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Old 04-06-2018, 07:35 PM
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Default S&W M1917 .45

***Pics added at the bottom of the thread****

Hi Guys,

I just bought this. It will be in my hands next week. This will be my oldest S&W. I’m a little leery about the outcome. What did I get myself into?

Please take a look and let me know what I have. Can I get an approximate date and value on it? No rust or pitting on the gun as stated by the seller. All numbers match as the pictures illustrate and has appropriate rollmarks and ordinance stamps.

I’ll add some more pics here in a while.

Thanks,

Mike
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S&W M1917 .45-f7ba25ad-190d-4610-b9d9-8489e185a307-jpg   S&W M1917 .45-850e0f9f-a046-4942-a90e-0b20e35c635d-jpg   S&W M1917 .45-22eded96-3a27-4b19-b0f6-9f154c0c2099-jpg   S&W M1917 .45-3790a710-5602-4353-849a-a6a73d75a017-jpg   S&W M1917 .45-79c5d08d-192c-4743-a3f6-b90cf54a49ab-jpg  


Last edited by Aemsl69; 04-13-2018 at 06:03 PM.
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:44 PM
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I get a 1918 date when I put in your s/n. Good looking gun! I'd say the value is what you paid for it.
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Old 04-06-2018, 07:48 PM
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I get a 1918 date when I put in your s/n. Good looking gun! I'd say the value is what you paid for it.
Ha! Thanks! It’s worth what the seller and buyer decide what it is.
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Old 04-06-2018, 08:17 PM
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I get a 1918 date when I put in your s/n. Good looking gun! I'd say the value is what you paid for it.
I’m all in at $750. Shipped
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Old 04-06-2018, 08:28 PM
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What are you worried about?

I paid more for one in worse cosmetic condition. You won't have any problem getting your money back if you aren't happy with it. You will love moon clips, but DO get a moon clip loading tool. Not all rims are the same, and some of them are TIGHT to get on.

In that condition, with that serial number (old enough to have seen service in WWI) they usually go for $900+.
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Old 04-06-2018, 08:46 PM
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What are you worried about?

I paid more for one in worse cosmetic condition. You won't have any problem getting your money back if you aren't happy with it. You will love moon clips, but DO get a moon clip loading tool. Not all rims are the same, and some of them are TIGHT to get on.

In that condition, with that serial number (old enough to have seen service in WWI) they usually go for $900+.
Generally I was worried about buying something that I’m not 100% knowledgeable about. I saw price ranges from $700-$2500.

This was not like buying an M27 with “3 1/2 Barrel where the market is well established. This will be the oldest gun that I own.

Finish looked good and roll marks looked solid so I took a chance. I’ll have to put some rounds down range and give an update.

Thanks for your insight.

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Old 04-06-2018, 09:41 PM
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I think given the condition you made a really good deal. I have bought 5 over the years, all for less money, but not nearly in that nice condition.

I really enjoy shooting these, and hope you will too. You're just down the road from me!
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Old 04-06-2018, 09:46 PM
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I think given the condition you made a really good deal. I have bought 5 over the years, all for less money, but not nearly in that nice condition.

I really enjoy shooting these, and hope you will too. You're just down the road from me!
Closer than you think, I’m in the Hoodlands.

On the wrong side of I45.
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Old 04-06-2018, 10:46 PM
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That appears to be a really nice one.
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Old 04-07-2018, 01:36 AM
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Wonderful find!


1917 PRODUCTION SUMMARY*:

*The data below compiled from many posts and gleaned from various books, observations of many other members, and personal observation as well. The information below no longer includes any direct quotes, just summarized info in my own words.

Military 1917s are in the #1 thru # 169959 (the estimated last military #) range but with only 163,635 revolvers completed and delivered by or in 1918, and approximately 7,300 revolvers were delivered partially completed and were not counted in the 163,635 figure. As usual with S&W, revolvers were not completed in order of their serial numbers and all numbers were not used. All were shipped to Springfield Armory.
Both S&W (7300 frames) and Colt were allowed to purchase M1917 revolvers left over when their rebuild contracts were terminated at the end of WWII.

