Colt 1903 Model M in .32 ACP

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    1. #1
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      Colt 1903 Model M in .32 ACP

      I inherited this pistol built in 1918....carried much and apparently shot a lot as well, it retains very little blue and has a lot of dings, scratches and a few pits. The bore looks very nice and the pistol had it's original magazine but cracked hard rubber grips. It's pretty typical for a 95 year old gun with hard rubber grips to have them dry out and crack and I have seen this phenomenon on lots of this type. I bought new grips and a couple mags and had the gun checked out by a respected smith here in town and it was pronounced safe to shoot. In fact he encouraged me to shoot this one as he seems fairly well taken with Colt autos especially the originals.



      Shown here with my Wife's Colt Officers ACP for reference.

      I took this 95 year old pistol and 2 boxes of ancient .32 ACP to the range and loaded her up and started shooting. The ammo was so old that the boxes were literally falling apart - old Winchester hardball. This pistol shocked and surprised me as it was a tack driver form the first mag of 8 rounds. Fired rapid fire (not panic but at a cadence that emptied the mag in less than 3 seconds) all 8 rounds were in a group that I could cover with the palm of my hand...about 4" across at about 21'. The pistol has tiny little sights but I didn't even look at them. This pistol is alike a sewing machine...it is ergonomic, comfortable, and very, very easy and has a feel in the hand that just oozes class and classic. Inherently accurate and more than fun to shoot.

      I shot up both boxes of ancient hardball as well as another 50 rounds of FMJ flat nose Winchester round using the original and a reproduction mag purchased from Numrich. Never missed a lick...no FTF, no FTE, no problems. The pistol shoots where you look and it's like pointing your finger. I was so obsessed that a researched a bunch of Model M's in .32 ACP and purchased a second pistol built in 1930 for my Wife. Actually I see a few more of these in our future as I am truly in love with this fine piece of handgun art.

      If you have the chance and are a fan of Colt automatics you should shoot one of these for reference. I own several modern autos including a Colt Officers ACP, A Beretta 92S 9mm, a Walther PPKS in .380, and have shot some of my "gun buddies" pistols and nothing has ever impressed me as much as a pair of 95 and 83 year old Colt Model M pistols. I'd appreciate it if other aficionados of this pistol would post pix in this thread.

      Thanks in advance and thanks for looking!

      VooDoo

    2. #2
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      The same gun, but in .380 ACP, is my own EDC.
      I can affirm from personal experience all of your comments about reliability and accuracy.
      Colt's made really well-designed guns.

      My own Model M was made in 1912. Thus, it's more than 100 years old, and 26 years older than I am.

      As others have noted, I wonder whether today's plastic wonder guns will still be delivering accuracy and reliability, 100 years from now.
      (I tend to doubt it.)

    3. #3
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      I cruised this forum before joining (re joining) and read a lot...I find it "interesting" that Steve is the first to respond to my madness about the Colt Model M's. Be they .32 ACP or .380 ACP they seem to have a special feel and *whatever* that is almost magic. I'm collecting Model M's and collecting information and opinion. I'm hatching a plan to recreate these pistols..modern 1903 Model M in .32, .380, and maybe 9mm with all the same ergonomics only in stainless or CeraKote trying to make a modern handgun for Concealed Carry that has all the aesthetics and ergonomics and yet is drop safe and has some more safety minded features.

      This pistol is not like many people imagine and I did not want to like it...mouse gun caliber in an almost full sized pistol *but* unless we have shot one we cannot appreciate the concept. John Browning created a masterpiece with this pistol and the subsequent 1911 which is now legendary. I love both pistols but the 1903 Model M is *so* handy, rounded, and available as a carry piece. But this gun has so much going for it even 100 years after its design.

      Seriously, with all states now having concealed carry I see a huge market for brand new 1903 Model Ms in .32 and .380 if I can get it done.

      VooDoo

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    5. #4
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      DJ Niner's Avatar
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      I have long lusted after one of these pistols (.32 would be my preference, as I already shoot this caliber). I also think a modern version might do well in the market, if it could be sold and produced at a reasonable price and profit. Short-barreled models for pocket carry, longer ones for informal target shooting, maybe even a .22 version if it could be engineered to work in the existing envelope.

      I don't have any money to invest in such an operation, but I'll be at the front of the line waving a handful of C-notes when the first shipment arrives, even if I have to "liquidate" another pistol or two to make it happen.

      Good luck!

    6. #5
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      "...drop safe"?
      Please: No.
      The Browning-designed thumb safety is quite enough, thank you.


      Late-production versions of the Model M also included a magazine safety.
      I consider this an abomination, as well.

