Friday, March 26, 2010

Ode to John M. Browning's 1903 Colt, the enduring .32 mouse gun

I shouldn't admit it for fear of getting my membership in Gun Nutz 'R' Us revoked, but there are a few handgun calibers I don't use, roughly speaking anything over .44 Magnum (OK, I'm a wimp, but this wimp can still see and hear, sorta kinda) and anything in between .22 Magnum and 9mm.

That leaves out .380 ACP and a lot of other calibers that are very popular, but so what. And though I failed as a papa by raising a son who carries a .32 ACP Llama 1911, the admirers of .32s are legion. For all .32 lovers, here's a snippet from Dave Campbell at American Rifleman about the most famous of all .32 pistols, the 1903 Colt of John M. Browning's fertile mind.
During their 42-year manufacturing run—1903 to 1945—more than half a million of these pistols were made. The 1903 Colt was quite popular among businessmen,military officers and criminals. Travelling businessmen like my grandfather, who traveled throughout Mexico during the time of Pancho Villa, often carried one as a primary self-defense gun. On its dark side, this diminutive pistol was often chosen as a backup—or New York reload—to a more powerful handgun by criminals during the first half of the last century. It was reportedly a constant companion of gangster Al Capone, and Bonnie Parker allegedly smuggled one to Clyde Barrow who used it spring himself from the jail. The 1903 Colt was also issued as a General Officer’s pistol, either as a backup to the issue 1911 or to be slipped into the pocket of a dress uniform, from the 1940s until 1972, and during World War II, the Offices of Strategic Services issued the little Colt to its officers as well.
I do have a .32 revolver, but it's a .327 Magnum which just incidentally can shoot .32 H&R Magnum (if I could find any), .32 Long and .32 Short. It's a Charter and does not like .32 ACP, which apparently sits too low in the cylinder to reliably ignite. So anyway, even though I'm not a full-fledged .32 gun nut, I thought I'd post the link to the 1903 Colt article for its many admirers. You're welcome.

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