Colt’s Prototype Post-War Pocket Hammerless Model M

Production of the Colt Pocket Hammerless (aka the Model M) pretty much died at the end of World War Two. Military contracts ended, and the civilian market was quite weak – Colt shipped just 132 of the .32 caliber guns between 1946 and 1953, and only a handful of .380s at the same time. Several problems faced Colt in restarting production; for one thing, their tooling was pretty worn out after nearly 50 years of use, and was really in need of a substantial (and expensive) overhaul. In addition, many of the long-term experienced workers who know the gun inside and out had retired at the end of the war.

Colt did attempt to design a new model of the gun to reinvigorate commercial interest, and this is one of the three prototypes of that new model that were made. It retained the core mechanical elements of the Pocket Hammerless (fixed barrel, simple blowback), but added many external elements from the 1911, such as a short grip safety, larger thumb safety, separate slide release, magazine release button, and substantially larger sights. Ultimately the project never reached production status, and Colt’s next commercial .380 would be the Pony, a rebranded Star Model DK (which was also not particularly successful).


  1. “Colt’s next commercial .380 would be the Pony, a rebranded Star Model DK”
    Why they decided to work together with that particular firm? Don’t they consider them to be copycats of their automatic pistols?
    Anyway, comparing Star Bonifacio Echeverria, S.A. automatic pistols.
    At that time (1940s) they offered in that category they offered:
    Model D automatic pistol:
    second iteration of which was introduced in 1928 and remained in production until probably 1983, it was available in 7,65 mm Browning (.32 Auto) and 9×17 mm Kurz (.380 Auto) calibers.
    Model S automatic pistol:
    introduced in 1940 and remained in production until 1983, it was available in 7,65 mm Browning (.32 Auto) and 9×17 mm Kurz (.380 Auto) calibers.
    Interestingly both were short-recoil operated, rather than blow-back. Why they decided to have 2 different but very similar in performance automatic pistol remain mystery for me.
    Nonetheless, apparently demand for these automatic pistol was so high, that remained in production, until all classic STAR automatic pistols were dropped from production. It also shows that, cost due to usage of short-recoil operation instead of blow-back was deemed acceptable by users.

    • Star model S/SI (and Super S) were bigger (holster) guns than model D and DK/DKI (its evolution) that were pocket pistols. Model Super S, in 9mm corto (.380), was Spanish Uniformed Police (Policía Armada) regulation side-arm from 1941 to the 1980s. It was also used by Spanish Air Force pilots.

  2. Pity, that’s a nice looking pistol. Large for a .380 perhaps but way better than the Mustang series that came later. I had a Mustang that I inherited and it was a POS. Plastic trigger, recoil spring guide rod and if you tilted it left while racking the slide the slide stop would fall out. Pure junk.

    • “Mustang that I inherited and it was a POS”
      I am wondering how would Samuel Colt react to it, if he would be alive and introduced to concept of automatic pistol? Does THAT bear my names? or maybe: over 100 year of developments and you achieved THAT?
      Anyway, I start wondering: which day was day when Colt fall, at least in area of automatic pistols? So I start to read this query:
      As the [2nd world] war ended and demand for military arms came to a halt, production literally ceased. Many long-time workers and engineers retired from the company and nothing was built from 1945 to 1947. Mismanagement of funds during the war had a serious impact as the 105-year-old firm faced possible bankruptcy.
      But they managed to recover from it, situation become stable enough to introduce new design – namely Colt Python. However, Colt seems to be ill-fated in area of automatic pistols from that time onward, with COLT ALL AMERICAN 2000 being biggest flop so far.

      • Don’t think of this current iteration of Colt as a firearms manufacturer; instead, conceptualize it as a vehicle for various investment bankers to commit acts of arbitrage and financial plunder…

        The company has been raped so many times by the financiers that it’s not even funny; were Colt a human being, by this point? It’s personification would have been curled in a fetal position in some corner, shivering, and screaming every time someone came near them.

        • Not as bad as Brewster Aeronautical Corporation (or something along that line), whose president was jailed for tax fraud twice I think. Even worse, the workers were paid pennies per day and retaliation came by means of sabotage and tipping off the US Navy to the theft of commission funding, which in conjunction with the midair disintegration of a brand new plane led to the Navy sticking up Brewster at bayonet point… did I mess up?

  3. Beautiful. Too bad Colt doesn’t produce this today. Otherwise all they have to offer is AR’s and 1911’s–just like everyone else.

  4. While certainly a much larger pistol, so that the appellation “pocket” would certainly not qualify at all, S&W has just brought out .380 acp/ 9x17mm corto semi-auto in the M&P “EZ” format. A .380 95gr. to 102gr. JHP out of a 3.6-in. barrel for better ballistics with the cartridge. An 8-round magazine that is single-stack and uses a stud to depress the magazine follower to make it easier to load the magazines without a specialized loader. A hammer-fired, single-action self-loading pistol with an internal hammer designed that the slide is very easy to operate for people with arthritic fingers, or weak or injured hands. A grip safety that is depressed with a firing grip. The result is for a narrow niche–those who are infirm, lacking in hand and/or finger strength, invalids, etc. Admittedly, an ugly pistol half-plastic like all the current handguns, but still, an example of designers identifying a potential market. The only thing that in my view would improve it would be a tipping barrel like the Jo-Lo-Ar, Le Français, or Beretta type pistols, but then again, S&W has never produced such a pistol.

  5. Among customers for the Model M Colts, Mr. M. failed to mention criminals: John Dillinger had one in his possession when he was killed in Chicago. Incidentally, Dick Tracy seemed to carry one (or something that Chester Gould drew that looked like it) in the early comic strips.

  6. Unless I am mistaken, the Colt Government MK IV Series 80 chambered in 380 caliber was the first (1983/1984) semi-auto in 380 caliber to be offered after production of the Colt Pocket (Model M) ceased production. The Series 80 Colt 380 predated the Pony. The Pony, I believe, followed in prodoction the Colt Government MK IV Series 80 in 380 caliber.

    If I am incorrect, please accept my apology for my posting incorrect data.

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