Friday, November 14, 2008
Are you ready for some heresy? Okay, here goes: Sure, 1911's are nice to shoot and all, but there's something especially crack-like in John Moses Browning's earlier designs. I had never really paid them much mind until I got my first Pocket Hammerless, and then I wanted another. And another...
While guns like the earliest Model 1902's, 1905's, and the exposed hammer 1903's have been solid collector guns for many years, the littlest Colt pocket autos have remained ridiculously affordable, partially because these solid little designs remained in production into the '40s, long after the 1911 had eclipsed their bigger brothers, and there are consequently a bajillion of them out there.
That, however, is starting to change. As prices get ever more stratospheric on other antique Colts, collectors are starting to turn their eye towards the little 1903 Pocket Hammerless .32ACP. and the 1908 Vest Pocket .25ACP.
A premium example of the earliest "Model M" .32 will already fetch well over a grand, and a top-notch Vest Pocket is crowding that total. Shootable examples of either are considerably more reasonable, of course, but they aren't getting any cheaper, either.
And when I say "shootable", I mean "shootable". I have a 1904-production .32 that has been worn to an even gray patina by over a century of coat pockets and sock drawers, but its bore is bright and its rifling is sharp, and despite it rattling like a trash can full of scrap metal it will point naturally and shoot accurately like no other .32 I've ever shot. I've put a few hundred rounds through it over the last several range sessions, without a bobble or a malfunction. Not bad for an autopistol that was built before the Panama Canal.
With prices going steadily upwards, you might want to look into acquiring a good shooter while reasonably pretty ones are still affordable. It's never fun to be standing over a table full of pistols under glass and thinking "Why, I remember when you could get those things for a hunnert'n'fifty, maybe two hunnert bucks..."