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View Full Version : how similar/different are the 1903 colt and 1922 fn?


1929officialpolice
August 14, 2012, 07:28 PM
im a sucker for a 1903 colt. every time i found one for a good price i just didnt have the money. i have been watching a lot of fn 1922's on gun broker and they seem very similar minus the slide but it seems you can buy a nicer one for relatively cheap. can these share parts/magazines? i know they are both browning designs. i will eventually get a colt but do you think this is the way to go for now? is one better then the other? i know on the fn the firing pin also ejects the shell, is the the case with the 1903? any advice would be appreciated, thank you

James K
August 14, 2012, 08:53 PM
There are three major differences. The Colt has its recoil spring underneath the barrel, the FN guns have it around the barrel. The Colt is hammer fired, while the FN guns are striker fired. The striker on the FN guns acts as the ejector while the Colt has a separate ejector.

Magazines are not interchangeable.

The Model 1922 is fairly common in this country as the Germans used a lot of them and they came back as GI souvenirs. But up to the 1950's Colt and FN had an agreement not to sell in the others' backyard, so FN guns never were imported commercially until Colt dropped production of the 1903 after WWII. It was only from around 1960 to 1968, when GCA '68 banned import of the 1910 that that gun was regularly imported.

The 1922's on the market are almost all military guns, many of which have seen much use or were made under German occupation and are of dubious quality. IMHO, I would save my pennies and wait until I could find a good Colt.

Jim

gyvel
August 14, 2012, 08:57 PM
The two guns are as different as day and night. They share no parts whatsoever.

Other than the fact that they are both blowback operated, there are no other similarities, except the way the barrels are attached.

The 1922, however, shares many components with its smaller, older brother, the 1910.

James K
August 15, 2012, 03:37 PM
I don't know about day and night. They are quite different in the technical sense, but are for the same general purpose, a medium size pocket pistol, which is what the OP seems to want.

Jim

1929officialpolice
August 15, 2012, 06:50 PM
so is the bottom line save/spend on the colt then the fn? are mags as rare for the fn as the colt?

gyvel
August 15, 2012, 08:03 PM
Jim, what I meant by "day and night" is that they share no common components. Yes, in a general sense, they are both pocket autos, magazine fed, etc. (although the 1922 was designed to be used as a holstered sidearm). But otherwise they are two completely different entities.

To answer your magazine question Official Police, FN 1922 mags are still relatively common and reasonably priced than original Colt mags, and, as I stated, in general, more parts are still available for the 1922.

Personally, if it is a medium size pocket pistol that you want, I would check into a 1910 Browning; It is slightly smaller than the Colt, and has no sharp angular corners, external hammers or sights to snag.

James K
August 15, 2012, 09:32 PM
As mentioned above, 1910's are a lot less available in the U.S. than 1922's. True, the 1922 is larger and would be best carried in a holster. In fact, all three guns under discussion are outclassed today by more modern pistols of the same approximate size packing a 9mm Parabellum punch.

Of the three guns, the Colt is actually the easiest to get, and ones in less than top condition are not expensive.

Jim

1929officialpolice
August 16, 2012, 08:37 AM
thank you guys for the input. i guess ill just wait around for the next shooter colt i see

gyvel
August 17, 2012, 08:55 AM
I would tend to disagree to a point that the 1910s are that much less common than an old Colt. Besides the orignal FN 1910s that were made to the tune of almost a million, Browning Arms Company marked 1910s show up with relative frequency.

Parts for old Colt's are getting fewer and farther between, while the interchangeability betwen a 1922 and a 1910 means a decent parts supply for a while. 1910s were made into the early 80s.

Either way, they're all great guns and a lot of fun to shoot.

Winchester_73
August 17, 2012, 09:54 AM
Regarding similarities, they both have SA triggers....um.....Both designed by John Browning!!! DING DING DING!

The solution is to buy em all. I never came across an affordable 1910, well ok I did once. I passed on it and have not found a good one since that was a fair price. I want one, but I want it for my price lol.

Of the three guns, the Colt is actually the easiest to get, and ones in less than top condition are not expensive.

