An early first series Colt Woodsman pistol and magazine.
|Place of origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||Colt's Manufacturing Company|
|Weight||Approx: 1.875 Lbs|
|Barrel length||4.5, 6, or 6.625 inches.|
|Cartridge||.22 Long Rifle|
The Colt Woodsman is a semi-automatic sporting pistol manufactured by the American Colt's Manufacturing Company from 1915 to 1977. It was designed by John Moses Browning. The frame design changed over time, in three distinct series: series one being 1915–1947, series two 1947–1955, and series three being 1955–1977.
The Colt Woodsman sprang from a design by John Moses Browning and was refined by gunsmiths and designers at Colt's before its introduction in 1915.
Without the constraints of the US Government interfering with his design, Browning developed the Woodsman with a short slide, no grip safety and no hammer. These features were in place on his Model 1903 and 1911 designs, but a handgun for the civilian market did not require them.
Variants and versions
There are three series of the Colt Woodsman and each series had three models: Target, Sport and Match Target.
First Series 1915-1941
The Target Model was the base model of the Woodsman and featured a 6" barrel with adjustable front and rear sights.
The Sport Model was designed as a field sidearm for hiking and camping in 1933 and had a 4.5" barrel. Original versions were made with a fixed front sight in the first series, but by the latter half of production, an adjustable sight was available.
The Match Target Model debuted in 1938 and featured a heavier barrel with a one piece wrap-around grip kniown as the "elephant ear". A"Bullseye" Icon was rollmarked into the slide lending the nickname "Bullseye Match Target".
In 1941 as the US entered World War 2, Colt ceased civilian production of the Woodsman but delivered 4000 Match Target models to the US Government as late as 1945. These pistols had a plastic one piece grip and were marked "Property US Government", but appeared on the surplus market after the war.
Second Series 1947-1955
Colt resumed production of the Woodsman in 1947. The three Models remained the same, but were built on a longer heavier frame and had a magazine safety, automatic slide stop and magazine release located at the rear of the trigger guard.
Special versions were made for the United States Marine Corps (100 Match Target Models and 2500 Sport Models); United States Air Force (925 Target Models) and 75 Match Target Models for the United States Coast Guard. The Air Force models had no special markings and most were sold as surplus through the Director of Civilian Marksmanship program. The bulk of the Marine and Coast Guard versions were destroyed and sold as scrap metal.
Third Series 1955-1977
Colt changed the design of the Woodsman in 1955. The three Models remained the same, but the markings, grips and sights underwent slight changes. The most significant was relocating the magazine release from the rear of the trigger guard to the heel of the grip as on the first series.
Novelist Ernest Hemingway on the Colt Woodsman:
The rifle and the pistol are still the equalizer when one man is more of a man than another, and if…he is really smart…he will get a permit to carry one and then drop around to Abercrombie and Fitch and buy himself a .22 caliber Colt automatic pistol, Woodsman model, with a five-inch barrel and a box of shells. I advise him to get lubricated hollow points to avoid jams and to ensure a nice expansion on the bullet. He might even get several boxes and practice a little… (emphasis added)
Now standing in one corner of a boxing ring with a .22 caliber Colt automatic pistol, shooting a bullet weighing only 40 grains and with a striking energy of 51 foot pounds at 25 feet from the muzzle, I will guarantee to kill either [boxer] Gene [Tunney] or Joe Louis before they get to me from the opposite corner. This is the smallest caliber pistol cartridge made; but it is also one of the most accurate and easy to hit with, since the pistol has no recoil. I have killed many horses with it, cripples and bear baits, with a single shot, and what will kill a horse will kill a man. I have hit six dueling silhouettes in the head with it at regulation distance in five seconds. It was this type of pistol that Millen boys’ colleague, Abe Faber, did all his killings with. Yet this same pistol bullet fired at point blank range will not dent a grizzly’s skull, and to shoot a grizzly with a .22 caliber pistol would simply be one way of committing suicide.
Cited in footnotes
- Hemingway, Ernest. 1938. My Pal the Gorilla Gargantua in Hemingway on Hunting ed. Sean Hemingway. The Lyons Press, Connecticut. p. 189 Originally published in Ken Magazine, July 28, 1938