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Old 10-11-2017, 10:11 AM
Anothergrumpyoldman Anothergrumpyoldman is offline
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Default First N Frame

I have an assortment of K frame Smiths from early 1900's thru mid 1970's, but never had an N frame till two weeks ago. I was at a Gun show and saw a M1917 S&W for sale. This one had one problem. Someone in the past filed the front sight to look like a ramp, which ruined some collector value. On the plus side, it locked up tight and had the original blueing. He also had 4 moon clips and 24 rounds of ammo. It was made in 1918 and has all markings very visible. I bought it. Found all matching serial numbers except for the grips, a .005 barrel/cyl gap, and the barrel slugged at .4505. Took it to the range and at 10yds. hand held 4 out of 6 shots were touching and the other two close, and dead center. I paid $500.00 for it. Saw two others at the show for $700.00 in 60% the condition of this one. Do you think the price was fair because of the front sight? Thanks for any input.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:17 AM
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Originally Posted by Anothergrumpyoldman View Post
I have an assortment of K frame Smiths from early 1900's thru mid 1970's, but never had an N frame till two weeks ago. I was at a Gun show and saw a M1917 S&W for sale. This one had one problem. Someone in the past filed the front sight to look like a ramp, which ruined some collector value. On the plus side, it locked up tight and had the original blueing. He also had 4 moon clips and 24 rounds of ammo. It was made in 1918 and has all markings very visible. I bought it. Found all matching serial numbers except for the grips, a .005 barrel/cyl gap, and the barrel slugged at .4505. Took it to the range and at 10yds. hand held 4 out of 6 shots were touching and the other two close, and dead center. I paid $500.00 for it. Saw two others at the show for $700.00 in 60% the condition of this one. Do you think the price was fair because of the front sight? Thanks for any input.
I would have paid $500 or traded my first born for it. Most any N frame is worth $500.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:32 AM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is offline
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You done good. My first S&W of any sort was a 1917. I carried it as a young deputy sheriff, 41 years ago.
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Old 10-11-2017, 10:43 AM
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At 500 you've done extremely well. I expect you will enjoy that gun immensely.
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:10 AM
Ivan the Butcher Ivan the Butcher is online now
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I think you made a terrible mistake! But I'll be willing to help a fellow gun guy out......

Wish I found one that nice!

Ivan
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:14 AM
Andy Lowry Andy Lowry is online now
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That's a real nice price. J&G had one recently for over $900.
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:14 AM
rct269 rct269 is offline
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Okay---let's talk about the front sight a little---maybe a lot.

First off, it is what it is. What it is is in the eye of the beholder. You seem to see it as, let's say unfortunate. On the other hand, you've learned that it works.

Now the other guy, the one who messed with it, thought it was unfortunate the way it was before---and he would take exception to me saying he messed with it. As far as he's concerned, he fixed it.

I collect target guns---examples of those used by real competitors in the real matches of yesteryear. Part of me prefers those examples to be really spiffy----unfooledaroundwith. That said, another part of me recognizes my preferences aren't necessarily the same as other folks'.

A case on point: I have what appears to be an essentially brand new 1st Model Single Shot pistol----all except for the front sight. It has been lovingly and very precisely wrapped with copper sheet stock---.012" thick. It's applied to both sides, and on top. It's secured in place by a flush pin (rivet maybe), and the perimeter follows exactly the perimeter of the original blade. It's an absolute work of art on the one hand---and a complete defacement on the other hand. The good news is I could replace it with another blade---an unfooledaroundwith blade----in a matter of minutes. I've had that gun for the better part of 20 years---and it's exactly the same as when I got it. I decided it had character. And besides that, it's one of the very first high visibility front sights---like those we pay extra for now.