    7. #6
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      I'm not allowed to carry mine (yet) in Illinois but when I can I'll carry this pistol as it is round and can be hidden very well on my person. When carrying I'm concerned about an accidental discharge if the pistol was dropped - I have read the stories *but* I'm not sure I'm *that* worried about dropping my pistol. Sincerely, I usually put the "modernization" caveat in my introduction of the concept of making new Model Ms as it seems to bring a little more credibility to the discussion...lot's of folks start to scratch their heads when we talk about bringing a design that is over 100 years old to a modern market.

      My second Model M has the magazine safety and I have to agree that I personally prefer the pistol to not have this feature - I would prevent me from firing while changing mags and with the way I personally handle firearms it does not make me any more "safe" than the 1918 that does not have the magazine disconnect.



      Lots of folks simply do not remember or have never been aware that this gun, like the Colt 1911 (which is possibly the most copied pistol in history) was designed by a man who was simply a genius at designing firearms. Truthfully? I don't think this pistol needs many if *any* modifications to be extremely relevant as a concealed carry piece in the 21st century. It'd be nice to have a modern finish that will protect the gun or stainless *but* my biggest concern is that the ergonomics not be altered....the balance and point ability, control ability, conceal ability are perfect and I'd be worried that "playing" with things (like the existing safetys etc...) would alter these things.

      If it ain't broke we don't need to fix it.

      I'm just beginning the process of how we are gonna get new Model Ms built. I have machinists and engineers in my family advising me - I'm running the concept past a couple of custom pistol smiths and trying to get a handle on how much $ it will take to produce the CNC programs to produce the various parts and generally trying to wrap my head around the logistics and details. I acknowledge that it will be expensive...very expensive. But start up costs are justifiable if enough money can be made in pulling this off to sustain the "resurrection"...I have investors and some money of my own.

      I just need to prove to my investors that this could be lucrative or is at least a worthy investment. All of the folks interested in investing are avid shooters and think the concept has merit. I just need to hammer out the details which I am doing.

      I'm right here in the general area where some very fine pistols are already being made - we have Springfield Armory and Rock River Arms right here where I live!! I'm toying with the idea of presenting them with the concept and seeing if they are interested in building these if I front some money to kick start it. I'd like input from folks that I can use to push the idea - many folks just shake their heads and walk away when I start talking. Many who have the capability of helping me are resistant to the idea that a new release of Model Ms could sell hundreds, maybe thousands of these. I'm convinced it could be the coolest thing since the 1911 for some folks.

      Thanks for listening to my madness...

      VooDoo

    8. #7
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      Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
      "...drop safe"?
      Please: No.
      The Browning-designed thumb safety is quite enough, thank you.


      Late-production versions of the Model M also included a magazine safety.
      I consider this an abomination, as well.
      Steve, while I think I understand your feelings on this, I believe a drop-safety mechanism is absolutely required, for multiple reasons:

      - to not offer a drop-safety would prevent sales in certain states,

      - the potential for lawsuits would be greatly increased,

      - it could affect the ability of the company to get insurance,

      - it would be a huge PR/Marketing problem to overcome,

      - I am not aware of any currently-manufactured autoloading pistol that does NOT have a drop-safety mechanism.


      I wonder if a firing-pin-plunger-type drop safety could be activated by the grip safety, rather than the trigger, as in most designs. Grip the gun, the sear safety and drop safety are disengaged; loosen your grip to drop the gun, and both safeties would be fully engaged before it completely leaves your hand.

    9. #8
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      Didn't think about the those points, DJ. Thanks for pointing them out as it gives me questions to ask as I think this thing through...

      It might get hard to get a company to build these (impossible actually) if it exposes them to negative PR, loss of sales in certain states, or potential lawsuits if a dropped pistol kills the owner or, heaven forbid a bystander. I have always wondered why no one has ever built new Model M pistols while the 1911 has flourished. Perhaps this pistol cannot be "up graded" to make it drop safe without screwing it up.

      How is this implemented in the Colt 1911 design?

      I'm not competent enough as a pistol smith to make that determination but I know a couple who are. I need to take this conversation to someone who knows. Thanks again for the prompt, DJ Niner!

      VooDoo

    10. #9
      Supporting Member rfawcs's Avatar
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      Some of mine. The .380 has obviously been refinished (and a really nice job it was) at some time; the .25 and .32 are original.



    11. #10
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      Gaad...that refinished .380 is beautiful. They are *all* awesome and thanks for the pix!!

      My gunsmith told me to never *ever* refinish an original Colt Model M but I have a guilty desire to buy a functionally decent pistol that the finish is absolutely trashed on and have it refinished in Cerakote with laser cut grips and a laser sight. I know...it's blasphemy but I'd love to buy one, trick it, and flip it after shooting it enough to see if it works that way.