Most early WWI 1917s are marked "GHS" in a circle, (Gilbert H. Stewart), Gov’t inspector, left side frame up near the hammer serial number range 1-42000. There’s also a GHD Guy H. Drewry inspector from 1930-1957 (with various increasing ranks in front of his name), who was in charge of the Hartford Ordnance District and under whose authority and name, ordnance contractors stationed at the S&W factory inspected guns both for Lend-lease and for ASP (Army Supply Program) contracts.
Middle range guns are marked with a flaming bomb, beginning c. #42000 to April 1918.
Late war time produced guns are marked in various locations with an eagle head over an "S" followed by a number like S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S9, S24, S27, S34, etc., from April 1918 to war’s end. These marks are inspector marks used on Military guns which are also marked "United States Property” on the underside of the barrel.

Note: barrels are known missing the UNITED STATES PROPERTY stamp on the bottom, although a matching serial number is stamped on the barrel flat and the gun is otherwise correct and obviously original. Otherwise these are factory replacement barrels and will usually have a date of rework on the grip frame, left side.

The butt of the gun will have a two line serial number (when over 3 digits) and U.S. Army Model 1917 in four lines as well as a lanyard ring (which is the earliest version; polished and case colored, not sandblasted and blued). “UNITED STATES PROPERTY” is roll stamped under the front end of the barrel.

Earliest have smooth, concave round top stocks and circular hammer grooves up to about #15,000. Although, many have been observed sporadically up to the #20,000 range. As with all things S&W, there is seldom a specific serial number cut off. Deletion of the stocks w/concave top and the hammer grooves were of the earliest changes.

Most 1917 military issue have round top straps and a U notch rear sight. Later built frames with early #s have been observed with flat top strap and square notch rear sight; example #113934. It is not known when this change was initiated. However, cumulative wisdom is that the flat-top strap with Sq notch rear sight revision came to the N-frame in the mid 1920's.

War time 1917s did not have S&W trademark logos nor even commercial models (nor did any hand ejectors following the war until ~ 1920).

ARSENAL REBUILD: If there’s an extra large stamped # up to 5 digits (sometimes with an R or S) in the yoke, yoke cut out, under the barrel, or all three places, it’s an arsenal # indicating an arsenal rebuilt gun. The R may be found on the frame left side as well. Examples: Tryig to identify 1917 Revolver & Please help identify my 1917 Hand Ejector .45


Cylinder hold open detent:
In my experience military 1917s had the cylinder hold open detent in the yoke bell crank as did all pre war N frames and some early I and K frames. The cyl hold open detent went away on all frames after WW II with the usual few exceptions that had frames/yokes made pre war. It's been reported that some 1917s do not have the detent as a war time expedient, but of the hundreds of 1917s I've seen all did or at least had the hole with wear evidence that the detent spring and pin were lost. Use caution if you remove the yoke and cylinder from the frame or the spring and plunger can launch across the room.


Serial/Government numbering of 1917s, Smith vs. Colt:
Many do not know that S&W 1917s are #d differently from Colt 1917s.

The S&W serial # is on the butt, as opposed to Colt, and served a dual purpose; it was also S&W's government #. The serial number on the COLT US Army Model of 1917 is stamped on the frame, opposite the crane, and a different number on the butt of their 1917 is the government #.

S&W Assembly (factory work) #s: These multi-digit numbers of 3 to 5 digits, are on the yoke at the hinge, in the ‘yoke cut’ on frame opposite the yoke, and inside of the sideplate, for the pre war and post war period to ~1958.


Colt used a 1 in 16" left-hand twist. S&W preferred a 1 in 14.569" right-hand twist, Smith & Wesson Handguns by Roy McHenry and Walter Roper, page 97. Also, David Chicoine in his book on gunsmithing the guns of the old west states that S&W top breaks initially had 5 lands but later, with the .45 Schofield, went to 6 lands.
My 25-2 and my 22-4 both have the 6 groove twist.
My Triple Lock 455 British Contract barrel from 1915 has 5 groove rifling.
My earliest 44 Triple Lock from 1910 has 5 groove rifling, my most recent 1990 44 does too, as well as all .44s in between.


COMMERCIAL MODELS

S&W logo left side post 1920 [except after 12/1936; large logo on side plate], checkered non-medallion, convex top stocks during the 1920s. [Flat silver medallions thru the 1930s and war years.]”

In 1933 at about serial # 185,000 a hammer block was added to this model. It’s the 2nd pre war style (leaf spring in side plate - uses early style hand spring in trigger).
There's a statement in SCSW pg 163 that the new hammer block was added at serial #185,000 w/o an S because of course it’s prior to 1946.