The Colt 1903 is quite easy to get, and of the 3, also the hardest to afford. You can get FN 1922s for $300 and they are common too. FN 1910s are elusive IMO. I know of a place in PA that has a nice colt 1903 that I found online, that I debate about buying. It would be $500 plus tax and shipping which is fair for about a 90 to 95% gun. On the other hand, I only saw photos.

James K
August 17, 2012, 12:16 PM
Hi, Gyvel,

Regarding the 1910, it is not the number made, but the number in the U.S. that is significant. The Colt-FN agreement kept the Model 1910 (and other FN handguns) out of the U.S. market until after WWII. The 1922 is common because the Germans kept production going and issued tens of thousands of them to their own forces, so they were taken in large quantities by GIs in WWII. But 1910 production almost stopped during the occupation and relatively few were captured from the Germans. They were imported in the 1950's and 1960's, but the 1910 was never very popular and was ultimately banned by GCA '68.

FWIW, I searched for a decent 1910 for many years before finding a LNIB specimen about ten years ago. They are not really rare, but are certainly not that common in the U.S.

Jim

PzGren
August 18, 2012, 01:02 AM
All bad aside, the FN 1922 is still an important cornerstone in a WWII pistol collection. Mine has late grips and seen some touch ups but shoots still nicely.

http://img43.imageshack.us/img43/7889/191022left.jpg (http://imageshack.us/photo/my-images/43/191022left.jpg/)

Uploaded with ImageShack.us (http://imageshack.us)

James K
August 18, 2012, 01:20 AM
The 1922 is an interesting example of designers making a major modification on the cheap. After the 1910 came out, it was very successful on the civilian market* but military and police wanted a larger gun for holster use, preferably one with a longer barrel and greater magazine capacity. So the FN engineers (I don't know how much if any influence Browning had) came up with a neat solution. They lengthened the slide by fitting an extension, and made the grip frame longer without changing the basic tooling. The 1922 became one of the most common police and military pistols in Europe in the pre-WWII period.

*Maybe it didn't count as a success, but four 1910 pistols in .380 were used in the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand, which touched off WWI.

Jim

PzGren
August 18, 2012, 02:22 AM
It was also still extensively used in post-war Europe, namely in the Netherlands and Germany.

gyvel
August 19, 2012, 01:22 AM
The prime influence in the engineering changes which resluted in the 1922 was the fledgling government of what was to become Yugoslavia; They required a larger pistol for holstered sidearm use.

1929officialpolice
August 19, 2012, 06:56 PM
so if the .32 was used for military and police forces how come so many people say it is an inferior caliber?

darwins
August 19, 2012, 08:23 PM
The answer has more to do with what was considered socially acceptable at the time in Europe. Cartridges more powerful than .380acp were deemed overly powerful and were generally considered socially unacceptable. The FN 1903 in 9mm Browning Long was largely a failure partly due to it being too powerful to be socially acceptable. Technology at the time did not allow for construction of a pistol able to handle the more powerful cartridge in a small enough frame to appeal to the civilian market. Things have certainly changed since then.

gyvel
August 20, 2012, 04:14 AM
so if the .32 was used for military and police forces how come so many people say it is an inferior caliber?

The original 1922s as requested by Yugoslavia were .380s.

All the Netherlands military issue 1922s were also .380

RJay
August 20, 2012, 11:03 PM
In the first half of the 20th century a very large number of the American police still carried revolvers in .32 S&W Long.

BlueTrain
August 21, 2012, 10:44 AM
There was also an FN model of 1903 that is almost identical to a Colt model of 1903. It was chambered in 9mm Browning Long, the Colt (with a different model number) being chambered in 9mm Browning, also called .380, among other things. Almost but not quite: it is actually bigger in most dimensions but it otherwise functions the same and takes down the same way. They were being sold here for what now seems to be a song back in the 1950s and 1960s but they were often rechambered to .380. Some continued to be used in some armies until replaced by Glocks, so they had a remarkably long service life, if not exactly continuous.

