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End of Life: Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless Login/Join 
That's just the
Flomax talking
Picture of GaryBF
posted
[blackbunting]
Following a post here and a coincidental video by Hickok45, I got interested in this iconic pistol and starting researching. Other videos on YouTube helped push me over the edge. I found an affordable one, in decent condition, on the website of a well known seller of classic firearms and I bought it. It was a consignment gun.

Mine is a Type III, made in 1918 and chambered in 32 ACP. My post-purchase inspection and cleaning revealed no undisclosed flaws or visible defects. I cleaned and reassembled the gun, later shooting 50 rounds of factory ball ammunition without issue. Subsequent field strip and cleaning again revealed no problems. In total, I have fired 150 rounds of factory ammunition through the gun, in four short firings. In my brief two-month ownership of the gun, I even learned how to successfully detail strip and reassemble the Colt 1903. I never observed any sign of impending failure.

After my most recent firing and cleaning, however, I found the right frame rail fractured as shown in the following photos. The fracture appears very clean. I see no obvious adjacent damage that indicates a possible cause. I suspect it is just bad luck, maybe bad steel, and a possible stress-riser that took 100 years to mature and fracture.

I am posting this just to share my sadness in losing an interesting gun and to emphasize the risk of purchasing any old firearm. You win some and you lose some. [/blackbunting]


1903 Right1K by GaryBF, on Flickr


Frame Crack2 by GaryBF, on Flickr


Frame Crack by GaryBF, on Flickr


Frame Crack3 by GaryBF, on Flickr
 
Posts: 11242 | Location: St. Louis, Missouri | Registered: February 04, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Big Stack
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I may just be talking out my ass here, but could a good gunsmith, with some welding skill, save the frame? It is an all steel gun, no? I'd at least check into the possibility.
 
Posts: 18324 | Registered: November 05, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
7.62mm Crusader
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quote:
Originally posted by BBMW:
I may just be talking out my ass here, but could a good gunsmith, with some welding skill, save the frame? It is an all steel gun, no? I'd at least check into the possibility.
Probably doable BBMW but I gotta wonder how strong it would be. My 1909 Sears-Roebuck catalog listed the entire pistol of crucible steel, costing a flat $ 15.00. Pearl handles were $ 1.75 extra and spare mags were .90 cents. Ammo was .72 cents per 50. Really sucks Gary that it fractured like that. I dont have a clue why.
 
Posts: 14570 | Registered: December 23, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of Pipe Smoker
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Neat pistol! Thanks for the photos & report. Sorry for your bad luck.




Note to self: Don’t clutter threads with gratuitous posts.
 
Posts: 3703 | Location: San Diego | Registered: July 26, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Damn sorry that happened. Can you maybe get a frame from numrich or something? It wouldn't match but a repair would likely kill collectors value anyways.
 
Posts: 1686 | Location: Western Wa | Registered: March 21, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Yikes. Glad nothing bad happened to you.

Sorry to hear it happened and hope it might be fixable per others suggestions.
 
Posts: 1616 | Location: St. Louis, MO | Registered: November 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Picture of TexasRaider
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Maybe clean it up and mount it in a shadow box with a magazine and a few rounds?
Picture below just for an example, but it might make a neat historical conversation piece...



________________________________________
"Just A Wild Eyed Texan On a Manhunt For The World's Most Perfect Chili Dog...."
 
Posts: 632 | Location: Austin, Texas | Registered: June 05, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Member
posted Hide Post
I wonder if this outfit could save your frame?

http://www.microprecisionwelding.com/gun-repair

Or perhaps this one:

http://www.restorativewelding.com/Welcome.html
 
Posts: 149 | Location: Midwest | Registered: April 13, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the post and the pictures.
 
Posts: 94 | Registered: July 03, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
That's just the
Flomax talking
Picture of GaryBF
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by M1Garandy:
I wonder if this outfit could save your frame?

http://www.microprecisionwelding.com/gun-repair

Or perhaps this one:

http://www.restorativewelding.com/Welcome.html


Thank you for those links.
 