Smooth triggers until serrated triggers order change March 18, 1929.

Com'l 1917 models have a serial # parallel to the butt like all other Com’l models (except those I frames stamped on the front grip strap). The butt # on all pre war guns will read right side up muzzle to the right.

1917 Coml shipping dates:

165932 shipped on August 21, 1921 to the Supplee-Biddle Hardware Co., Philadelphia, PA., logo but no "Made in USA" stamp.
s/n 167382 shipped October 1922
s/n 173685 shipped May 1922
s/n 173878 shipped Feb. 1921
s/n 173941 shipped Jan. 1921
s/n 174861 shipped Sept. 1921
s/n 179014 shipped August 1927
179698 shipped Sept 20, 1927
s/n 180692 shipped January 1936
1811xx shipped August 11, 1928
s/n 181772 shipped December 1930
s/n 181806 shipped July 1932

Transitional Post War Commercial Models
In Dec 1936, logo ordered moved to the sideplate on the right and made larger.
In SCSW reportedly some few of these 1930 rd top frames (991) were also reportedly assembled in the serial range S209792-S210782, many of which shipped in the 1946-48 period, no longer with mushroom knobs. They can have the straight extractor rod, but most with the 'barrel' shaped extractor knob, usually stamped MADE IN USA instead of the 4 line address stamp, and large S&W logo stamp on the side plate. The S s/n prefix indicates they have the Post war sliding bar safety.
#S 210529 has S serial #, barrel knob, but not the MADE IN U.S.A. stamp: Model 1917 Commercial
No S prefix #210120 within normal range, shipped October 1946

Much earlier Coml in the transition range:
Iskra’s Sn 209957 (no "S" prefix). SMITH & WESSON DA 45 MODEL 1917 COMMERCIAL See original box in post #37.


# 15537 S a Commercial Model is clearly one of the WW I produced frames in the 1 to ~175,000 WW I 1917 military serial number range. WW I 1917 revolver numbered frames were not all completed and only 163,476 completed revolvers (the estimated last military unit made being #169959), and 7300 numbered but incomplete frames were actually shipped to the Army or sold commercially until 1/5/1921.

These therefore do not have the MADE IN U.S.A. stamp (introduced in mid 1922) on the right side front of the frame. And the lack of the small left side logo is normal on military models and all S&Ws during and following WW I until resurrected ~1920.

The large S stamped following the serial #s in various locations indicates it’s below ~ serial #42,000 which were inspected under Colonel Gilbert H. Stewart's authorization whose initials would be on the upper left side rear of the frame.

It also indicates the gun was shipped prior to WW II. After WW II a larger S prefix to the serial # on the butt was stamped to indicate N frames that had the new post war sliding bar hammer block safety.


Letter here: SMITH & WESSON DA 45 MODEL 1917 COMMERCIAL


*RE-USE OF 1917 SURPLUS FRAMES
Inspected, but unused serial numbered 1917 military frames preceding and following #169959, (the estimated last military unit made), were assembled thru #209791 by 1946. Some numbered frames went to the Navy and Marines.

Some 1917s with frames and parts left over from the government contract with very varied shipping dates were assembled into military 1917s to fill contracts for the Brazilian government in 1937 and 1946 and many frames into commercial model 1917s. Therefore the s/n is of little help to pin down the shipping dates, but features do help. Some frames used for 2nd Model 44 Hand Ejectors & 38/44s, and those will have serial #s in the regular N frame serial number series instead of the 1917 serial # range.

There are numerous examples that have the flaming bomb or eagle government inspector stamps in one or more various locations but not on the outside of the frame which were finished off; only in the yoke, and on 45 barrels and/or 45 cylinders. Also fouling cutouts may be found on these frames under the top strap.
Example: 45 ACP all matching serial number is #55639 (assembly # 18408 match in all 3 locations as well), it's a round top/U sight notch, has Eagle head proofs inspectors stamps on barrel & cylinder; S24 on cylinder, and an S34 on the barrel. Likely from the 1946 contract because of round top strap and U notch.
If it has the S&W trademark on the frame it is a commercial gun, at least after ~ 1920.
War time 1917s did not have S&W trademark logos.

