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Old 03-27-2021, 01:24 PM
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Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless: Recently picked this one up in .32 ACP.

It's funny, but this is one that made me feel like a kid again on Christmas.

I have been looking for a .380 or .32 ACP hammerless Colt for a while; just, no luck. Either priced 'enthusiastically' or the condition was really poor, then still pricey for what you were getting.

Came across this one today and it really made my day. Now to find ammo and get a few shots through it, before it retires again. Time for a Colt.
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Old 03-27-2021, 02:15 PM
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Very nice! Iíve got two - a .32 and a .380.

Fun to shoot and a breeze to carry. Mine get toted around regularly.
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Old 03-27-2021, 02:44 PM
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Congratulations on your acquisition of what is perhaps my all time favorite Colt auto. Imo they're just about perfect for the power ratio and they're super fun to shoot too, tiny sights and all.

Below is my 1926 Type III in 380. Coincidentally enough for this thread, I just started a layaway yesterday on a 32 acp from 1921. Should have that one in hand in the next month.

They're great little poppers, thanks for sharing yours.
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Old 03-27-2021, 02:55 PM
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Nice gun. Definitely on my list.

Rick Blaine would be proud.
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Old 03-27-2021, 03:02 PM
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@Sig,my wife's favorite round is the .380. I am actively looking for one...hope it does not take another ten years, though. Ones I have seen are in poor condition at almost $1K. I don't mind spending, but at least be commensurate with condition.
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Old 03-27-2021, 03:42 PM
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Quite fond of the old Colts myself.
1903, 1908 and a 1908 vest pocket.

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Old 03-27-2021, 03:46 PM
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Well done, Grayfox. I enjoy the old time Colts; as others do.

Any history you can share?

I own, Sigs and Glocks and MPs and stuff prior to a boating accident, but these old ones, well, they have soul.
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Old 03-27-2021, 03:48 PM
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Nah, they're just guns I've stumbled into along the way. No clue as to any history.
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Old 03-27-2021, 05:04 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TheHobbyist View Post
Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless: Recently picked this one up in .32 ACP.

Came across this one today and it really made my day. Now to find ammo and get a few shots through it, before it retires again. Time for a Colt.
Do you know the manufacture date? The 1903's and 1908's SN is tied to the year they were made. List is at the bottom of this link page.
1903 Colt Model M.

I'd like to find a 1908 (.380) to go with my 1903, which was a 1944-made Government Issue to my stepdad, who gave it to me.
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Old 03-27-2021, 05:36 PM
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I picked up a well worn shooter grade one of these recently myself. Haven't had it to the range since I'm still recovering from my broken left wrist (9 weeks and counting).

Hobbyist, what kind of finish is that on the one you just got? It doesn't look like the high polish blue normally seen on guns of this vintage. It almost looks like one of the spray on blued finishes like a cerracote or something. Maybe its just the pictures or the light....
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Old 03-27-2021, 05:45 PM
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Congrats, looks like you found a nice one. My Grandmama’s EDC was a nickeled Colt 1908 in 380 acp. Still have it with the remains of its original box. They are all smooth shooting pistols.
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Old 03-28-2021, 12:42 PM
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Quote:
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Hobbyist, what kind of finish is that on the one you just got? It doesn't look like the high polish blue normally seen on guns of this vintage.
Hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but I believe it is a Parkerized finish. There were two factory finishes on the 1903 and 1908, blued and Parkerized. On wartime issued pistols, officers were generally given a blued one, other issues were Parkerized. I'd still be interested in knowing the manufacture year of that one.

BC38, the SN on yours indicates a 1921 manufacture year.

For what it's worth, 1903's and 1908's are not considered "drop safe", there is no firing pin block and it is an inertial pin. Even though there is no external hammer to hit, and they have both a grip and slide safety, and later models even have a magazine disconnect, it's not considered safe to carry one with a round in the chamber.

