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Colt's 1903 and 1908 - viable today?

Jan 16, 2019 at 12:00am
By Gerard D.
Colt's 1903 and 1908 - viable today?

As one would expect when you work in the firearms industry, a lot of our office banter is about guns. The other day the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless pistol came up. Being the resident old guy in the office, I chimed in that I had one made in 1920. My boss asked, “How long did they make those?” They were made until about the end of the Second World War (1945 specifically). I also added that Colt had re-introduced the 1903 under license with USA ARMAMENT CORP just a few years ago, in 2015.

These old guns were a mainstay of gangster and police movies of the 1940s and 1950s, including being a favorite of Humphry Bogart in the Maltese Falcon and Casablanca. Even in more modern movies like L.A. Confidential, one was used to shoot Detective Jack Vincennes (played by Kevin Spacey). They also served as an issue firearm for U.S. Army General Staff Officers including George Patton. Who can forget the legend of him shooting at a German airplane in WWII?

So this brings to mind: just how viable is this old gun as a defensive tool in the modern world? It’s heavy for a pocket gun at 24 ounces. It’s a lot longer than most .32s and .380s produced today, with a few exceptions like S&W’s Shield EZ. The 1903’s magazine capacity is at or close to modern guns at 8+1, and 7+1 for the 1908, but the old gun’s sights are rudimentary at best.

And yet…there’s an elegant slenderness to John Browning’s centenarian design. The gun slides into the waistband with a smooth effortlessness that defies most modern guns, even the compacts and subcompacts made here in the 21st century. The trigger is crisp and easy (or can be made so quite easily), unlike the crunchy and spongy triggers so common to more modern guns.

Sure, there are smaller .32s and .380s out there like the Ruger LCP, S&W Bodyguard 380, SIG P238, Kimber Micro 380, and Colt’s own Mustang 380. But, for the sake of argument, do they really offer a major, game-changing advantage over our slim old girl, the Colt 1903/1908?

As always, this kind of discussion sparks questions about whether Galco should reintroduce some holsters for carry of this and similar venerable old guns. So what do you think? Would you carry a 1903 or 1908 Colt? Comment below!

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