RARE: A Look at the Colt OHWS (SOCOM) Prototype Pistol

    For those who do not know Alex Young, he is an avid aficionado and collector of Colt products and rare AR-15s. I wrote an article on his collection of original Colt roll dies for the AR-15 and M16. Well, Alex has managed to acquire a Colt OHWS. Here are some photos he shared of his Colt OHWS.

    OHWS @ TFB:

    Back when SOCOM wanted a new Offensive Handgun, the two main competitors were H&K and Colt. H&K ended up winning the contract but what happened to the Colt OHWS? See what Alex wrote about his Colt OHWS.

    Colt’s Offensive Hand Gun (OHG) [Colt OHWS]
    So this has been something I have been wanting for a while and my first guess was possibly getting one from the Colt archives but was told there weren’t any left.
    I also sent an email to a few high end dealers that have dealt with larger collections and higher colt employee collections and still nothing.
    I know 42 [Colt OHWS] serial numbers were made with 30 being shipped to crane in 1992 as tests for the SOCOM’s contract that HK and colt entered. Before that, 2 ‘prototype 1’ guns were made using modified Colt Double eagles with 1 being destroyed. They then moved on to ‘prototype 2’ guns which I was honored enough, thank you to a certain individual putting me in contact with the owner, to get. When I made my offer, I assumed it was for one of the 12 other excess guns colt made. Of those 12, maybe 3-4 still exist. This one was an X marked ‘prototype 2’ version which was the same gun sent to Crane except they had a different finish.
    The [Colt OHWS] Offensive handguns were a beast of a gun. The contract stated that it had to be at least 10 rounds of 45 capable of shooting 45 +P, have a laser aiming module, quick detach suppressor, double/single action, decocker, slide lock for suppressed single shot use and then weight and dimension requirements.
    Colt management at the time was suffering a huge loss due to the failed Am2000 design they bought from Knight’s and didn’t have 2 cents to rub together. The pistol I bought was from of the design engineers so most information came from him as well the Crane report I will mention later.
    With the overwhelming debt Colt had, they saw an opportunity to use the Socom contract money to do more research on some current models they were having issues with. Management made the engineers use the double eagle trigger action and the rotating barrel of the AM2000 both of which the engineers said was a horrible idea, but management wanted the time and money to find a way to fix these 2 systems.
    So the engineers made this from what they were allowed to do by management.
    Colt even went to S-Tron for the laser aiming module (LAM) which they ended up going bankrupt during phase one testing and could not supply colt with any parts of assistance during testing. Reps were not even sent to Crane to assist in their own product. Almost every unit was deemed worthless at the end of testing due to cheap materials and several didn’t work right out of the gate when the crane soldiers were unboxing them upon delivery.
    The muzzle device did have some Eugene Stoner inspiration. When he was accompanying Reed to the back vaults of colt getting anything of value to get reimbursed, the engineer introduced himself to Eugene and asked him about an issue they were having with attaching a suppressor mount to a rotating barrel and he sketched something up really quick and the design was based upon that. Again, rotating barrel, not a great idea but managements idea.
    The main issue with this design was that the barrels cracked around the 20k-23k range. The barrels were machined incorrectly from their suppliers and have a sharp face instead of a slanted face to soften the blow so they were cracking right at the sharp face. There were other smaller issues like misc springs and small parts breaking but those are simple fixes. The guns also averaged 6” unsupsressed and 11” suppressed, again due to a managements decision for a rotating barrel.
    The magazines that were tested in the prototype phase were adapted off the shelf 11 round magazines that colt later made themselves some 10rd mags for the actual trials.
    The colt submission was a last minute design and by the time everything was done and loaded and the drive was made, they had made it to crane within 3 hours of the deadline so they cut it pretty close!
    So with this [Colt OHWS] specifically, the engineer was able to save the original engineers log book from the trash for this specific gun documenting all rounds and issues this gun had over its 23k round life. The main things were the barrel cracking at around 10k round and ended breaking at 21,500 and being replaced. Also a few other small parts at the 21k-23k range so if the barrels were machined correctly, probably last a lot longer than that. All of this was with 100% 45+P ammo so pretty good. I also got an original S-Tron manual, pictures of the colt offensive handgun team, crane test team and a copy of the X prefix book showing this serial number.
    Also from a different collection just this last week I got the original Crane report that was sent to command in FL for colts pistols [Colt OHWS] showing all serial numbers, testing factualities, pictures of guns, and defects. It also goes over issues they saw and what needed fixed in phase 2 that never ended up happening.
    So, excuse my poor article writing and such but hope this was informative and brought some light to an otherwise dark program.

    Photo by Alex Young

    Colt OHWS

    Photo by Alex Young

    Photo by Alex Young

    Photo by Alex Young

    Photo by Alex Young

    What an amazing piece of history and such provenance. Thank you Alex Young for sharing your Colt OHWS with us and the world.
    Nicholas C

    Steadicam Gun Operator
    Night Vision & Thermal Aficionado
    Flashlight/Laser Enthusiast
    USPSA competitor

    Any questions please email him at [email protected]


    Advertisement