I have other guns with different defacements---weird grips--checkered triggers-----"special" hammers, and the like. One other single shot wouldn't work at all when I put it back together after its "welcome bath". I had to sit and stare at that one for awhile. Then I noticed a second little notch just a bit above the original (where the bottom of the mainspring fits). Now I know where the mainspring goes---and that's where I put it---the first time around. When I did it like someone else wanted it done a long time ago, it worked fine. Actually, it worked a hell of a lot better than any of my other single shots---an action/trigger pull to die for!! As near as I can tell, that gun had an "action job" somewhere along the way---a real simple one involving a different spring in a different place.

Bottom Line: There are different strokes for different folks.

Next Bottom Line: Don't sweat the small stuff!

Last Bottom Line: Those guns with "character" are one of a kind----special.

Ralph Tremaine

Last edited by rct269; 10-11-2017 at 11:25 AM.
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:40 AM
apollo99 apollo99 is offline
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The M1917 is very nice, If you didn't mention the sight alteration I probably wouldn't have noticed it. Any gun that has 4 of 6 shots touching at 10 yards off hand is a keeper.
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Old 10-11-2017, 11:43 AM
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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass, Joe! I'd say you got a heck of a good deal on that 1917.
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Old 10-11-2017, 12:03 PM
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If that front sight got you the gun for that price, you're lucky!

Just use some orange fingernail polish on the sight to make it stand out better and add a Tyler grip adaptor, if needed. Magna grips or Pachmayr rubbers will lessen recoil effects a lot.

Add more ammo and call life good.

Get a good lined holster to avoid most finish wear and put the gun in service.

I've seen some really tight 25 yd. groups fired with S&W M-1917 .45's. Draw targets with the head of a Burmese python on them and practice shooting them. You may have that need in FL, where they've bred so heavily. Or, an Eastern Diamondback may require your marksmanship skills.

Don't use handloads much hotter than normal 45 ACP specs. Avoid Plus P ammo. That gun is 99-100 years old, The cylinders were heat treated, by US Govt. order, but the cylinder walls are fairly thin and the metallurgy of that day wasn't on par with modern guns.

Last edited by Texas Star; 10-11-2017 at 12:11 PM.
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Old 10-11-2017, 03:10 PM
Anothergrumpyoldman Anothergrumpyoldman is offline
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Thanks for all the replies. Lots of good thoughts. I going to use some mild handloads in the 1917. Don't want to damage it. I am getting some rubber grips for it. I have had 2 surgeries on my right hand and can't grip like I used to.
It will be interesting to see how well it shoots lead bullets with the shallow rifling. I have some 200 and 230 gr. cast at .452 in. I'm betting it will work.
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Old 10-11-2017, 04:08 PM
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Thanks for all the replies. Lots of good thoughts. I going to use some mild handloads in the 1917. Don't want to damage it. I am getting some rubber grips for it. I have had 2 surgeries on my right hand and can't grip like I used to.
It will be interesting to see how well it shoots lead bullets with the shallow rifling. I have some 200 and 230 gr. cast at .452 in. I'm betting it will work.
Based on my experience with factory .45 Auto Rim ammo in a M-1950 Target .45, I wouldn't make that bet, unless the bullets are pretty hard. Accuracy was awful.

I didn't want to mess with half moon clips and ACP ammo, so sold that gun.
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Old 10-12-2017, 04:41 AM
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Good buy!

There's always tig welding to build up the front sight to original 1/2 moon size, reshape, and touch up with OxPho blue paste or Nu-Blue. Use heat paste on the barrel and front sight ramp to protect the original bluing.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:02 AM
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I'd have bought that revolver in a New York second! You did very very well! Sincerely. bruce.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:47 AM
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The sights on my 1917 Army Postwar Transitional were messed with a wee bit more than yours with a fully filed front sight (including cross ribs) and the installation of a drift adjustable rear sight. Like yours, mine is a great shooter and I can't think of any amount of $$$$ that would get it out of my hands. Ya did good!

