Colt Woodsman
Colt Woodsman
Country of origin

United States




John Moses Browning

Year(s) designed


Production began


Production ended


Weapon type

Semi automatic pistol


.22 Long Rifle



Overall length

9.0in (229mm)[3]

Barrel length

4.5in (114mm)
6.0in (152mm)
6.5in (165mm)[4]


1.875lb (0.85kg)[4]

The Colt Woodsman was a semi-automatic pistol designed by John Moses Browning and produced by Colt.[1] Produced between 1915 and 1977, the Woodsman became renowned as one of the best .22 calibre pistols of its time (even in comparison to modern firearms).[5]


The Woodsman was originally designed and produced in 1915, by legendary gun designer John Moses Browning. It was not, however, called the Woodsman at this time, simply catalogued as the "Colt .22 LR Automatic pistol".[2] In 1927, however, after analysing whom was buying their pistols, Colt began stamping the name Woodsman to the .22 LR Automatic pistol (after around 54,000 had been produced), hoping to further tie the pistol to the hunting market.[2]

Other than the introduction of a "Sports" model and a "Match Target" model in the 1930s, the Woodsman's design was not altered until the end of the Second World War.[2] The Second Series of the Woodsman entered production in 1947, with minor modifications made to the magazine release (which was the only version of the Woodsman to feature a push-button magazine release) while Colt also introduced the "Challenger" model of the Woodsman.[6] 

In 1955, Colt decided to modify the Woodsman again, as a result of increasing pressure from Ruger (and their Standard model) and other .22 calibre pistols. The magazine release was relocated to the base of the grip (as it had been on the First Series) while minor changes were made to the shape of the frame and barrel.[6][2] Production ran until 1977, with various versions of the Woodsman produced and marked as "Huntsman" or "Targetsman".[6]

Today, the Woodsman is not an uncommon gun, but very good examples can be worth a few thousand dollars to collectors.[2] However, the usual price for the Woodsman is around $500, and can still be used daily.[1] A few Woodsmen were marked with military markings, although these are the rarest versions of the Woodsman.[2]

Design DetailsEdit

The Woodsman was designed with a distinctive frame, manufactured and finished in blued steel (and is some what similar to the Luger P08).[6] The barrel, which was rifled and bored to accept .22 calibre rounds, was also manufactured from steel, and was modified depending on the exact model of Woodsman ordered.[2] 

The slide is located to the rear of the Woodsman frame, and the whole firearm is operated through a blowback mechanism (pioneered by Browning). After being loaded, a button atop the slide must be pressed to recatch the recoil spring.[7] Grip modifications meant that adaptors could be fitted to the grips to better suit the Woodsman to the shooter's hand (this was from the Second Series onwards).[6]


The Woodsman was chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge, the most popular target shooting calibre at the time it was produced. Despite the fact that the Woodsman's main market influence was in hunting, the calibre size was not changed, although modifications to the design meant that overpressure rounds could be used.[2]

The Woodsman was sold with a ten round magazine, which slotted into the grip. An unusual element of the Woodsman (on First and Third series models) was a latch on the end of the grip, which was the only thing holding the magazine in position, and required the shooter to manually push the latch into place.[7] This also meant that the magazine could drop out of the Woodsman when the latch was damaged or not located properly.[7]


  • The Woodsman was used by Nicholas Cage in the 1997 film Con Air.[3]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 2.8 2.9 Sapp, Rick, Standard Catalog of Colt Firearms, (F+W Media Inc.: 2007)
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. 4.0 4.1
  5. House, James E., The Gun Digest Book of .22 Rimfire: Rifles-Pistols-Ammunition, (Gun Digest Books: 2005)
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2