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Old October 7, 2013, 08:48 PM   #1
floyd barrett
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colt hammerless semi auto 1908

just purchased a colt 380 hammerless semi auto.pretty good condition,shoots great,has a little rust on the frame like pitted.not much.the barrell is pitted a little.what i liked about it was the serial number in the 8000's.doing research on it,lots of gangsters carried them.my question is .is that the thumb safety has a small screw next to it acting as a locking device to the safety. in the pictures i see on line,none of the guns have this.was this an added feature for certain police,military or whatever.
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Old October 7, 2013, 09:41 PM   #2
James K
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We would like to see pics of your gun. The early models had a screw in the righthand end of the safety shaft to keep the safety in place, but I have never seen one with a screw like you describe. It may have been some owner's idea for some reason.

Jim
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Old October 7, 2013, 09:41 PM   #3
Jim Watson
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Going by memory because I no longer have the article...
Some divisions of the Royal Hong Kong police carried Colt autos.
Their thumb safeties were blocked and the pistols were carried in condition 3.
Loaded with six rounds, at that.

Other agencies? Maybe, but I don't know for sure.

Last edited by Jim Watson; October 8, 2013 at 05:00 PM.
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Old October 7, 2013, 09:48 PM   #4
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I don't believe I have ever seen one with such a screw. It sounds like a local personal modification, not from the factory nor was it a wide spread practice. Someone, somewhere did not want the safety to be accidently engaged. With my expedience with them, that was not very likely and with a cartridge in the chamber, I would damn sure want the safety engaged. If they were RHKP they would be so marked.
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Old October 7, 2013, 10:01 PM   #5
Jim Watson
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Oops, not Hong Kong.
I found a fuzzy picture of a Shanghai Municipal Police Colt Hammerless with safety blocked off. Little description, caliber not stated and agency markings not visible or mentioned.

Now a search on SMP brings up mention.
http://www.coltautos.com/mmsmp1.htm

It should be marked and numbered for the SMP and have a funny little barrel positioning spring added by the department armorer.
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Old October 7, 2013, 10:02 PM   #6
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Recalling that the Hong Kong police issued Enfield revolvers with safety locks, Jim Watson's explanation sounds logical.

Jim
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Old October 8, 2013, 04:33 AM   #7
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The SMP pistols appeared to have SNs in the 80,000s or higher (starting 1925), not the 8,000s as the OP mentioned, making it a much earlier pistol (1911?).
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Old October 8, 2013, 08:49 AM   #8
Jim Watson
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Well, darn, so much for a good theory.
Maybe he will show us pictures and we can get an idea.
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Old October 8, 2013, 03:53 PM   #9
floyd barrett
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380 colt

thanks for the info.i will post some pictures of the 380 colt.doing further research i believe the Shangi police department used these guns.they called it the shangi safety.it must have added .i will post some pictures.thanks
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Old October 8, 2013, 04:34 PM   #10
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I too would really like to see pictures. SMP pistols were marked above the right grip and also on the rear top of barrel ( with a R ) , I wonder if they were so ill trained that the powers to be thought the user would forget to take off the safety, does it have a lanyard loop?
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Old October 8, 2013, 05:02 PM   #11
Jim Watson
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As I recall, the SMP carried autos in condition 3, racking the slide on the draw. The safety was blocked to keep it from being engaged either inadvertently or by a cop who thought he knew better than Fairbairn.
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Old October 8, 2013, 05:25 PM   #12
Mk VII
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Fairbairn regarded safeties as a dangerous nuisance, and had them pinned permanently off.
The SOE agents he trained were also taught to fire every string from Condition Three.
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Old October 8, 2013, 07:23 PM   #13
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Another Shanghai Police .380

According to R.L. Wilson's Book of Colt Revolvers page 423, 3,671 Model 1908 Colt 380's were shipped to the Shanghai Municipal Police Department. Standard features were a lanyard loop and a bridge over the top of the rear slide.

I have no idea what R.L. Wilson means by a bridge over the top of the rear slide. My Shanghai Police marked 380 has the hole that becomes visible when the safety is disengaged, but mine has no screw in the hole. What this hole is for, or whether this gun had a screw in the original hole, I have no idea. I don't know how original my gun is. It has the magazine with the witness holes, but the gun appears to have been reblued.