Posts: 11242 | Location: St. Louis, Missouri | Registered: February 04, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Waiting for Hachiko
Picture of Sunset_Va
posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by M1Garandy:
I wonder if this outfit could save your frame?

http://www.microprecisionwelding.com/gun-repair

Or perhaps this one:

http://www.restorativewelding.com/Welcome.html


^^^^^^
Its worth an inquiry if you really want to save your pistol.

Also, parting the gun out , should you decide on not keeping it, you could recoup much of your investment. Parts for those old pistols are spendy.

I purchased a 1903 slide from Numrich/Gun Parts Corp last year, not near as nice as the slide on your pistol, $120

All the play in the slide to frame fitment, is located in that area of the frame. Most every 1903 I have owned is liose there, but tight at the rear of the slide.


美しい犬
 
Posts: 5094 | Location: Near the Metropolis of Tightsqueeze, Va | Registered: February 18, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Ah yes, my most favorite pistol, aesthetically. Just beautiful. If it were mine, I'd see about having it welded and fixed, and then just retire it to the safe for enjoyment or mounted to display it's innate beauty.


________________
tempus edax rerum
 
Posts: 806 | Location: Oregon | Registered: March 18, 2014Reply With QuoteReport This Post
His diet consists of black
coffee, and sarcasm.
Picture of egregore
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I'm sure it was made of the best steel available at the time, but in 1918 they didn't do much heat treating, if any at all.
 
Posts: 21093 | Location: Johnson City/Elizabethton, TN | Registered: April 28, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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That is/was a handsome pistol. It still looks great but can imagine your frustration with not being able to shoot it again.
 
Posts: 4360 | Location: Treasure Coast,Fl. | Registered: July 04, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
That's just the
Flomax talking
Picture of GaryBF
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For any readers that may be interested, I contacted one of the linked restorers. His opinion was that the frame could not be repaired to the extent that it would be safe to shoot. The work he described to even get to a show-and-tell piece was significant and not worth it to me.

This iconic pistol may become an organ donor.
 
Posts: 11242 | Location: St. Louis, Missouri | Registered: February 04, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Little ray
of sunshine
Picture of jhe888
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Too bad. But that is the risk of very old guns, as you say.

I have a FN 1910, and while it appears sound, I have never fired it. I think it is newer than 1910, but I am fairly certain it is pre-WWII.




The fish is mute, expressionless. The fish doesn't think because the fish knows everything.
 
Posts: 46494 | Location: Texas | Registered: February 10, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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posted Hide Post
quote:
Originally posted by GaryBF:
For any readers that may be interested, I contacted one of the linked restorers. His opinion was that the frame could not be repaired to the extent that it would be safe to shoot. The work he described to even get to a show-and-tell piece was significant and not worth it to me.

Sorry to hear.

This iconic pistol may become an organ donor.
 
Posts: 1616 | Location: St. Louis, MO | Registered: November 24, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Waiting for Hachiko
Picture of Sunset_Va
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The crack/breakage was at the worse possible place.

Frame rail and barrel lug. Anywhere else would have not been as critical in being repaired.


美しい犬
 
Posts: 5094 | Location: Near the Metropolis of Tightsqueeze, Va | Registered: February 18, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have a 1903 and am really surprised by the crack. The 1903 seems to be really overbuilt for 32 acp. Compare the all steel build and long rails to the Kel-tec which seems flimsy.
 
Posts: 624 | Registered: September 27, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Big Stack
posted Hide Post
That's unfortunate. But I'm glad you tried.

quote:
Originally posted by GaryBF:
For any readers that may be interested, I contacted one of the linked restorers. His opinion was that the frame could not be repaired to the extent that it would be safe to shoot. The work he described to even get to a show-and-tell piece was significant and not worth it to me.

This iconic pistol may become an organ donor.
 
Posts: 18324 | Registered: November 05, 2003Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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