June 29, 2012
By Bart Skelton
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 barrantileather.com