Colt Model 1900 .38 ACP
The Colt Model 1900 in caliber .38 ACP (Automatic Colt Pistol) was the first of a long line of John Browning designed semi-automatic pistols that were both licensed and manufactured by Colt’s Patent Fire Arms Manufacturing Company in Hartford, Connecticut. Some collectors refer to the Model 1900 as the “Colt Paterson of semi-automatic pistols” since Colt’s original Paterson Model revolver was manufactured by Sam Colt in Paterson, New Jersey and first offered in 1836.
Collectors tend to categorize the Model 1900 into two distinct variations 1) sight safety models and 2) sight safety altered models.
The earliest pistols were manufactured with a unique firing pin block safety. With the hammer cocked and sight safety lowered, the sight safety served as a firing pin block. When raised in the upper position, the device also functioned as a sight. This sight safety and the hammer have a similar appearance as both have a color case hardened finish. (this finish may no longer be present on examples that have considerable wear of have been refinished.)
At a point in production, Colt’s decided to abandon the sight safety and offered to alter any existing examples by removing the sight safety and replacing the device with a plug that was pinned in place. Often these altered examples were also refinished by Colt’s at the time the alteration to the safety was performed. Examples of the Model 1900 that were manufactured after the decision to eliminate the sight safety left the factory in a sight safety altered state.
The Model 1900 was manufactured for three years with a total production of just under 4,300 pistols. Some of the more interesting variations are those that were purchased under contract for the U.S. Army and U.S. Navy.
The Photos and Information link above will provide you with photos and descriptions of some of the other unique characteristics of these early Colt pistols.