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Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by LawofThirds, May 26, 2010.

  1. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Well-Known Member

    Ok, I've got a serious lust for one of these little guns after handling one in .32 ACP. I'm really seriously considering buying one that's seen better days and having it hard chromed or nickeled as a carry piece.

    Are there any problems with these guns that I should be aware of, any quirks or issues that one needs to keep an eye out for? Is there any source for replacement parts or is it a "time to mill it out of barstock at a ridiculous price" kind of setup.

    Is there any way to put an ambi safety on these little guns? I'm a lefty and while I've got no problem with just relying on the grip safety, an ambi setup would be super sexy.

    And just for good measure: If you've got one, show us some pictures!
  2. VA27

    VA27 Well-Known Member

    I've seen really crappy lookin' ones that still shot great. I don't think I'd put any money into a finish for a carry gun. If it works properly, just carry it. Mine's been in the family since the early 30's and it still shoots great.

    The only problem I can recall is that the original rubber grips can break pretty easily. If you have wood grips, no worries.

    Parts will be an Easter Egg Hunt since the gun hasn't been made since WWII.

    Ambi safety? Never heard of one, but as the car guys say: Anything is possible if you have enough money.
  3. HisSoldier

    HisSoldier Well-Known Member


    Why have a Rolls when you can have a Yugo?
  4. mayo 111

    mayo 111 Member

    i think the colt 1903 is a beautiful gun.. never shot it in .32 but the .380 is niiice. i wish i had the cash to get one.. I say if you really want one and want to refinish it go for it.. its always fun to make something the exact way you want it.
  5. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    I agree, and I kick myself because two colts (03 and an 08) I saw for 300 together, but didn't think much about it, went to check for the phone number afew hours later and they were sold...

    So now I keep an eye out, the are pretty and I'm also looking for ruby's and european .32 from the same era, cool little guns.
  6. M2 Carbine

    M2 Carbine Well-Known Member


    My Wifes.
  7. Shadow 7D

    Shadow 7D Well-Known Member

    Just had to rub it in, eh

    Those are nice looking guns, his and hers
  8. Ed Harris

    Ed Harris Well-Known Member

    Colt Pocket .32 ACP

    I love my Type III .32 ACP and do carry it frequently, because it is flat, accurate and for me a natural pointer. Only non-starter on one of these is if the barrel is so bad that accuracy is poor. A lightly pitted salt & peppery barrel will shoot fine, but one which is deeply pitted with loose spots will shoot poorly and replacement barrels for these are almost impossible to find.

    That being said, my plain vanilla pistol with "dark but strong" rifling shoots 4 inch groups at 25 yards, sandbagged, using RWS or Fiocchi 73-gr. FMJ ammo. It actually shoots the cast bullet loads I use for practice a bit better. I use the Saeco #325 semi-wadcutter which is a miniature Keith style bullet intended for the .32 S&W Long. This bullet weighs 98 grains and has a large meplat which makes a big hole, yet it feeds reliably. I load 1.8 grs. of Bullseye, crimp bullets in the normal revolver crimp groove and use a Lee Factory Crimp die. This shoots to the sights at 15 yards. You could also use the RCBS 32-90CM or buy the 94-grain Meister Cowboy bullets.

    Useful info and comments on the .32 ACP at this link:
  9. RonBernert

    RonBernert Well-Known Member

    I carry my 1903 quite often! It is one of my favorite guns by far.. I bought it for very little money, started a good cleaning and the finish was near non-existant. I polished it up nice and shiny with 0000 steel wool, put a very healthy coat of automotive wax on it and carry it everywhere! Absolutely fantastic gun- You will love yours!! If you consider a .32 too little for stopping power, you need to remember that most of European police departments carried 7.62 ammo guns for years and years.. Mine may be ratty but it's always admired.. Shoots like a million bucks, too!
  10. josephbw

    josephbw Well-Known Member

    I have one, and it is my favorite pistol for plinking. It is very accurate, easy to shoot and low recoil. I just got dies to reload .32 acp, so now I may shoot it even more.

