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First Colt. I purchased this 1918 vintage Model 1911 as a 21st birthday present some 33 years ago now.


This Model 1908 .25 ACP was infrequently carried when nothing else could be contrived to fit. It's now retired in favor of the Kel Tec P3AT .380. The P3AT got off to an unfortunate start with reliability though it finally smoothed out to function properly. The Colt is far better made and has never jammed.


A U.S. Army Model 1901 revolver in .38 Long Colt. This is the military contract version of the commercial Colt New Army. This is the revolver and cartridge that garnered the poor reputation against the Moro tribesmen during our occupation of the Philippines.
 

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Now that's really great! To have a Model 1903 with a family history behind it. That one looks so fine too. Did your grandfather buy it new. It looks like it could be from the immediate pre-WWII era. I don't have my glasses on so can't make out the serial number. Those pistols have such eye appeal with their clean lines, so smooth and flat. I've only ever shot a Model 1903 on a single occasion but it was fun. I hope to add an example of either the Model 1903 .32 or the Model 1908 .380 to the menagerie one day.

Colt revolvers are weird. That's all that may be said about them. It's like reading tea leaves or stirring in chicken entrails to work on them. I'm not particularly adept or mechanically inclined though and certainly no trained gunsmith. I've played with a couple of these old beaters enough to finally figure them out. I'd figured out the workings of the Smith & Wesson gun long ago. Their design seems rational. The Colt guns are another thing entirely. You're right about parts with random multiple functions. It's like driving from Miami to LA via Buffalo, New York. The Colt action seems to be such an "out-of-the-way" design for accomplishing its task. It does work though and good examples are so nice to handle and shoot. I''m also of the opinion that a Cold double action revolver, properly cleaned and lubricated, isn't as fragile as internet rumor has it.

When filing or stoning be sure and have a day available for a swipe at a time and reassembly to try out. Taking out parts and plugging in new ones hardly ever works out either without a lot of fiddling. Those really ancient and creaky New Navy/New Army models are the worst of the lot. For usin' guns I confess to preferring traditional "no-lock" Smith & Wesson revolvers to all other brands.

Thanks for starting this thread. Great topic! Hope more folks with show up with Colts.
 

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The best for last. A plain-jane pre-war Woodsman. Here's another Colt acquired from the same gentleman that provided me with the Model 1909 New Service .45. He and I spent a number of years together shooting rifles off of the bench rests at the local gun club range. He also provided me with lessons on how to enjoy a retirement and how to age with grace and dignity. He was also the world's finest conversationalist which is almost a lost art form.

When my friend began to rapidly loose his vision due to macular degeneration he asked me if there were a few of his guns that I'd like to have. I'd long admired his Colt Woodsman which had provided him with such enjoyment and was the basis for some of his stories. He'd given it a lifetime of careful use and loving care. He'd purchased the Woodsman in the summer of 1928 while working at the William Crites gun shop in downtown San Antonio, Texas.

He had worked at Mr. Crites shop several years, always in the summers between semesters of attending a military school in Kerrvile, Texas and latter when attending the University of Texas (where he studied under and came to personally know J. Frank Dobie of Texas literature fame). Of course he spent a lot of his earnings in the shop. I have the honor of owning several of these purchases.

He wanted a good quality .22 pistol to compliment the Colt New Service Model 1909 .45 Colt his father purchased from the San Antonio Arsenal in 1920. The family had a huge ranch deep in Mexico and spent a couple of months down there each winter hunting deer, collecting the rents and crop payments from the Mexican tenants. A young man could have a time with a .22 pistol while roaming the ranch.

Mr. Crites didn't have a Woodsman in stock but told my friend he'd order one. By and by it arrived and my friend was excited to see it. Mr. Crites told him however that he''d have to charge him full retail price on this particular purchase. My friend had been used to the generous discount that Mr. Crites had always provided but didn't quibble and respectfully paid the $32 price for the pistol. He though it a bit strange but said no more about it. He dedicated himself to shooting only ammunition featuring noncorrosive priming (recall that Clean-Bore priming had only come out the year before) in the gun and cleaning it with Winchester Crystal Cleaner. He purchased a Heiser holster and a Boyt leather, fleece-lined, zippered pistol case for his new .22 pistol. He and the pistol went on to have many adventures in Mexico and on their ranch in Kerrvile.

