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Colt 1908 Vest Pocket

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by HDCamel, Sep 6, 2014.

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  1. HDCamel

    HDCamel Member

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    Picked up this 1914 production Colt Model N 1908 Vest Pocket Hammerless the other day.

    WP_20140903_007.jpg

    I can't seem to find any definitive sources on which bluing process was used. One source says that Colt changed from the high polish finish with charcoal bluing they used at the turn of the century to a more subdued and more durable brushed finish with salt bluing sometime in 1914, but another says any serial number before 135,000 (which was early 1916) should have the early bluing process. As the pistol is just shy of 119,000 SN, neither of these pieces of information precludes it from being charcoal blue, but I don't have a known charcoal blue example to compare it to to confirm if it was before or after the change and, like all Colts, the camera doesn't really do it justice. I would describe the reflective properties of the 1908 as a "clouded mirror". Whether this is due to simple wear or a less intensive polishing process is a mystery at this time.

    When compared to my Series 80, the old 1908 isn't nearly as vibrant...

    WP_20140906_013.jpg

    ... but my Series 80 doesn't have a century of wear and tear, so the comparison is limited at best in its usefulness.

    Still, I couldn't be happier with it.
     
  2. gazpacho

    gazpacho Member

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    Neat! Enjoy it.

    If I remember correctly, Aguila fmj was a pretty stout loading for this caliber
     
  3. HisSoldier

    HisSoldier Member

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    I expect that were the little Colt as new as the 1911 type the difference would not be as dramatic. I have a 1908 Colt in pretty good condition, even the color case on the safety looks great though I've read that CCH doesn't last. Those old Colt craftsmen were true artists, working for probably $1.50 a day. It was a time also when small parts were machined and filed from solid barstock too, it does make me wonder what that gun would cost made the same way today.
     
  4. HisSoldier

    HisSoldier Member

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    I can't help but also notice that the late model Colt has waviness on the sides of the slide, the little Colt doesn't. That is caused by the surfaces not being as flat of course, doesn't effect function but requires care and craftsmanship.
     
  5. rcmodel

    rcmodel Member in memoriam

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    Looks typical, plus great condition for a 100 year old Colt.
    Definitely not refinished.

    Go here and look at:
    Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket Hammerless .25 ACP - Standard Blued Variations


    http://www.coltautos.com/1908vpstand.htm

    rc
     
  6. Vodoun da Vinci

    Vodoun da Vinci Member

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    Nice gun! Congrats on finding it! :)

    Shoot it yet?

    VooDoo
     
  7. HDCamel

    HDCamel Member

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    I think that's just the reflection of the curtains. The 1911 is mirror polished with no imperfections that I've seen. Even though the rollmarks are more pronounced because of the elimination of a polishing step after they were applied, the finish on the Series 80 Enhanced is at least as good as older Gold Cups.

    I've looked, unfortunately, my gun is 13,000 above the early 1914 example shown with high polish finish. I'm generally inclined to believe the change happened in 1914 as I trust the source from which I heard that. As the pistol is a mid-late 1914 production, either way, the gun has at least a little more historical significance to it because it's either part of the very last run of Charcoal Blue 1908s or the very first run of Royal Blue 1908s.

    It'd just be nice to know for sure where it falls.
     
  8. jfrey

    jfrey Member

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    It is hard to say from the pictures but my 1908 built in 1912 has a very highly polished finish and the bluing, though worn, is very shiny. The grips on mine are also more rounded on the top compared to yours. This would lead me to believe you might have the later finish, but again, that is only based on the pictures.
     
  9. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Colt changed from what they called their "trade finish" which today is often called "charcoal blue" around mid-1918. The finish was a deep/dark blue to blue/black, applied over a very high polish using a heat (rather then chemical dip) process. The application of this finish was to say the least, extremely labor intensive and expensive.

    So they changed to what is called a "gas oven blue," that was another heat process applied over what looked like a wire brush polish. The result was a much bluer looking color that combined with the lesser polishing was much less light reflective. Part of the driving force behind the gas oven blue was the Army's desire for a less expensive but durable finish, and since it wasn't practical to do both they went to the newer method on all their blued products.

    Gas oven bluing continued until about 1941, when the gas-fired ovens were removed and later scrapped to make room for Parkerizing tanks. During the war and following, Colt's blued parts were colored using the now common "chemical dip" process. Colt's particular equipment and bluing salts were purchased from the Due-Lite company, which I believe is still in business.
     
  10. snooperman

    snooperman Member

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    Very good shape for a 100 year old pistol. Enjoy shooting it. Thanks, Old Fuff for all the info on the finish.
     
  11. spm

    spm Member

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    Old Fuff, I have a question about this model Colt and believe you to be the person to ask. The Colt 1908 Model N Vest Pocket looks like a mini 1911. It has an external safety and a grip safety. Is it safe to carry it cocked and locked, as a 1911?

    Thanks,
    s.
     
  12. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    Not in my opinion, but it may be safe enough.

    The 1911 has a conventional rotating hammer with a half-cock notch on the face to prevent the hammer from falling far enough to hit the firing pin if for what ever reason the sear fails to hold it, and the firing pin is the inertia style wherein the pin is shorter then the hole it is in, and pushed backwards by a spring that keeps it retracted inside the slide's breech face until the hammer hits it with a stronger blow.

    The little Vest Pocket .25 model is in entirely different design. It is striker-fired and in the unlikely event that the sear doesn't hold it and it falls they're is nothing to stop it. At the front end the nose is extra long so it will also act as an ejector. Because of this GREAT CAUSION should be used when hand ejecting a loaded cartridge that is in the chamber. If the slide is forcibly jerked backwards the protruding firing pin will hit the primer dead center!

    But I must point out that this particular design - which in Europe was copied by everybody and their brother, often without the grip safety - does not have a reputation for unintentional or accidental firing, even though the pistol, including unauthorized copies is unquestionably the most common pistol design ever manufactured.

    I have personally carried both a Colt and identical FN Browning without any negative incidents, but I was present at a shooting range when someone jerked the slide back hard with foreseeable consequences. If you carry one with a loaded chamber be sure it is in good mechanical shape and use due care.
     
  13. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Fuff is correct on the firing pin iseue, but the same system was used in the FN Model 1910/1922 for many years without too many problems. (Even the firing pin, spring and guide for the three guns are interchangeable.) Most of the Spanish copies of the little Browning used the hammer system instead of the striker, while central European copies often used strikers. (The Czech DUO firing pin is also interchangeable with the Colt and FN guns.

    On the finish issue, I can't be sure without better pictures, but I think that HDCamel's gun has been reblued. The gas oven process Fuff mentions is called Carbonia blue and does not depend solely on heat; a chemical is added to the gas oven. That chemical is, AFAIK, still a secret. Carbonia blue is still used in many tool making applications. It is part of the heat treatment process and cannot be repeated, so heat treated guns needing refinishing by Colt or S&W (which used the same system) had to be rust blued or salt blued.

    Jim
     
  14. spm

    spm Member

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    Thanks, Fuff. I knew you would have the answer. I may come into one of these and have always wondered.

    s.
     
  15. Jim K

    Jim K Member.

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    Deleted.
     
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