- Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless
Colt Pocket Hammerless
Pocket Hammerless in .380 ACP Caliber
Type Semi-automatic pistol Place of origin United States Production history Designer John Browning Manufacturer Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut Produced 1903–45 Variants M1903, M1908 (Types 1-5) Specifications Weight 33 oz (940 g) Length 7 in (180 mm) (Type I)
6.75 in (171 mm) (Types 2 - 5))
Barrel length 4 in (100 mm) (Type I)
3.75 in (95 mm) (Types 2 - 5))
Cartridge .32 ACP (M1903)
.380 ACP (M1908)
Action single-action Blowback Feed system 8-round detachable box magazine (M1903)
7-round detachable box magazine (M1908)
Sights fixed front, rear drift-adjustable for windage
The Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless is .32 ACP caliber, self-loading, semi-automatic pistol designed by John Browning and built by Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless is a variant introduced five years later in .380 ACP caliber.
These pistols were popular civilian firearms for much of their life, and also served as United States General Officer pistols from the 1940s until their replacement by the M15 General Officers pistol in the 1970s. The Office of Strategic Services issued the Model 1903 to its officers during World War II.
In addition to lawful owners, many gangsters of the pre-World War II era favored the Model 1903 and Model 1908 because they were relatively small and easily concealed. It is said that Al Capone kept one in his coat pocket and Bonnie Parker used one to break Clyde Barrow out of jail after smuggling it into the jail by taping it to her thigh.
Note: There was also a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer pistol in .38 ACP, but this design is unrelated. The FN Model 1903 pistol design is related to the Colt Pocket Hammerless, but it is physically larger due to its chambering in 9 x 20 mm SR Browning Long cartridge.
Approximately 570,000 Colt Pocket Hammerless pistols were produced from 1903 to 1945, in five different types (see Variants paragraph below). Some were issued to US Army and US Air Force general officers from World War II through the 1970s, when stocks ran out. Recipients included Generals Eisenhower, Bradley, Marshall, and Patton. Patton's Model 1908 was embellished with three (later four) stars on the grip panels to denote his rank. General Officer models were issued with a brown or black (depending on service and regulations) leather holster, pistol belt, and ammunition pouch. A cleaning rod and two spare magazines were also included. The pistol was often engraved with the officer's name.
Special features include a serrated slide to prevent slippage during manual cycling of the slide, and two safety mechanisms (a grip safety and a manual safety). A magazine safety was added on later models; this feature prevents the pistol from being fired with a round in the chamber and the magazine removed. Despite the title 'Hammerless', the Model 1903 does have a hammer, but it is hidden from view by the gun's slide. In 1908, a .380 ACP version of this gun was introduced. Called the Model 1908, it was nearly identical to the Model 1903 except for the bore diameter and the magazine, which held seven rounds (one less than the Model 1903).
Grip panels were black checked hard rubber, checked walnut, or special order materials (ivory, mother of pearl, inset medallion).
Sights were fixed, although the rear sight was drift-adjustable for windage.
- Weight (unloaded): 640 g
- Length: 205 mm
- Barrel length: 127 mm
- 8 rounds (.32 ACP)
- 7 Rounds (.380 ACP)
- Type I: separate barrel bushing, 4 inch barrel, no magazine safety, Serial numbers 1 through 71,999
- Type II: separate barrel bushing, 3 3/4 inch barrel; 1908-1910, SN 72,000 through 105,050
- Type III: integrated barrel bushing, 3 3/4 inch barrel; 1910-1926, SN 105,051 through 468,789
- Type IV: integrated barrel bushing, 3 3/4 inch barrel, magazine safety
- Type V: integrated barrel bushing, 3 3/4 inch barrel, military sights, magazine safety on both commercial and "U.S. Property" variations. SN 468,097 through 554,446.
There was also an M1903 version with a military Parkerized finish, which is otherwise the same as the Model IV, SN 554,447 through 572,214.
- Police marked variations.
- Brunner, John W. (1996). The Colt Pocket Hammerless Automatic Pistols. Phillips Publications.
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