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Old 03-28-2021, 12:52 PM
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Quote:
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Hope I'm not speaking out of turn, but I believe it is a Parkerized finish. There were two factory finishes on the 1903 and 1908, blued and Parkerized. On wartime issued pistols, officers were generally given a blued one, other issues were Parkerized. I'd still be interested in knowing the manufacture year of that one.
It does look matte rather than polished blue. However, if it is an original factory parkerized one, the serial will need to be quite high, in the 500-thousands, and the stocks are not original, they should be wood with medallion.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:01 PM
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Once used by Bonnie Parker, Al Capone, Willie Sutton and, less successfully but perhaps more memorably, by John Dillinger.

Also owned by Generals Eisenhower and Patton, but presumably they had less use for them than the above,

Cool gun with a lot of history!

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Old 03-28-2021, 01:01 PM
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I believe it to be originally, parkerized. SN puts it about 1919-1920. Could have been done later and if so, someone did a heck of a job. All original stampings and serial number are very crisp and not indicative of a refurb/refinish. I think someone touched up a spot or two, but if so, they did not do this with the entire gun. IMO.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:04 PM
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@PeteC, yes, this is one of the handguns they found on John Dillinger when he died. FWIW.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:11 PM
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Quote:
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Also owned by Generals Eisenhower and Patton, but presumably they had less use for them than the above,
Well, Patton liked his well enough that it was the pistol on which he had the stocks modefied with inlaid generalís stars.

He was a bit of a show-off


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Old 03-28-2021, 01:17 PM
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Thanks for sharing that, Absalom, never knew that.
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Old 03-28-2021, 01:59 PM
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Got one of those.

Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-20200116_213555-jpg
Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-20200116_213633-jpg


Hard to come by my side of the pond. FN cornered the market for pocket autos in Europe. And the 1903 Colt got squeezed in between 2 other JMB designs.

The previous FN1900.

Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-20200414_171313-jpg

And JMB's improvement of his 1903 design, the FN 1910.

Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-20180302_102351-jpg
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Old 03-28-2021, 02:08 PM
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Nice Roscoe....
Walked up on this one a few months ago.
Price was right and it was strapped with M.O.P.....
1922.
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Old 03-28-2021, 02:10 PM
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I have a couple that I'm proud to be the current caretaker of.

My first one is a 1903 32ACP - with original box & paperwork - it even has the N.Y Carry Permit dated 1924...




The other is a 1908 380ACP - US Property marked with ivory grips...



There is a certain elegance to these guns - they always bring a smile to my face when I hold them.

Stay safe,
Bob S.
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Old 03-28-2021, 02:23 PM
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Guys, they're literally iconic. Not only in "real " history, but aso in "reel" history.

From Key Largo and Humphrey Bogart & Edward G. Robinson, thru LOTS of film noir gangster pics, all the way up to the survival kit in the original Planet of the Apes.

(that's Charlton Heston's knee in the first pic)

I wonder if fictional future space travelers got the 32 or the 380?
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Old 03-28-2021, 03:17 PM
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Quote:
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Hard to come by my side of the pond. FN cornered the market for pocket autos in Europe. And the 1903 Colt got squeezed in between 2 other JMB designs.
That was by design. The Colt Pocket Hammerless was not marketed in Europe. For the same reason, an original FN 1903 is virtually impossible to find in the US.

JMB had an attangement with Colt and FN, since he worked with both. Youíd have to look up the details, but the result was that when it came to specific model patents, Colt got the North American market and FN the European market.

