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Colt Model 1908 Pocket Hammerless .380 ACP - Shanghai Municipal Police, Twenty-first Contract Shipment

The earliest pistols acquired for the Shanghai Municipal Police were at least 270 in quantity (based on SMP records) with no indication of caliber.  It is presumed that these were obtained from commercial distributors since there are no Colt records of these shipments documenting a contract order prior to the Colt documented contract shipments from 1925 to 1938.

 Photo courtesy of Ron Hampton

A 1930 Photo of the Shanghai Municipal Police with their guns drawn in a "Search Party." Note, the English Cpl. has a Colt 1911 and so does the Chinese Officer next to him while the other three have their Colt 1908. It seem to be a posed picture.  It may be hard to see but they all have on, what looks like, a Bullet Proof Vest of that period. You can see a lanyard on 4 of  them BUT not the HOLSTER as it would be under the vest.

The Colt documented contract pistols also had the following installed features:

  • a staple shaped lanyard loop on the lower left side of the frame (this feature was installed on this pistol but has been removed.)  The grips were also notched to accommodate the presence of the lanyard loop. (See the Commercial .380 with Lanyard Loop)
  • a screw to block the thumb safety from being engaged (the screw is present)
  • a key shaped leaf spring on the left side of the slide used to put pressure on the barrel during recoil - this was to prevent jamming.  This feature was installed on most pistols at the SMP armory rather than at the Colt factory.  If done at the Colt factory, this part does not encroach upon the left side factory roll marks.

This pistol, serial number 114448, is one of 380 pistols shipped February 14, 1932, making it part of the twenty-first documented shipment of SMP marked pistols.  The total number of Colt documented SMP shipped guns number 4,185.

Virtually all of the SMP marked Colt Model M .380 pistols have been reblued at some point in time.  The harsh climate was very unforgiving to the finish of these pistols.  These guns were shipped with medallion checkered walnut grips and the walnut held the moisture against the frame of the pistol causing extreme pitting under the grips.

The magazine safety disconnectors were typically removed from these guns, allowing them to be operational when changing the magazine. This example has had the magazine safety disconnector removed.

A close-up of the faint but present "SHANGHAI MUNICIPAL POLICE" marking above the trigger.  Also present is the matching SMP No 3318, present on the frame (below the SMP marking), on the barrel (visible through the ejection port) and on the slide (to the right of the right side slide legend.)

These pistols were fitted with factory lanyard loops on the left side of the frame.  This example still has the original medallion cherkered walnut grips that are cut for the lanyard loop.

Some SMP contract magazines had the viewing holes in the front and back, as opposed to the sides as on standard commercial magazines.  Others have side viewing holes as well as viewing holes in the back.  There are varying opinions as to why the location of the viewing holes was changed.  One story is that the Shanghai Municipal Police would trade the bullets from their guns and replace the live round with a spent brass casing.  In a Colt magazine with standard viewing holes, the magazine would appear loaded.

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January 2022

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