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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I recently purchased a colt 1903 in .32acp. The pistol is in very good condition, original blue with a few small freckles here and there. All the markings are clear and crisp and the edges sharp. I believe this to be original finish. The problem is the barrel is bulged. Unfortunately I did not spot this prior to the purchase. The bore was quite dirty and I wrongly assumed it would clean up fine. The accumulation of dirt hid the bulge. Now what to do? I paid what I think was a good price for the pistol had the barrel not been bulged. It was not so great a price if I have to replace the barrel!

Option 1. I bought this from a reputable LGS in my area and I believe they will allow me to return it. 1903s are fairly scarce in my area, particularly nice ones.
Option 2. Find a new barrel and consider this a lesson learned.
Option 3. I have another shooter grade 1903 with a good barrel. I could swap barrels and sell the shooter with the bulged barrel. Of course I will disclose the barrel issue to any new buyer!

I will post pictures as soon as I can. I am a little embarrassed at missing the bulge during the purchase process. I am afraid it was a case of I wanted it badly and saw what I wanted to see! Another lesson learned the hard way.
David
 

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First I would talk to the gun shop. If you like the pistol check on replacement barrel costs and see if the gun shop will make an allowance for the bad barrel. If not I would ask for my money back. Maybe they knew about it and maybe they didn't, but it would be unusual for a gun shop not to clean the pistol before putting it out for sale.
 

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I recently purchased a colt 1903 in .32acp. The pistol is in very good condition, original blue with a few small freckles here and there. All the markings are clear and crisp and the edges sharp. I believe this to be original finish. The problem is the barrel is bulged. Unfortunately I did not spot this prior to the purchase. The bore was quite dirty and I wrongly assumed it would clean up fine. The accumulation of dirt hid the bulge. Now what to do? I paid what I think was a good price for the pistol had the barrel not been bulged. It was not so great a price if I have to replace the barrel!Option 1. I bought this from a reputable LGS in my area and I believe they will allow me to return it. 1903s are fairly scarce in my area, particularly nice ones.Option 2. Find a new barrel and consider this a lesson learned.Option 3. I have another shooter grade 1903 with a good barrel. I could swap barrels and sell the shooter with the bulged barrel. Of course I will disclose the barrel issue to any new buyer! I will post pictures as soon as I can. I am a little embarrassed at missing the bulge during the purchase process. I am afraid it was a case of I wanted it badly and saw what I wanted to see! Another lesson learned the hard way.David
Unless you no longer want it, I would go with option 2. I own a rough refinished 1903 that I bought with a ringed barrel, after I replaced that barrel it's a dream to shoot. Now because mine was refinished and every part buffed to within an inch of its life my new barrel needed a little fitting. I have an extra blued barrel I would part with if your interested, others here do too. Numrich is out of stock but that changes from time to time. If keeping it I would take a grinder to that bulged barrel before someone hurts themselves, some say it's ok to shoot a bulged barrel but I never would.
 

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If you like the pistol as a whole, finish and all, then I'd opt for talking to the LGS and seeing if they'd refund a portion of the purchase price for the bulged barrel. They might have an "as is" clause for older firearms so I'd check into that. If they are reputable, they might bend a little, especially if you're a known repeat customer. Never hurts to ask. IF that doesn't pan out I'd try to obtain a barrel from a forum member, txBulldog has offered a solution. Lastly, if the whole thing makes you unhappy, due to the barrel, and you don't wish to throw any more money into the piece, return to gun store for a full refund (once again review their policy on returns). Hope you can work it out.
 

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I trust gunshops who offer a 30-day return policy. The guy I am thinking of is a strange old fellow who never cleans the incoming stock but doesn't mind paying extra postal fees for returned handguns. In the past twelve years, this scenario happened to me twice over a dozen pistols. And now we're like friends. Funny, isn't it? --- Bruno
 

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It might be possible to roll out the bulge in the thin barrel of a M1903, like it done with shotgun barrels. In any event, a price adjustment is in order. The barrel swap seems like a good option as well, even if the barrel is repaired.
 

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I had a ringed Model barrel in one of my pistols. It shot fine. However, it bothered me enough to look for a better barrel at a fair price. Years later I found a good barrel at the Colt Collector's Association annual show ( this year in Concord/Charlotte North Carolina Oct 1-3, 2014 ) and replaced the bulged barrel. Hope to see many of you there.
Have it checked out and if safe, shoot it.
 

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DavidJ5, that is a beauty!! Buy it and try JudgeColts suggestion while you look for a better barrel. I had a brand NOS barrel I sold to a Forum member a couple months ago. If I see another, I will look for this thread again to help you out if you get the gun. I will be at a gun show this weekend and can check with a parts supplier if you want.
 

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That's a keeper. You'll be able to find another barrel if you keep your eye out. Since that is a later gun, you will probably find that the right barrel just drops right in without any fitting.

I have a later 32 US Property gun that came with both 32 and 380 barrels and mags. It runs reliably in either configuration.

The early guns are much more finicky in my opinion when it comes to swapping parts around.
 

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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
For comparison this is my other 1903. I was able to swap the barrels easily. I will still replace the bulged barrel and likely sell this one.The other side is a little worse than this side but it is not terrible.
 

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I picked up a minty '03 at a LGS; it looked good, and was part of a collection being sold off. Took it home, and after closer examination, the bore was rather badly pitted. I shot it with FMJ, and it shot just fine, but the pitting bothered me, so I scored a barrel at a gunshow...it wasn't cheap, but it solved the problem.
Oddly, I'm suspicious that the pistol wasn't the property of an old friend of the family, who was notorious for observing New Years by ripping a magazine of black powder blanks out of an '03, and perhaps neglecting to clean it.
Meandering tale, but barrels are to be had.
Moon
 
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