Same thing happened with the .25 FN 1906 and Colt Vest Pocket.
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Old 03-28-2021, 04:05 PM
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@ Absalom. I know the story. Just felt lazy, and over simplified it.
And I do have an FN 1906 and an European 1903(only it's not an FN but an Husqvarna)

Edit. But the truth is. There probably wouldn't be a Colt model M(the so called 1903 or pocket hammerless) if FN did not ask for JMB to design a full size military sidearm pistol(the 1900 was not a suitable base for that request so a new design was in order). What came out was the FN 1903. Colt did not need that type of pistol because, they along with JMB, were working on locked breech automatic pistols with military contracts in mind. But they realized they did not have a proper "pocket" pistol and could not fail to realize how well the 1900(that had been offered to them and they did not accept) was selling through out Europe. An agreement was made with FN. Colt would produce the 1903 design in pocket size only and not market it in Continental Europe. FN would on the other hand not market it's pocket pistols in the USA. The vest pocket pistols were a different deal. Both FN starting in 1906 and Colt in 1908 would produce a pistol based on the exact same design.

The pre WWI FN line of pocket and vest pocket pistols

1900, 1905(even though production only started in 1906) and the 1910.

Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-20200417_145705-jpg

And the two 1903 designs. License built by Husqvarna during WWI and Colt.

Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-20180408_235834-jpg
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Old 03-28-2021, 04:37 PM
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Mark Twain and Lawrence of Arabia were also fans, as well as this unidentified hater of accordion music.
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Old 03-28-2021, 04:37 PM
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... and an European 1903(only it's not an FN but an Husqvarna)
Thatís cheating

The Husqvarna 1907s are available here; quite a few were imported as surplus here before 1968 by the likes of Sam Cummings; most have no importer stamp, but the .380 mark for the caliber conversion.

I took the opportunity to check for the FNs, which I havenít for awhile. Pickings are actually better here than usual right now: a couple of FNs to be had from 1200 to 1900, or you can shell out 6000 or 9000 for one with original shoulder stock.


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Old 03-28-2021, 05:19 PM
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Mark Twain and Lawrence of Arabia were also fans, as well as this unidentified hater of accordion music.
And now the fun and ironic fact. The acordean haters are Belgian soldiers in WWI. You know from Belgium the Country where FN is located.

So, how come there is a Colt on their hands?

When the Germans invaded Belgium(to get to France) the city of Liege was occupied and FN simply shut down it's facilities. The Northeast part of Belgium was never occupied and resisted the Germans during all the war. They needed weapons so they had to buy from the USA, they chose the 1903 because it was their military caliber. The Belgian Colts were marked with an A inside a diamond. Mine is one of those.
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Old 03-28-2021, 05:42 PM
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Thatís cheating

The Husqvarna 1907s are available here; quite a few were imported as surplus here before 1968 by the likes of Sam Cummings; most have no importer stamp, but the .380 mark for the caliber conversion.

I took the opportunity to check for the FNs, which I havenít for awhile. Pickings are actually better here than usual right now: a couple of FNs to be had from 1200 to 1900, or you can shell out 6000 or 9000 for one with original shoulder stock.



Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-74b8af19-901d-4514-8267-816a88cb137f-jpg

I think the shoulder stocked ones were for Russia.

It's not really cheating. The model 1907 is the Swedish military designation for the FN 1903. Sweden being the only "real" military contract FN got for the military oriented 1903. The problem was that when the Swedes tried to buy more pistols FN had shut down on account of having Germans around that used the Mauser G98 as a passport. since my Husqvarna is from the first year of production(1917) the slide has the same "Browning's patent" markings as the FN ones. Later FN protested and had Husqvarna change the slide patent markings.

And it's still in the original 9mm Browning Long caliber.


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It came complete with a private purchase Officers holster, which has lining and the two spare magazines.

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Old 03-28-2021, 06:39 PM
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When I was a wee lad, my mother's father carried a Colt in 32 ACP (in nickel). He carried it in a Safariland suede IWB holster. I loved the look and feel of that Colt. Sadly, when he passed, it found it's way to another relative. I looked for one for years before my dad put his hands on this one in 380. It is mine now, and it reminds me of my mother's father.

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Old 03-29-2021, 09:14 AM
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Guys, they're literally iconic. Not only in "real " history, but aso in "reel" history.

From Key Largo and Humphrey Bogart & Edward G. Robinson, thru LOTS of film noir gangster pics, all the way up to the survival kit in the original Planet of the Apes.

