Museum Homepage

The San Mateo County Historical Association
Online Collections Database

The mission of the San Mateo County Historical Association is to inspire wonder and discovery
of the cultural and natural history of San Mateo County.

Object Record

  • Email This Page
  • Send Feedback
Catalog Number 2014.018.028
Description San Mateo County Sheriff's Office Pearl-handled Colt .32 ACP Pocket Hammerless Automatic Pistol, c. 1920-1921. Colt Automatic 32 Caliber Firearm patented April 20, 1897, December 22, 1903. Silver colored metal firearm has white pearl handles attached with one screw on each side.
Object Name Pistol, Automatic
Collection 3D - Armaments
Title SMCSO Pearl-handled Colt .32 ACP Pocket Hammerless Automatic Pistol, c. 1920-1921
Date c. 1915
Creator Colt
Role Manufacturer
Inscription Text "PATENTED / APR.20,1897. DEC.22,1903" and "COLT'S PT.F.A. MFG.CO. / HARTFORD,CT. U.S.A." and "340043" (stamped into proper left side); "VEB 8-21-49" (scratched into surface on proper left above trigger); "COLT AUTOMATIC / CALIBRE 32 RIMLESS SMOKELESS (stamped into proper right side)
Provenance This artifact was owned and used by the San Mateo County Sheriff's Office.
Notes []
"The Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless (not to be confused with the Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammer) is a .32 ACP caliber, self-loading, semi-automatic pistol designed by John Browning and built by Colt Patent Firearms Manufacturing Company of Hartford, Connecticut. The Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless is a variant introduced five years later in .380 ACP caliber. Despite the title 'Hammerless', the Model 1903 does have a hammer. It is covered and hidden from view under the rear of the slide. This allowed the pistol to be carried in and withdrawn from a pocket quickly and smoothly without snagging...
"This pistol was actually fired by action of a hammer striking and driving a firing pin into a center-fire cartridge's primer. The hammer was covered by the rear of the slide. The "hammerless" designation was merely an advertising designation pointing out the pistol's particular suitability for concealed carry. Special features include a serrated slide to prevent slippage during manual cycling of the slide, and two safety mechanisms (a grip safety and a manual safety). The grip safety is a spring loaded piece making up the back strap of the pistol. The grip safety, though not solely restricted to them, was a typical feature of Colt automatic pistols. A magazine safety was added on later models; this feature prevents the pistol from being fired with a round in the chamber and the magazine removed.[3]"
Dimensions H-5 W-6.75 D-1.375 inches
Search Terms Firearms
San Mateo County Sheriff's Office
San Mateo County-Sheriffs
Sheriff's Department
Subjects Arms & armament