Colt 1908 Shanghai Municipal Police .380 ACP Semi-Auto Pistol, MFD 1931 C&R

Sold For: $3,035

LSB#: 200807DW11

Make: Colt

Model: Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless, Type IV

Serial Number: 106072

Year of Manufacture: 1931 (

Caliber: .380 A.C.P. (9mm Kurz)

Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto Pistol with Removable Magazine

Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A. / PATENTED APR.20, 1897. DEC.22. 1903” with the marking interrupted by the installed spring tab (see Our Assessment). The left side of the frame is marked “106072” found again marked on the underside of the slide. The right side of the slide is marked “COLT AUTOMATIC / CALIBRE .380 HAMMERLESS” and “2054”. The left front of the trigger guard is marked with a “VP” in a triangle and “1”, the right front of the trigger guard is marked “51”. The right side of the frame is marked “SHANGHAI MUNICIPAL POLICE” / NO 2054” and the right side of the barrel at the port is marked “2054”.

Barrel Length: 3 3/4”

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short rounded bladed fixed to the top of the slide. The rear sight is a square notch dovetailed into the rear of the slide.

Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are checkered black hard rubber with a small smooth diamond shape near the tops of the grips. The checkering shows light wear with a few scattered minor marks. The left grip is relieved at the bottom rear corner for a lanyard ring on the bottom left rear of the grip. There are no chips or cracks. The grips are in about Very Good-Fine overall Condition.

Type of Finish: Blued

Finish Originality: Refinished, likely arsenal refurbished.

Bore Condition: The bore is gray and the rifling is well defined, generally sharp. There is light erosion scattered through the bore with infrequent moderate erosion.

Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 83% of its current metal finish. The finish is thinning at most edges. The slide and frame have scattered light finish wear with some worn areas showing discoloration from oxidation, most notable in the grip straps and on the rear face of the slide and frame. There are several scattered light scratches, nicks and dings. There some scattered minor surface erosion, most under the finish, with more moderate-heavy erosion and pitting under the grip panels. There is some surface oxidation inside the action, mostly around the breech and breech-face of the slide. The screw heads are tool marked with strong slots. Remaining markings are shallow with soft edges, but mostly clear. Overall, this pistol is in about Good-Very Good condition.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The slide has very little play to the frame. This pistol has a grip safety and a thumb safety on the left of the frame. The safety can be used to lock the slide back. Modifications to this pistol made for the Shanghai Municipal Police include a threaded hole at the thumb safety for a pin which prevents the safety from being engaged (this pin is not present), a spring tab installed on the left of the slide, and removal of the magazine disconnect. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.

Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with one blued 7 round magazine. The floorplate is marked “CAL 380 / COLT” and there are witness holes along the spine and at the left-front (see Our Assessment). The magazine has scattered light freckling with light-moderate operational wear, intact feed lips and a strong spring, in about Good-Very Good condition.

Our Assessment: Colt’s Pocket Hammerless pistols were some of the finest automatics of the early 20th century, seeing use in America by civilians, police, and by the military as General Officer’s pistols. They also saw use abroad, and this is one of the more notable examples. Colt shipped a total of 4185 pistols to the Shanghai Municipal Police (SMP) from 1928 to 1938. The pistols were modified from the standard commercial M1908 in several ways: The grips were relieved for access to a staple shaped lanyard ring at the left bottom rear of the grip, a screw was added on the left side of the frame to prevent the safety from being inadvertently engaged, the magazine disconnect was removed and a key shaped leaf spring was added on the left side of the slide. The magazine disconnect was removed and the safety block was installed at the behest of William Fairbairn, who was the head of the SMPD at the time. Fairbairn drew on his considerable combat experience and felt that the factory safety was too small and difficult to operate reliably under stress, so his officers carried their pistols with the chamber empty and would operate the slide if they needed to fire. There are a few explanations for the spring-tab, from preventing jams to increasing accuracy. Similarly, there are multiple explanations for the unique witness holes on the magazine, perhaps the most plausible being that officers had been known to trade off ammunition, replacing it in their magazines with fired cases so that they appeared loaded when turned in at the end of their shift. The placement of the witness holes on this magazine allows inspection of the primer and bullet for each round in the magazine. This example is in about Good-Very Good condition with some pitting under the grips, and wear consistent with a police-issued pistol in one of the most dangerous cities of the 1930s. That said, it also has a decent bore and still functions quite well. As there were only 4,185 of these pistols shipped from the Colt factory under contract to the SMP, this pistol is a rare find for the Colt auto collector. Please see our photos and good luck!

CA Legal or CA Private Party Transferable (THIS SECTION DOES NOT APPLY TO OUT-OF-STATE RESIDENTS): This C&R Pistol CAN be sold as a dealer sale in California and CAN be transferred as a Private Party Transfer (PPT) as our Simi Valley location. All C&R firearms must be transferred through your local dealer OR at our Simi Valley location; we cannot ship directly to a C&R holder in California. Out of state residents can disregard this section – your local laws apply.

Colt 1908 Shanghai Municipal Police .380 ACP Semi-Auto Pistol, MFD 1931 C&R
Colt 1908 Shanghai Municipal Police .380 ACP Semi-Auto Pistol, MFD 1931 C&R