Fast forward to 1994 when he offered to sell his treasured Colt to me. It was in excellent used condition. I offered him $600 for the pistol and he said: "no, I only paid $32 for it brand new. You can have it for $200." I said "no, that isn't fair to you. It's an outstanding example of a Woodsman and you've kept it so well that you should receive a fair price. I'll give you $500 for it. "Naw" he said. "It's only shooter and I want you to have it. I'll take $300 for it." "Now Cres, that's not right" I said. "That gun in that condition is worth every bit of $600 on the present market. Would you at least take $450 for it. I'd be honered to have it to remember all your tales and you know it'd be going to a good home." He replied: "you're the only other person I've ever seen that was as fastidious about his gun maintenance as I am. I want you to have it and I won't take more than $400 for the gun". The deal was done. We were to go through this same pattern of "reverse bargaining" several more times on his fine firearms.

I queried him in detail about the history of the Woodsman, the purchase, and some of the tales he'd told, writing them down. Some 66 years later he was still puzzled why Mr. Crites had made him purchase the pistol for full list price.

A year or two later I got around to ordering a factory letter from Colt. The day it arrived I excitedly took the envelope to his house, only then opening it so we could share its contents. The letter cleared up the matter of the retail price for him when I read it aloud. He chuckled satisfyingly. The letter said the Woodsman was one of two Woodsman pistols shipped to the Topperwein Hardware Company, San Antonio, Texas in June of 1928. He explained:

"Back then Ad Topperwein and wife "Plinky" of Winchester exhibition shooting fame ran a gun shop around the corner from Mr. Crites' establishment in downtown San Antonio. They were friendly competitors and frequented each other's shops almost daily when Topperwein wasn't out of town with his shows. A back alley connected the two shops. Many times on slow days we three, along with my dad on occasion, would sit around talking business, politics, guns and hunting. It is obvious that Mr. Crites only went around the corner to Topperweins to get me that Woodsman. Topperwein must have charged him full price so he charged me."

Cres got a big kick out of finally finding out why the Woodsman was so costly.

We enjoyed several more great years together afterward. He never failed to accompany me to the range after he could no longer see just so he could "smell the odor of the burning powder." He passed away in November of 2001 at 95 years of age. He was my best gun crony. I've got the Woodsman and some great memories and stories to go with it. The opportunity to share a factory letter from a firearm from the "classic" days of firearms manufacturing with the original owner was almost unique and was an event that I wouldn't take for.
 

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I only have one Colt revolver... Wish I had more.
The action is the smoothest I've ever felt.

 

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My Colt New Service in .45 Colt....

With my cowboy action loads (200 gr laser cast at 1000FPS) it holds the ten ring easily at 20 plus yards, despite a heavy single action left off.. It was originally chambered for .455 Eley, but someone bored out the cylinder to .45 Colt and did a great job of over stamping the original chambering. (look close)

BTW, this is my number 1 carry gun when I head out horseback and heeled “On Campaign” from here at the “Barracks”… If required I also carry an early production Vaquero in .45 Colt as a backup…
 

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A .45 caliber 200 grain bullet at 1000 fps is pretty hard hitting and would accomplish most anything that could reasonably be asked of a handgun. The New Service is my favorite Colt revolver.
 

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Here's one that introduced the popular .45 ACP cartridge to the world and predates the grand ol' 1911 by a few years. It's a Colt Model 1905. A fairly scarce model, only 6100 were made, trickled out of the Colt factory in the years before before the "new and improved" 1911 hit the scene.

This Model 1905 is far from perfect. It is complete, original, has the proper magazine, and is in good order, but the blue has turned to a soft brown patina except in a few protected areas. The original finely checkered walnut grip panels are so worn that most of the checkering is completely gone.

When I was employed with a small-town bank in Texas a Mexican lady was a customer of mine and also cleaned the bank. After her brother had died she spoke of a Colt .45 automatic she had around the house that had been her brother's gun. She said it had previously been her grandfather's pistol and that he'd brought it with him when he came up from Mexico. I love old guns and envisioned an old beater of a U. S. Army .45 so asked her to bring it by sometime. She said she would and that in fact she'd thought of selling it as she was concerned about having it about the house with her grandchildren. I didn't much think I'd want it as I have some decent military .45's.

