SOLD FOR: $1725
Model: 1903 Pocket Hammer
Serial Number: 40578
Year of Manufacture: 1917-1919 (COLT Serial Number Lookup)
Caliber: .38 ACP
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Automatic Pistol with Removable Magazine
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “PATENTED / APR.20.1897. SEPT. 9. 1902”, “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.”, and at the rear with a Rampant Colt logo. The left side of the frame is marked “40578”. The right side of the slide is marked “AUTOMATIC COLT / CALIBRE 38 RIMLESS SMOKELESS”. The left of the trigger guard is marked “VP” in a triangle and “1”. The interior slide flat is marked with the serial number, “40578”.
Barrel Length: 4 1/2”
Sights/Optics: The front sight is a thin rounded blade fixed to the top of the slide. The rear sight is a “U” notch with a rounded top that is dovetailed into the top rear of the slide.
Stock Configuration and Condition: The grips are checkered black hard rubber with “COLT” in a banner across the tops of the grips and a circled Rampant Colt logo in the center. The grips have a few light nicks and scuffs, most notable on the lower smooth borders. The checkering is generally well-defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in about Very Good condition.
Type of Finish: Blue
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is quite bright and the rifling is well defined. There is no apparent erosion, but there is a hint of minor stubborn fouling throughout.
Overall Condition: This 1903 Pocket Hammer retains about 77% of its metal finish. The top of the slide has intermittent light nicks, a few moderate spots of finish loss, and minor thinning on most edges. Behind the ejection port, the top of the slide has a cluster of moderate tool marks. The backstrap has gone to a light patina. The frame has minor thinning on most surfaces. The screw heads are tool-marked with strong slots. The pinheads show finish loss but are not marred. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in Good-to-Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The slide has a bit of play to the frame. The trigger has a slight take up followed by a very light break. This pistol does not have a safety other than a half-cock position on the hammer. The magazine release is at the heel. This pistol has a spur hammer that was used on pistols after 1908. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork, and Accessories: This pistol comes with one (1) 7-round magazine.
Our Assessment: The Colt Model 1900 was the first automatic pistol manufactured in the United States and marketed in an environment still oriented to revolvers. Self-loading pistols had been manufactured for several years in Europe but were hardly accepted in the year 1900 when Colt began selling this John M. Browning designed pistol. Browning was nothing short of a genius in firearms design and associating with the marketing and manufacturing abilities of Colt’s Firearms insured the eventual acceptance of the automatic pistol design. The 1900 underwent continuing design changes, becoming the 1902 Sporting and Military Models. The success of these pistols led Colt to believe that a smaller version was in order, a pistol that could be carried in a pocket or holster. This spawned the 1903 Pocket Hammer, which was essentially just a shortened version of the M1902 and made with much of the existing tooling. The Colt Pocket Hammer has a shortened 4 1/2” barrel, but like its big brother it lacks an external safety and has a seven round magazine with heel release. One noticeable change from the M1902 pistols was the slide serrations, which were moved to the rear of the slide. Colt manufactured about 31,250 of these pistols. Even though the 1903 Pocket Hammer was the most successful of the .38 ACP pistols, its success paled in comparison to the hammerless .32 ACP and .380 ACP models 1903 and 1908 hammerless models that were to follow. Production of the M1903 slowed during WWI and surged in 1920, but then fell off—people were gravitating either to the larger M1911 for knockdown power or to the hammerless pistols for concealability. This M1903 Pocket Hammer pistol was made between 1917 and 1919 and is in Good-to-Very Good condition with much of its original finish remaining. The bore is also in great shape. The mechanics are strong with a nice trigger and smooth operation. This model, along with its M1900 and M1902 predecessors, is a must-have amongst Colt collectors as being one of the first of the Colt semi-automatics. Good luck and happy bidding!