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Old 11-07-2014, 05:26 PM
Ozark Marine Ozark Marine is offline
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Default Colt 1903 AUTO "CALIBRE .32" SMOKLESS

Found it at a local pawn shop today. Any of you guys know anything about these? Put $35.00 down. S/N 1702xx dates to 1914. Hammerless, palm safety (like a 1911a1) and racks and trigger works. 2 mags.

Last edited by Ozark Marine; 11-07-2014 at 05:59 PM.
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:29 PM
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I'm pretty sure Colt was not making Stainless Steel guns in 1914. Maybe it was hard chromed somewhere along the way. That would make it a shooter grade gun, valued between $250-$450 (rough estimate if it shoots well), depending on condition.
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:29 PM
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Not stainless steel - most likely nickel or chrome plated. Cool little pocket gun in the day, and very well made.

Larry

Last edited by Fishinfool; 11-07-2014 at 05:31 PM.
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:31 PM
Ozark Marine Ozark Marine is offline
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I messed up. I meant smokeless.Sorry. I paid $335.00 with tax. I have a delay on my NICS. Always do. That's why I only gave a down stroke.

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Old 11-07-2014, 05:41 PM
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There is a lot of info about these over on the coltforum.com.

It's a nice 32 acp piece.

I was considering one, but it has the unfortunate issue that it can fire if you drop it. From what I can tell from reading posts, this is rare but has happened.
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Old 11-07-2014, 05:46 PM
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Originally Posted by Cal44 View Post
There is a lot of info about these over on the coltforum.com.

It's a nice 32 acp piece.

I was considering one, but it has the unfortunate issue that it can fire if you drop it. From what I can tell from reading posts, this is rare but has happened.
I'll fire it at the range for grins. Ain't going to carry it CCW. Family jewels ya know.
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Old 11-07-2014, 06:41 PM
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I have owned a dozen of these (and still own 5 of them). They are great little pistols. One of my favorites. The are extremely well made. I'd love to see a picture. Agree that there is an active following on the colforum. A lot of guys with a lot of expertise.

Jim
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Old 11-07-2014, 08:53 PM
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Originally Posted by jmace57 View Post
I have owned a dozen of these (and still own 5 of them). They are great little pistols. One of my favorites. The are extremely well made. I'd love to see a picture. Agree that there is an active following on the colforum. A lot of guys with a lot of expertise.

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Old 11-08-2014, 02:42 AM
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If they are original, treat those mags like they are made of gold because that's what it takes to replace one. Used Colt magazines in decent shape can easily exceed $100... when you can find them.

Don't waste your money on the aftermarket ones... the majority of experiences voiced about them on the ColtForum is that they are jam-o-matics.
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Old 11-08-2014, 03:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Gunhacker View Post
If they are original, treat those mags like they are made of gold because that's what it takes to replace one. Used Colt magazines in decent shape can easily exceed $100... when you can find them.

Don't waste your money on the aftermarket ones... the majority of experiences voiced about them on the ColtForum is that they are jam-o-matics.
Thanks for the info Gunhacker. The more I read about this gun,
I am beginning to think I got a good deal. If I remember right, both mags looked like only about 3/4 of the mag was painted. The top looked bare. Going to the pawn shop tomorrow to get a ammo can I forgot to buy. I'll look again then. I seen 1903 mags .32 on E Bay tonight, anywhere from $100.00-250.00 per mag. Crazy. Again, thanks man.
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Old 11-08-2014, 05:18 AM
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Those are known as "two tones" and a sure sign of being original Colt... they command higher prices than the fully blued ones.

You got a great deal... prices, as well as popularity, on these guns have gone nowhere but up since I bought mine in 2008. I put those wood checkered aftermarket grip panels on to preserve the original black hard rubber ones that came with it that are in excellent shape.

You could almost say that you bought two magazines and got a free gun with them.