A few coml models were produced c. 1946 - 1950 (991 is the usual quantity quoted), most in the 1917 serial range # S209972 to # S210782 (811 #s), but not all, and some without the S prefix.

Issued as commercial models post WW II, found with and w/o lanyard swivels, and are considered "Model 1917 Army Post War Transitional Models", until updated with the short action as the: ".45 HE Model of 1950, Military" in 1951 beginning at #S85000 in the other existing N frame serial # range common to all pre war and post war models except the 1917 Army, but most with added S prefix in 1946.



BRAZILIAN CONTRACT 1917s (1937/1946)
In 1937 S&W made some 25,000 1917s for Brazil, most in serial range 181983-207043 (with exceptions as usual that have serial #s far out of this range), using the late or post WW I produced flat top frame with sq notch rear sight, and these are stamped “MADE IN U.S.A.” on right frame side with the S&W trademark on left side of frame. They also have a Brazilian Crest on the side plate dated 1937. These first contract Brazilian 1917s had commercial checkered grips with flat chrome plated medallions. Mushroom extractor knobs. Many Brazilians can be found with the import mark of the importer that brought them back to the USA. One common importer stamp is "IA CO SAC CA" (International Arms Company, Sacramento, California) but stamps of other big importers of surplus arms can be observed as well.

The 2nd Brazilian contract run in 1946 of about 11,800, most using surplus WW I produced frames in the 166,000 – 175,150 range with exceptions as usual that have serial #s far out of this range like #s 67119, 79,100 & 80478. Therefore most with older style round top strap and small U notch rear sight. Some were the newer flat top frames generally in the 207,196 – 209,878 range, with a few round tops also reported in that range. These '46 contract guns had newly made 1917 smooth grips. These are also stamped “MADE IN U.S.A.”. Serial #s read with barrel to the left like all post war hand ejectors. But with mushroom extractor knobs.

Why 1946 Brazilians do not have sliding bar safeties and may have cyl hold open detents: “The first .45 H. E. Model of 1917 finished after World War I were made from frames and parts that had been completed and ready to be used for the military if the war had not ended. That is why you see a lot of post World War I "N" frames both .44 and .45 with the Springfield Armory inspection mark on the inside of the frame. Once these frames were used up the factory then began making new frames.


Brazilians have myriad anomalies. S&W clearly used re-purchased (from the government) and scoured, old parts inventory for frames and pieces to assemble them. One can honestly say that you will see every combination of 1917 frames and parts of multiple vintages assembled, that one can conjure up! There are some trends but the old adage that "the main rule is, there are no rules" truly applies in no other case as well as it does here.

Serial Number range for the 1917 Commercial? Serial # confusion and true up:
Serial Number range for the 1917 Commercial?
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Old 04-08-2018, 12:53 PM
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I get a 1918 date when I put in your s/n. Good looking gun! I'd say the value is what you paid for it.
Thanks for the information on the Date!
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Old 04-08-2018, 12:54 PM
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That appears to be a really nice one.
Thank you sir.
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Old 04-08-2018, 12:56 PM
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Wonderful find!


1917 PRODUCTION SUMMARY:

Military 1917s are in the #1 thru # 169959 (the estimated last military #) range but with only 163,635 revolvers completed and delivered by or in 1918, and approximately 7,300 revolvers were delivered partially completed and were not counted in the 163,635 figure. As usual with S&W, revolvers were not completed in order of their serial numbers and all numbers were not used. All were shipped to Springfield Armory.
Both S&W (7300 frames) and Colt were allowed to purchase M1917 revolvers left over when their rebuild contracts were terminated at the end of WWII.* (Pate, see below for full text.)

Most early WWI 1917s are marked "GHS" in a circle, (Gilbert H. Stewart), Gov’t inspector, left side frame up near the hammer serial number range 1-42000. There’s also a GHD Guy H. Drewry inspector from 1930-1957 (with various increasing ranks in front of his name), who was in charge of the Hartford Ordnance District and under whose authority and name, ordnance contractors stationed at the S&W factory inspected guns both for Lend-lease and for ASP (Army Supply Program) contracts.
Middle range guns are marked with a flaming bomb, beginning c. #42000 to April 1918.
Late war time produced guns are marked in various locations with an eagle head over an "S" followed by a number like S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S9, S24, S27, S34, etc., from April 1918 to war’s end. These marks are inspector marks used on Military guns which are also marked "United States Property” on the underside of the barrel.