    The very first time my daughter shot a gun, she used this one. At about 10 yards on her very first shot ever, she got dead center in the bulls eye. If you can find one, they are a fun gun to have.:D
  11. MattTheHat

    MattTheHat Well-Known Member

    I have two very early Type I 1903's. Very nice shooters. One of mine was made in 1904, and aside from the finish wear, it looks darned near new.

    I also have an early Type I 1908 in .380ACP, as well as a couple of Type III's. All are excellent, and accurate shooters.

    I have carried them before. However...

    I wouldn't personally carry one with a round chambered as they've been known to fire when dropped. In fact I "know a guy who knows a guy" who was killed when he dropped his.


  12. MAKster

    MAKster Well-Known Member

    If you buy one make sure it comes with an original Colt magazine. It's really difficult to find Colt mags and they are very expensive. The newer after market mags don't work reliably.
  13. hhb

    hhb Well-Known Member

    I own two, and the only thing I did was to order new Wolff recoil springs for them. The old springs are older than dirt.
  14. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    A good point. The original design did not have a half-cock notch on the hammer to catch it if it followed down, and since the hammer was enclosed there was no way to safely lower it when the hammer was cocked and the chamber loaded.

    This changed 1922 at serial numbers 422,000 (.32) and 66,000 (.380) when a safety notch as added to the hammer face, and at the same time they also changed the firing pin to an inertial type, of the kind used in the 1911 Government Model.

    The above dates are approximate because the older hammers were still used until the supply was gone. To check your own pistol (s) do the following:

    1. Field strip the pistol.

    2. Pull the trigger, and carefully lower the hammer, and then push it backwards about 1/4" after releasing the trigger. See if you hear a "click", and if the hammer remains where it is, and doesn't return to the full-forward position. If it doesn't see if you can engage the safety lock (manual safety) and if the grip safety pops out about the same time. If so you have the later style hammer with a safety notch.

    3. If the hammer goes fully forward, and you cannot engage the safety lock, and the grip safety doesn't pop out you have the older, and much less safe hammer without the half-cock notch. Be advised to carry with the chamber empty.

    4. After checking the pistol, push the hammer back to the full-cock position and then reassemble the gun.

    5. Remember if you have a pistol with a magazine disconector you will have to insert an unloaded magazine before the above procedure can be performed.
  15. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Well-Known Member

    So it would be best to look for a type III with a high serial number?

    Can the newer, drop safe parts be swapped into an older gun if I find a junked late model donor?
  16. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Well-Known Member

    Yes, because I've done it. But later-style hammers are not easy to find (most people, including many gunsmiths don't know they're is a difference).

    Generally firing pins are not a problem.

    Concerning "junker" guns. All to often if the gun is a junker,the internals are too. It would be a better idea (and probably less expensive) to find a used hammer. Try the following link, but be sure you explain exactly what you want. Also keep in mind that now the Old Fuff has blabbed the already short supply is likely to get smaller.


    Yes. if you intend to carry the gun, especially with the chamber loaded. But those that are in "nice" to "like new" are getting to be very expensive.
    Last edited: May 27, 2010
  17. From 1912 & 1913. [​IMG][/IMG]
  18. LawofThirds

    LawofThirds Well-Known Member

    wow, those are beautiful Sharps.

    I'm not looking for a minty beauty, I'm looking for one that's been carried often, shot little that's got serious wear (no pitting from abuse/disuse, just honest wear) and a fairly clean bore that's mechanically solid.

    I figure a carefully chosen hard chrome or re-blue by a reputable gunsmith can keep the lettering relatively intact, give the gun a tough as nails coating that will preserve the steel and allow me to shoot and carry the gun for the rest of my life and then be able to pass it on.

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