SOLD FOR: $6525
Model: Type IV 1903 Pocket Hammerless
Serial Number: 556486
Year of Manufacture: Colt’s serial lookup indicates production in 1941 (https://www.colt.com/serial-lookup), shipped February 8, 1942
Caliber: .32 ACP (7.65mm)
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″ and with a rampant colt behind the serrations. The right of the slide is marked “COLT AUTOMATIC / CALIBRE 32 RIMLESS SMOKELESS”. The left of the frame is marked “556486”. The left trigger guard bow is marked “WB” in box over “VP” in a triangle and “T” at the rear. The right side of the trigger guard is marked “61”. The right-front of the slide has an arrow pointing to an indexing line for disassembly. The underside flat of the slide is marked with the serial number, “556486”. The left of the frame is marked “COLT 32 AUTO”. The right side of the frame is marked “U.S. PROPERTY”.
Barrel Length: 3 3/4”
Sights/Optics: The front sight is a short, round blade fixed to the top of the slide. The front sight appears to have been filed some, and there are remnants of serrations on the rear face. The rear sight is a flat-top “U”notch dovetailed into the rear of the slide. The rear sight also shows signs of modification with the dovetail altered to fit.
Stock Configuration and Condition: The grips are checkered walnut with silver-colored rampant colt medallions. The grips show minor handling wear with a few minor nicks. The checkering is well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall the grips are in Fine-Excellent condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: The frame’s finish is Original. The slide has been refinished.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 92% of its current metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. There is handling wear in the grip areas. There are some scattered light nicks and scratches, mostly in the grip straps and clustered around the thumb safety on each side of the frame. There is infrequent minor surface oxidation. There is a small notch in the top-rear of the slide, it appears to line up with the rear sight notch which would indicate that the notch was cut when the base was installed on the slide. The action shows light operational wear. The screw head is tool marked with a strong slot. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol rates in Very Good condition as partially refinished.
Mechanics: The thumb safety is designed to be able to also lock the slide back. The slide will only be held back when the safety lever is being pressed upward manually. When released, the slide will fall. Otherwise, the action functions correctly. The slide has minor play to the frame. This pistol has a grip safety, a manual safety and a 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, and Accessories: This pistol comes in a two-piece cardboard craft box wit, Colt Archive letter, a total of two blued 8 round magazines, cleaning rod, manual, and wax paper. One magazine has minor operational wear, intact feed lips and a strong spring, the other shows almost no wear. The letter confirms that this pistol shipped February 8, 1942 to the United States Government, factory marked “U.S. Property”. It shipped as one of 200 guns of the same type in the shipment.
Our Assessment: The Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless is a semi-automatic pistol designed by John Browning, and was the 1st of the Colt concealed hammer models, followed by the M1908 in .380 ACP. Despite the title ‘Hammerless’, the M1903 and M1908 pistols do have a hammer, which is covered and hidden from view under the rear of the slide. This allowed the weapon to be carried in and withdrawn from a pocket quickly and smoothly without snagging. 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 and it was a popular back-up/off-duty model with police officers in the United States. Gangsters also favored this pistol, including Bonnie Parker and John Dillinger.
This example is one that was made for a contract with the United States government, as is evident by its “U.S. PROPERTY” marking, and was a fairly early example. These earlier pistols received acceptance marks much like 1911A1 pistols and Victory revolvers, this one having the inspection mark of Waldemar Broberg. Later, pistols would receive a discreet punch-dot marking and then crossed-cannon Ordnance wheel marks. This makes for an interesting example for the collector, adding a WB marked Model M to a collection can be somewhat challenging.
Interestingly, this example has had its sights modified, though it is not clear if this was performed by an armorer while in service or after leaving service. In any case, the pistol is in Very Good condition, showing fairly light wear for a military issue sidearm and retaining a great bore and strong mechanics. This will make a nice addition to a Colt autoloader collection, especially as it comes from the collection of author Kevin Williams, best known for his exceptional work on the topic of General Officers Pistols & Clandestine Organization Pistols of WWII. Please see our photos and good luck!