Note: barrels are known missing the UNITED STATES PROPERTY stamp on the bottom, although a matching serial number is stamped on the barrel flat and the gun is otherwise correct and obviously original. Otherwise these are factory replacement barrels and will usually have a date of rework on the grip frame, left side.

The butt of the gun will have a two line serial number (when over 3 digits) and U.S. Army Model 1917 in four lines as well as a lanyard ring (which is the earliest version; polished and case colored, not sandblasted and blued). “UNITED STATES PROPERTY” is roll stamped under the front end of the barrel.

Earliest have smooth, concave round top stocks and circular hammer grooves up to about #15,000. Although, many have been observed sporadically up to the #20,000 range. As with all things S&W, there is seldom a specific serial number cut off. Deletion of the stocks w/concave top and the hammer grooves were of the earliest changes.

Most 1917 military issue have round top straps and a U notch rear sight. Later built frames with early #s have been observed with flat top strap and square notch rear sight; example #113934. It is not known when this change was initiated. However, cumulative wisdom is that the flat-top strap with Sq notch rear sight revision came to the N-frame in the 1926/1927 time frame.

War time 1917s did not have S&W trademark logos nor even commercial models (nor did any hand ejectors following the war until ~ 1920).

Stars, 5 pointed, often seen on rear face of cyl for no apparent reason nor coincident with rework dates or star on butt.

ARSENAL REBUILD: If there’s an extra large stamped # up to 5 digits (sometimes with an R or S) in the yoke, yoke cut out, under the barrel, or all three places, it’s an arsenal # indicating an arsenal rebuilt gun. The R may be found on the frame left side as well. Examples: Tryig to identify 1917 Revolver & Please help identify my 1917 Hand Ejector .45


“WW I U.S. 1917 hammers and triggers are slightly different from later N frame parts.” Lee Jarrett.
And will work in triple locks.

Cylinder hold open detent:
In my experience military 1917s had the cylinder hold open detent in the yoke bell crank as did all pre war N frames and some early I and K frames. The cyl hold open detent went away on all frames after WW II with the usual few exceptions that had frames/yokes made pre war. It's been reported that some 1917s do not have the detent as a war time expedient, but of the hundreds of 1917s I've seen all did or at least had the hole with wear evidence that the detent spring and pin were lost. Use caution if you remove the yoke and cylinder from the frame or the spring and plunger can launch across the room.


Serial/Government numbering of 1917s, Smith vs. Colt:
Many do not know that S&W 1917s are #d differently from Colt 1917s.

The S&W serial # is on the butt, as opposed to Colt, and served a dual purpose; it was also S&W's government #. The serial number on the COLT US Army Model of 1917 is stamped on the frame, opposite the crane, and a different number on the butt of their 1917 is the government #.

S&W Assembly (factory work) #s: These multi-digit numbers of 3 to 5 digits, are on the yoke at the hinge, in the ‘yoke cut’ on frame opposite the yoke, and inside of the sideplate, for the pre war and post war period to ~1958.

6 Groove Rifling:
I would theorize that the 6 groove rifling came about with the advent of 45 ACP hardball ammo and the 1917 Army Model.
The 1917 and later S&W 45 ACP revolvers into the 1950s, have the same 6 groove barrel and the same twist direction as other S&Ws but it's a much more rapid twist than say the their 44s.

Colt used a 1 in 16" left-hand twist. S&W preferred a 1 in 14.569" right-hand twist, Smith & Wesson Handguns by Roy McHenry and Walter Roper, page 97. Also, David Chicoine in his book on gunsmithing the guns of the old west states that S&W top breaks initially had 5 lands but later, with the .45 Schofield, went to 6 lands.
My 25-2 and my 22-4 both have the 6 groove twist.
My Triple Lock 455 British Contract barrel from 1915 has 5 groove rifling.
My earliest 44 Triple Lock from 1910 has 5 groove rifling, my most recent 1990 44 does too, as well as all .44s in between.


COMMERCIAL MODELS

“The factory added the 1917 as a regular cataloged commercial model in Catalog D-2 which was issued in Jan, 1921.
Same basic gun as a 1917 Army. That's not to say there were none sold into the commercial market before that; there are 'no rules' that apply.

