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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Gentlemen,
I'm wanting to add a vintage Colt to my humble collection. It's a 1903 (?) in .380 and appears to be in 80 % or better shape. Grips are good, magazine's OK and fits ... no box, no papers. These guns are compeltely foreign to me! Revolvers and 1911's I'm pretty familiar with. Would someone walk me through a manual of arms with one of these? I used to know the army safety tests for a .45 but this thing ain't got no hammer! Is there something inherently BAD about these guns? I never see them mentioned on these pages? Are they safe? Do you carry it cocked and locked? Help me out, Cousin?
 

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Actually, the Pocket Hammerless pistol does have a hammer, as opposed to a striker fired pistol, but it's enclosed by the slide. It's okay to carry it cocked & locked.

I've been collecting them for over 30 years. Let me know if you have any questions and I'd be glad to assist you.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
All righty, then, Thiokol! Thanks in advance. Here's the,"short list!:" 1. How many rounds in the magazine? 2. Inertia firing pin or some safety for cocked and locked anti-drop carry? 3. The one I'm looking at is a .380. Thoughts about .32 or .380? 4. Accuracy? Are thse as good as a snubbie .38? 5. Arent't these the WWII General's gun? These'll do for a start ... thanks again, Thiokul!
 

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Thiokol is the expert here, I have only one Model "M" in .32 (1917 vintage); but you will discover that it takes a very conscious (for me) effort to squeeze the grip safety - so much so that the slide safety is superflous - it will simply not snap unless you are gripping it firmly. So...very safe to carry with one in the pipe.

The .380 had some reliability problems with the Armed Forces in WW2, they were sent back to Colt's for extractor adjustment, and so marked. Not so the .32. Yup, it was issued to Generals (get John Brummer's[?]book for info).

.32 mag holds 8 rounds, .380 holds 7.

Mine shoots to POA and is a cupcake to shoot, another example of John Browning's genius. You will like it.

B.W.
 

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I've carried a .32 acp Colt 1903 for many years. Its flat, handy, and very reliable. Rides well in a coat pocket or IWB holster.
 

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rcwambold,

I'll try to answer your questions:

1. The .32 holds 8 rounds, the .380 holds 7.

2. The firing pin is a 2 piece affair. You will see a pin through the rear of the slide. That pin holds the rear half of the firing pin in place. The pin runs through a channel in the rear half that is considerably wider than the retaining pin. This allows it to move forward when it's struck by the hammer. The front half has, for lack of a better word, a collar at the rear end. A spring fits over the front of the firing pin and, when assembled, it comes under tension and forces the rear half of the firing pin rearward.

As to the safety, it engages a notch at the rear of the slide. They tend to be somewhat stiff: a good indication that it won't drop out of safe accidentally when you draw it or inadvertently rest your thumb on it. Check it to be sure. The pistol should be safe when cocked & locked. However, given their age, if you drop it on the hammer, there is some potential for internal breakage resulting in an accidental discharge.

3 & 4. Both of these pistols are accurate for the purpose for which they were intended and, in my opnion, they are as accurate as any 2" snubby at close range. What you must remember is that they were designed for ball ammunition. They can be pretty finicky with hollow point bullets. If you intend to use hollowpoints, make sure that, your magazines are in top condition, the feedramp at the breech end of the barrel is smooth, and that your rounds are the same length as a factory loaded FMJ round.

5. Compared to the total production, the number of pistols issued to military officers is relatively small. They were issued to grades O-6 through O-10. A good resource is John Brunner's book of the Colt Pocket Hammerless Pistol. It has a complete list of all serial numbers issued to military officers, the date they were issued, and the name of the officer. I was pretty surprised to find that they were still being issued as late as the 1970's.

I hope that this information proves useful to you.

Jim
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks, Jerry6stl and Thiokol! You bet this information will help me. Nice little guns, aren't they? You know, I was SURE I had seen one of these in a General Officer's holster in the 70's ... can't remember who. Could have been Westmoreland. I played in several army bands and we saw a lot of big brass. I for sure remember the 6th Army Commander - except his name - he always wore a black Sam Browne type belt with the Army buckle and no shoulder strap. The holster was like a Jordan Trooper with a safety strap. Of course, his hammer was down - not locked back with the strap in between as some folks like. He had one of the General Officer's alot-like-a-Comamnder with high, fixed sights. Wasn't Parkerized, either - but a dull blue/black.
 
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