View Full Version : Military issue Colt 25 auto?

September 28, 2001, 02:48 PM
JC Devine just had an auction up here in NH, one of the items listed was:

"a WW-II Colt .25 automatic pistol marked 'US Property' "

A military-issue 25 auto? What's up with that? Maybe issued to general rank officers?

Anybody ever hear of anything like this?


Harley Nolden
September 29, 2001, 07:05 AM
According to the 1999 Standar Catalog of Firearms Colt produced the 1903 Semi-auto Pistol in .25 Auto for the Military. Don't know how many, but some were issued to Gen Officers.

It would seem, (in my opinion) according to the photo attached, that if it was a General's Issue, it would have come with the belt holster as shown.

Sorry for the condition of the photo, couldn't get it clear.

James K
October 1, 2001, 09:00 PM
The Colt .25 automatic, sometimes called the 1908 model by collectors, was apparently not issued in any general way to the military, though some were purchased for the OSS and for issue to personnel needing a very concealable pistol, such as Army criminal investigators working undercover. Small numbers were purchased from Colt in WWII, and others were obtained from dealers and from police departments which had them as confiscated weapons. There is no record that ANY of these were specially marked at the time they were bought or otherwise obtained.

Harley, the picture is of the Colt .32 or .380 caliber, which was procured under contract for general officers, the OSS, and also for some other personnel, like doctors and nurses. These latter were not allowed to carry "offensive" arms, but were allowed to carry "defensive" weapons for their own protection. These, and their UNITED STATES PROPERTY marking are well known and documented (I have one).

The .25 is another story. Pate (U.S. Handguns of World War II) says that he cannot definitively prove either that any had the PROPERTY marking or that none did. He passes along stories that they were marked after the way, possibly by units which got them back from the OSS or others. I admit the possibility, but think it unlikely.

While Pate does not seem to want to be definitive, I believe that all the guns he pictures have fake PROPERTY markings. One appears to have been buffed to remove the blue, stamped with a PROPERTY marking and then Parkerized. This is indicated by the blurring of slide markings and serial number but a clear PROPERTY mark under the Parkerizing. There are other possibilities, but I smell a fake.

Others are shown with the Ordnance acceptance stamp (crossed cannons) which are completely unlike any of those used by Colt or any other manufacturer, and which would never have been approved by Ordnance.

I have been asked to evaluate one specimen of .25 Colt with a PROPERTY marking. I stated my belief that it was a fake.

So, IMHO, until proven otherwise, all, repeat, all, Colt .25 automatic pistols with UNITED STATES PROPERTY or ordnance department markings are fakes.


October 2, 2001, 05:11 PM

While I'd hate to bet any money on it, both the 22nd Ed. of the Blue Book and the 2001 Standard Catalog of Firearms lists the .25 marked with "US Property", with a substantial premium on the price.

Now, I'd consider one could be a mistake, but I'm having trouble with both of those sources making the same mistake. At least we have something to research, none of that dull watching the tube! :D:D

James K
October 2, 2001, 11:14 PM
Hi, Johnwill,

Well, there ARE Colt .25 automatics marked UNITED STATES PROPERTY or U.S. PROPERTY. And people do pay more for them.

The question is whether they were marked that way at the factory, by some government agency, or by postwar entrepreneurs. My money is on the latter. Pate mentions that several were made up by a collector (unnamed) and given to some friends as a joke. Any of those would be marked, but none would be (IMO) valid collector's items.

The trouble with that gun is simply that no one knows for sure. There are no records that say such markings were ever applied legitimately, but (as usual in trying to prove a negative) no proof that they weren't. Until I see better evidence for an official marking, I will stick with my opinion. (Yes, I know, everybody has one.)

Another opinion, FWIW - if anyone found a .25 Colt which could be shown to be a genuine PROPERTY marked, the premium would be a lot greater than the 100% the Blue Book shows.


P.S. In my above posting, "after the way" should read "after the war." Sorry.


October 3, 2001, 05:05 PM
All good points, I'll be very cautious if I actually run across one. :)

August 1, 2010, 10:48 PM
I am a gun enthusiast and daughter of a US Air Force brat. She inherited her father's Colt .25 stamped "United States Property". He was a colonel in the USAF and a test pilot during WWII. Prior to his USAF career he was in the OSS stationed in Burma. I believe this gun to be the real deal, considering his demeanor as a colonel and a Serbian at that. I know that the California Gun Code states that you do not have to register a gun if it is inherited from a parent or grandparent but where does this fall under that law? Belonging to the US government do we have to give it back? I want to clean it up and shoot it since I haven't been able to buy my own gun yet. Also, what is the blue book value on one of these babies, great condition, hardly ever used, missing magazine but has original leather holster.

