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To refinish or not (Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless)

Discussion in 'Curio & Relic Discussion' started by raftman, Apr 4, 2015.

  1. raftman

    raftman Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    So I came into the ownership of a Colt 1903 (it's a Type II, serial number dates it to 1908). Very cool gun and the internals look quite good, especially for the age and it is mechanically sound. The finish however is not in very good shape. Very little of the original bluing is left and there's some light pitting on the right side of the frame. I'd like to refinish it but at the same time I'm a stickler for leaving things original. If I were to refinish, it would be in such a way as to at least approximate a period-correct finish for the model. On one hand, these are not especially rare guns, something like 570,000 have been made over the course of 40+ years but this particular example is over 100 years old. I'm wondering what the opinions are in regards to refinishing something like that.
     
    Last edited: Apr 4, 2015
  2. Classic

    Classic Federal Way WA Well-Known Member

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    :s0122:

    That said, unless the gun is totally trashed you will hurt the value refinishing it
     
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  3. Just Jim

    Just Jim Well-Known Member

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    It's a piece of history now and that is what makes it collectible. However a man only lives once so do what makes you happy, let your estate worry about the value.:D
     
  4. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    I had one decades ago that was refinished. Kinda like an early ceracote or something. Whoever did it did a great job as it was very durable and the gun looked brand new. Mine was in .380 and was an absolute tackdriver. Personally, I'd refinish it as I think they're the perfect carry piece so who cares about resale.. I'd carry it 'til the day I died and not worry about resale value.
     
  5. raftman

    raftman Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Sorry for neglecting the obligatory photo! Here she be:

    A6ABF315-52DE-47CC-A5DE-0541E73CD57D_zps7a1elc8i.jpg
     
  6. Just Jim

    Just Jim Well-Known Member

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    Seeing it I would not refinish it, it's got history and character. Nice gun.
     
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  7. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Me too. I wouldn't refinish that gun either.
     
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  8. Classic

    Classic Federal Way WA Well-Known Member

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    That has got to be the sexiest 100+ year old I've ever seen. How do you improve perfection?

    Don't do it! Enjoy it just as it is. Nice, REALLY NICE piece;)
     
    orygun likes this.
  9. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I think I would leave it they way it is. It's defiantly got character, just like Bogart in Casablanca.

    500px-Casablanca1903-1.jpg
     
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  10. Qaolin

    Qaolin 1 A.U. from a G2 near Beaverton Old Army Cook Silver Supporter

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    I agree with the chorus. It's better off as is. That's a smart looking Colt.
     
  11. solv3nt

    solv3nt Portland Well-Known Member

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    It would be sacrilegious to refinish it, but it is yours to do with as you please. It would be the same as drilling and tapping an old war horse, which destroys all of the collector value.
     
  12. raftman

    raftman Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I appreciate all of the input, and I've decided to go with the consensus and NOT refinish this pistol. Aside from the perspectives here, one major factor that convinced me is having fired this gun for the first time today. It is an absolute joy to shoot as it is. Actually VERY accurate, has minimal recoil, and functioned flawlessly too. I've had quite a few .32 autos and the Colt 1903 has shown itself to easily be the best of the bunch despite the age of design. It really goes to show the brilliance of John Browning when one realizes that at the time of the 1903's inception, most self-loaders were steampunkish Rube Goldberg contraptions and the 1903 was so simple, elegant, functional. I figure if I'd want a better-preserved specimen, I'll just buy one.
     
  13. Certaindeaf

    Certaindeaf SE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Elegant is the perfect descriptor.
     
  14. raftman

    raftman Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    A couple more pics. B6EB9D88-1FAF-4DF7-A21C-38DB3D3452EC_zpsjapgglx8.jpg

    60FE72AE-A4CC-4A2A-924B-A3AFBF5C8DFB_zpsmqt12nkt.jpg
     
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  15. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I call that honest wear. Enjoy it and have fun with it.
     
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  16. TCOV

    TCOV OLYMPIC PENINSULA Active Member

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    Your pictures show a pretty nice pistol but not one of the hi-dollar collectables. I don't think a quality refinish would make much difference in value as these are not rare and even a NIB won't be worth enough to change your retirement date. I have one a little nicer than the one you show and shoot it every now and then just for fun. Had one before that had no finish left but was mechanically sound and regret trading it as these are a pleasure to shoot and respectable concealed carry pistol to this day. Yours does not need a refinish but it won't change the value much if well done.
     
  17. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Good choice! I certainly wouldn't refinish it. If I want something shiny I'll just pull one out of the safe. That's a nice old pistol.
     
  18. Velzey

    Velzey Estacada, Oregon Gunsmith Gunsmith Bronze Vendor Bronze Supporter

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    Don't do it! If it had rust or really bad bluing wear...yes

    In this case it looks every bit of 100 years old, and it still looks good!
     
  19. OcelotZ3

    OcelotZ3 Corvallis Active Member

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    I wouldn't refinish. Seeing your photos just reconfirms my thoughts for me, it's in pretty nice shape.
     
  20. raftman

    raftman Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    That's all quite true, this not an especially valuable specimen of a well-regarded but generally not highly collectible pistol, but my hesitation didn't come from the perspective of monetary value. I don't like altering historical firearms in general, even something like an SKS (of which something like 15 million have been made) I feel shouldn't really be messed with unless it's just very far-gone. The only thing that had me considering it for this gun is the fact that it's a bit pitted, plus how insanely gorgeous nickel-finished versions were/are.

    1908ph_81700a1.jpg
    (Photo Credit: coltautos.com)