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BigBeerBellyMan 08-14-2009 09:36 PM

1903 Colt .32 hammerless slide problem
First off I would like to state that I just inherited this gun, and is my first firearm. I do not know much about guns, so I thought I would try to get some advice from the helpful community here at firearmstalk.

The problem I am having is the slide seems to be jammed or maybe just stuck, but I can't seem to be able to pull the damn thing back. I made sure both the grip safety and the trigger was pressed and the gun wasn't loaded before I attempted to do this. One other thing I noticed was the manual safety was stuck in the off position (not sure if this has anything to do with the slide).

A bit about the gun: This gun was issued to my great grandpa in 1917 while he was a supply officer in the US Navy. has this bit of information on it:

World War I Navy Colt Model M .32 ACP - From the beginning of production until WWI, there was only one significant military order for the Model M. It was a 200 gun shipment ranging in serial number from 227226 to 260924 on September 29, 1917 to the U.S. Navy Yard, Washington, DC...These pistols had no special government ordnance, inspectors or acceptance markings applied at the factory."

Besides it not working, the gun itself looks to be in great shape, no dings, nicks, or scratches; just some slight wear on the finish around the grip. Being this gun has a lot of family and american history associated with it, I thought it would be best to restore it to working condition.

rifleman1 08-15-2009 02:53 AM

some help
i dont know if this will be helpful but heres just what i found.
the if the hammer is cocked the slide lock safety can be pushed upward to engage a corresponding cut in the slide. when the hammer is down in the fired position, the slide lock safety can not be pushed upward to engage the slide cut

rifleman1 08-15-2009 02:56 AM

i would recommend that you oil the hell out of the gun try to get it moving a little bit that would be a start cause you cant field strip that gun like most automatics without moving the slide

BigBeerBellyMan 08-15-2009 08:20 PM


Originally Posted by rifleman1 (Post 144684)
i would recommend that you oil the hell out of the gun try to get it moving a little bit that would be a start cause you cant field strip that gun like most automatics without moving the slide

Thanks for the advice, I'll give it a shot. I know what you mean about tearing the thing down for a good cleaning. I was about to do that, but the first step is to pull the slide back :rolleyes:

superc 02-11-2010 01:56 AM

Hi. I have some recent experiences with those things.

It is very possible from your description your pistol is loaded with an old cartridge corroded into place or possibly even one of the wrong size or shape. That can sometimes really jam things. It is really hard to check to see if a pistol is loaded if you can't pull the slide back and you also don't wish to do something silly. Check the extractor. Is it flush with the slide, or is it protruding from the side, as it will if a cartridge case is in there? If you slide a dowel or a bent wire down the barrel (don't look down the barrel!) it should go back to the distance from the breech face. If it stops an inch short, yup, there is a round in there. You might want to take it to a local gunsmith, especially if a cartridge is stuck in there. Call them first and explain the problem, see if they are willing to deal with it. Follow local laws when transporting. [This can be difficult with a pistol you can't unload.]

If you want to work on it yourself you have one option. Remove the magazine, keep the gun pointed in a safe direction and remove the grips with an appropriate screw driver. Using a convex headed pin punch drive out the bottom grip safety pin (push from right to left). Squeeze the grip safety (keeping your finger well away from the trigger) and the pin should come right out. This will release much of the spring tension.

Although normally you would remove the safety as the next step, you don't want to do that while the slide is still attached as the safety is what holds the hammer in position and removing that support for the hammer could make your jam worse.

Instead we will skip a step and you will drive out the middle pin in the grip, again from the right side. This will free your disconnector, sear and totally release all spring pressure and the grip safety. The trigger should also slide out. Remove those parts and set them aside.

You are now free to focus on freeing the stuck slide without having to worry about battling the pressure of the mainspring or worrying about a sudden hammer fall. Be sure the safety is in the down position and remember not to waste time trying to move the barrel while pushing back on the slide.

When the slide is all the way back, twist/rotate the barrel to unlock it from the frame. Then slide everything forward.

If you have the 1st or 2nd variation of this pistol there is a small screw on the right hand side which connects to the hammer pivot pin which is also part of the safety. Remove it and the safety should come right out which will also free the hammer. If however, there is no screw and just a pin then you actually have the 3rd to 5th variation of these pistols with a keyed safety slot and your safety can't be removed yet until the hammer is cocked or pushed back to the rear position, then the safety is wiggled out.

There is an excellent 5 part video series on YouTube on stripping and reassembling these things. Gunparts has many parts for these, and Wolff Springs offers new coil spring kits.

Remember, in this older weapon design the safety only blocks the sear, not the hammer or the firing pin. This weapon design is very subject to inertia fire so do not slam the muzzle against anything until you are really, really sure the breech is empty.

stalkingbear 02-11-2010 03:47 AM

Thanks for your detailed post Superc. You said it MUCH better than I ever could have.

superc 02-11-2010 02:42 PM


A quick caveat for BigBeerBellyMan what I describe as the middle grip pin is actually at the top of the grip area just below the safety.

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