(that's Charlton Heston's knee in the first pic)

I wonder if fictional future space travelers got the 32 or the 380?
And legend has it that Bogart saw this original movie poster in which he's holding a 1911 and thought the gun was too big and made him look too small.

So in the movie he's never seen with the 1911...only the 1903 which he famously uses at the end to shoot the nazi.

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Old 03-29-2021, 11:18 AM
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And my usual pitch in these 1903 threads for a movie too few people seem to know about:

If you want to see a lot of Model Mís in a movie, watch ďAnthropoidĒ about the assassination of SS general Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. The SOE armed the Czech agents with those. And the film gets that correctly.

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Old 03-29-2021, 05:51 PM
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I picked up a trio of them from an estate sale about ten years ago. The 38 Special, the M39 and a box of ammo as well. My youngest having fun.



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Old 03-29-2021, 10:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Absalom View Post
And my usual pitch in these 1903 threads for a movie too few people seem to know about:

If you want to see a lot of Model Mís in a movie, watch ďAnthropoidĒ about the assassination of SS general Reinhard Heydrich in Prague in 1942. The SOE armed the Czech agents with those. And the film gets that correctly.

Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-3dce442a-bfe9-4fbd-9cde-ee85fbf93819-jpg

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WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING ABSALOM?

Their fingers are inside the trigger guard!!!!

WW2 or not, someone could get hurt.


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Old 03-29-2021, 11:51 PM
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I have posted this before and i can't resist the model M colts 32or 380

img]https://i.imgur.com/CSl8rwS.jpg[/img]



[The bottom one is a remembrance piece. The them is for Rose, a rose on each ivory grip panel and a rose on the bottom of the trigger guard
To remind me of the most important person in my life
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Old 03-30-2021, 09:26 AM
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Still kicking myself for selling a pristine 1908 to pay for grad school.

When I was stationed at Ft. Knox I picked up that beautiful pistol that was then LNIB to include all the factory documentation including the factory target and trigger hang tag. It looked like someone had bought it in 1924 and put it away on a shelf before putting it on consignment in 1981. I paid what I considered to be a princely sum in those days, $200 for it.

After getting out of the service, and starting grad school, I sold both it and the Browning HP that I had once used to defend my life (another gun I wish I still had). Each one financed a full semester, so I guess I shouldn't complain.
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Old 03-30-2021, 12:44 PM
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I believe it to be originally, parkerized. SN puts it about 1919-1920. Could have been done later and if so, someone did a heck of a job. All original stampings and serial number are very crisp and not indicative of a refurb/refinish. I think someone touched up a spot or two, but if so, they did not do this with the entire gun. IMO.
Nice find, especially if you got it at a decent price because these little Colt's have been really increasing in price.

If I recall correctly, Colt did not Parkerize any 1903's or 1908's until the World War II era, and even then they were only government issue firearms that were duly marked as such. Very few were sold with a Parkerized finish to the public after the war, and even they were marked "U.S. Property", but lacked the arsenal acceptance marks.

I have one made in 1924 that was originally blued but I had refinished/Parkerized. After adding some new aftermarket walnut grips it's one of my favorite shooters.

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Old 03-30-2021, 03:12 PM
Charlie Foxtrott Charlie Foxtrott is offline
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Default I am pretty fond of them myself.

Even found the book that goes with them.
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Old 03-30-2021, 05:10 PM
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Even found the book that goes with them.
I just found that book on Amazon in hard back for $842.31. I'd have to sell of one of my M1903's to buy the reference book about M1903's.
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Old 03-30-2021, 05:27 PM
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Just looked it up in Abe Books, half your quoted price. Dave_n
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Old 03-30-2021, 05:56 PM
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Just looked it up in Abe Books, half your quoted price. Dave_n
Thank you, found it on Abe Books for only $395.00
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Old 03-30-2021, 06:00 PM
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Thank you, found it on Abe Books for only $395.00

For $395, I could have a dogged out one rebuilt/refinished.

