SOLD FOR: $6,575.00
Model: Model 1900, Unaltered Sight Safety
Serial Number: 1284
Year of Manufacture: Shipped 11/26/1900 to Colt’s San Francisco Agency
Caliber: .38 Auto
Action Type: Single Action, Semi-Automatic Pistol with unique flip up sight safety. This safety blocks the hammer from contacting the firing pin when pressed down. When lifted, the sight notch becomes visible and the firing pin becomes exposed. The military rejected this safety early during trials, causing the factory to alter many of the original sight safety’s and completely remove the feature by the next model of 1902.
Markings: The left side of the slide is marked “BROWNING’S PATENT / PAT’D APRIL 20, 1897 / COLT’S PATENT FIRE ARMS MFG. CO. / HARTFORD. CONN. U.S.A.”. There is a Rampant horse in a circle on the left rear of the slide. The right side of the slide is marked “AUTOMATIC COLT / CALIBRE 38 RIMLESS SMOKELESS”. The left side of the frame is marked with the serial number “1284”, this serial number is also stamped on the underside of the slide. There is a “J” in the left frame rail and a “0” in the right rail. The base of the magazine is marked “PAT’D SEPT. 9. 1884”.
Barrel Length: 6”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a fixed blade. The rear sight is the sight safety (as described above).
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are smooth hardwood, with the original finish remaining. The panels are free of cracks and the finish would still rate at about 40%. They have darkened nicely from age and there are many dings and marks. They rate in about Very Good – Fine overall condition. The screws are original and still attractive with some fire blue and mildly worn slots.
Type of Finish: Fine Charcoal Blue, Fire Blue & Case Color
Finish Originality: Factory Original
Bore Condition: The bore is far better than most. There are some very light and scattered marks of erosion, but it is nearly bright with sharp and clear rifling. For the age, it is a solid 7 out of 10.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 40% of its original metal finish. The top of the slide has thinned and mottled a bit with scattered surface erosion. The frame also has a few patches of finish loss and surface erosion, but more finish than would be expected. The erosion is quite light and none would be considered pitting. The wear is honest and there is actually far more finish on this pistol than we usually see. Case color remains on the hammer, as does fire blue on many small parts. The grip screws are lightly disfigured but are still very serviceable and even attractive. The gun is parts-original, finish-original and very attractive. The markings are clear. Overall, this handgun rates in about Very Good – Fine condition.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly and the slide is tight to the frame. We did not fire this handgun. As with all previously owned firearms, you will want to give this a good cleaning to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: An original nickel plated magazine is provided, marked “PAT’D SEPT. 9. 1884”. This magazine retains about 80-90% of the finish and rates in Fine condition as well.
Our Assessment: From “A Collector’s Guide To Colt’s 38 Automatic Pistols by Douglas G. Sheldon:
“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 Model 1900 was only made for three years, 1900-1902, and only 4274 were produced. The early pistols had the slide serrations at the rear and were equipped with a spur hammer and a sight-safety mechanism. It was found hard to grasp the slide by the serrations, and they were moved to the front at about serial number 2001. The rear sight was too small for effective use and it was difficult to engage and disengage the safety. Eventually, it was decided to eliminate the sight-safety mechanism and replace it with a sight dovetailed into the slide. A plug was added to fill-up the hole at the front of the dovetail. In order to use up the existing slides, it was first decided to modify odd numbered pistols with the new sight and a round hammer, and to continue manufacturing the sight-safety mechanism with a spur hammer on the even numbered pistols. At about serial number 3500, all production shifted to the modified sight and at serial number 4274 all of the original slides built for the sight-safety system were finally used-up. Colt referred to pistols made after this point as the “Sporting Model” to distinguish it from the 1902 Military Model which came out later in 1902.”.
This gun is unaltered – What an interesting pistol! A new pistol designed from the ground up to use a new cartridge not based on an existing cartridge. That says a lot for Browning’s skill as a designer and Colt’s faith in him. However, with the Army’s desire for a .45 caliber weapon firmly set because of the stopping power problems of the .38 Colt brought to light during the Philippine-American War, the .38 ACP cartridge had no chance for adoption, even if it was quite a bit hotter than the .38 Long Colt revolver round. The design of the Model 1900 allowed minor modifications to become the Model 1902 and finally to the 1905 and M1911 which was finally adopted by the Army.
This pistol was made in 1900 and shipped to San Francisco CA. It was made with sight-safety system and a spur hammer, both still retained. The pistol has NOT been refinished and has about 40% of the original finish remaining. The Colt Model 1900 pistols are VERY collectible. Not only for their vintage and rarity, but because they were THE first semi-autos made in the United States, and the forerunner of the 1911. It doesn’t hurt collector interest that there are several variations: serrations in the front or back, spur or round hammer, sight-safety or dovetailed rear sight, etc. The variations create several combinations and this has inspired collectors.
The Model 1900-1911 are hot right now and this is where is all began. And this one is collector worthy.
CA Legal or CA Private Party Transferable: This C&R eligible pistol CAN be transferred as a dealer sale in California but CANNOT be sold as a Private Party Transfer (PPT) at our Simi Valley shop. All cartridge firing handguns (even C&R’s) sold to a California resident must be DROS’d. This does not apply to out of state residents.