One day she brought it by my office wrapped in a rag inside a paper sack. I'm sure my chin hit the desk when I unwrapped it to find a Colt Model 1905. Of course I was interested in purchasing it and told her so. She was hesitant as it was a family heirloom. I said: "that's ok, I don't blame you for wanting to hang on to it. Why don't you let me clean it up for you so it may be better preserved?" So I cleaned it, oiled it, and gave it a thin coating of RIG. I returned it to her and didn't think any more about it.

Several years later and after I'd left that bank, I ran into her and she asked me if I still wanted to buy her .45. Well of course I did so I took possession of the old pistol.

I've read that the early Colt automatics with the dual link "parallel slide rule" design were unsafe to fire. The design doesn't share many of the later 1911's attributes. After examining the design closely I determined that if the slide velocity wasn't too high the gun should be fine to fire.

In bygone years folks fired their Model 1905s with the standard 230 grain ball ammunition but I go easy on this one. The .45 ACP as it was introduced in 1905 featured a 200 grain bullet so I prepared some 200 grain lead SWC handloads with moderate charges of Unique and Bullseye. I worked up from the minimum listed charge weights to a middle-of-the-road charge which gave good function. The old gun is as accurate as my other military .45s and has never jammed. It has a really decent trigger and, though the grip angle is a bit more abrupt than that on the 1911, it is surprisingly pleasant to shoot and recoil is easily tolerated. I wouldn't subject it to a lot of use but am willing to take it out for occasional exercise.

I've never indulged in naming my firearms with the exception of this one which I call Pancho Villa. It just has to be one of his original guns. At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. I keep intending to spring the hundred bucks for a Colt factory letter but haven't gotten around to it.

As may be seen, it's missing a couple of grip screws. I'm certain that the same sized screw fits several early Colt semi-auto pistols but how often does one stumble across any such pistols or screws? If anyone has a suggestion for a source I'd be grateful to know it.


 

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BRAVO ZULU, Great Story!!!!



This Model 1905 is far from perfect.



Great picture and thanks for the story, man if that 1905 could talk... I have visions of it mebe' riding with José Doroteo Arango Arámbula "Back in The Day"...:ARM37:
 

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Discussion Starter · #29 ·
BMac - thanks for the story and pics! I had read about the 1905 but hadn't seen one.

Does the Model 1903 share that "parallel slide link" design?

Is that an external extractor?

Disassembly - there's no slide stop to remove, so does it involve that rectangular piece that appears to transverse the slide toward the front? Or does it unlock like a 1903?
 

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"Disassembly - there's no slide stop to remove, so does it involve that rectangular piece that appears to transverse the slide toward the front? Or does it unlock like a 1903?"

You got it. The little rectangular piece is is the slide lock that retains the slide.

I would consider the Model 1903 to be a design improvement to the Model 1905 and it's .38 ACP kin. Obviously Colt did as well as the Model 1903 stayed in production for many more years than the early design.
 

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Thanks for the awesome thread! I loved seeing all those fine Colt pistols! I don't own one yet, but my buddy's dad has a beautiful 4" Official Police. Shooting that so many years ago started my deep appreciation (though some of my "auto only" friends call it a Love Affair) with revolvers. I carry an auto for my ccw, but if I was only going to have one pistol in the inventory it would be my .357 magnum =)>
Thanks again for all the great pics guys! It made me want to start saving for a nice old Colt!
 

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Thanks for the awesome thread!
I totally concur with mkd357, this has been an outstanding show case of pistols and revolvers. That 1911 drshame posted is Out Standing!!!. Many Thanks to all!!!
 

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Chip its too late for you! Nice collection you have there. Its the small things in life that makes you happy. If the bills are getting paid, its all good.

Ah shoot, I'll play too.
Picked this one up for my father over the summer so he could place one more check on his bucket list
It is a 1918 built 1911. It is a fine tool.


Even has one of them two tone mags
 

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Discussion Starter · #39 ·
I refuse to consider a single-action only revolver... I have enough problems as it is!

Larry - that is a nice looking pistol. How's it shoot?
 
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I refuse to consider a single-action only revolver... I have enough problems as it is!

Larry - that is a nice looking pistol. How's it shoot?
Great! It was unfired still new in the box with the factory zip tie still in place around the hammer when I bought it this spring. I can shoot a 2" group at 30' one handed with it.
 
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