If you haven't yet looked at Colt Automatic Pistol and Revolver Information - 18 years of Service to Colt Firearms Collectors... do it, there is a wealth of information.
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Old 11-08-2014, 09:50 AM
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I have a 1903 .32 and a 1908 .380 and they are great little pistols. I'm sure you'll love yours.
As far as the aftermarket mag issues, the problems seem to be mostly with the .380 mags. I bought extra Mec-gars for both of my pistols. The .380s jam constantly, but the .32s work like a champ. I understand that this is pretty common. So you should be ok.
I also agree that your pistol coming with an extra factory mag makes for a super sweet deal.
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Old 11-08-2014, 11:07 AM
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Those are known as "two tones" and a sure sign of being original Colt... they command higher prices than the fyllu blued ones.

You got a great deal... prices, as well as popularity, on these guns have gone nowhere but up since I bought mine in 2008. I put those wood checkered aftermarket grip panels on to preserve the original black hard rubber ones that came with it that are in excellent shape.

You could almost say that you bought two magazines and got a free gun with them.

If you haven't yet looked at Colt Automatic Pistol and Revolver Information - 17 years of Service to Colt Firearms Collectors... do it, there is a wealth of information.
Thanks for the web site. As soon as I get it (NICS delays on two other pistols and Palmetto still hasn't shipped the Beretta) I'll post pics. I'm hoping in about 2 weeks. And your Colts look mint.
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Old 11-08-2014, 11:11 AM
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I have a 1903 .32 and a 1908 .380 and they are great little pistols. I'm sure you'll love yours.
As far as the aftermarket mag issues, the problems seem to be mostly with the .380 mags. I bought extra Mec-gars for both of my pistols. The .380s jam constantly, but the .32s work like a champ. I understand that this is pretty common. So you should be ok.
I also agree that your pistol coming with an extra factory mag makes for a super sweet deal.
Thanks. Guess yesterday was my lucky day. If I knew at the time the .32 was a good deal, I would of bought a lottery ticket.
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Old 11-08-2014, 12:17 PM
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Heck of a deal on a real jewel. These guns (designed by Browning) are exceedingly well made. They are usually very reliable and the 32 is a mild shooter that has little recoil. In short a great fun gun for plinking. My only complaint is that those tiny 32 calibre casings tend to hide under every blade of grass and pebble. If you're a reloader they'll drive you crazy.
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Old 11-08-2014, 06:21 PM
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I'm not into reloading. But the gun comes wit 19 rounds. I wonder how old they might be. When I get it I think I'll get a fresh box.
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Old 01-03-2017, 08:41 PM
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I just sold mine. It was in poor cosmetic condition, but functioned perfectly.
Sold it at a gun show for 300.
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Old 01-03-2017, 09:54 PM
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Great catch! The coolness factor of these is wayyy up there. I'd love to fin.d one for that price if the finish was decent.
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Old 01-07-2017, 11:45 PM
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Looking for one, I am. You got an good deal there, Oz.
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Old 01-08-2017, 12:04 AM
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Looking for one, I am. You got an good deal there, Oz.
I've been selling the Colts off. Down to the crown jewel my Colt 1903's. Sent a good shooter made in 1912 to Arizona today FFL to FFL.
When your looking at 1903's pay attention to the mags. Half tone's are worth $125-$250.00 alone.
Hope you find a good one amigo.
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Old 01-08-2017, 01:15 AM
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You did well, especially with the mags.

I've wanted one of those for years. One of my exes has one in beautiful condition that she won't sell me, dammit.
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:24 AM
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I have to get a camera. Heck, I'm still having trouble forwarding e mails to friends.
Come on . . . you know it didn't happen without pictures. Just kidding.