      VooDoo

    12. #11
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      rfawcs;
      About the two Model M pistols and the little .25 ACP:
      "Your gats have had a gitten!"
      (...with thanks to Groucho Marx)


      DJ Niner and Vodoun da Vinci;
      ...About that damnable drop safety: I would object to any device that could somehow stick in the "safe" position. If the device's plunger (or what-have-you) could only stick or be rust-welded in "unsafe," then the worst case would be only that the safety were disabled. But if the plunger could stick in "safe," it would render the gun useless, probably at the worst possible moment.

    13. #12
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      Steve, I'm understanding your perspective. I'm very skeptical about a maintained pistol ending up "rusted" to the point that it would be stuck in the safe position and thus rendered inert. I do realize that it *could* happen but...having handled a significant number of this type that are around 100 years old I am amazed that all of them are potent yet...not one of them slam fires, or fires out of battery. All of the safeties are yet intact. All of them I have examined are seriously potent and intact..it's hard to believe that making some mods to make them drop safe would render them inoperable in the gravest extreme if not properly maintained but I'm aware that it *could* happen.

      Do you have technical suggestions that might give us drop safety in this type without the possibility of a failure rendering the pistol "safe" when it needs to be ready to rock?

      Not being obstinate so much as inquisitive.

      VooDoo

    14. #13
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      If the firing-pin safety is disengaged by being actively pressed upwards and out of the way, then if anything untoward should happen it would stick in the "unsafe" position.
      If, instead, it is actively pushed into the "safe" position, and is meant to fall by gravity or by the force of a light spring into "unsafe" when the pressure is removed, then it would stick in "safe" and be dangerous to the defensive user's health.

      Rust is the least of the problem. I used that only as an easily understood illustration. A mere mechanical burr, raised while cleaning or repairing the pistol, might be more likely. Even a small piece of powder fouling could do it.

    15. #14
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      Thanks for your comments, Steve!!

      What is your opinion on a slide lock open on the last shot? Better idea or not so important?

      Thanks in advance!!

      VooDoo

    16. #15
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Vodoun da Vinci View Post
      ...What is your opinion on a slide lock open on the last shot? Better idea or not so important?...
      To me, this feature (missing from the Colt's pistol) is vitally important.
      It not only signals that you've run the gun empty, but also it speeds the reloading process.

      (I was taught to count my shots, even under dire pressure, but I know that it is more likely that I will "shoot to slide-lock" anyway.)

    17. #16
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      Agreed, Steve, and once again, thank you for your comments.

      My Wife and I both count shots almost unconsciously but both of us run the Model M dry now and again..it's un nerving to pull the trigger and experience *clIcK!* instead of *BANG!* after a sequence of rapid fire. It seems to be a necessary hazard for those of us who adore the Model M...it'd be really nice to have the slide lock open on the last shot but, for now, it isn't a show stopper for either of us.

      The inherent attributes of this particular pistol far outweigh the negative points. For us, it points naturally and delivers multiple follow up shots *very* accurately with the utmost reassuring precision. This pistol is simple and easy...fun to shoot and rounded in the hand with everything sitting where it needs to be.

      There is not another pistol quite like this model which is why I am on the hunt for yet another one.

      VooDoo

    18. #17
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      Quote Originally Posted by Vodoun da Vinci View Post
      ...I am on the hunt for yet another one...
      Recently, there was a very nicely engraved specimen for sale on GunBroker. See if it's still there.

      Here's mine: https://picasaweb.google.com/1003479...eat=directlink
      (Click on the first photo to enlarge it, and then use the right-hand arrow on the picture to access the rest of them.)

    19. #18
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      I love those engraved, collectible, types but I'd be afraid to shoot them and decrease their value. Right now I'm still whoring to have as many shooters of all 5 types as I can find and afford. GunBroker was not on my list of watch sites....thanks for the heads up as I have seen several that are interesting and a bit less spendy than what I have been seeing on GunsAmerica and Guns International!

      My next buy is gonna try and be a mechanically decent Model M type V that the finish is basically trashed on and my hope it to trick is out and flip it. But It'll take another few weeks to get the expendable $ for that project. So, in the mean time I'll be shopping and shooting the two I have.

      VooDoo

    20. #19
      Senior Member Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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      Afraid to shoot it?
      The pistol in the pictures is my EDC. And I practice with it.
      Guns are practical, functioning mechanisms, even when they're works of art.

      Besides, it was a gift from my wife, who expects it to be used.

    21. #20
      Member Vodoun da Vinci's Avatar
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      Wow....you got a good one. Both Pistol and Wife, Sir.

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