August 2, 2010, 06:30 AM
i have heard of colt 25,s with us markings,but never saw one. here is a colt 1903 in 32 with us markings i got,it shoots very well and functions flawlossly,tho a little under powered. eastbank.

James K
August 2, 2010, 02:40 PM
Hi, Poshrat,

Could you possibly get a picture of that .25 "USP" marked gun, and any documents she may have that indicate he had it during WWII, rather than buying it at some point afterwards?


October 8, 2010, 08:01 PM
Our Dad passed away last year,USMA 1940, retired as bird colonel. Was in WWII, European theater, and stationed in occupied Berlin post War until 1947. While he spoke very little of the War, he told my brothers and I , among other things, that he carried his Colt .45 whenever he had to go to the Russian sector. Berlin was a destroyed city and defeated people. There were some instances of attempted and actual robbery, of occupying soldiers in occupied Berlin by desperate Germans, although few serious injuries. My father, and other US Army officers, were often reluctant to carry their .45's other than in the Russian zone, as it was intimidating in dealing with the occupied people and usually totally unnecessary. Because of the attempted and actual robberies, it was necessary to take some preventative action.

As a result, my Dad and other officers were issued Colt .25 automatics, along with leather belt holsters. The incidents of attempted holdups dropped dramatically and Dad wore the pistol often in Berlin until his return stateside in 1947. I have both his .45 Colt auto, which is stamped, and his .25 Colt, which is not stamped, as well as the original leather holsters for both. Dad was certainly not a general officer at the time (Capt. and Major).

I do not know if this adds any clarification, but the US Army definitely issued
Colt .25's immediately post WWII in occupied Berlin. Dad's is not stamped, and I cannot comment on any others. We have copies of his military file, including WWII and after.



October 8, 2010, 08:14 PM
From my undertanding, small caliber pistols were issued by the various branches of the service to staff officers (Colonel would qualify), generally .32ACPs or .380ACPs, generally as a set with holster and spare magazine. I suppose a .25ACP might have been issued. It is also possible that it was privately purchased and carried as a pocket gun (FWIW, it was a "gentlemanly" thing to do). Hard to say without documentation!

October 8, 2010, 09:32 PM
Anything is possible,i carried a S&W M28 stamped U.S. property.We had Colt O.P's,Smith Models 10's,and Ruger service six's also stamped.Some people will tell you they were never issued by the military.

October 9, 2010, 02:00 PM
i had a 38spl S&W md. 10 four inch barrel with lanyard ring, US marked. i found in a truck and when i left i gave it away to a boy from chicago. eastbank.

October 9, 2010, 02:21 PM
I have also studied old military guns and knives for many years. I have always wondered why the OSS, which is a covert operation, would mark their possesions with property markings. If a "spy" goes around with items labeling him as an employee of a certain group I believe this would defeat the purpose of covert operation. In the same light I have always been sceptical of "sterile" items, knive ect. without any makers name, that is simply a standard issue item without property and makers name. Any item carried by the "spy" that could identify him by his equipment even though it was unmarked is hard to swallow. I too have seen photos of property marked 25 Colts, whether they ar real or not I am not sure but I doubt the OSS would use them with property markings. Just my opinion.

James K
October 9, 2010, 06:56 PM
This is an old thread, but I will pick up. I would presume those OSS guns were issued to "handlers" and action agents (saboteurs), not to spies as such. In fact, I have known a couple of real spies and they never carried any weapons for the simple reason that in most places where U.S. spies operated(like the late "East bloc") anyone found with any gun would be immediately imprisoned and subject to some rather severe questioning. A good spy, with good papers, might be able to talk himself out of a jam, but if a gun was found on him, it was bye-bye spy.


October 9, 2010, 07:48 PM
Which is why Ian Fleming had James Bond originally armed with a .25 auto pistol.
During WWII, in which Fleming was a British SIS officer, their agents usually carried the smallest .25 autos possible if they were armed at all.
The hope was, if searched the tiny .25 might be missed and could be used to try to escape if they were arrested.

