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Hello out there.... I have a family pistol Colt Model 1902 Sporting 38 ACP serial # 28087, that was my paternal grandfather's. He acquired it likely between 1909 and 1912 and passed in 1939. Been in the family gun cabinet ever since I can remember. Online research indicates a gap in Colt's serial numbers from 10999 to 30000 in 1907, the last year the gun was produced. What could be a plausible explanation for my pistol having a serial number in the "gap"? Photos attached.
 

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Hi and welcome! There are other members more knowledgeable who will be along shortly, but I offer one warning, 38 Super ammo will fit in your gun but do NOT fire it in there. It is much higher pressure and will tear up that fine heirloom.
 

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Hello RCModel1902. Welcome to the Colt Forum.

What you have there is a Model 1903 Pocket Hammer (not 1902 Sporting). It was made in 1910 or 1911.

The 1903 Pocket Hammer has a 4 1/2" barrel and the 1902 Sporting would have a 6" barrel.
 

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RC
Since no one has answered your question,I pulled out my "book"
"The serial #'s of the 1902 Military and the Pocket are interrelated. The Military had the #'s from#15000 down to # 11900, while the Pocket had the #'s from #16000 to #30199. From #30200 onward the two were numbered within the same sequence."

Sutherland & Wilson
 

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RC
Since no one has answered your question,I pulled out my "book"
"The serial #'s of the 1902 Military and the Pocket are interrelated. The Military had the #'s from#15000 down to # 11900, while the Pocket had the #'s from #16000 to #30199. From #30200 onward the two were numbered within the same sequence."

Sutherland & Wilson
A couple comments/corrections:

a) Larry Wilson's serial number table for Pocket Hammers is totally wrong. Numbering commenced with production in 1903 at 19999 and descended to 16000 in 1906. Then later in 1906 numbers picked up at 20000, eventually ascending to 47226 at the end of production in 1927. Both Douglas Sheldon and Sam Lisker's site Colt Autos.com agree on this.

b) Also, Sheldon notes that "examination of factory records reveals that the (1902 Military Model) serial numbering beginning at 30200 was not mixed in with the Pocket Hammer , as previously reported by other sources." The two models were not numbered in sequence. "Both the Military and the Pocket versions had their own numbering in the 30000 and 40000 serial range. In other words, the same number was used for a Military and also a Pocket Model."
 

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73shovel,

I've been looking for 30+ years for the same SN in a 1902 military and 1903 PH and 1902 Sporting (30,000-30,190) w/o success. Does anyone own a pair or triplet w/ the same SN to prove your accepted theory?

Off the top of my head, your explanation is correct. However, it doesn't explain the strange numbering of the early automatic Colt which we collectors now divide into the Models 1900 and 1900 Sporting - but which are really a continuation of the same basic model. From 1 to 10,999 then from 30,000 to 30,190 in a cleanup run. The model 1900 / 1902 Sporting delineation occurred at 4274 when the sight safety slide cut out was eliminated and to keep it separate from the 1902 Military.
 

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73shovel,

I've been looking for 30+ years for the same SN in a 1902 military and 1903 PH and 1902 Sporting (30,000-30,190) w/o success. Does anyone own a pair or triplet w/ the same SN to prove your accepted theory?

Off the top of my head, your explanation is correct. However, it doesn't explain the strange numbering of the early automatic Colt which we collectors now divide into the Models 1900 and 1900 Sporting - but which are really a continuation of the same basic model. From 1 to 10,999 then from 30,000 to 30,190 in a cleanup run. The model 1900 / 1902 Sporting delineation occurred at 4274 when the sight safety slide cut out was eliminated and to keep it separate from the 1902 Military.
Ted,

The best I can do is two Model 1903's (one is a Hammerless, and the other is a Pocket Hammer) with the same serial number.

Colt 1903 PH and Hammerless.jpg
 

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73shovel,

I've been looking for 30+ years for the same SN in a 1902 military and 1903 PH and 1902 Sporting (30,000-30,190) w/o success. Does anyone own a pair or triplet w/ the same SN to prove your accepted theory?

Off the top of my head, your explanation is correct. However, it doesn't explain the strange numbering of the early automatic Colt which we collectors now divide into the Models 1900 and 1900 Sporting - but which are really a continuation of the same basic model. From 1 to 10,999 then from 30,000 to 30,190 in a cleanup run. The model 1900 / 1902 Sporting delineation occurred at 4274 when the sight safety slide cut out was eliminated and to keep it separate from the 1902 Military.
Ted

My knowledge derives from my comparatively limited experience (very limited in light of your experience) collecting the 1902 Military Model and 1903 Pocket Hammer over past years, but primarily from referencing Douglas Sheldon's Colt's .38 Automatic Pistols. Despite Sheldon's comments that I've quoted above, which he maintains are substantiated by "examination of factory records", no where in his book does he site specific examples of known surviving .38 pistols of the various models having the same serial number, or of comparative shipping records indicating the same.

Al
 

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Shovel
I guess my "book" and your "book" are both suspect
Well.... I also consider Larry Wilson's book "my book", but it contains many errors, as have been discussed in numerous threads on this form. A case in point, Wilson's Pocket Hammer serial number table is obviously totally wrong.

Neither tedm nor I have characterized Sheldon's statement as "wrong", there just don't seem to be currently known surviving examples of pistols to concretely back up what Sheldon feels that the factory ledgers indicate. This is not necessarily surprising considering the small number of all these models produced.

Sheldon's book is to the .38 autos what Brunner's is to the pocket hammerless.
 
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