One of John Browning's nearly forgotten early Colts, the Model 1902 Sporting was just in production for six years during the administration of Teddy Roosevelt.

Sandwiched between Colt's Model 1900 and the smaller but more successful Model 1903 Pocket, the big Model 1902 used an impressive 6-inch barrel which gave it a nearly 9-inch long overall length and a weight the tipped the scales at about 35-ounces.

Browning's Sept. 9, 1902 patent drawings, showing the inner workings of the short-recoil action and that long slide at work.​​​​​

Chambered in .38 Auto-- not to be confused with the similar but much hotter .38 Super which would be introduced in the 1920s or the dimensionally similar 9x23mm Largo-- the big Colt had a 7-shot single stack magazine. 

This early Model 1902 Sporting up for grabs in the Vault has 16 square-cut front slide serrations. Later versions would move to 19 triangular-cut serrations before they were moved to the rear of the slide, a feature common on M1911s to this day. 
Now that's a sight radius!
This example uses a rounded spur trigger, another feature introduced at the time from feedback on the earlier Model 1900. Also, note the original molded black hard rubber grips. 

The U.S. military showed some interest in the Model 1900 which preceded the design, and Colt produced a "Military" version of the M1902, complete with a lanyard ring. The Army ordered 200 examples for testing and evaluation but found them too awkward and felt the .38 Auto cartridge was underpowered for their purposes, feedback that eventually led Mr. Browning and Colt to develop the M1903 to fix the first and then the .45ACP to fix the latter. 

While the M1902 Military, in the end, proved slightly more popular and remained in low-scale production through the 1920s, the M1902 Sporting line was shuttered in 1907. In all, less than 7,000 or so of these interesting longslides were produced.

Like interesting old guns such as the M1902? Be sure to check out our carefully curated selections in the Collector's Corner and Military Classics sections where history is just a click away.

revolver barrel loading graphic