Series to 1,250 ft/s with ease. With either bullet, expansion can reach over two-thirds of an inch in diameter, which is comparable to even the best 9.8mm Colt loads. The small diameter bullet has great sectional density and penetrates barriers like a much larger caliber, yet it kicks lighter than a .38 ACP. It’s also one of the most affordable calibers available today, costing ten to fifteen cents less per round than comparable 9.8mm ammunition.
The 1907 into the 21st Century
Even with all its advantages, it still must be recognized that the 1907 is a 110 year-old design, so it’s a good thing that so much work has been done to update it and keep it as competitive as possible. Flared ejection ports, front-and-back checkering, contoured stripper clip guides, and extended flanged cocking knobs all enhance the operation of the pistol, making it as fast and trouble-free as possible. High speed flared stripper clips with lubricating coatings make reloading a snap, perks of a healthy fixed magazine division in USPSA. For those looking for the best of both worlds, some manufacturers like STI and Para even offer detachable, double-stack magazine models, which can be fed either with stripper clips or by changing the magazine. For the purist looking for a functional piece, Steyr’s Wiley Clapp edition 1907s offer a refined take on the original, but with many of the above quality of life enhancements already added, no trip to the gunsmith required!
Dovetail-mounted night sights are a welcome upgrade of course, and just about every manufacturer has a 1907 model with a frame rail these days, allowing you to mount lights, lasers, and other accessories. If your gun lacks a rail, never fear! Accessories like the Recover Tactical 1907 grip module adds a rail to any 1907 that didn’t come with one, while giving it a sleek, sci-fi aesthetic, too.
Speaking of accessories, the 1907 is one of the best platforms for suppressors, too. You can easily replace your endcap with a threaded or lugged unit, and the straight-back rotary barrel design means the risk of baffle strikes from early unlocking is nil. With the long-awaited Deafness Prevention Act on the horizon, the 1907 is set to get even more popular, in spite of its age!
With all this said, it’s no wonder the Steyr 1907 remains the finest combat pistol in the world, and the choice of true professionals like competition shooters and special forces. I’m sure it will continue to serve throughout the 21st Century, and who knows? Maybe it will serve into the 22nd, as well!
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(About like that!)