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Duke likes it.

Back in the spring of 2010, I got my first chance to fire one of these little .32s, and what a specimen it was. It belonged to a friend here in Montana named Bill Smart, whose father, Jacob E. Smart just happened to retire from the US Air Force as a four star general. For many decades, and possibly still for all I know, when an American Army or Air Force officer attained general rank he had his choice of at least three handguns. Those were either a Colt Model 1903.32, a Colt Model 1908.380, or a US Model 1911.45. General Smart picked a .32, and friend Bill let me introduce myself to the model by shooting his father's.

Consequently, it was only natural at the very next gun show I attended my eyes were searching tables for Colt Model 1903s. If there is any good at all to come from the downturn in this nation's economy it's that gun prices have dropped a bit. I was able to buy one cosmetically worn but mechanically fine for a dam good price.


Colt introduced this model with a 4" barrel but that was soon reduced to 3.7". Grips started out as hard rubber and evolved to checkered wood about 1924. Mine wears hard rubber grips. Weight is about 24 ounces. As usual for pocket pistols, sights hardly exist. The front sight is a little nub and the rear is a dovetailed blade with a tiny notch. When I can actually see them my '03 hits point of aim at 20' with 71-grain FMJ factory loads. Also as befits the Shooting Iron title of this column the entire gun will hold a magnet.


According to the 2005 Standard Catalog of Firearms by Ned Schwing, between 1903 and 1945 Colt made 572,215 Model 1903s for the commercial market. About another 200,000 were sold to the American military. To put that in perspective more Model 1903.32s were made than all the 1 st Generation Colt SAAs and Colt New

Service double action revolvers combined. With that many in circulation it's amazing more are not seen on used gun racks in stores or at gun shows. I guess I'm not the only one who likes them.

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Author:Venturino, Mike "Duke"
Publication:American Handgunner
Date:May 1, 2011
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