Stu
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Old 10-12-2017, 08:04 AM
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Wow what a first N frame ,great gun great price ,although I understand why true collectors would knock monetary value off for non factory customization of any firearm as more of a shooter/ accumulator I love it and think you got a great deal .As you test loads report you findings now and again .
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Old 10-12-2017, 03:42 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Anothergrumpyoldman View Post
I have an assortment of K frame Smiths from early 1900's thru mid 1970's, but never had an N frame till two weeks ago. I was at a Gun show and saw a M1917 S&W for sale. This one had one problem. Someone in the past filed the front sight to look like a ramp, which ruined some collector value. On the plus side, it locked up tight and had the original blueing. He also had 4 moon clips and 24 rounds of ammo. It was made in 1918 and has all markings very visible. I bought it. Found all matching serial numbers except for the grips, a .005 barrel/cyl gap, and the barrel slugged at .4505. Took it to the range and at 10yds. hand held 4 out of 6 shots were touching and the other two close, and dead center. I paid $500.00 for it. Saw two others at the show for $700.00 in 60% the condition of this one. Do you think the price was fair because of the front sight? Thanks for any input.
Congratulations on your 1st N! My 1st was a 6" 28 no dash from 1960. Next was a 625JM. Next was a 25-15 in 45Colt. Looking for a .44 now. N's happen! Bob
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:14 PM
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I also bought a 1917 revolver in very good shape but for the ramped front sight. Unfortunately the sight profile on mine was too low and the gun shot very high with ball ammo. My neighborhood gunsmith (Terry Tussey) fixed the front sight by expertly adding a penny, & blackening it. It now shoots perfectly.
Also, I have many S&W 1917s and they are all much more accurate with ball ammo than with either factory lead auto-rim ammo or lead ACP loads. Don't really know why.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:34 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rct269 View Post
Okay---let's talk about the front sight a little---maybe a lot.

First off, it is what it is. What it is is in the eye of the beholder. You seem to see it as, let's say unfortunate. On the other hand, you've learned that it works.

Now the other guy, the one who messed with it, thought it was unfortunate the way it was before---and he would take exception to me saying he messed with it. As far as he's concerned, he fixed it.

I collect target guns---examples of those used by real competitors in the real matches of yesteryear. Part of me prefers those examples to be really spiffy----unfooledaroundwith. That said, another part of me recognizes my preferences aren't necessarily the same as other folks'.

A case on point: I have what appears to be an essentially brand new 1st Model Single Shot pistol----all except for the front sight. It has been lovingly and very precisely wrapped with copper sheet stock---.012" thick. It's applied to both sides, and on top. It's secured in place by a flush pin (rivet maybe), and the perimeter follows exactly the perimeter of the original blade. It's an absolute work of art on the one hand---and a complete defacement on the other hand. The good news is I could replace it with another blade---an unfooledaroundwith blade----in a matter of minutes. I've had that gun for the better part of 20 years---and it's exactly the same as when I got it. I decided it had character. And besides that, it's one of the very first high visibility front sights---like those we pay extra for now.

I have other guns with different defacements---weird grips--checkered triggers-----"special" hammers, and the like. One other single shot wouldn't work at all when I put it back together after its "welcome bath". I had to sit and stare at that one for awhile. Then I noticed a second little notch just a bit above the original (where the bottom of the mainspring fits). Now I know where the mainspring goes---and that's where I put it---the first time around. When I did it like someone else wanted it done a long time ago, it worked fine. Actually, it worked a hell of a lot better than any of my other single shots---an action/trigger pull to die for!! As near as I can tell, that gun had an "action job" somewhere along the way---a real simple one involving a different spring in a different place.

Bottom Line: There are different strokes for different folks.

Next Bottom Line: Don't sweat the small stuff!

Last Bottom Line: Those guns with "character" are one of a kind----special.

