Al Capone Colt?
Q: First of all, let me say that I really enjoy reading your columns on Identification & Values of older firearms. I read your article, "Colt's 1903 Hammerless," in the August 2016 G8cA and remembered that I have one from that era! My grandfather was a young man in the 1920s back in Chicago. His job was to maintain the furnaces and boilers that provided heat to the hotels of the era. He used to tell the story that one of his hotels was owned by Al Capone, and he had met him several times. On one of the meetings, Capone gave gramps the Colt .380 shown in the pictures. Now, I can't prove or disprove this story, but it makes for an interesting tale. The gun was given to my dad and he gave it to me. I have had it in my safe, and after reading your article I started thinking about the story again. The serial number is 773XX, and on the right side of the triggerguard up by the frame are tiny stamped "48" on the right side and the letter "R" on the left. If you are interested, I would appreciate information you might be able dig up on this pistol!
A: Well, Al Capone was known to have favored the Colt Pocket Hammerless, and the serial number places your grandfather's gun's date of manufacture at 1925, so who knows? Capone, monster that he was, was also known for random acts of generosity, such as providing soup kitchens, etc. The problem is, verbal history is virtually worthless unless it's backed up with more tangible material, preferably dating from the time the arm was purchased and changed hands. Great story, though. As a .380 Colt 1903 (also called Model 1908) Pocket hammerless, sans provenance, it's still worth in the $650 to $850 range.