Model: 1903 Pocket Hammer
Serial Number: 39615
Year of Manufacture: 1917 (Proof House)
Caliber: .38 A.C.P.
Action Type: Single Action Semi-Auto 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 circled Rampant Colt logo. The left side of the frame is marked “39615”. The right side of the slide is marked “AUTOMATIC COLT / CALIBRE 38 RIMLESS SMOKELESS”. The left front of the trigger guard is marked “VP” in a triangle and at the rear with “1”. The forward part of the slide retaining groove on the right side of the frame is marked “Z”.
Barrel Length: 4 ½”
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 & 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. There is a starburst pattern engraved around the upper grip screw escutcheons. The checkering shows light wear with a spot of moderate wear in front of the grip screw on the right grip. There are a few tiny marks in the smooth areas. The grips are in about Fine overall Condition.
Type of Finish: The pistol has a blue finish with a case colored hammer.
Finish Originality: The finish is original.
Bore Condition: The bore is bright with sharp rifling. There is no erosion in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 72% of its metal finish. There is a thinning on the slide, backstrap and the edges of the frame. There are tiny spots of surface frosting sprinkled over the left side of the slide and frame. There are tiny marks on the underside of the frame and on the right side of the frame above the grip. There are also very light handling marks scattered over the slide and front strap. The slide serrations are sharp and the hammer checkering shows very light wear. Two of the grip screws are distressed and the markings are clear. Overall, this handgun rates in about Fine condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly and the slide is tight to the frame. This pistol does not have a safety other than a half-cock position on the hammer. The magazine release is on the bottom of the butt. This pistol has a spur hammer that was used on pistols after 1908. We did not fire this handgun.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: This pistol comes with one blued magazine with a floorplate marked “PKT. / COLT / 38 CAL.”. The magazine has its original finish, which shows light wear. There are also tiny tool marks near the top of the magazine on each side and the right lip looks like it has been belt slightly outwards. The magazine holds 7 rounds, which fed easily through the magazine. The floorplate shows a few light marks and surface loss on its front edge. The magazine is in about Very Good overall condition.
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 basically just a shortened version of the M1902 and made with much of the existing tooling. The Colt Pocket Hammer has a shortened 4 ½” barrel but like its big brother lacks an external safety and has a 7 shot magazine with bottom release. Like the M1902 pistols, serial numbering began at 19,999 and continued in descending order to number 16,000. In 1906, the serial number that followed number 16,000 was 20,000. Serial numbers continued in ascending order from 20,000 to the high serial number of 47,227. Colt’s manufactured about 31,250 of these pistols. Even though the 1903 Pocket Hammer was the most successful of the .38 Autos, its success paled in comparison to the hammerless .32ACP model that was to follow.
This M1903 Pocket Hammer pistol was made in 1917 and is in Fine condition with about 72% of its original finish remaining. It shows thinning on the slide, backstrap and the edges of the frame. There are tiny spots of surface frosting sprinkled over the left side of the slide and frame, and a few tiny marks on the underside of the frame and the right side of the frame above the grip. The grips are black checkered hard rubber that show light wear in the checkering and a few light handling marks. The bore is bright with sharp rifling and no erosion. The magazine has its original finish and shows tool marks near the upper lips, but feeds rounds correctly. This model, along with its M1900 and M1902 predecessors, is a must-have amongst Colt collectors as being the first of the Colt semi-automatics. With its original finish, we think the collectors will be fighting over this one.