I've got three of them and I think they are great guns. Especially considering they come from the golden age of firearms manufacturing.
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:31 AM
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I think I've said this on other post's, PM me your cell# and I'll send pic's.
Hey cut me a huss guy's, I'm not a teenager. But I can do this :-).
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Old 01-08-2017, 10:50 AM
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I already have one in 32 and another in 380, and I'd have bought it in a heartbeat!
Colt is supposed to be producing new ones. Check the prices on them!
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Old 01-09-2017, 08:35 AM
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I already have one in 32 and another in 380, and I'd have bought it in a heartbeat!
Colt is supposed to be producing new ones. Check the prices on them!
Colt has had the M 1903's out for way over a year now.
I've seen them on GB....$1,200.00+.

I have not seen any at local gun shows in 380. And I'm kinda glad, cause I've got to put a stop to sickness I developed.
But they are slick little pieces of history.
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Old 01-09-2017, 09:12 AM
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I never get tired of sharing mine. Here she is with her little sister. Both from about 1925:



Ozark, you did really good, and I don't think that you will regret your purchase. Remember that John Moses Browning designed this little gem, and in my (and lots of other folks) opinion, he was the greatest gun designer of all time, a genuine genius. He also designed the cartridges that go with these two guns.

As far as safety goes, here are a couple of Colt's advertisments from the era:



And this one:



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Old 01-09-2017, 10:00 AM
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Yes old John M Browning sure was a genius. I once had a FN 1900 I found on GB.. .32 cal semi auto that I didn't know anything about. After I placed my bid I researched it and J.M. Browning designed it in the 1890's and Colt didn't agree to J.M.B's terms. So off to FN in Belgium and the rest is history.
Recoil spring assembly where the barrel should be(not as we know it now) on top of the barrel. First semi auto pistol, who knew at the time where any part should go. It was a very sweet soft shooter. 100% reliable after 115 years. Recoil spring on top of barrel = very low bore axis.
Bad thing is FN didn't keep records like S&W or Colt has done with serial number date's of manufacture. And WW1 and WW2 didn't help either.

There will never be another John Moses Browning, and every time I handle my M 1903's I wonder if Mr Browning looked at or handled it while walking thru the factory.
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Old 01-09-2017, 11:37 AM
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I might add that this and the 380 version were issued to General officers in the military from World War I up to and including Vietnam Nam. They were carried by some very famous Generals along the way, (Patton was issued one, but usually carried privately purchased firearms) and I don't recall any of them being accidentally shot with theirs.

The issue of accidental fire on being dropped is the same as that of the 1911s up to I believe the 80s series, which would rely on the firing pin being driven forward through inertia if the gun were dropped and landed on the muzzle and the pin moving forward had enough speed to strike the primer of a chambered round hard enough to detonate it. I may be wrong (it happens now and then), but I think that this is a pretty unlikely occurrence.

I have two Colt 1911s, both pre 80s series, one a Commander and the other a Gold Cup, and I am not afraid to carry them "cocked and locked". Essentially, that is what you are doing when you carry a 1903 with a round chambered and the thumb safety engaged. It has a hammer, not a striker, and is similar to the 1911, you just cannot see the hammer, as it is enclosed in the slide.

Just me, but I don't worry too much about carrying the 1903 loaded, with a round chambered. That is the way that JMB designed it to be carried.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 01-09-2017, 11:50 AM
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I'm amazed with how many folks CCW the original M 1903's. I never have, but like you I wouldn't be at all worried.
I wonder if the new "M 1903's" are true to J.M's design or have the 80's safety system.

And finding a M 1903 with "U S PROPERTY" on it would be like winning the lottery.
Even the OSS in WW2 were issued these.
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Old 01-09-2017, 05:21 PM
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Colt 1903 AUTO "CALIBRE .32" SMOKLESS Colt 1903 AUTO "CALIBRE .32" SMOKLESS Colt 1903 AUTO "CALIBRE .32" SMOKLESS Colt 1903 AUTO "CALIBRE .32" SMOKLESS Colt 1903 AUTO "CALIBRE .32" SMOKLESS  
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I wouldn't be worried about the safety issue in carrying these "internally cocked and locked" either. Although, I have to add I don't think carrying a single-stack .32 with an awkward and too small safety is necessarily a good idea for CCW these days, unless you don't have or can't afford something better. Sure, it'll probably do the job; so would a 1851 Navy cap-and-ball in most cases; doesn't make it a smart first choice.

