Engraved Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer .38 ACP Semi-Auto Pistol, 1920 C&R

SOLD FOR: $2,530

LSB#: 231108DM023

Make: Colt, we do not know who engraved this pistol.

Model: 1903 Pocket Hammer

Serial Number: 42675

Year of Manufacture: Ca. 1920

Caliber: .38 ACP

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

Barrel Length: 4 1/2”

Sights / Optics: The front sight is a 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 two-piece smooth faux-ivory panels with gold-colored Colt medallions. The left panel has a crack in the top edge extending to the screw escutcheon. Otherwise, the grips have only light handling marks. Overall, the grips are in Good-Very Good condition.

Type of Finish: Blue & Gold

Finish Originality: Refinished at time of engraving. The slide is serial-matching.

Bore Condition: The bore is gray with well defined rifling. There is scattered light erosion and some pitting in the bore. In this writer’s opinion. the bore rates about 6 out of 10.

Many military and C&R-eligible weapons have bores that will show erosion. This is not only due to age but to the fact that corrosive primers were commonly used in ammunition worldwide.

Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 99% of its current metal finish. There is no notable wear or damage, only light handling marks. The screw heads range from sharp to tool marked with strong slots. The markings are clear. Overall, this pistol is in about Excellent condition as refinished.

Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The slide has light play to the frame. The trigger is crisp. 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 7-round magazine which has been gold-finished and has engraving on the floorplate.

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 1/2” barrel but like its big brother lacks an external safety and has a 7 shot magazine with bottom release. One noticeable change from the M1902 pistols was the slide serrations, which were moved to the rear of the slide. Colt’s 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 either gravitating to the larger M1911 for knockdown power or to the hammerless pistols for concealability.

This M1903 Pocket Hammer pistol was made in 1920, fairly late in production. The pistol has been engraved and given a new blue finish with selected parts finished in gold. This is set off by a set of faux-ivory grip panels, giving the pistol a very distinctive appearance. 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. This engraved example will certainly stand out in a display. Please see our photos and good luck!

Please forgive any typos, I was educated in California. -Bud

Engraved Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer .38 ACP Semi-Auto Pistol, 1920 C&R
Engraved Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer .38 ACP Semi-Auto Pistol, 1920 C&R