Vintage Self-Defense

colt-self-defense-gunThis vintage Colt Pocket Hammerless, made before the US entered WWI, by the serial number, and definitely over 100 years old, is still doing what it was designed to do: keeping the good safe from the world’s evildoers.

Evildoer Dejuan McCraney, 38, is a career criminal who caught the usual short sentence after a 2001 attempted aggravated murder conviction, and returned to his life of crime thereafter.

One Saturday in October, McCraney armed himself with a 9 mm pistol (believed to be stolen in an earlier burglary) and kicked in the door of an occupied home on Cordova Avenue in Akron, OH. His intent, while committing this violent home invasion, has not been clarified: was he intent on homicide, or simply planning armed robbery, with homicide reserved in case he met resistance? But he wasn’t expecting armed resistance.

The 61-year-old homeowner surprised McCraney with this gun, and held him at gunpoint while his wife dialed 911, and got her gun, a modern 9 mm.

The  cops came quickly, by modern American urban police standards — eight minutes. Imagine what a violent criminal like Dejuan McCraney could have made happen in those eight minutes, if he wasn’t being held at the point of two guns, neatly gift-wrapped for five-oh?

McCraney has a new zip code for the time being, at least, until the Ohio courts tap his wrist again and send him forth to commit more crimes.  He’s charged with aggravated burglary (the “aggravated” presumably being “armed,” in this case) and “weapons under disablity,” which is the OH state charge for Felon In Possession. Technically, he’s a violator of 18 USC § 922(g) and probably 18 USC § 924(e) (Armed Career Criminal Act) also, and the prosecution is a slam-dunk (all the elements of the crime are in the police report), but the ATF doesn’t think the easy stat is worth the paperwork, in part because they know the AUSAs can’t be bothered with these cases, and even when they are, they do such a listless job that the average sentence for these convictions is below Federal guidelines’ minimum! (.pdf)

Now, we don’t recommend vintage or heirloom guns for self defense, even though those early John Browning designs like these Colts and the FN M1910 that’s a kissing cousin are really excellent firearms — for their day. But the bullets of the day were roundnose, and these oldsters may not feed modern defensive loads well. Still, you cannot deny that this homeowner got the job done and did what the State of Ohio seems to be unable to do: interrupt Dejuan McCraney’s life of crime. For now. No doubt he’ll be out in a few years, and will keep it up until he commits a crime like murder for which he’ll finally go away for good, or until a cop or citizen pops him in commission thereof, and provides society with a Final Solution to the Dejuan McCraney problem.

17 thoughts on “Vintage Self-Defense

  1. Martin

    I don’t mind using oldies (my FN 1906 could meet Kaiser Franz Joseph of Austria alive). Basically, their only problem for me is the drop safety, as their strikers or firing pins aren’t equipped with blocking pins as modern guns are. Did great JMB expect everyone to rack the slide before DGU? :-)

    Our laws (Czech Republic) basically prohibit using anything else than FMJ so we’re out of luck to use HPs (worded as “bullets with icreased injury performance” and “shock bullets”), therefore, we carry roundnose bullets and pray that nobody else is in the trajectory. In this case, even the lowly 380ACP doesn’t look that weak. And our SB .25ACP are quite hot.

    Of course, the police can have HPs…

    1. James F.

      I recall a story from the 1950’s about a striker-fired Browning 1910, pocket-carried with a round in the chamber, suffering a GENUINE accidental discharge when the little notch in firing pin that held it back suddenly stopped holding, because of internal wear.

      This happened in someone’s pocket during a card game, and while apparently no one was struck by the bullet, the punch line of the story was “They had to revive the dealer.”

      As for the owner of the pistol, I suspect his next purchase would have been an Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless.

  2. Roger

    Very nice classic pistol. My brother’s friend asked me to inspect and service several of his old pistols he had in a box in his closet. Mostly old cheap revolvers from the teens. BUT one essentially new Colt Pocket Hammerless. It had been fired but probably not in the last century. No gouges, no pitting, no holster wear, no chipped grips. Blue like it just came out of the factory. The stains from my drooling over it were the worst problem it had. Chambered in .32ACP. I had to give it back after a thorough cleaning & lubrication, but I regularly beg to be considered when the time comes for him to part with it.

  3. Badger

    Outstanding. Beauty is, as beauty does. Regardless of the judicial outcome, a story to warm the heart with the home-owner partnered up like that in the traditional sense.

  4. Daniel E. Watters

    The slide immediately identifies it as early production. Collectors dub these as Type 1 (1903-1908). A further check of the serial number will place its year of birth in 1905.

      1. Daniel E. Watters

        The telltale signs of an early Type I M1903 are the barrel bushing, longer barrel and slide, and the plunge cut slide serrations. Sometime later in 1905, Colt switched to the more common saw tooth serrations. Type II pistols (1908-1910) retained the barrel bushing, but switched to a shorter barrel and slide. Starting with the Type III (1910-1926), the barrel bushing was eliminated. A magazine safety was added with the Type IV (1926-1942). Type V are late WW2 military contract pistols (1944-1945).

          1. Daniel E. Watters

            You need the bushing on the FN M1910 and M1922 in order to capture the recoil spring, as JMB had the barrel serving double-duty as a full-length recoil spring guide rod.

            On the Type III and later Colt Pocket Hammerless, they simply enlarged the muzzle of the barrel to take up the space once occupied by the bushing. The M1903/M1908’s recoil spring was never effected by the presence or lack of a bushing, as it was always trapped by the slide at the front and the frame at the rear. On the Type I and II, the recoil spring also powered a plunger to retain the bushing, but that plunger was captive in contrast to a M1911’s recoil spring plug. You can see the cross–pin for the plunger in the photo above. FN took a different route on their M1903 by adding a shoulder to the plunger, but again it remained captive inside the slide when the barrel bushing was turned.

  5. Clarence Chen

    Lovely gun. Browning’s designs always have a svelte design, at least to my eyes. I do enjoy these old firearms. Some things never go out of style. “People sleep peacefully in their beds at night only because rough men (and the occasional lady) stand ready to do violence on their behalf.” And sometimes the men are too far away…….

  6. Keith

    Outstanding report on home defense. If the MSM, SJW’s, Cosmos, Progressives, Tranzis have there way we would all be victim’s without and rights at all. Criminals like that in the story would the ‘victim’ in there world view.

    Very nice pistol. The closest I come to that generation is a reproduction Luger and 1911A1.

  7. Dyspeptic Gunsmith

    My second-hand experience from California is to NOT use these classics for self-defense of any sort, especially in the urban counties.

    The cops will seize the gun “for evidence,” and then it will disappear in police custody, probably into some cop’s collection. A friend had to deal with a home intruder and happened to use a Luger to hold the criminal. No shots fired.

    Luger seized, intruder arrested. The first was never to be seen again, the second was on the streets again in less than a year. The cops in LA County depend on people seeing the lawyer fees necessary to mount a lawsuit (starting at about $5K) as a barrier to getting serious about getting their gun back, and the LEO’s know that they can seize a weapon with low regard for returning it to the rightful owner.

    1. Sommerbiwak

      the state, county or police department that seizes any evidence and fails to return the property in timely manner should pay the complete lawyer and court bills and also compensation for the loss. might get interesting with computers seized.

      can government organizations in the US not be sued f or being lazy?

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