Handguns > Semi-Auto

Colt Woodsman Target Model

The Woodsman started many a young person on a lifetime of shooting.


Could there be a more fitting name than “Woodsman” for a .22 Long Rifle, semi-automatic handgun that evokes images of bouncing tin cans or dropping rabbits on the run? This is yet another classic firearm from John M. Browning, assisted by Colt employees George H. Tansley and F.C. Chadwick. When introduced in 1915, it was named the “Colt Automatic Pistol, caliber .22 Target Model”—hardly indicative of what would become a 62-year reign of a gun that started many a boy on a lifetime of shooting. In all, more than 690,000 were made.

Initially sporting a 6 5⁄8-inch barrel, adjustable sights, blued finish, checkered walnut stocks and a profile reminiscent of the Luger (and later, the Ruger Mark I), this pistol was renamed the Woodsman in 1927. Retaining its adjustable sights, it came with a two-tone, 10-round-capacity magazine retained by a European-style heel release. In 1933 Colt introduced a Sport Model with 4½-inch barrel, and from 1938 until 1944 the company made a heavier-barreled Match Target with a “Bull’s Eye” target logo on the frame. These guns constitute the First Series, which ran until 1947.

From 1947 to 1955, the Second Series featured Sport and Target Models, with Target barrels shortened to 6 inches, and saw a side-mounted magazine release. Designers and engineers at Colt re-proportioned the grip (with Coltwood or brown plastic stocks) with a higher arch, for better controllability, and they added a weighted-barrel Match Target Model to the line.

The Third Series, from 1955 to the end of production in 1977, had the magazine release relocated to the frame’s bottom. It introduced the economical, fixed-sight Challenger and Huntsman Models, along with other variations. Stocks were black plastic, but beginning in 1960 Colt offered thumbrest walnut stocks at no extra cost. The price back then for a Woodsman Target was $84.50. Two years ago a 1938-era, 95-percent Woodsman Target with original magazine, box, and sales receipt sold for $850 at Wally Beinfield’s Las Vegas Antique Arms show.

This pristine Third Series Target Model was shipped on June 21, 1974. If I hadn’t known it had previously been shot, I would have rated it NRA New, as virtually 100 percent of the finish is present. As the saying goes, the only thing missing is the box. Even so, at 99 percent, to a collector it is easily worth $800 or possibly more.

Gun: Colt Woodsman Target Model—Third Series
Serial Number: 052XXXS
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Condition: 99 Percent (NRA Perfect—Modern Gun Condition)
Manufactured: 1974
Value: $800

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6 Responses to Colt Woodsman Target Model

Malcolm Freeland wrote:
July 13, 2014

I was handed down one of those magnificent pistols from my folks which came from my grandfather. I never knew it existed! I love the history on it and I want to take it to the right gun smith to get it to shoot properly again. I currently reside in philadelphia pa. So anywhere near there would be much appreciated! It just needs proper cleaning inside and a good look since I don't know where it has been and last shot. Thanks and cannot wait to use this and pass on to my sons.

Liberty72 wrote:
May 20, 2014

I have a colt woodsman automatic 22cal. long rifle pistol - last patent Dec. 4, 1913 - with a white\ivory colored plastic handle. the plastic handle makes me think its not that old, but why is the last pat. date 1913 when you say that they manufactured them up intil 1977?

phil wrote:
July 26, 2012

have the same a colt woodmans automatic pistol,target model .still looks new fired once or twice when i was stationed kodiak alasks in 1966,not sure what i will do with it as i am now 70,and noone in family shows intertest,o well

Greg Boyd wrote:
April 14, 2012

Hello Rick I wanted to know if you would be interested in selling your Woodsman?

Rick wrote:
November 20, 2011

I received one of these from my great aunt right before she passed; still have the box, instruction book, certificate of warranty, original ammo, 3 clips, it's a beauty!

March 10, 2011

I grew up with a heavy barrel Match Target in the 1960's. It got some rust in 1961 after a sitting on a wet cloth after a hurricane in southwest Louisiana. My first love. I still shoot bullseye pistol today. It was a gift from my dad and saw a kid between 16 to 21 years old safely own and shoot a pistol.