However, as above, a genuine spy isn't armed because this is proof positive he's an agent.
There are plenty of cases where agents talked their way out of trouble even after being given a search. When the secret police stop you, you are almost always searched.

James K
October 10, 2010, 11:27 PM
I doubt even a small gun would be missed by an American cop, let alone a Gestapo agent, but it does happen. One of the first women employed by the Washington Metropolitan Police was killed when a man she had already searched pulled a gun and shot her. The reports indicated that she was too shy to really search his "privates" and that was where he had the gun hidden.

Of course, Bond was fiction and in spite of a lot of hype and "hints", Ian Fleming's "career" in intelligence seems to have been mainly desk work.

A real British spy in Nazi Germany told how, while walking down a street, he was accosted by a cop and pushed into an alley. Thinking he was done for, he found only a couple of German women set up at a table, collecting for the Winterhilf. He went limp with relief and gave them RM50, for which he was profusely thanked. He said it didn't really matter to him, as the money was counterfeit.


June 7, 2012, 02:20 PM
I inherited a 1908 from my pep,a ww2 army pilot. It has no property marks, not parked, has original blue finish that is worn. Came in a holster that doesn't fit the gun, looks to be for a larger. 32 cal pistol. The only marking on the holster is a three letter marking in a box on the inside. The pistol was a 1930's manufacture, he said it was his "help" if needed. It really sux that a refinshed gun with markings that are prob fakes is worth more to a collector. But all in all this one is worth much more to me.

June 7, 2012, 10:17 PM
P-38, per chance, were you under the impression life was fair?:)

June 7, 2012, 10:34 PM
I can't imagine why any OSS agents needing a deep cover weapon would carry one stamped "US Property" ...... discovery of which would blow any cover, no matter how deep ..... would it not be much easier to explain away a gun that did not have "US" stamped on it?

While getting caught with a pocket pistol might raise some eyebrows/get you into touble.......getting caught with a Government issued pocket gun would point you out as an enemy spy, which was pretty much a death sentence.....

James K
June 9, 2012, 04:57 PM

Most of the folks who write so much about espionage have very little knowledge of the real thing, and that includes the sainted Ian Fleming, who had some kind of desk job in some British government agency but who now is described in at least one book as "head of British Intelligence." Nonsense.

Any agent as flamboyant as James Bond would not have lasted ten minutes in Nazi Germany, or in Soviet Russia for that matter. Believe me, getting caught carrying a pistol of any kind, make, caliber, or nationality in either country would definitely have been bad for the health.


June 9, 2012, 10:45 PM
That's why I get a tickle when ever I read about a 1911 with the serial number removed " it was made for the OSS agents in occupied countries ":). Plus ( and I've read all of the books ) Flemimg was not a gun person, he once had Mr. Bond carrying his PPK in a Berns Martin shoulder holster { for those who don't know the Berns Martin holster, it only works with revolvers }.

June 10, 2012, 01:54 PM
Most of the folks who write so much about espionage have very little knowledge of the real thing.

Just like most of the newspaper folks today, who write so much about guns. :p


James K
June 10, 2012, 09:29 PM
Someone who was a spy, at least in a sense, U2 pilot Francis Gary Powers, was given a silenced High Standard .22, though I have no idea (and I suspect he didn't either) what he could have done with it. For his "covert" mission, he had a plane full of U.S. equipment and U.S. marked gear, plus the pistol. And he spoke only American English. Who was he going to claim to be, a Norwegian, maybe? A Nigerian?

Let me see how that scenario runs if he were shot down in the middle of the USSR. He has no idea where he is, he doesn't speak a word of the language, he has no food, no clothing except a flight suit, and no way to get help if any could be found. And a lousy .22 pistol is going to help?

In fact, he was shot down, captured and brought to trial. And no, he didn't use the H-S to shoot his way to freedom. We got him back after a lot of effort and only after the Soviets had exploited the incident for all it was worth. The pistol didn't help and at last report was still in a Moscow museum.


June 11, 2012, 08:20 AM
James K:

While I was not a spy, I was a USAF fighter pilot. When in compbat I carried an issued S&W Combat Masterpiece .38spcl.

On non combat missions I carred a .22lr revolver for survival purposes. I also carried it hiking and hunting. Got several grouse and rabbits with it. The advantage of the .22 is that you can carry a lot of ammunition for an accurate pistol to bag food in a survival situation. I seriously doubt that there was any intention for Gary Powers to fight with the .22.

