Friday, November 14, 2008

John's Addiction.


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..."

13 comments:

farmist said...

"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...""

Well, theoretically, if you have a sock-drawer full of them at home...

Mark Alger said...

Oo! Old guns! One of the sweetest-shooting pistols I was ever acquainted with was a WWI-vintage Colt .38 (Navy?). Smooth. As. Silk.

Wonder whatever happened to the Colonel's Woodsman? Gonna have to chat up my brother 'bout that.

M

TW: redst -- too obvious

Brigid said...

Your newly purchased one is absolutely (wait can't use the awesome word ). .

well . . . wow.

Anonymous said...

The shootability of the 1903 design is amazing. A Spanish knockoff in my rack works every time and keeps its .32s in about four inches at 20 or so yards.

But what I like best about it is the word "Hope" stamped on the chamber. That and the $60 price tag about two years ago.

73
Reardon

Jay G said...

AUGH! Curse you Tam!

I'm trying to save my gun money for evil "assault weapons" and other soon-to-be-banned items.

You're not helping...

(nice pick-up, BTW)

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

As Col. Cooper would say (but about the Steyr Scout), "I got mine!"

The .380 version though.

Tam said...

Only one? ;)

Old NFO said...

Sigh... I can remember when they wer $50.00 you pick 'em out of a fiber barrel with probably 200 pistols in it. M-1s and M-1 Carbines were $17.50 you pick em...

Of course, I was too stoopid to buy a bunch!

Adrian K said...

Damn. Wish I could buy one of them out there.

Even the crappy re-blued ones with a lot of wear start at $400 here.

Bob said...

And the patents on those pistols expired a long time ago, did they not? A great opportunity for some enterprising manufacturer...

Tam said...

They are not amenable to mass-market manufacture in a society where skilled machinists make "three cars, bass boat, and time share in Destin" money.

West, By God said...

Just saw a very nice one for sale here locally... for $650!!!! Yeesh. Lovely guns, but there ain't no way I'd pay that much for one.

Anonymous said...

+1 on the shootability
my 1910 production .32 with the type III slide groups well.
with it's typeI slide/bushing it gets sub inch groups
reason I use the III in carry mode, with the type I it keeps trying to toss the bushing down range.

woerm from THR