L. Neil Smith’s THE LIBERTARIAN ENTERPRISE: Good News and Bad News from Colt

By L. Neil Smith

Certain inventions are perfect to begin with, and remain useful for decades—or even centuries. Examples include the gladius, the humble instrument with which the Romans conquered the world, knitting needles, Edison’s light-bulb, the restoration of which will be one of my major criteria for voting, the Zippo lighter, and the 1911A1 .45 pistol. I include forks, spoons, and table knives in all their varieties.

Among those tools and weapons is a personal defense accessory not everybody knows about these days, but which, I am happy to say, I have always believed, could stand tall among the spiffiest of modern pocket pistols. It is the Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless, one more item that explains why I tend to refer to its inventor as “Saint John Moses. See it written up at thefirearmblog.com [ Also at WikiPedia—Editor ]

First of all, it isn’t really hammerless (there is a version with a conventional, exposed hammer), but its hammer is covered up by the back of the slide, so that it doesn’t catch on your pocket lining or anything else. The entire pistol is softly rounded for the same reason.


Its historic chamberings are in .32 ACP (which stands for “Automatic Colt Pistol”) and .380 ACP, both Browning inventions themselves, the latter a deliberately scaled-down .45 ACP and about twice as effective as the former. You will encounter weapons in a range of trigger-pulls, accuracy, and reliability, after 111 years. It has an eight-round magazine, and the usual miserable sights. The ergonomics are elegantly comfortable. Overall, the weapon just reeks of hardboiled detectives, dangerous dames, brutal thugs, and film noir.

I am delighted beyond words to report that the Colt corporation has had an epiphany of some kind, and is bringing the legendary 1903 back in its all-steel splendor in an age of plastic pocket guns. As I’ve said many times before, there are lots of guns (like the .40 and 10 mm and the .45) that are more effective, but if there were one of these small wonders in every purse and pocket in the land, a government like Obama’s would feel a need to start constructing reservations for burglars, muggers. and rapists so that they don’t go extinct.

We have had, however, too much experience with corporations to expect more from this development, and there is, indeed, bad—or just plain stupid—news. To begin with, the first copies off the press will be imitations of Parkerized (gray-green) guns issued to Army generals until 1972. Somebody at Colt has a bad case of authority worship, that they ought to spend some couch time getting rid of. The only real warrior to wear stars did carry a .380, but it was an FN 1910.

As I said, all of the romance of this little gun is with the film noir genre, and its finish should be medium blue, or maybe even trusty worn-out lustrous gray like Navy Arms offers on some revolvers.

Colt’s second stupid mistake is to issue the weapon in .32. Given its size and weight, it’s perfect for shooting .380, and would work with the slightly more powerful 9mm Makarov, but it’s too much gun for the cockroach-killer. Somebody is seriously out of touch with the times.

You know how you get embarrassed when you see somebody flub an otherwise great idea? I am ashamed to tell you about Colt’s third mistake, or third strike, whichever terminology you prefer. It’s the price: a flatly outrageous $1300 dollars. Each of the corporation’s decision-makers needs a bucket of ice water in the face—or down his pants. They might be making it on the original machinery (with the original machinists), which would explain the price. Too bad. Despite what I’ve said so far, this might be big hit with a modern polymer frame.

It could also use a bigger magazine. That would upset that four-flushing cowardly hypocrite Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper.

What can be done? Write to Colt right now. Or if you’re not a writer, then send them a copy of this. I’d love to have a 1903 Colt—again, stuffed full of Glaser Safety Slugs. Regrettably, I sold mine back in 1980 to pay the rent. While they’re at it they should bring back that other staple of the Age of Noir, the 2″ Detective Special .38.

Colt’s Manufacturing Company LLC
545 New Park Ave.
West Hartford, CT 06110

Tel: (860) 236-6311
Fax: (860) 244-1442

[According to the WikiPedia article, the .380 ACP version was actually called the “Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless”. They are trying to confuse us—L. Neil Smit]


L. Neil Smith

L. Neil Smith

Celebrated and award-winning author of over 30 books and countless shorter pieces, L. Neil Smith is available, at professional rates, to write articles and speeches for you or your organization, providing that our principles are compatible. Contact him at [email protected].


“Any official, appointed or elected, at any level of government, who attempts, through legislative act or other means, to nullify, evade, or avoid the provisions of the first ten amendments to this Constitution, or of the Thirteenth Amendment, shall be summarily removed from office, and, upon conviction, deprived of all pay and benefits including pension, and sentenced to imprisonment for life.”


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