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Old February 19, 2012, 02:09 PM   #1
BandDirector
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Colt 1903 help needed

This is my very first post. I hope it is in the right place. I started to reply to a post about the 1903 but the post was 111 days old. I figured no one would see it so I started a new thread. I apologize if this is inappropriate.

When my Father-In-Law passed away, I found a dismantled Colt 1903 made in 1916. It was in pieces but I am proud to say that I suffered through a few hours of figuring out how in the world to get the hammer and main spring in the right place, and finally discovered the trick. By the way, this is also the first and only gun I've ever touched.

There is a small protrusion on the back of the Slide Lock Safety that is supposed to ride in the curved opening of the receiver. It is broken off of the Slide Lock Safety.

Now, I hope someone can confirm that this is the reason that the only way I can get the trigger to trip the hammer is if I shake the gun upside-down until the internal safety "falls" into the hole in the ejector.

If this is not the case, does anyone have any idea why it only triggers when I do this?

The parts list I found online shows a Tansley Magazine Safety. I don't think I have this in my gun.

Someone else looked at the gun and said not to fire it because the barrell is no good. I plan to get a second opinion for two reasons: there are no visible issues with the barrell, and this person couldn't figure out how to put the gun back together with the hammer/main spring in working order. Is it possible that the barrell is not worthy of firing?

I appreciate any help I can get with this.
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Old February 19, 2012, 02:13 PM   #2
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Welcome to the Firing line, and I am sorry to learn about your Father in law

The Colt 1903 is a wonderful pistol and it's a little tricky to re-assemble.

This link may help to answer your questions. It's on a forum that caters to US military collecting, but you might be interested to know that the Colt 1903 was sometimes issued as a General Officer's sidearm. Anyway, the photos and descriptions here may be of use:

http://www.usmilitariaforum.com/foru...owtopic=129373

As far as the barrel being no good...I am not sure what this person meant.
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Old February 19, 2012, 05:06 PM   #3
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I also wish to welcome you.

If I remember correctly the magazine safety was added around 1926.

The one I have was made in 1923. I'm not sure if the broken piece of the safety would create the issue you are experiencing or not. I do know that if any of the three "fingers" of the sear/trigger spring are in the wrong place it can cause issues.

As far as the condition of barrel, many of those guns (including mine) will still shoot great with moderate pitting.

e-gunparts.com has safeties in stock for $33.95 for what it's worth
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Old February 19, 2012, 06:57 PM   #4
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Welcome

Great to hear. That cost me $80.00 at the local gunsmith.
The now long gone '03 hammerless has spent too much time in the attic. I started cleaning the little pistol and could not stop taking parts off, because I kept finding rust and dried oil.
An expensive lesson, but worth it.
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Old February 19, 2012, 10:38 PM   #5
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OK, the little stud in the inside of the "slide lock safety" (thumb safety) is the safety itself; it blocks the sear. If the stud is broken off, the safety won't work and the gun can fire when the safety appears to be engaged. I suggest replacing it if at all possible; check www.gunpartscorp.com for the part. Give them the serial number of the gun as there are two types of thumb safeties, one with a screw in the right end of the pin, the other without.

The part Colt called the "internal safety" is what most folks call the disconnector. It is pushed upward by the middle leaf of the three leaf spring. If it is loose as you describe, either that leaf is broken or the spring is installed improperly.

Jim
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Old February 19, 2012, 11:00 PM   #6
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Thanks!

I know I can find lots of helpful people on any number of special interest forums, but I want you to know how much I appreciate your experience and expertise.

James K, I think you best got to the heart of my problem. Are you saying that nothing should be rattling around inside the gun if the leaf spring is properly holding everything?

Tom
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Old February 19, 2012, 11:31 PM   #7
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Right. The safety stud could be in there, but from what you say, I am pretty sure you got the three leaf spring in wrong and it is the disconnector that is rattling. You didn't say what "trick" you used to get that gun back together, but the best way is to reassemble the gun per any of several instructions which always stop short of getting the hammer back in, mainly, I suspect, because the folks who wrote the instructions didn't know how. The "trick" is simply to pick up the gun as if firing it, and squeeze the trigger and grip safety at the same time. An opening will appear at the top of the frame and you just put the hammer in and line it up, then insert the thumb safety pin.

Jim
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Old February 19, 2012, 11:44 PM   #8
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Fixed it!

Jim,

You are THE MAN! I repositioned the leaf spring and, at first, it was catching all it needed to at the top of the spring but the magazine catch would just fall out. I tried again and got everything locked in place. Also as you stated, the missing stud means this gun has no working thumb safety. I won't fire it until I get that part.

The "trick" I first discovered was to position the main spring and grip safety into the sear and upper but not pin it at the bottom until I got the hammer lined up using a slave pin. However, with the bottom pin set, but the hammer still out, I just figured out the trigger and grip safety thing by chance...probably at the same time you were typing your instructions for it!

