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1396 Views 36 Replies 22 Participants Last post by  73shovel
Hi everyone,
I've just inherited a 1903 Pocket Hammer (38 Rimless)
Can you help me on what bullet it shoots.
I've looked them up on GI.
They advertise as 38 AUTO
Or 38 ACP.
I mistook it as 380 AUTO.
Well I know now, that's not correct!
Is this round, like the size of a 38 special?
I don't mean to shoot 38 specials in it.
Just the size of it.
Bullet diameter? Or BORE DIA.
PS the gun Is apart right now.
So pics will come later.
Thanks for your help!
Pics of the pistol added
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This warning cannot be overstated. The pistol as it is, runs at performance and pressure levels very similar to 9mm. This is plenty. The early .38 acp was a stout round to start with, and was downloaded and numbed up a little sometime before the development of the .38 super. The .38 super picked up where the .38 acp left off, and is a powerful round when compared to the .38 acp. or the 9mm. It operates at a high enough pressure to break the frame and /or the little takedown piece of the earlier pistol. There have been many 1903 pocket hammers bent and busted , and some have come apart completely. This may, in part anyway, explain the relative scarcity of these pistols. We just don't see as many as we would like to. All the nice ones are in collections or museums, and the beaters have run the risk of being blown up, many of which did get wrecked. Kinda sad, really.
Honestly, this is what's kept me from firing mine to this point. I intended to at some point. I have a couple boxes of older .38auto ammo ready to go. I've completely stripped it and checked everything. I even picked up a new recoil spring to use. Just haven't gotten around to it. Whoever the past owner was cleaned it as if they were going to refinish it and stopped there. The markings are still decent.
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If you have factory .38 acp ammo, you can use it as normal in your pistol. If you don't have factor rounds, there is good brass available, and reliable load information from many loading manuals. Actually this approach is probably more useful in that you can tailor your load for your particular pistol, and soften 'em up even more but still guarantee good cycling of the action. I have no ammo for mine, but there is some brass on it's way. I still have a couple questions relating to resizing die, shell holder, and optimal bullet diameter, but those issues will be a helluva lot easier dealt with than chasing down brass or factory ammo.
Fortunately, I do have a couple boxes of factory ammo. I may donate a box full to the range once the snow clears out.

I'd be interested in your reloading specs and such once you get to it, as I'd likely get to that stage eventually. I haven't stumbled across anymore .38acp in years.
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Anytime I'm at a gun show where there are ammo collectors or others who have ammo for sale, I check to see if they have any .38 ACP. Never have run across any at a gun show, but did acquire a single box elsewhere a few years ago. I load .38 Super, Super Comp, etc., have plenty of components, etc., so it was no problem to tailor light .38 ACP loads for the old Pocket Hammer.

I thought about shooting some of the factory .38 ACP in the old gun, but the box doesn't mention that the ammo is non-corrosive. The Peters "38 Colt Automatic" ammo I have looks about as old as the gun. I suspect the old ammo probably is corrosive, and don't think I'll shoot it.
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Great picture! That world map backdrop just works great with that old Colt.
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