The Colt OHWS is a prototype pistol designed by Colt's Manufacturing Company for the USSOCOM's Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS) competition. The Colt OHWS competed against the Heckler & Koch OHWS in the competition and was eliminated, and the Heckler & Koch design was eventually adopted by the USSOCOM as the Mk 23 Mod 0.
In the early 1990s, the USSOCOM proposed the Offensive Handgun Weapon System (OHWS), a handgun weapon system intended for special forces usage consisting of a handgun, a suppressor, and a laser aiming module. The OHWS pistol would serve as a primary weapon within special forces usage, rather than a secondary weapon like handguns in other military branches. The OHWS is intended to use the higher pressure .45 ACP +P cartridge.
In August 1991, two developmental contracts of the OHWS were awarded to Colt and Heckler & Koch. Colt had one year to design a new firearm for the OHWS project, an unrealistically short amount of time. The final pistol designed by Colt for the OHWS project competed against Heckler & Koch's design, who based their design off of their USP design that was already in development when they were awarded the OHWS developmental contract.
The Colt design was eliminated in the Phase 1 testing of the OHWS project, due to barrel failures during endurance testing caused by issues with machining. The H&K design would progress through the OHWS program and was eventually adopted as the Mk 23 Mod 0.
The Colt OHWS design is based on three of Colt's previous pistol designs: the M1911, the Colt All American 2000, and the Colt Double Eagle. The Colt OHWS is based on an M1911 frame with ambidexterous safety, and featured the rotating barrel design of the All American 2000, and the double action trigger and decocker of the Colt Double Eagle.
Due to the rotating barrel, the suppressor cannot be directly mounted onto the barrel, as it would negatively impact its reliability. Instead, the suppressor is attached to a muzzle brake mounted on the frame of the pistol. The suppressor of the Colt OHWS is designed by Doug Olson of Knight's Armament Company.
The Colt OHWS also had a slide lock feature, where a mechanical lever on the frame can lock the slide into battery, still allowing the pistol to fire but preventing the slide from cycling. This would effectively make the pistol single-shot, and allow suppressed shots without the noise of the slide chatter, and without ejected casings. This feature is also present on the H&K's prototype OHWS design, but was eventually eliminated due to SOCOM's concerns.
- Colt Offensive Handgun - YouTube