Ralph Tremaine
Ralph, How'd you get so smart. I needed to hear that
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:43 PM
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Congrats on your first N frame, now let the buying begin. This was habit forming for me.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:52 PM
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I'd pay $500 for that one in a heartbeat.
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Old 10-12-2017, 07:53 PM
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Well done- 1917s are awesome at any price, much less at $500!
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Old 10-12-2017, 10:45 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MG34/bar View Post
I also bought a 1917 revolver in very good shape but for the ramped front sight. Unfortunately the sight profile on mine was too low and the gun shot very high with ball ammo. My neighborhood gunsmith (Terry Tussey) fixed the front sight by expertly adding a penny, & blackening it. It now shoots perfectly.
Also, I have many S&W 1917s and they are all much more accurate with ball ammo than with either factory lead auto-rim ammo or lead ACP loads. Don't really know why.
The 1917 has shallow grooves for hardball jacketed bullets. Factory loaded lead bullets are too soft. For lead bullets, use a harder lead alloy like Lyman # 5 alloy, or slow down the velocity, or both for improved accuracy.
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Old 10-14-2017, 12:17 PM
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Default You're in good shape

I bought a raggedy 1917 parts gun a year or two ago for $250. It was all assembled, but the barrel was obviously loose in the frame. When I got it home, I tried to remove it, but as it unthreaded, it was harder to turn all the way out. After I had it in hand and could take some accurate measurements, I realized that some one had probably installed a replacement barrel, didn't get it to time up with the barrel tight and decided to shoot it anyway. Apparently for a while. The OD at the rear of the barrel was about .008" larger than just ahead where the threads began, so they had beaten the forcing cone into submission and belled the rear of the barrel by shooting it with a loose barrel, which explains why it was so hard to remove.

I ran a S&W N frame tap into the frame and was relieved to see that those threads were still snug and in good shape. The original barrel was pitted in the bore as well as the rear end damaged, so I scouted around for a new barrel. Looked high & low with no luck for anything that would work. Happened to mention my sad mess to a friend who told me that he used to have one, but had traded it to another guy to sweeten up a trade deal they had done. Turned out the guy still had the barrel and it wound up coming to me at no charge. And it is dang-near perfect, no pitting, great rifling, except for the bluing about gone. Perfect barrel to go with my franken-1917.

The chambers are about as pitted as the barrel was and while I'd use it if I had to, I'm still looking out for a cylinder in better condition.

So for what you got for $500, you scored big!
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Old Yesterday, 12:06 AM
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I have a very nice triplelock .44 HE that has had the front sight modified in a manner similar to yours. My local gunsmith has told me that he could restore it to factory dimensions and that only he and I and possibly a very astute collector would ever know. He also told me that I should try shooting it with the modified sights as someone went to all the trouble for a reason. It is a fixed sight variant and this always plays the devil with me because I have a tendency to shoot high and to the left with fixed sights and if this were the only handgun I owned I would learn to compensate for the aberration and get along just fine. I am inclined to add a Wondersight to this revolver and enjoy shooting it more often.
I do enjoy shooting my Brazilian model of 1917, I had it shortened to 4", installed a Wondersight and while getting it shortened I had my friend install a red ramp Baughman style front sight. I do most of my handgun shooting at 10 yards offhand and on a standard profile target I can stay in the 9 ring off hand unsupported, I do real well left handed with it also. Until I picked up a sweet 3" 24-3 Lew Horton model it was my favorite carry/car piece. I don't fool around with moon clips and switched to .45AR years ago, never looked back. I shoot mostly 185gr. Rainier plated bullets loaded the same as 185gr. Hornady XTPs which are used for carry.
Have fun with your new N-frame, I have found that with the heavier frame .45ACP or .45AR is a real pleasure to shoot. If you haven't tried a Model of 1955 you owe yourself a real treat. I have one of those that was cut down to 5" and worked over to shoot bowling pins, it is a real pleasure to shoot and shoots lights out, much better than I am capable of. I spend too much time shooting black powder muzzleloaders and really should spend more time shooting the nice revolvers I own.
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