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Discussion Starter #1
Ok, here goes. While I have a few of these pocket rascals, I've got my hands on a couple more of questionable fit and finish. What it boils down to is that I ended up with a good .380 frame and internals, a good .380 slide and a bulged barrel. On the other side of the coin Is a completely rusted type III .32 frame, slide, with a very nice .32 barrel (whatever it was coated with stayed coated). An aftermarket .380 magazine and no .32 mag.
After studying the various bits and pieces, here's what I came up with. I used the .380 frame and slide, with the .32 barrel. I reworked the .380 magazine so it holds .32 ammo. It took this parts gun (literally) out back to my range, and with some caution fired off a few rounds. Gun preformed flawlessly. Stayed that way for the next 50 rnds I put through it. Slow and rapid fire didn't alter the performance.
Now here's the big question? While it's doing great now, and I haven't noticed any undo wear patterns, is there something down the road that might be wearing differently due to the mismatching of parts? Or did Colt just have a very good idea way back then.
 

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I can't answer your question, but I have wondered about doing the same thing. I have several in .32 and have a nice .380 barrel. I was wondering if I could use the .380 barrel in the frame of one of my .32s ?? Apparently it should work.
 

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Discussion Starter #3
I can't answer your question, but I have wondered about doing the same thing. I have several in .32 and have a nice .380 barrel. I was wondering if I could use the .380 barrel in the frame of one of my .32s ?? Apparently it should work.
The .380 mag doesn't like to fit in the .32 frame. If that helps any.
 

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The .380 mags are much more difficult to locate and their prices are higher than the .32 mags. I would not have reworked the .380 mag. .32 mags will fit in the .380 magwell, but I am not sure about function.
 

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I keep hearing that the .380 mag won't fit in the .32 frame. I have a 32 from 1917 and a .380 from 1911 and the magazines will interchange in the frames with no problem.
Both mags mic out to be within .003" of each other. The mag well seems to mic out about .010" bigger on the .380.
Perhaps the tolerance on some mags varys enough so some .380 mags are a little too tight in a .32
 

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I'd probably not have reworked the .380 with .32 parts, probably would have tried to locate a .380 that was fugly and dinged to beat the band but the parts were ok. Since the M1903 and M1908 hit MY radar I started looking for genuine Colt mags and you are correct, rare and pricey. Guy last weekend had an honest worn M1908 VP .25 but we all know of ways to clean em up and retard pitting, etc. so the price told me the guy was "sorta" in the ballpark IF it had the original mag, which it did not. I passed with a thank you and that magazine is aftermarket. Not even a decent aftermarket but a tinny not a stamping on it mag. Guy said it shot great. I said I bet it does. Off to another table. Research Colt 1903 and 1908 on GB advanced on closed sold auctions and see what a beater sold for. Also look at the "small parts", "barrels" etc catagories
 

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Discussion Starter #8
To answer some of the replies. The .380 magazine I reworked was aftermarket. It has been my experience that unless you are prepared to spend a lot of time on rework, skip the aftermarket mags. Converting the .380 to .32 was somethig I had to try, because the parts were sitting in front of me. I've put another 200 rds through it, and have yet to see a problem. Firing pin is hitting dead center. No strange marks on the empty cases. Gun isn't any looser that any of my 03's or 08's. So as of now, I've got a functioning .32 hiding in .380 sheeps clothing for about the going price of a .32 Colt magazine. Might be a candidate for a complete 'pimp' makeover. Some nickle, gold, a little engraving and a set of pearl stocks.
I'll still be searching out a .380 barrel, and magazine, and might try cleaning up the .32 frame and slide.
 

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I keep hearing that the .380 mag won't fit in the .32 frame. I have a 32 from 1917 and a .380 from 1911 and the magazines will interchange in the frames with no problem.
Both mags mic out to be within .003" of each other. The mag well seems to mic out about .010" bigger on the .380.
Perhaps the tolerance on some mags varys enough so some .380 mags are a little too tight in a .32
I've also read about the .380 mag. in a .32 frame being a tight fit. I suspect that it is true sometimes, either as a result of variablilty in the sheet metal or perhaps an occaisional .32 frame broached a nanofraction different. There are as many stories of easy interchangeable fit.
I reckon it depends on the particular parts being used.
Now I gotta go try and swap mine and see if they will do it, too.
 

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Ok.
The .32 mags I have will swap out with each other and also fit in the .380 magwell. The .380 mag fits in the type III frame but does not fit in the type I frame.
So I suggest that the answere to the question is: some do and some don't.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
I'll second Oberon's answer. My Type I and II .32's don't like the .380 mags either. But my Type III's seem more forgiving. Seems like when Colt got rid of the barrel bushing things got a bit looser.
 

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I have a 1908 and am able to swap in a 1903 barrel and mag interchangeably. I had been doing this for sometime and did not notice and damage to my slide or frame and it fired just fine. However once my original 1908 mag was damaged and my only working 03 mag was lost I have not shoot it in a couple of years.I have seen both side say it should work and others that say out won't. My experience yours that it does work and works well.
 
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