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Thread: Colt .380 - Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP)

  1. #1
    Supporting Member bruno38 is on a distinguished road
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    Colt .380 - Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP)

    Hello fellow collectors,

    Here is a pair of interesting and, I think, difficult-to-find pieces of history. They are related to Colonel Fairbairn who became assistant commissioner of the Shanghai Municipal Police prior to World War II, before serving as an instructor for various American and Allied commando units, including the Office of Strategic Services, the precursor ofthe CIA.

    Those two pistols are pretty uncommon or rarely seen: two dated 1930 Colt .380 whose serial numbers are consecutive: 109641 & 109642. They both belonged to “Shanghai Municipal Police” (rollmarked on right frame), weapons numbered 2386 & 2392 respectively. As often with twin brothers, one is more gifted than the other:

    109641-2386 is all-matching (slide, barrel, frame) and include the special Chinese magazine (see below). 109642-2392 has a non-matching barrel (although not far in arsenal: 2416) a regular Colt mag and is missing the little screw blocking safety. Both are equipped with Chinese grips and lanyard ring. Mags are correctly marked on base plate, respectively. As most Colt pistols procured, they were re-blued due to Shanghai adverse weather conditions. Bore is bright with strong rifling in both cases.

    According to literature, they are part of a total of 4,185 Colt .380 delivered to Shanghai Police in 1925-1938. Those Shanghai guns have a few unique modifications not found on the standard production of Colt 1908 pistols. Modifications were made according to Colonel Faibairn’s specifications. These include a lanyard loop, unique checkered grips, cartridge counting holes on front and rear of the magazine, a "barrel tensioning device" that was cut into the slide and used to keep the barrel stable during firing, and a screwhole to block safety.

    SMP contract magazines had six viewing holes in the front and six on the back, as opposed to the sides as on standard commercial magazines. Others have side viewing holes as well as viewing holes in the back. There are varying opinions as to why the location of the viewing holes was changed. One story is that the police officers would trade the bullets from their guns and replace the live rounds with spent brass casing, dummies or dudes. In a Colt magazine with standard viewing holes, the magazine would appear loaded. In any case, viewing through holes made inspection easier.

    The Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) was the law enforcement agency responsible for policing the mainly British-run International Settlement. In 1863 Great Britain and the United States merged their Concessions into an International Settlement governed by an elected board made up of the various governments with Concessions in the Settlement. France chose to keep their Concession separate.

    Most part of this text is extracted from internet sources I have not
    kept track of. I apologize if I may seem have violated any copyright.

    For your appreciation.

    Bruno















    Last edited by bruno38; 03-31-2012 at 07:44 PM. Reason: typos

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    Supporting Member Malysh is on a distinguished road
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    Very interesting. Thanks for the post, pictures, and history.

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    Supporting Member Mike Faires is on a distinguished road
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    Very informative and nicely presented, Thank you for sharing,

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    Senior Member kwill is on a distinguished road

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    Very nice, Bruno. Here is my SMP .45:
    rickb2202 likes this.

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    Junior Member donaldofvirginia is on a distinguished road

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    Interested in selling???

    Quote Originally Posted by kwill View Post
    Very nice, Bruno. Here is my SMP .45:

    I would kill to purchase the SMP Colt 1911. If you're interested in receiving a crazy amount of money for your pistol, please send me an email at donaldfix@verizon.net

  6. #6
    Supporting Member ei8ht is on a distinguished road
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    Bruno,
    Very nice presentation. Thank you for sharing.

    DSCF0698.jpg
    My 4 SMP Colts.
    Ugly to the bone but Neat!


    Jim


    bruno38 and rickb2202 like this.

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    Senior Member kwill is on a distinguished road

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    bruno38, ei8ht and rickb2202 like this.

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    Supporting Member ei8ht is on a distinguished road
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    Great Pictures Kevin, I need a better cammera.....

  9. #9
    Supporting Member bruno38 is on a distinguished road
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    Other Chinese Contracts

    For those of you interested in Shanghai Municipal Police pistols, here are two other, but non-Colt pistols - I must apologize! : Mauser 1934 and FN Browning 1922. They bear the same Chinese markings, i.e. the two Hanzi/characters of Hu Gong (likely : Shanghai Public Security Bureau ), followed by an arsenal weapon number.

    Considering Mauser 1934 was ordered by Chinese authorities in the mid-30s and numbered 700 on one part, while FN 1922 was numbered 527 by mid- 40s on the other part, it seems fair to assume weapons were assigned a distinct series of property numbers according to each model of pistol in inventory.

    For your curiosity, the GM letters on FN22 would refer to Gendarmerie Mobile , a police division, namely active in French colonies and other foreign territories. (On Colt SMP .380s delivered to France, they were marked Concession Francaise Changhai , before being obliterated-overstamped.) The GM inscription is anterior to the Chinese Hu Gong marking.

    Here’s my interpretation of the historical context in China between 1943-1946 :

    The transfer of weapons from French police to Chinese police took up to 3 years to materialize, I wondered why. History shows that in 1943 the Chinese Government of President Wang-Ching-Wei was in good terms with the Japanese Occupant who insisted the French Concession be returned to China. At that time, France was governed by Marechal Petain who collaborated with Nazi Occupant. Since Japan and Germany were Allies, decision was reached without difficulty : French police of Concession would work hand in hand with Chinese Authorities. Complete withdrawal of France from Concession became official only after the war, further to Japan being defeated and France headed by a new Government with General De Gaulle. Pistols were then, if not done already, transferred to Chinese authorities and marked accordingly.

    I can only imagine similar rationale applied as regards the (approx.200) French Colt .380s. (ref : Brunner, p. 123).

    For your appreciation and discussion, fellow members.

    Bruno

    Mauser 1934 & FN 1922 with Chinese property markings









    On Mauser 1934: "Made in Germany" (in Chinese)





    Shanghai Arsenal Number "700"



    On FN 1922: French & Chinese markings



    Last edited by bruno38; 07-23-2012 at 11:42 AM.

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    Supporting Member ei8ht is on a distinguished road
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    Good Job Bruno!
    Thanks for the additional information. I tend sometimes to have my head in the Colt Sand Box and
    forget that Colt was not the only player. As I collect mostly Colt Hammerless Police Pistols I don't always think of
    the others although I do have some S&W Police Marked Revolvers (some Colt Police Marked Police Revolvers too)
    ei8ht of 9ine
    Colt Hoarder
    Amateur Historian
    Retired TV Guy
    ---------------------------------Wanted Police or Agency Marked Colt Hammerless


 
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