SOLD FOR: $7525
Model: 1903, Type III Pocket Hammerless
Serial Number: 258829
Year of Manufacture: 1917
Caliber: .32 ACP (7.65mm Browning)
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto Pistol with Removable Magazine
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “PATENTED / APR.20, 1897. DEC.22, 1903” and “COLT’S PT. F.A. MFG. CO. / HARTFORD, CT. U.S.A.” with a rampant colt logo behind the serrations. The left side of the frame is marked “258829”. The right side of the slide is marked “COLT AUTOMATIC / CALIBRE 32 RIMLESS SMOKELESS”. The left front of the trigger guard is marked with a “VP” in a triangle and the rear is marked “R”. The firing pin housing is marked “829” and with inspection marks.
Barrel Length: 3 3/4”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a short rounded blade fixed to the front of the slide. The rear sight is a “U” notch dovetailed into the rear of the slide.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are two-piece checkered black hard rubber with “COLT” in banner across their tops and rampant colt logos at their bottoms. The grips have a few scattered light nicks and scuffs. There are small patches of compressed checkers on the left panel below the banner and on the right above. Otherwise, the checkering is well defined. There are no chips or cracks. Overall, the grips are in Very Good-Fine condition.
Type of Finish: Blued
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is gray. The rifling is sharp where not interrupted by erosion. There is scattered light erosion and infrequent pitting in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 85% of its metal finish. The finish is thinning at all edges. There are spots of finish wear on the slide in the front half. The grip safety shows handling wear. There are some scattered light nicks and scratches. The action shows operational wear. The screw head is sharp. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in Very Good condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly and the slide has minor play to the frame. It has a grip safety and a manual safety but does not have a magazine disconnect safety. The safety can be used to lock the slide back. We did not fire this handgun. As with all firearms, a thorough cleaning may be necessary to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with one two-tone 8-round magazine, a Colt Archives letter and a list of the serial numbers of the 200 Model 1903 pistols shipped on this order. The letter confirms that this pistol shipped September 29, 1917 to the Navy Yard in Washington D.C. as one of 200 pistols 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, seeing use on both sides of the law as well as for lawful recreational shooting.
This is a particularly rare example, one of 200 ordered by the U.S. Navy during the Great War. This is the only known Navy purchase of the 1903 pistol during WWI and to date there are only a half dozen or so that have been documented in private collections. This pistol 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, enhancing this pistol’s already historically important connection to the US Navy during World War 1. It will make a great addition to even advanced collections. Please see our photos and good luck!