I wish I knew how to post a picture on this site. Maybe somebody could figure it out for me.
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Old October 8, 2013, 07:30 PM   #14
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For some reason I missed the last couple of posts explaining what the hole was for. I can see why a previous owner took the screw out. I wouldn't think of saying that I knew more about combat shooting than Fairbairn, but if I carry that model Colt, I want a safety that I can engage.
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Old October 8, 2013, 10:26 PM   #15
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That article says that the "keyhole" spring on the left side is to "prevent jams", a bit odd since no other pocket model seems to have needed such a thing.

I suspect that the spring, or some sort of plunger driven by it, is intended to keep the barrel from turning and thus prevent unauthorized disassembly. Probably the screw was peened over on the inside to prevent removal.

Jim
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Old October 8, 2013, 10:39 PM   #16
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Maybe so. The ColtAutos article says the magazines had inspection holes on the front and back so the sergeant could check for live ammo. Apparently Shanghai cops were prone to selling their ammo and filling the space in the mag with an empty.
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Old October 8, 2013, 11:39 PM   #17
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Hurry up with those pictures, don't make me hunt you down and TP your house
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Old October 9, 2013, 11:40 AM   #18
spacecoast
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Quote:
My Shanghai Police marked 380 has the hole that becomes visible when the safety is disengaged
40-82 -

What's the SN on your SMP .380?
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Old October 9, 2013, 01:58 PM   #19
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Spacecoast,

The serial number on my 380 is in the low 89,000 range. According to R.L Wilson the Shanghai versions were made in the ranger between 88,000 and 132,000, which places them between 1928 and 1940. Apparently, special features and all, they were not ordered in one lot.

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Old October 9, 2013, 02:12 PM   #20
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Thanks 40-82, here's the info on posting pictures -

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=292842
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Old October 9, 2013, 04:01 PM   #21
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Jim, I agree, that key hole spring serves no obvious purpose. , but then again I see no purpose of disabling the safety. The safety lever is small, flat and tight, if left off, I can see very little chances of someone engaging it by accident. But hey, what do I know
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Old October 9, 2013, 08:53 PM   #22
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It looks like the round eye police bosses simply did not trust the native police. They had to have them (as a practical matter, they couldn't impose foreign police) but they had little trust in the locals' honesty, skill or technical ability. So they made sure the local cops couldn't take the pistol down, made sure they couldn't steal ammo, made sure they didn't carry the pistol in a "ready" condition, etc.

It looks to me like that pistol pretty well sums up the whole history of colonialism.

Jim
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Old October 9, 2013, 09:47 PM   #23
Jim Watson
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I read somewhere or another that the SMP watch coming on duty would line ip for inspection. The sergeant would walk down behind the line pulling magazines to check for proper loading. With only six rounds, according to that piece.
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Old October 10, 2013, 05:15 AM   #24
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On ebay a while back:

http://www.ebay.com/itm/COLT-1908-PO...vip=true&rt=nc
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Old October 10, 2013, 12:30 PM   #25
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The barrel spring was intended to correct a problem with the .380s whereby the empties sometimes struck the ejector (which was a part in common with the .32s) too far forward causing a stovepipe. The spring pushed the barrel to the right just as the slide approached the end of its travel curing the condition. This was done by the Shanghai Police armourers, who sent a report to Colt about the problem, and the final Shanghai Police order has this spring put in at the factory. Nobody else seems to have noticed this unreliability, probably because few users ever shot their pistols that much. In 1945 the U.S. Navy discovered (or rediscovered) the same problem, which Colt had decided to ignore unless the customer was big enough to be worth appeasing, and sent all as-yet unissued .380s back to Colt for correction. Colt’s engineers came up with a better solution than the Shanghai one, designing a gauge to measure whether the empties would hit the ejector at the right point and then grinding it down until it worked properly. Magazines were also altered as some of the lips were too narrow. It is not known whether the special SMP magazines were an attempt to address this problem.
Guns and magazines which received these modifications were stamped with a M (prefix to the serial in the case of the gun).
About half the US military .380s received this treatment.

Last edited by Mk VII; October 10, 2013 at 02:20 PM.
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