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Holsters Sixguns & Sagebrush

Great Old Pistol, Great New Leather

by Bart Skelton   |  June 29th, 2012 3

One of my all-time favorite .380 automatic pistols is the Colt 1908 Model. This fine little gun was Colt’s follow-up to the 1903, which had been in .32 ACP. The 1903 was a wildly popular little gun, and many more of them were produced than the 1908. Regardless, the two pistols were identical in looks and function, just different calibers.


The Colt 1903 Hammerless was a success for the company which made close to a half million of them. The 1903 was popular not only with everyday citizens, but also the criminal element of the first decades of the twentieth century. Toughs such as Al Capone and Bonnie and Clyde favored the little Colt due to its concealability. The 1903 also caught the attention of the United States military, becoming standard issue to military generals.


The 1908 became popular, but not near as much as its older brother, the 1903. About 170,000 1908s were made between 1908 and 1940. Like the 1903, the .380 Colt was also popular among criminals and notable shooters. General Patton carried a personalized 1908 during much of his efforts in WWII.



I find both pistols handle extremely well. They point nicely and are easy to carry. My own specimen of the 1908 .380 pistol is extremely accurate – I’ve fired some nice groups using Hornady FTX ammunition.



Recently, my friend and expert holster maker, Mike Barranti of Barranti Leather, made me a fine, Brill style holster to fit my 1908. It’s old fashioned, patterned after the fine holsters built by old-time Texas holster man, A.W. Brill. My pistol fits the Barranti holster perfectly, and the pair make a fine little carry outfit, indeed. Check out Mike’s other work at

  • Federale

    Are there generals in the military who aren't "military generals?"

    • Paul Stout

      I realize this article was posted over a year ago, but I thought I’d post anyway.

      Great article! I came across it while looking for a new holster for

      My Dad bought a Colt 1908 in 1924, when he was 19, and carried it every day for over 40 years. He gave it to me in 1970 and over 50 years later I’m still carrying it every day. I like it so much I bought one for my son as he’ll have to wait for my funeral to get mine. ;-).

      All three of us have shared one opinion, namely that It’s the best pocket pistol that’s ever been made. I’ve tried and shot a lot of small frame 380/9mm’s (Kahrs, Rugers, Sig Sauer, Walther et al) over the years and, in my opinion, just about every small frame semi-auto that’s been made in the last 60 or so years just don’t hold a candle to it. I’ve yet to come across a better designed pocket pistol.

      It’s too bad Colt, or one of the other manufacturers, doesn’t resurrect the design. It’d become popular and a top seller all over again.

  • Nomadac

    Bart, I really enjoyed your recent article "Great Old Pistol". I own a Colt Mdl. 1903 .32 acp that I converted to .380 acp for greater performance. I acquired mine from an Uncle that used to carry it in his fishing tackle box. It developed some minor rust so when I had it refinished I had it done in Hard Chrome brush finish that looks like Stainless and is more resistant to rust or moisture. I carry it frequently for my CCW, as you stated it is very compact and easy to conceal in an IWB holster. If I had your email address or someplace I could send you some pictures if interested.
    I enjoy all of your articles and stories.

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