Features of Commercial models post WW I and post 1920:

No “Army” grip mark, or “US Property” barrel mark. (Note: SCSW-3 states some coml models can be found with barrel mark.)
5-1/2" in cal 45 ACP, but the barrel reads "S.&W. D.A. 45".
Bright Blue.
Butt Swivel.
MADE IN U.S.A. right side frame except before 1922.
Mushroom knob not replaced in 1927 with the barrel knob on these and the Brazilians.

S&W logo left side post 1920 [except after 12/1936; large logo on side plate], checkered non-medallion, convex top stocks during the 1920s. [Flat silver medallions thru the 1930s and war years.]”

In 1933 at about serial # 185,000 a hammer block was added to this model. It’s the 2nd pre war style (leaf spring in side plate - uses early style hand spring in trigger).
There's a statement in SCSW pg 163 that the new hammer block was added at serial #185,000 w/o an S because of course it’s prior to 1946.

The lowest Com’l model in the SWCA database = #167382 shipped Oct, 1922.” Lee Jarrett (But see #15537 below.)
Smooth triggers until serrated triggers order change March 18, 1929.

Com'l 1917 models have a serial # parallel to the butt like all other Com’l models (except those I frames stamped on the front grip strap). The butt # on all pre war guns will read right side up muzzle to the right. Rare 1917 Commercial Target less than 5 known Jim Fisher’s Genuine Coml Target #181982; one of five known. (see also “1917 factory targets” message)

1917 Coml shipping dates:

165932 shipped on August 21, 1921 to the Supplee-Biddle Hardware Co., Philadelphia, PA., logo but no Made in USA
s/n 167382 shipped October 1922
s/n 173685 shipped May 1922
s/n 173878 shipped Feb. 1921
s/n 173941 shipped Jan. 1921
s/n 174861 shipped Sept. 1921
s/n 179014 shipped August 1927
179698 shipped Sept 20, 1927
s/n 180692 shipped January 1936
1811xx shipped August 11, 1928
s/n 181772 shipped December 1930
s/n 181806 shipped July 1932

Transitional Post War Commercial Models
In Dec 1936, logo ordered moved to the sideplate on the right and made larger.
In SCSW reportedly some few of these 1930 rd top frames (991) were also reportedly assembled in the serial range S209792-S210782, many of which shipped in the 1946-48 period, no longer with mushroom knobs. They can have the straight extractor rod, but most with the 'barrel' shaped extractor knob, usually stamped MADE IN USA instead of the 4 line address stamp, and large S&W logo stamp on the side plate. The S s/n prefix indicates they have the Post war sliding bar safety.
#S 210529 has S serial #, barrel knob, but not the MADE IN U.S.A. stamp: Model 1917 Commercial
No S prefix #210120 within normal range, shipped October 1946

Much earlier Coml in the transition range:
Iskra’s Sn 209957 (no "S" prefix). SMITH & WESSON DA 45 MODEL 1917 COMMERCIAL See original box in post #37.

The Post War Transitional Coml guns in the final run were all Flat Tops.
They all have modern sliding bar hammer blocks whether they have the S or not.
All I have seen had swivels.
All shipped with checkered Magnas.
Usually with ‘Barrel’ extractor knobs.
Brazilian armorers apparently did many repairs over the years. I've seen replaced, unnumbered barrels made by S&W. I've seen replaced, unnumbered barrels that were NOT made by S&W that were probably made in Brazil.
I've seen reblued Brazilians that I believe had been reblued in Brazil. Generally, fairly nice matte blue. They did not appear to have been buffed. More likely pickled or bead blasted.”

“_There may be some Flat Tops in the 1946 contract.
If they found 11,498 usable WW I frames, I'd expect there to be 502 Flat Tops in the 1946 contract.
If they found 11,998 usable WW I frames, I'd expect there to be 2 Flat Tops in the 1946 contract.
Etc, etc..... Regards, Lee Jarrett” 1917 Dilemma


# 15537 S a Commercial Model is clearly one of the WW I produced frames in the 1 to ~175,000 WW I 1917 military serial number range. WW I 1917 revolver numbered frames were not all completed and only 163,476 completed revolvers (the estimated last military unit made being #169959), and 7300 numbered but incomplete frames were actually shipped to the Army or sold commercially until 1/5/1921.

