A Marvel of Simplicity
The Colt M-1903 is a marvel of simplicity. It is a straight blowback, single-action design with a fixed barrel, and operation is simple forward. A loaded magazine holding up to eight rounds is inserted into the butt, the slide then retracted and released. This cocks the internal hammer, chambers a round from the magazine and then the arm is ready to fire. The manual safety can be applied at this point for pocket or holster carry.
Upon firing, the slide moves back, the fired case is ejected, and what Colt called the “retractor spring” on its guide beneath the barrel returns the slide into battery, stripping the next cartridge in line off the top of the single-stack magazine. The slide does not remain locked open after the last shot.
Disassembly is likewise easy and straightforward. Remove the magazine and make sure the chamber is empty. Pull the slide back to cock the hammer and release.
Move the slide back until the takedown arrow on the left front of the slide is even with the front edge of the frame, and rotate the barrel to the left. The slide with the barrel can then be pulled forward and off the frame, and then the retractor spring and its guide may be removed, if desired.
To remove the barrel from the frame, turn it back to its original position and pull the barrel out of the slide. Reassembly is basically in the reverse order, but you have to turn the barrel ever so slightly to get the slide back far enough to lock the barrel lugs into their corresponding cuts in the frame.
Colt Model 1903 Specifications
Model: Colt Pocket Hammerless Model 1903
Type: Internal hammer, semi-automatic, single-action pistol, blowback
Patent Dates: April 20, 1897; December 22, 1903
Year of Manufacture: 1923, Model M, Type III (mfg. 1910-1923)
Caliber: .32 Automatic Colt Pistol (7.65mm Browning)
Barrel length: 3¾
Overall length: 6¾ inches
Overall width: ¾-inch
Overall height: 4½ inches
Weight: 24 ounces (with empty magazine)
Safeties: Slide lock safety, disconnector safety, and grip safety
Finish: Bright blue or Parkerized, depending on model
Stocks: Checkered hard rubber or checkered walnut
Manufacturer: Colt Patent Firearms Mgf. Co., Hartford, Conn., U.S.A.