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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My favorite carry piece is an 80 year old COLT M-1903 in .32acp. It is flat, convenient, reliable, and fits my hand. I've carried it for years, and shoot 100 to 300 rounds through it annually, for practice.

Is there any evidence that an 80 year old pistol is less reliable than a new one? This one has been shot enough that the parts "wore in" many years ago. I've never had any problems with it, and only carry ball/fmj anmmo. Actually, it also handles cast bullet reloads just fine, but I reserve those for practice only.

Can any engineers on this board address the metal fatigue question? A friend maintains that it is "too old" to be relied upon. I have a CCW, and am not in law enforcement, nor do I wander into rough neighborhoods. It seems fine to me, and this M-1903 and I have been together a long while.

JERRY
 

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I am not an engineer. It should be fine as long as the springs are working well. I have one from 1908 that I shoot. I put a new recoil spring in it to reduce the danger of cracking something. I often put springs in any older auto pistols, since they can lose tension with use. I also have a trapdoor rifle from 1884 that I shoot. Older well built pistols and rifles are shootable if they have not been abused. If in doubt, a good gunsmith can determine if it is safe. New springs are availabe for your 1903 if you want to install them or have them installed.
 

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I'm not an engineer either, but am a machinist, I work with racing engines. Metal fatigue is more of a factor of stress than age. While metal does lose some of its strength over time, the loss is quite slow. It will only stretch so many time before it hardens and cracks. I doubt that a 32 is straining the works enough to pose a problem, providing your reloads aren't +p+ pressure. Rust pits are another matter. A small pit in a metal surface is a point where a fracture can start. This is the reason most folks say not to shoot "old iron". They think when an old gun fails the old steel has weakened when the problem is really a rust pit forming a stress riser.
 

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Discussion Starter · #4 ·
I ran a box of Winchester .32 a.c.p. full-jacketed ammo through my old Colt 1903 at the range yesterday. No malfunctions, and 7 yard groups were nice.

Took it apart and cleaned it today. There are shiny spots inside, where moving parts touch, but it it is still tight and no signs of wear. I guess this it will last forever.
 
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