Tag Archives: Colt M1903

The Best Concealed Carry Piece of 1903 Still Looks Good Today

Compact, slim, accurate, and simple. All mantras for the most modern concealed carry pieces today. They all apply to a design introduced 118 years ago as well – the Colt M1903.

While well-engineered semi-auto pistols abound today, the same statement simply wasn’t true in the early 20th Century. Most early autoloaders were downright funky (see the Bergmann 1896), had bad ergonomics (Borchardt C93), were overly complex (C96 Broomhandle, which are notoriously hard to disassemble), and proved to be evolutionary dead-ends (the Luger – not a lot of toggle actions in production these days). 

Enter the gun guru of Ogden, Utah, Mr. John Browning, who largely hit it out of the park with his freshman semi-auto handgun, the FN M1900 of 1896, the first pistol with a slide – let that sink in. A simple blowback single-stack chambered in .32ACP – which he also invented – he followed that up in 1897 with his short-recoil operated Colt Model 1900, a larger gun whose action was recycled into the Colt M1902, which we have talked about before, then scaled down to make the Colt M1903. 

And with a “carry melt,” easy maintenance, and outstanding ergonomics, the new gun is surprisingly modern when compared to today’s offerings.

Boom, sweetheart. 

More on the Pocket Hammerless in my column at Guns.com.

That a Colt in your pocket, bub?

I’ve always been a fan of the old M1903 Colt Pocket Hammerless.

Thus:

First hitting the market in 1904, the thin-profiled Pocket Hammerless (Colt Model M) was one of John Browning’s finest early designs, everything a modern self-defense pistol should be.

Today, it still feels good in the hand when compared to the best that the 21st Century has to offer, although its .32ACP-chambering is on the lighter side of preferred ballistic performance today. There was a good reason why the platform, one of the first decent first semi-auto pocket pistols, was used by such cloak and dagger folks as the OSS and slipped into the jacket and field table of many a general concerned about their hide.

Iconic as a pulp-era handgun, the Colt was a favorite in B&W Noir films— Bogart carried one in no less than five films: The Desperate Hours, Key Largo, The Big Sleep, Casablanca, and Torture Ship.

A side view of Rick’s (Humphrey Bogart) Colt 1903 as he holds it on Capt. Renault (Claude Rains) via IMFDB

So naturally, when I came across an intact and original early model gun, I had to pick it up to scratch that itch.

The example I lucked into dates from 1911. Importantly, it hasn’t been reblued. The front sight isn’t banged flat. The first-gen hard rubber factory grips are intact. You can still read all the roll marks without a loupe. The magazine is in great shape.

I stripped it down completely and all the internals look OK and are in surprisingly good condition other than the recoil spring being a little relaxed.

Every now and then you have to treat yourself, right?