Colt 2000: The last modern pistol with barrel rotation

Author: Ian Hogg

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Colt 2000 pistol was introduced in January 1991. It was initially designed by C. Reed Knight and Eugene Stoner and then adopted by Colt. It is probably the only modern pistol to use barrel rotation to lock and unlock the breech, a system used by comparatively few designs during the XX century. It is also known as Colt All-American 2000.

Design and firing mechanism

Colt 2000, as initially produced, had a steel slide and polymer frame, though latterly the frame has also been made of steel. The barrel fits loosely in the slide and is locked to it by lugs on the chamber end, which engage in recesses on the inner surface of the slide. The barrel also has a lower lug which engages in a ‘cam block’ which rests in the frame.

The breech is closed by the rear end of the slide, which also carries the self-cocking firing pin mechanism. There is no manual safety catch. The only external control is the slide stop release; it was the declared intention of the designers to produce an automatic pistol that was as straightforward to use as a double-action revolver.

Colt 2000 semi-automatic pistol
Colt 2000 semi-automatic pistol (Photo: XY)

Loading is done in the usual manner, by inserting a magazine in the butt and then pulling back and releasing the slide. After that, firing is simply pulling the trigger; this presses back the striker and then releases it to fly forward and fire the cartridge. Barrel and slide then recoil, locked together, but as they move, the bottom lug on the barrel is drawn along a curved path in the cam block, turning the barrel through an angle of about 30 degrees to free the upper lugs from their engagement with the slide.

Once these are free, the barrel stops, having come to the end of the cam path, and the slide continues rearwards to extract the empty case, eject it, and then return under the pressure of its return spring, The next cartridge is loaded, and the pistol is again ready to fire. The striker is not cocked but is engaged with the trigger set, prepared for the next shot.

Colt 2000 is the last modern pistol with barrel rotation. It is also known as Colt All-American 2000
Colt 2000 is the last modern pistol with barrel rotation. It is also known as Colt All-American 2000 (Photo: Colt)


One of the advantages of this design is that a proportion of the recoil force is passed, via the bottom lug, to the cam block and then spread over a much greater area of the frame than is usually the case. This produces a much smaller amount of ‘felt recoil’ for the shooter, and consequently, the Colt 2000 pistol is more easily brought back to the aim after a shot.

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Technical specification: Colt 2000

Manufacturer: Colt’s Manufacturing Co. Inc., Hartford, CT
Type: locked breech, semi-automatic, self-cocking
Caliber : 9 mm Parabellum
Barrel: 4.49 in (114 mm)
Weight: 29 oz (822 gm)
Magazine capacity: 15 rounds
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5 thoughts on “Colt 2000: The last modern pistol with barrel rotation”

  1. Exquisite gun superbly executed. Except that Colt’s lawyers insisted to double the trigger pull, which really destroyed its excellent design.

  2. I was writing ad copy for Colt at the time of the 2000’s introduction. It was an interesting concept, and Colt anticipated major sales to law enforcement agencies. Unfortunately, this 9mm pistol was introduced at a time when .40 S&W had become the “flavor of the month” for police departments.

  3. The trigger pull was ridiculous, as was the price. It was ugly and it never really caught on. It was a typical Colt SNAFU.

  4. The Colt 2000 was hardly the last pistol to have a rotating barrel. The Beretta PX4 Storm is still in production and has a rotating barrel. The Beretta is extremely accurate and dependable. It is one of my favorite carry guns.

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