We've had heated discussions about the suitability of the 1903/1908 for CCW on the Colt forum before. It frequently appears that rather than choosing the best gun for the job at hand, folks pick the gun they love and then try to fabricate an argument that it's a great choice for the job.

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Originally Posted by les.b View Post
I might add that this and the 380 version were issued to General officers in the military from World War I up to and including Vietnam Nam. They were carried by some very famous Generals along the way, (Patton was issued one, but usually carried privately purchased firearms) and I don't recall any of them being accidentally shot with theirs.
....
Interestingly, most general officers' Colts in collections and on the collectors market are in pristine condition because most of the generals hardly ever carried them.

If Eisenhower had actually carried all the handguns issued to him personally, he would have looked like the Outlaw Josey Wales; during WW II, besides the 1908, there was a Commando and a Detective Special I know about. Pate has a picture of a handmade IWB holster that Ike used for his 1908 to keep it out of sight. Not so Patton; he actually decorated his pistol with general's stars, adding one whenever he got a promotion, and using an open holster when he did carry that gun on official occasions so they were visible.

Around 1950 the military ran out of .380-chambered models; from then until the end in the 1970s, generals got the .32 version.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:33 AM
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Here's mine, a WW II version. Finish is parkerized. It's marked U.S. Property, and has British proofs, so it went to Britain during the war and came back. It has the original cardboard box and the spare magazine is in the original paper wrapper. It looks unfired, but I've put one magazine down range with it.
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Old 01-10-2017, 07:33 AM
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Cyrano:

Now that's a good looking specimen!!! Wow!! It sounds like it went to England, was proofed there, and returned to the box, then back. Can't ask for better than that.

Best Regards, Les
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Old 01-10-2017, 10:44 AM
jeeps jeeps is offline
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Just beware they can fire if dropped even with safety on . The hammer jumps the sear. People have died . Back in the 1930's the wardens wife was moving stuff in the closet and his Colt 1903 fell out and shot her in the lung and she died at Mansfield prison in Ohio. There are many documented discharges. A cool gun to be used empty chamber.
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Old 01-10-2017, 11:59 AM
robertrwalsh robertrwalsh is offline
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These are great guns and you got a decent deal providing it shoots well. Just FYI the outfit that makes the brand new guns sells magazines and they are very good quality. I have three of the guns, one early production, one middle and one late. They all use the new magazines very well and the price is about the same as the junk aftermarket magazines. Have fun with it.
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Old 01-10-2017, 12:33 PM
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WARNING !!
DO NOT DETAIL STRIP IT until you are ready for commitment to a mental ward OR you have grown two more hands.
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Old 01-11-2017, 06:18 PM
kip595 kip595 is offline
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I'm a huge fan of the old Colt Pocket Models; I'm also one of those nuts that likes to take the old shooters that need a little 'prettying up' and give'em a new lease on life, be it for plinking, the range, the safe, or even carry in a pinch. Talked the OP here into letting loose his shooter .32, 1912 production, to go along with my 1913 .380. It's in the background of the pics, with the .32 in the foreground. My .380 was in similar shape cosmetically, but with a lot of patience and a bit of determination I've found these clean up very nicely in the home shop. Hope to have the .32 looking more like the current condition of the .380 in the next few weeks, and it's an excellent shooter either way.

Thanks again to Ozark Marine for the new project!
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Old 01-11-2017, 07:39 PM
Ozark Marine Ozark Marine is offline
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No kip595, thank you for rescuing that fine M1903 shooter. I know you'll have her looking good in a short period of time.

Hope you will keep us all posted on your progress with that old gun.
Till then,
adios mi amigo.
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