James K
August 21, 2012, 03:31 PM
The FN Model 1903 was adopted by Sweden as the Model 1907 and surplus Swedish guns were sold here. Since 9mm Browning long is generally unavailble in the U.S. the importers had them converted to .380 ACP by putting in a chamber bushing and cutting the recoil spring.

Jim

PzGren
August 21, 2012, 09:04 PM
Putting a chamber bushing into a 9mm Browning long is not the worst idea, I have to cut .38 S&W Special cartidges and remove part of the rim to come up with brass for my Husqvarna 1907.

gyvel
August 21, 2012, 09:36 PM
Putting a chamber bushing into a 9mm Browning long is not the worst idea, I have to cut .38 S&W Special cartidges and remove part of the rim to come up with brass for my Husqvarna 1907.

You know that you can just trim back .38 Auto and .38 Super brass to make 9mm Browning long, don't you?

gyvel
August 21, 2012, 09:45 PM
The 1903 Browning auto was also adopted by Turkey, Serbia, Estonia, Paraguay, El Salvador and Russia.

It was initially designed to be a sidearm that fired a reasonably powerful cartridge, but still had the simplicity of a blowback arm. The probable reason for its demise was that more powerful sidearms became available that were roughly the same size as the 1903, rather than "social acceptability."

As a side note, some 1903s were made to accept a shoulder stock.

James K
August 21, 2012, 10:27 PM
The FN 1903 was an attempt to produce a military pistol that would be more powerful than the 1900. Browning developed it and the Colt 1903 at about the same time (1901), and they are almost identical except for size. While the Colt pistol was never even considered as a military pistol, the FN 1903 was intended as a more powerful alternative to the Model 1900 for military purposes. It was offered with a stock slot and a wooden holster stock, as well as with a tangent rear sight; those features were later employed on the High Power pistol.

It has been written that the FN 1903 and its 9mm Browning Long cartridge was an attempt to compete against the German 9mm Luger, but the 9mm BL was developed before the German cartridge, and was of the old Browning semi-rimmed type. It has also been written that the 9mm BL was a lengthened version of the 9mm Browning Short (.380 ACP), but again the time line is reversed; the 9mm BL predated the 9mm BS by several years. The latter seems to have been developed as a more powerful alternative to the .32 ACP while being able to fit the Colt 1903 platform with only minor modifications.

While I restricted a previous post to the Swedish adoption and subsequent sale of Swedish surplus pistols in the U.S. Gyvel is correct that other nations adopted it, but AFAIK few, if any, of those have turned up on the U.S. surplus market.

Jim

gyvel
August 22, 2012, 12:46 AM
Jim is right. I don't think I have seen more than a half dozen or so 1903s in 40 years. I once owned one that had a magazine with the three Cyrillic characters "O K Zhe" on the floorplate. (Don't have a Cyrillic keyboard, so I did a phonetic representation. "Zhe" in Cyrillic looks like two "K"s back to back, one reversed and the other normal.)

Apparently, Russia was the prime customer for the shoulder stocked 1903s.

Also, I think the inspiration for the 9mm Browning Long was the original .38 auto, as the dimensions are virtually identical with the exception of the length.

BlueTrain
August 22, 2012, 07:08 AM
I'm not a cartridge collector nor am I particularly technical oriented but the relationship of all of these early Browning cartridges has always been interesting to me, given that there were so many different ones. I don't recall if Barnes addresses the geneology, as it were, of them. I don't even know who actually designed them but it wasn't necessarily Browning.

The story goes that the M1907 Husqvarna pistol (the Swedish army model number) was purchased in some quantity, then manufactured by Husqvarna up until about the time the war started, then replaced. The replacement was a 9mm but without looking it up, I don't remember the name and model. It had a Luger look but totally unrelated design. It was also used by a couple of other countries. The new design, while heavy and well made apparently, didn't hold up like it looked like it would because of extra hot 9mm ammunition and eventually the older guns were brought back into service until they were replaced by Glocks. I believe the first two pistols probably had some use at the same time and the last two were probably in service at the same time, too, at least for a while. Somewhere on the internet there's an excellent website about Swedish guns. It is Swedish but it is in English. Lots of good photos of pistol accessories.

