POTD: The Big Colt 1903 Hammerless – Colt 1903 Pocket Hammer
Welcome to today’s Photo of the Day! Here, we have a Colt 1903 Pocket Hammer. Ha! Bet you thought I was gonna say “Hammerless.” That is right, this is the hammered brother of the Pocket Hammerless (which also had a hammer if only concealed). During the early 1900s, there was a carry gun renaissance and autoloading pistols began to have reliable examples pop up. This new breath of reliability made the average-joe looking to defend himself keener to use a newfangled semiautomatic pistol. With John Moses Browning’s FN 1900 hitting the market there was an absolute explosion of companies hoping to ride the same lightning. This led to Colt looking to change its current plan of military adoption of its Colt 1902 and get into the carrier market. This lead to the scaling down of the Colt 1902 into something more suitable to be carried and in a softer shooting cartridge. The new Colt 1903 Pocket Hammer (used to differentiate itself from the new Pocket Hammerless that arrived earlier in 1903) used many of the same parts as the Colt 1902 which meant fewer parts made special and fewer fresh machining operations.
“This specific pistol is pictured on p. 140 of “A Collector’s Guide to Colt’s .38 Automatic Pistols, The Production History of the ‘Automatic Colt Pistol'” by Douglas Sheldon, where it is also listed as the first produced Model 1903 Pocket Hammer pistol. The pistol shipped on 8 December 1903 to M. Hartley of New York, which was the continuation of the legendary Hartley & Graham. The serial number range for these pistols is somewhat odd, starting with this pistol, number 19999, and working down to 16000 before starting again at 20000 and working up. The left side of the slide is marked with the three-line Browning’s patent and two-line address in two blocks with the circled Rampant Colt behind the serrations. The right of the slide has the two-line caliber marking. The left of the frame is marked with the serial number as well as the added number “2967”. It is fitted with blade and rounded top notch sights, a rounded checkered hammer, checkered hard rubber grips with Rampant Colts and Colt banners, and a full blue magazine marked “PAT’D SEPT.9.1884″ on the base.”
Lot 1553: First Shipped Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer Pistol. (n.d.). Rock Island Auction Company. photograph. Retrieved March 9, 2022, from https://www.rockislandauction.com/detail/84/1553/first-shipped-colt-model-1903-pocket-hammer-pistol.