Roper stocked Colt Woodsman

Roper Woodsman

This 1937 Woodsman Target model is fitted with beautiful pistol grips and forearm made by Walter Roper, the preeminent pistol stock maker of his day. While most collectors are familiar with Roper pistol grips, this type of pistol forearm is much less well known. The profile bears a strong resemblence to the Match Target Woodsman, which was introduced in 1938, the year after the article reproduced below appeared.

The following article explains the origin and purpose of the forearm. It is written in the flowery language used by writers in those days.


Extracted from Automatic Pistol Marksmanship, by William Reichenbach, Small Arms Technical Publishing Co, 1937. Thanks to Richard Salerno for sending me the article.

We'll start off with our best American Small Calibre Automatic. It's the "Woodsman" Pistol with a 6" [sic] barrel, made by Colt. It is an excellent instrument to learn Autoshooting with. I am not conversant with the antecedents of this gun, but I declare it a surprisingly original idea. It must have slipped through the watchful brigade whose duty it is to preserve moth-eaten traditions and to prevent the cropping-up of revolutionary young ideas. Well, fate was kind and we shooters received the makings of a very fine weapon. I wish the perpetrators had gone "whole hog"-but, nevermind: The world wasn't made in one day. For instance, I believe it would have been a good safety idea to have the slide stay open after the last shot.

The "Woodsman" is at present confined to the .22 rimfire calibre only, but I see no reason why the idea should not be adaptable to larger calibres, after necessary constructional changes, of course. I should say that, if fitted with a proper grip and a shift of weight more toward the muzzle, this inherently fine gun should be superior to all the costly Free Pistols in Slow Fire. Illustration 1 shows this pistol equipped with a "Roper"-Grip. A hundred per cent improvement. Not only does this grip bring out and enhance the innate beauty of this little handgun, but it improves the holding qualities to an amazing extent.

Roper Woodsman
Illustration No. 1
WOODSMAN .22 cal. (Colt) with King-Red post and chromium mirror frontsight, King adjustable rearsight. Roper handle.
Insert shows Roper walnut-forestock (hollow) filled with lead to suit the shooter. King, San Francisco, are getting out a ventilated rib sight for the Woodsman, similar to the one shown on page 16 of "Sixguns and Bullseyes"; the rib in two parts so an not to interfere with the movement of the slide.

The remedy for the most glaring fault in the Woodsman, namely that of extreme muzzle-lightness, suggests itself. Our own experiments in that direction were somewhat variegated. One can, of course, weigh down the barrel by taping bars to it or cast huge lead-chunks, to be clamped there. Such measures are, while probably achieving their object, at best only temporary ones and, mostly, they look it too. I had in mind to have a wooden forestock made of pleasing design, hollow inside, so that one could pour lead-shot in, to suit one's needs and plug the thing up. Of course, being so set on doing it right, we demanded of our design that it carry all the lead near the muzzle and none further back of the barrel. Because, doing the latter would only make the assembly heavier, without steadying the muzzle as effectively. It developed that the wooden forestock idea is practically out of the experimental stage. Walter Roper made me a beautiful forestock as you can see from illustration. It is held to the barrel by the pressure of two screws.

Created on ... January 29, 2004