Another curiosity along the same lines is that Norway, as you probably know, used .45 automatics. When they fell to the Germans, the Germans took their pistols for their own use. Then after the war, when the Germans had to leave, the Norwegians took the German's guns, including their pistols, mostly Lugers, I understand, and used them until replaced many years later, resulting in the only instance I know of when .45 automatics were replaced by 9mm Lugers. Even the issue German army holsters were retained and altered with the addition of those typical wire devices for attaching to the holes in a US style pistol belt.

This comment really belongs in that other thread about shoulder stocked pistols. Elmer Keith made a couple of comments about shoulder stocked pistols, mentioning that the Luger made a halfway decent, flat shooting carbine, with the limitations of the cartridge not withstanding. But he apparently also had a pre-1911 .45 automatic, some of which apparently were made for shoulder stocks. His description was that "it was something else." The recoiling slide was a problem. It is hard to imagine a time when a Luger was a relatively common surplus handgun.

1929officialpolice
August 22, 2012, 08:17 AM
what books do i have to read to learn all of these things that have been posted? or is it just acquired knowledge over time?

James K
August 22, 2012, 10:05 AM
Official Police: Both.

Blue Train:

The Swedes first planned to replace the Model 1907 with the Walther HP, which they called the Pistole 39, but manufacture of the P.38 for the German army took precedence with Walther and they could't fill the Swedish orders. So Sweden adopted a slightly modified version of the Finnish Lahti and had it also made by Husqvarna.

Jim

BlueTrain
August 22, 2012, 10:44 AM
http://www.gotavapen.se/gota/m07/pist07_1.htm

Here is a link, if I've done it properly, to a website about Swedish weapons, that particular link is to the page with M1907 pistol. There are also photos of the first model FN Browning automatic in .32 ACP.

I don't think "overly powerful pistols" were "socially unacceptable." I can't imagine where that idea came from, unless you think a 9mm is overly powerful. The old Smith and Smith Small Arms of the World refers to any cartridge more powerful than a .45 auto as a "freak load." Maybe they are. It is true, however, that the police in Europe generally carried only a .32 and as someone else here already pointed out, American police also generally carried a .32 revolver. When they went to a bigger gun, they then considered the .38 Special to be a powerful cartridge, if not overly powerful.

Both the .32 ACP and .380 ACP chambered Colt pocket autos were US issue service pistols, though hardly widely issued. They were general officer pistols until replaced, oh, I suppose in the 1970s or 1980s by real "Officer's ACP" pistols. The company I was in during my time overseas had two and although I was friendly with the armorer (I had personally owned guns at the time), I was not allowed to touch them. I don't know which caliber they were.

James K
August 22, 2012, 03:16 PM
I am not sure by what standard those Colts could be called "service pistols", a term which usually applies to a general issue combat pistol. Most armies, at least in the WWII era either issued or allowed purchase of handguns for personal defense or special purposes, such as military investigators. It is not widely known, but many of those small Colts were issued to doctors and nurses at field hospitals; international agreements allowed medical staff to carry "defensive" weapons to protect themselves and their patients.

Up until this thread, I had never heard the term "socially unacceptable" in regard to handgun caliber, although the concept has been around; it probably prevented most American police from going to the .357 Magnum, and led to the use of .38 Special +P+, a .357 Magnum wolf in .38 Special sheep's clothing.

In any case, I doubt it played a major role in selecting the FN 1903 by any of the nations that used it. One big factor, especially for a smaller nation, is cost, and FN provided well-made weapons at very reasonable cost and was willing to agree to reasonable license agreements, important then as today.

Jim

BlueTrain
August 23, 2012, 07:45 AM
No, the Colt pocket pistols were hardly general issue combat pistols but combat is what they were for. Their issue was limited to general officers. They had some popularity before WWII in this country and numbers were exported as well, though I have no idea in what quantities. I suspect many of the issue pistols were Parkerized. At any rate, they were actually in the supply system and not private purchase or privately owned. Our arms room also had revolvers.

