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Old 07-07-2018, 05:56 PM
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Default 1917 Colt

A local gun shop has a 1917 Colt (civilian) revolver for sale. It is shiny all over, not bright blue, but a kind of even blue/gray/steel color. Does not appear to have been refinished. One or two very minor scratches. No pitting. New Colt hard rubber grips. .45 ACP using half moon clips. Excellent rifling and good (not bank vault) lock-up. Original (looking) holster. What's it worth?
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Old 07-07-2018, 11:35 PM
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The Colt Model 1917 US Army revolver is basically a no-frills version of the Colt New Service, chambered for .45 ACP using half-moon clips, as an expedient design for World War I issue. After WW1 a few more were produced using parts on hand and sold commercially.

Basic finish on the military versions was a dull unpolished blued finish. All had the standard 5.5" barrel, smooth walnut stocks, and lanyard ring. On the butt of the grip frame should be a stamping identifying the revolver as the US Army Model 1917 with a serial number. Interestingly, the military serial number is not the Colt factory serial number, which is stamped inside the frame recess under the cylinder crane and is within the serial number range for the New Service revolvers.

"New Colt hard rubber grips" indicates to me that these grips are not original to the revolver. A lot of reproduction grips are out there, but anything other than the originals pretty much knocks $100 or so off of fair market value.

Lanyard rings were removed from many, many 1917's that entered the civilian market. That is unfortunate, from a historical standpoint, and lack of a proper lanyard ring knocks a good $75 to $100 off of fair market value.

Overall, shooter-grade Colt 1917 US Army revolvers are seen with prices from about $400 to about $600 or so (high-grade pieces will command much higher prices, of course).

"Original (looking) holster" could be interesting, but only if it is in fact the original WW1 issue type, or later WW2 production (lots of reproductions exist). Anything else is just another chew toy for the dogs. On the rear of the holster should be stampings, most likely including "RIA" (Rock Island Arsenal) with date (1917 or 1918), or perhaps WW2 re-issue markings by Warren, Sears, Tex-Tan, perhaps a couple of others, with dates of 1942 or 1943. Original WW1 or WW2 holsters in very good to excellent condition may bring $100 to $250, depending on variation, condition, and maker.

So, you are looking at a potentially interesting piece, but there are some warning signs to pay attention to before you "pull the trigger" on your checkbook.

Last edited by LoboGunLeather; 07-07-2018 at 11:38 PM.
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Old 07-08-2018, 10:08 AM
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I've never seen one with original blue. Most seem to have been Parkerized in WW II.

I got one when I was 16. It was my second handgun, the first being a Webley MK VI.

Back then, good ones were easy to find. I think my father paid $16.88 on sale at a dept. store. My .45 was in NRA Excellent shape. My Webley cost $14.95, if memory serves.

Both are now much more expensive. And it's sobering to realize that both are now over 100 years old!
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Old 07-08-2018, 11:53 AM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
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What are they asking for it?
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Old 07-08-2018, 02:26 PM
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Back in the early 1980s I found a Colt M1917 at a flea market for $100. It was entirely in-the-white, and had no indication that it had ever been blued. It also had original Colt black hard rubber grips. It was definitely military stamped. Somewhat later I hot blued it myself and found a pair of original GI smooth wood grips. I still have the Colt black hard rubber grips it came with. I have often wondered about why there was no evidence of a blued finish.

There are some excellent quality M1917 reproduction leather flap holsters around. The first one I bought came from International Military Antiques. I have seen some original WWI holsters, none of which were in good condition.

Last edited by DWalt; 07-08-2018 at 02:28 PM.
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Old 07-08-2018, 03:03 PM
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When evaluating the Colt 1917s I look for the telltale machine marks on either side of the front sight and "curved" machine marks on the sides of the frame behind the cylinder. On an original finish gun these machine marks are fairly prominent but usually disappear in a refinish. Sometimes, on a really nice specimen, the marks are so clear that one might think "Colt would never have let a gun leave the factory like this" but in fact they were rushing them out the door for WWI and polishing wasn't a priority. Good luck.

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Old 07-08-2018, 05:52 PM
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I will look for the machine marks. There are no government or military marks visible on the gun. It is also possible it was never blued or parkerized. The plug in the butt (buttplug?) where the swivel should have been is discernable. He wants $650 for it. It would be easy to get it for $600.

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Old 07-08-2018, 06:05 PM
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So I don't think we know if you're looking at a 1917 or some other version of a New Service but if there are no military stamps it is probably not a military 1917 unless perhaps heavily buffed and refinished. Can you get a serial number? $600 is a good price for most any of them if mechanically good and not refinished. I've got a couple in 38-40 that are tight and not refinished but show lots of use and I paid around $600 for each of them. Good luck.

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Old 07-08-2018, 07:30 PM
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The post-war commercial model 1917's from Colt are pretty rare. I believe less than 1100 were made. Like the S&W model, they were made with leftover parts.Any slop in the lock-up would be a problem for me, since every Colt I've ever owned has been very tight. They are fun guns to shoot, although the trigger pull on the Colt require a lot more effort than the S&W.
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