By Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is the iconic Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol.
These are marvelous little pistols. They were produced from 1903 thru the end of WWII in five recognized variations if you include the Model 1908 which is the same gun in .380 auto rather than .32 auto. They made around 570,000 of them and I only own four of them.
Despite the “hammerless” moniker these pistols do have a hammer concealed under the slide. They are of course built of steel and so are a bit heavy for their size by modern standards but are very flat and very concealable. They have as grip safety as well as a thumb safety and the very late models had a magazine disconnect as well. The guns are one of the many designs of John Moses Browning.
These pistols were very popular with all sorts of users. The U. S. Army issued them to general officers. The Shanghai Municipal Police issued them to their people in .380 auto. The NYPD loved them. Al Capone was known to carry one. John Dillinger was (allegedly) carrying one when the FBI gunned him down in Chicago, though there is some reason to believe it may have been a plant. Bonnie Parker smuggled one into a jail by taping it to her thigh to break Clyde Barrow out of the clink.
The weapon carries eight rounds in .32, seven in .380. The rear sight is drift adjustable for windage. Factory finishes were blue or nickel, but various special order finishes were available, including silver and gold plating and factory engraving.
These guns are so popular that they are now being manufactured again under contract for Colt by U. S. Armaments. One nice thing is that this company also sells excellent quality new magazines for about the same price as brand new aftermarket magazines of dubious quality. Now if they would just start cranking them out for the .380 as well I would be very happy indeed.