What Happened to the Colt All American 2000? By: Travis Pike

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What happens when the legendary Colt company employs two of the biggest names to exist in the AR-15 world to produce a pistol?

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Well, you get the Colt All American 2000, a gun very few of you have likely heard of.

Colt’s attempt at breaking into the modern handgun world — the All American 2000 (Photo: Gunauction)

Reed Knight of Knight’s Armament and Eugene Stoner, the creator of the AR-15, worked together to develop the pistol which would become the Colt All American 2000.

Even with two heavyweights and Colt backing them, the All American became a dumpster fire somewhere between the design and the manufacturing process.

So let’s take a look at this little-known pistol and find out what went wrong…

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The Beginning

Reed Knight and Eugene Stoner went to work in 1990 to produce a pistol, which was somewhat new for the two AR makers. They designed the pistol and made some initial prototypes, and Colt later decided to purchase the design from Stoner and Knight.

Colt needed a modern pistol for a modern world.

In 1992, that meant a 9mm handgun with a polymer frame, a striker-fired action, and a double-stack magazine. Colt was only producing 1911s and revolvers in terms of pistols, and they were suffering for it.

A metal framed version of the Colt All American. (Photo: Joesalter)

While the Colt All American started life with a polymer frame, metal frame models also exist.

Beretta and Glock were taking over a chunk of that market, and Colt desperately wanted a little piece of that pie.

Colt even named the gun the All American to try and dunk on those European companies who were dominating the market. They saw the Colt All American 2000 as a means to achieve a new market share.

Inside the All American

The Colt All American was an odd duck or an innovative swan, depending on how you view it. Most would say it’s an ugly gun with a very…interesting aesthetic.

The All American used a rotating bolt system that was relatively novel for the time. Sure, guns like the older Steyr 1912 utilized a similar design, but it wasn’t common in 1992 by any means.

A cutaway rendering of the Colt All American. (Photo: Gérard Henrotin)

The barrel and slide lock together for a short period, just the first few millimeters of travel. They then unlock, the barrel rotates, the locking lugs unlock, and the slide cycles rearward to eject the spent cartridge before coming back forward to pick up the next round.

Reed and Stoner used roller bearings inside the trigger assembly. The idea was to provide a smooth trigger pull of roughly 6 pounds. However, Colt’s lawyers didn’t like having a trigger that light.

They advised doubling the trigger pull to 12 pounds, which kind of killed the smoothness of the roller-bearing trigger. I guess it could’ve been worse, but crap, they would have had to really try hard to be worse.

An early prototype version of the Colt All American 2000 (Photo: Rockislandauction)

The weapon already used a true double-action-only trigger.

Most modern striker-fired guns use a partially cocked striker that is only technically a DAO trigger. The All American’s true DAO meant a long travel backed by a heavy 12-pound trigger pull.

However, the true DAO trigger meant the gun had second-strike capability in the event the round didn’t fire the first time. The double-stack magazine also gave the shooter 15 rounds of 9mm, which brought it into the modern era of firearms design.

So What Went Wrong?

As you’d imagine, the long, heavy trigger pull wasn’t desirable. However, a lousy trigger won’t necessarily sink a gun — what will sink a gun is an unreliable design.

Ian McCollum of Forgotten Weapons shows off the workings and discusses the history behind the Colt All American 2000.

Colt All American pistols were notoriously unreliable and often failed to make it through an entire magazine without a malfunction.

Additionally, in 1993 they were recalled due to a safety issue where the guns could fire when dropped or even struck hard.

Accuracy was a major issue as well. Its long double-action trigger combined with a kooky front sight design did nothing to help in that department. The front sight sits on the barrel bushing, and as the barrel bushing wears, the lockup becomes a little loose.

A look at the front sight on the All American (Photo: Onlinehuntingauctions)

So when the barrel bushing becomes loose, the sight drifts.

There also seemed to be further mechanical accuracy problems. Mike Irwin of American Rifleman claimed the gun fired groups as big as 25 inches at 25 yards.

Final Thoughts

When you look at the odd design, the terrible trigger, horrid reliability, and abysmal accuracy, it’s no wonder the All American only saw two years of production.

Colt was embarrassed by the weapon and rightfully canned the design. Reportedly the design almost bankrupted Colt.

The All American may have been an early warning sign for Colt of their impending fate and ultimate selling of the company 20 years later. (Photo: Joesalter)

Colt historian Rick Sapp called the All American “one of the most embarrassing failures in the company’s history.”

Does anyone have experience with the Colt All American 2000? If so, let us know what you think below. Interested in other failed designs? Then check out our article on What Happened to the Hudson H9.