Having said that, I agree with the thread that most writers are IGNORANT about guns. But then you just have to suspend reality a bit and live in the fiction you are enjoying.

James K
June 11, 2012, 09:09 PM
Hi, JimPage,

I didn't say that a .22 could not be used as a survival gun, but I note you didn't have to use yours for that purpose. Could you have lived off the land in a foreign, hostile country, managed to escape the manhunt, and cover hundreds, perhaps thousands, of miles on foot to get to friendly territory?

If you could have done that, you are sure a better man than I am. I would probably have gone up to the first official-looking person I saw and put my hands up.

For that matter, handguns issued to pilots are more of a "peace of mind" thing than a real defensive gun. There probably have been a few cases where a downed airman did use his pistol or revolver to survive, but I suspect there were darned few.


June 24, 2012, 12:11 AM
In escape and evasion an offensive handgun makes a good hammer, you sure aren't going to shoot at any bad guys with it. A 22 automatic or a .22 revolver would be the best choice for a behind the lines ( or really anyplace ) survival gun. Not for offensive use, if they are coming at you with AK's, then it's Yes sir, No sir, 3 bags full. But if you manage to evade capture, they are still hunting you, the only game that you may see or have a chance at will be small, rabbits or other small mammals. a silenced .22 ( not really silenced but sound suppressed ) will give you a chance to harvest small game with out giving your location away. Way too many people , watching way too many movies think that in a escape and evasion mode, you want a large handgun ( if that's the only weapon you have ), on the contrary, a spear would be better than a .45., you want to survive and get home, not win the war for God and country all by your self. The only reason our Air Force pilots are issued a ..38 or 9MM. is to give them a warm fuzzy felling. They would be better off issuing suppressed Ruger MK 1's, JMHO and I have others.

June 24, 2012, 08:38 AM
Although I did have to eject once from a century series fighter, it was in the US and no, I didn't have to use the 22 to survive. On the other hand, I would still prefer the 22 to survive. Fighting an enemy force with your pistol is pretty useless. You'd likely be killed.

While in combat I carried the issue Combat Masterpiece in .38spcl. It's main reason was as a sigalling device to attract rescue. We carried tracer ammunition for that purpose.

June 24, 2012, 12:15 PM
:D Being a Air-crewman on helicopters I always liked to wait until they crashed, then just step out, did that threes times, worked like a charm.:D

June 25, 2012, 04:56 PM
Survival ? Ian Fleming ? If you relly want to read a very funny book see if you can find the one by Ian's brother Peter Fleming and his adventures in the wilds of the Amazon !! :D:D

4V50 Gary
June 27, 2012, 08:38 PM
Check out Charles W. Pate's book, U. S. Handguns of World War II, pages 175-185. Pate talks about the Colt Model N, 25 ACP being acquired by Army Ordnance Department's Springfield Ordnance District. Most of these small guns were obtained new or used from dealers.

The OSS was supplied by Army Ordnance and Ser #74631 and #186106 were requested from the Treasury Dept. (along with Ser #129044). The OSS had a hold-up shoulder holster that fired when the wearer's arms were raised (pics on p179).

Guns were marked "U.S.PROPERTY" and "UNITED STATES PROPERTY" on the right side of the frame above the trigger guard (p180). The author believes the markings were added post-war after the OSS returned them to the army. Pantographed markings are considered fake by the author who believes they were done not to defraud but to enhance them as gifts to friends (p181). Some have been seen with the ordnance escutcheon (Ser #402157, #407667, #407534) (p183).

James K
June 28, 2012, 11:00 AM
I did check Pate's book. Also, I have seen a couple of those .25 autos with Parkerized finish and USP markings. Both the finish and the markings were fake, quite obvious to the experienced eyeball.

I don't think I said the military never bought .25 Colts; they certainly did. I said I was highly skeptical of USP markings on them. Pate shows 5 .25 pistols with USP marks. One picture (407667, p. 175) is too dark to analyze. The other four (p. 182-183) are all, IMHO, fakes.

I won't go into detail here, but I have looked at those pictures and, as I said, a couple of other .25 pistols purporting to be USP marked and do not consider any of them genuine. Nor do I believe that any agency/unit put those USP markings on. Guns might have been returned to the factory and marked there, but then the markings should correspond to equivalent factory markings.