Definitions

vest-pocket

Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket

The Model 1908 Vest Pocket is a compact, hammerless, striker-fired, semi-automatic single action pistol. Manufactured by the Colt's Manufacturing Company from 1908 to 1948, it was marketed as a small concealable firearm which could be easily tucked into a gentleman’s vest pocket for unobtrusive carry. Created by famed firearms designer John Moses Browning, the Model 1908 followed Browning’s earlier European version, introduced by Fabrique Nationale de Herstal as the FN Model 1905. Both pistols were chambered for the Browning-invented .25 ACP (Automatic Colt pistol) cartridge.

Features and options

Known as the Model ‘N’ internally within Colt, the 1908 Vest Pocket is a diminutive 4.5 inches long, and sports a 2 inch barrel. Weighing a mere 13 ounces, it is fed by a six round single column magazine. The pistol’s fixed open iron sights were rather small and rudimentary, but typical for small hideout automatics of its era and adequate for the short range at which it was intended to be used. Colt's advertising and marketing literature of the time highly touted the advanced safety features of the Model 1908, including a standard slide-locking safety catch, as well as a grip safety. In 1916 Colt engineer George Tansley invented a third safety feature for the pistol, the magazine safety disconnector, which prevented accidental firing with the magazine removed. This additional safety device was added to production in 1916 or 1917 in the latter 139,000 serial number range, and patented by Colt in 1917. Proud of the state-of-the-art technology represented by this advance, Colt included a green brochure marking its inclusion with every Model 1908 sold for a year after its introduction. Additionally, in approximately the 280,000 serial number range, the left side slide inscription was altered to include the patent date for the disconnector, also known as the “Tansley Device”.

Finishes

The ‘Vest Pocket’ was mainly produced with the famous highly polished lustrous Colt Royal blue finish, featuring color-casehardening of the safety catch, grip safety, and trigger. A second popular option was polished nickel plate, and various specialty and customer order finishes were also available, including gold and silver plating, as well as ornate engraving. Standard grip materials available included black hard rubber in both square and round top configurations, and finely checked walnut. All factory grips sported a medallion emblazoned with the famous ‘rampant Colt’ which was available in 2 differing styles. More elaborate grip options were also offered, such as Ivory (both plain and carved), as well as mother of pearl.

Production

In 40 years of production a total of approximately 420,705 Model 1908 pistols were manufactured, pausing only during 1943-1945 due to the demands of wartime production.

Year Starting serial Production
for year
Year Starting serial Production
for year
Year Starting serial Production
for year
Notes
1908 1 850 1922 315200 12,825 1936 399600 2,035
1909 850 22,250 1923 328025 11,725 1937 401635 3,865
1910 23100 19,100 1924 339750 13,250 1938 405500 500
1911 42200 19,300 1925 353000 4,000 1939 406001 1,800
1912 61500 20,400 1926 357000 6,950 1940 407800 1,000
1913 81900 21,000 1927 363950 8,050 1941 ? 4
1914 102900 20,550 1928 372000 3,350 1942 409061 1
1915 123450 10,400 1929 375350 6,900 1943 N/A 0 Wartime production shutdown
1916 133850 21,825 1930 382250 5,350 1944 N/A 0 Wartime production shutdown
1917 155675 19,375 1931 387600 5,200 1945 N/A 0 Wartime production shutdown
1918 175050 19,750 1932 392800 2,300 1946 408600 1,000
1919 194800 43,000 1933 395100 1,900 1947 420500 200
1920 237800 43,000 1934 397000 1,750 1948 ? 1
1921 280800 34,400 1935 398750 850

References

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