Saturday, September 26, 2009
Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket .25 ACP
Six round magazine
Grip safety, magazine safety (1917 and after), and thumb slide-lock safety.
A bit over 420,000 pistols were manufactured from 1908 – 1948.
Corporately, Colt referred to this pistol as the Model N.
The pistol pictured above is vintage 1923.
IMHO, when Colt introduced the Model 1908 Vest Pocket .25 ACP it was the first serious challenge to the reign of the .41 rimfire Remington Double Derringer as the preferred discreet-gun for both the polite and the nefarious of society. As its name implies, it easily carries in a man’s vest pocket. We can be sure that many of the “fairer sex” found that it stowed well in purses and undergarments.
Dieudonné Saive of FN used the European version of this pistol (Model 1905) as the basis for the Browning Baby, which began production in 1931, arguably finishing off the Remington Derringer, and in turn perhaps sounding the death knell for the Colt Model 1908 Vest Pocket. What did Saive do to make the Baby more popular than the Vest Pocket pistol? He kept much of the original John M. Browning design but eliminated the grip safety and made the pistol smaller and lighter (Colt =12 oz / Browning = 9.7 oz) while keeping the magazine capacity of six cartridges. In a word, Saive made the Baby look and feel “sexier” than the Vest Pocket pistol.
Along with it being a couple of ounces heavier, there is a bit more of a grip on the Vest Pocket pistol than there is on the Baby, making it easier for some to shoot. However, unlike the grip safety of a 1911 pattern pistol, the grip safety on the Vest Pocket takes a deliberate forward flex of the web of the hand; a few shooters I knew (both men and women) could not get the hang of it. My guess is that many shooters found the grip safety an untenable feature. As for me, I like it.
Many old cops who happen upon this page will remember either carrying one of these little pistols for undercover work or as a backup gun. Other old cops may remember confiscating them from criminals.
There is some collector interest in these old pistols. If you have inherited one, it certainly is worth more than the money any municipal “gun buy-back” will offer. As for using an old Colt Vest Pocket for concealed carry, that choice is for you to make. There are many similar sized modern pistols available today that have a more potent chambering than the .25 ACP.