Thanks again,
Tom
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Old February 20, 2012, 04:57 PM   #9
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Now we want pictures Everyone that shoots mine comments on how well it shoots. I think they are excellent little pistols and its too bad Colt stopped making them


Here's mine, 1920. She's been around the block a couple times, works like it was new

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Old February 20, 2012, 06:06 PM   #10
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Chris,

My camera is at school so pictures will have to wait until tomorrow. What is the best way to include photos? I know my camera will create files that are too large.

All the guns of this type I have seen are in such good shape finish-wise. I'm not sure what my Father-In-Law did with this one! It has some man-made knicks and maybe even some tool damage. Is there a way for me to fix any of this without ruining the finish? I understand that this question will be more easily answered when you see the gun.

I can't wait to test fire this gun. I want to do it the right way so my wife doesn't go crazy enough to shoot me with it! Any ideas about good, safe shooting ranges in the Northeast Ohio area? Also, I think I can get ammo for this easily. Do I ask for 32 acp?

Tom
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Old February 20, 2012, 06:40 PM   #11
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If it's chambered for .32 'rimless smokeless', It's .32 ACP. The ACP is "Automatic Colt Pistol". The terminology changed a little; the turn of last century was an era of rimmed cartridges giving way to 'rimless' in which the rim was no greater diameter than the case and 'smokeless' wasn't a very old thing yet

Re: the finish, well, mine will never be more than a 500 dollar pistol so I explored refinish and restoration. Talked to Colt. They gave me a firm "maybe". Parts are scarce. A guy like Doug Turnbull could do it to, but the cost...oh the cost

Re: photos, I use photobucket:

http://photobucket.com/

Pretty straightforward, register, get free account. Upload photos via their uploader. You'll see how it works. To post an image here, copy the link that will show under the image when the pointer hovers over it, which has the IMG in it. Then paste it in the body of a post here. Photobucket features a photo res-sizing page as well

These little Colts are something special to me for some reason. Everything is so well made
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Old February 20, 2012, 07:52 PM   #12
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You don't need Photobucket or any other site to post pictures. Assuming you have the picture(s) in a file on your computer, just respond like I am doing now. Then drop down until you see MANAGE ATTACHMENTS, and click on that.

You will get a pop-up window with three bars marked "Browse". Click on the first "Browse" and locate the first picture in your own computer. Then click on OPEN and the picture file will upload to the site. Repeat for two more pics. Beyond that, you have to open another posting, as each post can only handle three pictures.

For poor slobs with slow dialup lines, it would be nice use a photo editor to crop photos to eliminate extraneous stuff and also reduce the byte size of the files.

Just to show it works, everybody has pics of a Luger or a Ruger - here is a pic of a Kruger!

Jim
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Old February 20, 2012, 08:53 PM   #13
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Colt .32

I too have a question about the Colt .32 acp.

I have a friend of mine who inherited a Colt .32

Here is the info he gave me on this gun, I am trying to have him take a few pics if he can.

Colt Automatic
.32 Rimless - Smokeless
Ser# 18768
Patented Apr 20 1897
Dec.22 1903
Colt PT FA MFG CO
Hartford CT USA

Any thing you can tell me about it would be much appreciated.

I submitted this post in another thread but relized it was 2 years old.
Sorry for the inconvenience
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Old February 20, 2012, 09:59 PM   #14
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Old 454,

I am obviously a beginner with guns, but I have done a fair share of research in finding out about mine. I am certain that the experts on this forum will help you infinitely more than I can. Check this out to start:

http://www.guncollectorsclub.com/1903.htm

I think your friend's gun was made in 1905.

With the help of the good people here, I was able to discover so much about this amazing gun. I haven't even fired mine yet but I am in complete awe at how it works. It is truly mind-blowing to imagine the process of John Browning's patent.

Thanks, Chris_B for the ammo info. I find it interesting that "rimless" refers to the cartridges more than the pistol.
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Old February 21, 2012, 12:34 PM   #15
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Jim--

Respectfully, you didn't post a photograph. You posted a link to a photograph- like an attachment to an e-mail

You can still see your image but you have to click on an attachment. You don't need to host a photo online true; but if you want the image to show up here as an image, I know of no other way than to have the image hosted

For editing, everyone has MS Paint on a windows based PC. Paint will allow you to resize, and to cut, copy and paste to a new image- effectively cropping an image
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Old February 21, 2012, 10:02 PM   #16
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As promised...Pictures of my Colt 1903. I guess it is a Type III made in 1916. After seeing hundreds of pictures of these pistols, I realize mine is in worse shape than most (at least of those whose owners posted pics). I really don't have money to put into refinishing/restoring, but I'd love to get any advice on making it a little more presentable.

Tom
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File Type: jpg Colt 1903 Right small.jpg (245.7 KB, 41 views)
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Old February 22, 2012, 06:16 AM   #17
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Anyone know the significance of the letter F stamped just under the trigger?
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Old February 22, 2012, 09:33 AM   #18
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Here is my .380, I don't have any photos of the .32 handy.
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Old February 22, 2012, 05:30 PM   #19
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Great Colts, guys

BD, I don't know what the F means; all my Colt reference is for military issue pistols. My 1920 example doesn't have it
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