Or even one box of either 32 or 380 acp.
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Old 03-30-2021, 06:01 PM
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The 1903 also had a few starring moments in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
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Old 03-30-2021, 06:25 PM
Charlie Foxtrott Charlie Foxtrott is offline
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Default I got my hard back complete with dust cover.

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I just found that book on Amazon in hard back for $842.31. I'd have to sell of one of my M1903's to buy the reference book about M1903's.
For fifty bucks at a flea market about ten years ago.
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Old 03-30-2021, 06:40 PM
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The 1903 also had a few starring moments in the HBO series Boardwalk Empire.
Indeed. Thatís actually where I originally became aware of the model. It was Jimmy Darmodyís personal gun in the first couple of seasons.

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And during the time I was watching that, I dropped by a local Cabelaís and spied this heavily worn gun in the back of a case, and thought ďWait, isnít that ... ?Ē and took my 1917 vintage home for $249.

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Old 03-30-2021, 08:35 PM
.357magger .357magger is offline
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Originally Posted by Absalom View Post
Indeed. Thatís actually where I originally became aware of the model. It was Jimmy Darmodyís personal gun in the first couple of seasons.

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And during the time I was watching that, I dropped by a local Cabelaís and spied this heavily worn gun in the back of a case, and thought ďWait, isnít that ... ?Ē and took my 1917 vintage home for $249.

Time for a Colt...Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless-ff3b1740-4803-4b40-9145-681ae92a955f-jpg



He wasn't alone IIRC.


Nucky also gravitated to an engraved blued model with white grips in the later seasons too. Shoulder holstered it under left arm.

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Old 03-30-2021, 11:16 PM
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He wasn't alone IIRC.

Nucky also gravitated to an engraved blued model with white grips in the later seasons too. Shoulder holstered it under left arm.
Not to forget the one in Richard Harrow's line-up of "one of each popular model" before the big Season 3 final shoot-out


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Old 03-31-2021, 07:06 AM
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Default Not original - not expensive - it was a deal...

Here is a Colt 1903 I picked up for $250 at my local shop. It had what appeared to be original, worn grips, original magazine, and a decent nickel job sometime in the past.

For the price I couldn't pass it up.

Toss in another $50 (or so) for aftermarket synthetic "ivory" grips, and I've got a nice low cost addition to my collection. I'm not much of a Colt guy, but I totally like this model as well as the .380 version.

I'd like to get some sort of good looking holster for it. It could even be a BBQ gun if presented properly. Any suggestions?

By the way, it shoots like a dream. And credit where credit is due, what a great feeling in the hand. Dimensions are about perfect.

Best wishes everyone!

Roger AKA Mr. Wonderful
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Old 04-03-2021, 12:13 PM
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"Believe me, the Colt is a mighty necessary part of an automobile equipment these days...."




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Old 04-03-2021, 01:49 PM
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Hereís my 1903.. Mfg. 1919...surprisingly good shooter, considering the sights...The Colt Verified Proof on the Trigger guard was stamped after Finish was applied...Original finish should show bright metal in the VP stamp, including Military models.
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Old 04-03-2021, 02:12 PM
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I have a couple of 1903 Colts.

This Colt Model 1903 pocket hammerless pistol in .32 ACP once belonged to legendary lawman Harry Wheeler. Wheeler was Captain of the Arizona Rangers and 3-term Sheriff of Cochise County, Arizona. He was, while sheriff, the instigator of the Bisbee Deportation in 1917. He bought this gun on his way to France as a Captain with the American Expeditionary Force in 1918. The badges are replicas, but the gun is quite genuine. It is marked with his name on the edge of the backstrap, and his initials are scratched inside each grip panel.



My other gun illustrated here, is a .32 ACP "Type III" gun, manufactured in July, 1918.



My only Model 1908 is this little jewel.

John

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