Colt’s Remarkable Woodsman-Based Series Of .22 Semi-Auto Pistols

Colt Woodsman Target Model (1934)

Colt Woodsman Target (1934) © Blackjack33

Since 1915, Colt has produced well over one-half million sturdy .22 semi-auto pistols. While they bear several different model names, they are all based on an original design of John M. Browning. The original Colt .22 semi-auto pistol was simply called the “Colt 22 Automatic Target Pistol” and featured a 6 1/2″ barrel and a removable magazine holding ten .22 Long Rifle cartridges. Within a few short years, Colt decided to put a model “name” on this little pistol and in 1927 “The Woodsman” name began appearing on the left side of the receiver.

Colt Woodsman Sport Model (1942)

Colt Woodsman Sport (1942) © Blackjack33

In 1932 Colt made available a shorter 4 1/2″ barrel for the Woodsman and, while the longer-barreled version was commonly called the “Target” model, the shorter-barreled version was known as the “Sport” model. The basic Woodsman design underwent few changes from 1915-1947 and these pistols are commonly referred to as First Series Woodsman pistols. In 1947 improvements to the Woodsman were announced, including new sights, a slightly shorter 6″ barrel for the Target model, more ergonomically-designed grips and a change in the magazine release. The “improved Woodsman” is known as the Second Series and was manufactured from 1947-1955. Effective with this Second Series, all Woodsman models can be identified by the “S” suffix in the serial number. A third series was introduced in 1955 with the most obvious change being the elimination of the push-button magazine release, replaced by a small catch on the bottom of the butt. Total Woodsman model production spanned a little over 60 years, ending in 1976.

Responding to the demands of target shooters, Colt in 1939 introduced the “Match Target” version of the Woodsman featuring adjustable sights and a heavier barrel, adding 7 ounces to the weight of the pistol. Early versions of the Match Target pistol (1938-1944) bear an “MT” suffix in the serial number. Those Match Target pistols made after 1944 are serialized with the rest of the Woodsman model and have an “S” suffix in their serial number.

Colt Huntsman Model (1955)

Colt Huntsman (1955) © Blackjack33

Again responding to the market’s desire for a lower-priced, fewer-featured version of the Woodsman pistol, Colt in 1950 introduced the Challenger, which had essentially the same action but some cost-saving features. In 1955 the Challenger was discontinued and the Huntsman was introduced. The Huntsman is the “economy” version of Colt’s Woodsman-based pistols. The Targetsman is essentially the Huntsman model but fitted with an adjustable rear sight and available only with a 6″ barrel. Since the Targetsman and Huntsman are the economy end of the product line, they do not command the high values as do the Woodsman models. All Challenger, Huntsman and Targetsman pistols bear a “C” suffix in their serial numbers from 1950-1969. Beginning in 1969, all Woodsman, Huntsman and Targetsman pistols have the “S” suffix, but the names stamped on the left side of the receiver distinguish the different models.

So... what do you think? Please leave me a comment.

One Comment:

  • Vale: Thank you for this informative post and for the great photos !

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