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Old April 13, 2013, 09:43 PM   #1
militant
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Colt 1903 .32

I just acquired one of these pistols in a trade. I have yet to shoot. What are your guys experience with these pistols and anyone know their history?
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Old April 13, 2013, 10:01 PM   #2
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Nice little guns. I'd love to have one.
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Old April 13, 2013, 10:11 PM   #3
ttarp
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I just picked one up recently as well, only shot it once so far, but it was pretty accurate and a lot of fun to shoot as well.
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Old April 14, 2013, 08:32 AM   #4
DarthPete
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I'd had my eye out for one for a while. My local dealer got one in on trade, in march of 2012. I snatched it right up. $325, he let me test fire it to check that it functioned. It's a type 3, build date of 1915/16. It had very little to no pitting but the finish was really really bad and vague spots of rust color could be seen on the slide in particular and the frame had some odd what looked like staining or something. So seeing as I have NO intention of ever selling it, I had it reblued and installed wolf replacement springs throughout.

They're incredibly fun to shoot, and I'm absurdly accurate with it at 20 yards. I carry it on occasion as I just love it too much to leave at home. But I carry it un-chambered as a back up to something else as it does not have a drop safety and the thumb safety while tight, doesn't have a click to it.

Mine could use a new barrel but no one presently makes replacements and vintage ones in excellent condition go for a lot of dough, as do magazines.

All that said, yeah they're excellent pistols. If someone made a clone of it today, I understand the tolerances wouldn't be as tight, but chambered in .380 or maybe even 9mm with the same basic size shape and weight, finished in a nice deep blue, with a positive click to the thumb safety and a drop safety, and I don't think they'd be able to build them fast enough. Won't happen, but I can dream.

Oh, as a tip though. Don't under any circumstances detail strip the frame. You need six hands to get it back together.
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Old April 14, 2013, 08:48 AM   #5
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Last year my father-in-law was gifted one that was owned by a family member. His pistol was built around 1922 or thereabouts and is positively mint. It came with a small box of ancient ammo, none of which he has fired yet. He is thinking about replacing it with a more contemporary pistol, chambered in a more available cartridge. I myself would keep that little jewel.
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Old April 14, 2013, 09:10 PM   #6
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I also have a .32. Very accurate, considering the small sights and short sight radius. One of the many pistols designed for Colt by John Browning, extremely popular in the pre-war era, but like a number of Colt products, not in production after the war ended.
Magazines are hard to come by, and expensive, and most aftermarket mags are apparently of iffy quality.
I'd recommend against detail-stripping the gun. If it's not broken, requiring repair or parts replacement, don't go beyond field stripping.
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Old April 14, 2013, 09:30 PM   #7
Bulldawg55
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Colt 1903 .32

My pair are quite accurate and fun to shoot. A 1919 and 1929 production.
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Old April 14, 2013, 10:54 PM   #8
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Mine has a similar grip to the one on the left. The 1919.
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Old April 15, 2013, 01:15 AM   #9
militant
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Serial number on mine is 415,XXX
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Old April 15, 2013, 06:48 AM   #10
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That, if I remember correctly, should be a 1922- 1923 production.
Or there - abouts
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Old April 15, 2013, 08:39 AM   #11
Sid
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I have one that is a first model and have shot at least 5000 rounds of my handloads in it without any problem. The 1903 Colt is built like a tank and is rugged, accurate and reliable. The only real problem with them is finding original magazines. The replacement mags that I have tried would not fit.
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Old April 15, 2013, 09:17 AM   #12
militant
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I was going to give this to my fiancé as a conceal carry pistol, but after researching the .32 acp round, idk if its suitable. Hollow points only penetrated 6 inches in ballistics gel on YouTube vids. Fmj had decent penetration though. I'd say my pistol is in good condition. What are they worth in this year production?
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:12 AM   #13
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My opinion only, but with calibers under 9mm, I pretty much stick with FMJ.

As far as value, condition is everything. In my experience, average shootable condition guns, with some finish remaining, and light pitting in the bore, can bring $400.00 or so. Really nice examples with box and papers can bring, well, a lot.

YMMV
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Old April 15, 2013, 06:04 PM   #14
Ben Dover
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I inherited one from my father in the 1950s.

It'svbery nice, really. Although I only expend 500-600 rounds per year of .32 ACP, I find the little pistol quite enjoyable.
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Old April 18, 2013, 05:06 PM   #15
Chuck Dye
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A manual may be downloaded from Steve's Pages, a worthwhile endeavor.

I received mine, apparently made in 1940, with the recoil spring and guide reversed, the guide riding at the muzzle end of the frame. This eliminates the magazine disconnect function but otherwise has no effect I can detect. I reassembled mine correctly.

Given a gun that old and likely of unknown history, I think a spring set is in order. New springs certainly couldn't hurt. They are available at Wolff Gunsprings

I considered mine for concealed carry, but rejected the idea because of the very poor sights. For a while I looked into installing better sights but did not find any I liked for the job. (I also found I am comfortable with a 1911, full sized or compact, making the 1903 a plinker.)


The little I have heard suggests that aftermarket magazines can be a problem, should only be purchased from folk who back them up.
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