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I inherited one of these little jewels but I know nothing about its history.Its a very slim gun.Very reliable,good looking pocket gun.Ive heard that the 1911 has a grip safety because the military wanted it.If thats true then why does the 1903 have a similar grip safety?This gun and the 1911 makes me wonder what a John Browning designed single stack 9x19 would have looked like! slim and sleek I'd bet!
 

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I don't know much beyond the fact that they came out in .32 in 1903 and in .380 in 1908 (Someitimes confusing, that is the same year as the .25 ACP.) Colt made hundreds of thousands of them, probably more than Savage, Remington, and S&W combined. There are 4 main variations, 4" with a bushing, 3.75" with a bushing, 3.75" without a bushing, and 3.75", no bushing, with a magazine disconnector. Many minor variations to keep collectors happy. I figure the grip safety is to keep folks comfortable with the concealed hammer. The hammerless Remington had a grip safety, the Savage with exposed striker lever that looks like a hammer does not. A good shooter and a neat design. There was a big 1903 in 9mm Browning Long for Sweden. Most of them you see here have been ruined by bushing the chamber to .380.
Now let me tell you about the 1910 9.8mm Colt and the FN Gran Browning 9.65mm. Browning/Colt/1911 action guns scaled down to those odd calibers. Gorgeous. Wish they had made more than 3 Colts and some very few FN prototypes.
 

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Actually, the .380 was the Model 1908. The Model 1903 was the .32 ACP version. I have a .380 Model 1908 that was made about the time of WW1 and is an excellent little gun. It still shoots great as well, with excellent feel and pointing characteristics. The place to read up about them is on Sam Lisker's website, http://www.coltautos.com

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com
 

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i have a .32 colt, beautiful , feels so right in my hand, and it fits the back pocket nicely. be nice if some one brought it back, but at the quality level of the original it could be very expensive.
 

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I think the Colt 1903/08's are some of the neatest little autos around. And if I ever see one in the right condition and price ... a 1908 is on that LONG list I have
 

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Have you figured out how to field strip it yet? That caused me problems for a while! Nice little gun. It should be very accurate. Mine has a nasty barrel due to corrosive ammo and poor care long before I got it, but it shoots really well still. The 1903 is a nice semi-melted pocket gun, a little long, but a good shooter. Same for the 1908.
 

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These are nice, flat, snag-free pistols. I had one that would feed anything...even the long-defunct S&W brand 88-grain JHP's, which were possibly the worst designed round ever.

About the only criticisms I would make are that the sights and thumb safety are too small. Also, the heel-of-butt mag catch isn't as convenient as the 1911-style button.

I recall seeing a picture posted by Chuck "pistolwrench" Rogers of one of these he had fitted with Novak sights.

Rosco

[This message has been edited by Rosco Benson (edited 11-09-2001).]
 

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DoubleNaughtSpy - I tried to get mine apart, but couldn't get the grip safety rotated far enough from the frame to get the spring out. The drawings show the safety rotating well out to access the spring, but mine would go only 30-40 degrees, and I was afraid I'd break something if I kept pushing. What's my problem?
 

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I inherited a 1903 Colt .32acp from my late Fathers estate and it has a two digit serial number. They made far fewer of the .380s than they did the .32s and the .380s, were the Model 1908 Model M .380acp.


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I have a mint 1903 that I traded a neighbor out of years ago, they are a sweet shooting little pistol. FWIW, I think my Remington Model 51 pistol is a nicer shooting pistol, and it's a natural pointer too. I also have a couple of the Savage pistols, though I think the Remington is the pick of the litter.

Here's the Colt 1903:



Here's the Remington M51:

 

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To take it apart, clear the gun, then retract the slide til that little arrow deal on the slide lines up wiuth the front of the dust shield then rotatle the barrel to the left. The slide and barrel should come off.
 

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johnwill-
Nice looking Colt. The only thing to be concerned with are those hard rubber grips. Most are hard and dry by now, and they will often crack or crumble under the stress of shooting. Mine did, and I had to make a new set of wood grips from scratch as aftermarket grips are few and far between. I tried the reproduction grips available from Brownells, but they are poorly-moulded garbage IMO.

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D. Kamm
USGI M1911/M1911A1 Pistols Website
http://usgi1911.tripod.com
 

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I've shot the 1903 a couple of times, but you are correct about the grips. I have a ton of 70-80 year old guns, and I've already cracked a couple of hard rubber grips, and I've received a few that were cracked before I got them. If I plan on shooting one of these any significant amount, I'd go for some cheap replacement grips for trips to the range. I sure wish I could find a place that had quality molds and made good looking replacment grips! I just paid $100 for original grips for a Walther Model 9, pretty steep for a couple little things that'll break if I drop them!
 
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