It is well to remember that up until after WWI, roughly speaking, practically every army used a different caliber handgun and hadn't changed much until after the next war. Even then some "odd" calibers remained in use for the next 20 years, such as 9mm Largo and .30 Luger. But as of 1914, only the Germans used 9mm Parabellum, few if any besides us used a .45 auto, the British had their .455 revolvers, also used in other Commonwealth countries, the Russians their 7.62 Nagant that you can buy right now, and so on. And the automatic were all still teenagers as far as how long they had been in use. Curiously though, virtually all small automatics at that time were in either .25, .32 or .380, all "ACP" cartridges. Anything else that was later introduced here or abroad just went nowhere.

PzGren
August 23, 2012, 10:42 AM
The 1907 isn't so bad. It really was a milestone in handgun development and brought John Moses one step closer to the 1911, a major breakthrough in the world of handgunning.

http://i189.photobucket.com/albums/z159/Andyd173/1907.jpg

BlueTrain
August 23, 2012, 11:37 AM
I'm not so sure I agree with that statement. But I will quickly add that it's particularly difficult to know what was going through an inventor's head over the space of a decade, in this case, between the time his first automatic came out and when his most successful design came out, which actually is twelve years.

Browning's locked breech automatics work differently from the blowbacks, which you know. Chances are, and I can't prove this, the 1909, 1910 and 1911 models of the .45 automatic owe more to the Model 1900 .38 ACP, which was a Colt, than to either of the 1903 models. In fact, the .45s are even quite different from the .38 ACP models, which remained in production for several years. It's rather surprising given how FN introduced more models during that period than did Colt. But FN may have been the bigger company.

James K
August 23, 2012, 01:19 PM
I doubt very much that there was any intention of U.S. soldiers using those pocket pistols in fighting. In theory, I suppose some general officer could have shot it out with a German Feldmarschal, Colt 1903 vs. Walther PPK, western movie style, but it didn't happen. Those guns were primarily issued to people who needed a concealable handgun or as purely defensive handguns. I know of no evidence or pictures of their use in actual combat on any front at any time.

As to the locked breech pistols, the locked breech was/is necessary with more powerful cartridges unless the slide is made very heavy. Browning's first dual link recoil operated pistols, the so called "parallel ruler" guns in .38ACP, had a serious defect. If the gun was assembled without the slide stop (which is the term used for the part sometimes called a "wedge") the slide would come straight back in the shooter's face, causing some degree of unhappiness. Not all guns made that way were .38's; the Model 1905 .45 caliber was a two link pistol.

The Model 1911 is a fine gun, but it did not suddenly come into existence by some miracle. And some of its better features were the result of a mililtary demand, over the resistance of Browning. (Browning opposed the manual safety, for example, contending that the half cock, combined with the inertia firing pin, was sufficient for safe carry. He was overridden by the cavalry, who wanted to be able to make the gun safe while controlling an unruly horse.)

Jim

BlueTrain
August 23, 2012, 01:32 PM
In theory, that general would have been Patton. In practice, he usually carried something bigger but he was certainly willing to do his part. Of course, he was a lot younger then me.

Generals still carry pistols, you know, though I doubt many expect to use them in combat. Just the same, I was a member of the division in the army that last lost a general to the enemy.

Any guesses who and where?

James K
August 23, 2012, 01:47 PM
Unless you are talking about the Civil War era, you have to mean General Dean, who was captured in Korea in 1950. There is an interesting followup to that case.

After Dean was freed, it was learned that he had been given LSD, apparently as a "truth serum". While a few years later, any college student could have recounted the effects of "Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds", at that time the drug was little known. So the scientists at the Army's biological warfare center at Ft. Detrick, MD, were tasked with finding out what it would do and whether Dean could have revealed classified information under its influence.

And that led to a tragedy when one of the scientists, who had volunteered to be a "guinea pig", suffered serious brain damage and committed suicide, or was murdered by the evil CIA, depending on who is recounting the story.

Jim

BlueTrain
August 23, 2012, 02:13 PM
That's correct. I was in the 24th Division.

James K
August 23, 2012, 03:29 PM
I think this thread has gotten so far off track that the moderators should close it. I am not going to post any further on this one.

Jim