These therefore do not have the MADE IN U.S.A. stamp (introduced in mid 1922) on the right side front of the frame. And the lack of the small left side logo is normal on military models and all S&Ws during and following WW I until resurrected ~1920.

The large S stamped following the serial #s in various locations indicates it’s below ~ serial #42,000 which were inspected under the auspices of Colonel Gilbert H. Stewart whose initials would be on the upper left side rear of the frame had it been assembled and sold under the military contract.

It also indicates the gun was shipped prior to WW II. After WW II a larger S prefix to the serial # on the butt was stamped to indicate N frames that had the new post war sliding bar hammer block safety.



Letter here: SMITH & WESSON DA 45 MODEL 1917 COMMERCIAL


*RE-USE OF 1917 SURPLUS FRAMES
Inspected, but unused serial numbered 1917 military frames preceding and following #169959, (the estimated last military unit made), were assembled thru #209791 by 1946. Some numbered frames went to the Navy and Marines.

Some 1917s with frames and parts left over from the government contract with very varied shipping dates were assembled into military 1917s to fill contracts for the Brazilian government in 1937 and 1946 and many frames into commercial model 1917s. Therefore the s/n is of little help to pin down the shipping dates, but features do help. Some frames used for 2nd Model 44 Hand Ejectors & 38/44s, and those will have serial #s in the regular N frame serial number series instead of the 1917 serial # range.

There are numerous examples that have the flaming bomb or eagle government inspector stamps in one or more various locations but not on the outside of the frame which were finished off; only in the yoke, and on 45 barrels and/or 45 cylinders. Also fouling cutouts may be found on these frames under the top strap.
Example: 45 ACP all matching serial number is #55639 (assembly # 18408 match in all 3 locations as well), it's a round top/U sight notch, has Eagle head proofs inspectors stamps on barrel & cylinder; S24 on cylinder, and an S34 on the barrel. Likely from the 1946 contract because of round top strap and U notch.
If it has the S&W trademark on the frame it is a commercial gun, at least after ~ 1920.
War time 1917s did not have S&W trademark logos.

A few coml models were produced c. 1946 - 1950 (991 is the usual quantity quoted), most in the 1917 serial range # S209972 to # S210782 (811 #s), but not all, and some without the S prefix.

Issued as commercial models post WW II, found with and w/o lanyard swivels, and are considered "Model 1917 Army Post War Transitional Models", until updated with the short action as the: ".45 HE Model of 1950, Military" in 1951 beginning at #S85000 in the other existing N frame serial # range common to all pre war and post war models except the 1917 Army, but most with added S prefix in 1946.

*According to Neal and Jinks, the Commercial models of the early period were stamped 'US Army Model 1917' and stamped 'US Property' under the barrel, but this is questioned and mostly disproved. If they exist or are faked, this may be how the "Civilian Model 1917" mythology came about. More to learn on this issue.
(Laron’s, #178XXX has no US markings albeit a later vintage.)

“I've never seen a Heavy Duty built on a 1917 frame. All HDs are flat tops because they came out in 1930. N Frames became flat tops in 1927. WW I 1917 frames are round tops.
I've never seen a round top Brazilian shipped in the PRE-War shipments, only flat tops built on COMMERCIAL frames. The 1917 Commercials (non-Brazilians) from the 30s that I have seen are flat top commercial frames. You will occasionally see some flat top Brazilians with Springfield inspected barrels or cylinders.
All round top Brazilians I have seen shipped in the POST-War shipments. Lee Jarrett” Questions about an interesting .44HE.

BRAZILIAN CONTRACT 1917s (1937/1946)
In 1937 S&W made some 25,000 1917s for Brazil, most in serial range 181983-207043 (with exceptions as usual that have serial #s far out of this range), using the late or post WW I produced flat top frame with sq notch rear sight, and these are stamped “MADE IN U.S.A.” on right frame side with the S&W trademark on left side of frame. They also have a Brazilian Crest on the side plate dated 1937. These first contract Brazilian 1917s had commercial checkered grips with flat chrome plated medallions. Mushroom extractor knobs. Many Brazilians can be found with the import mark of the importer that brought them back to the USA. One common importer stamp is "IA CO SAC CA" (International Arms Company, Sacramento, California) but stamps of other big importers of surplus arms can be observed as well.

The 2nd Brazilian contract run in 1946 of about 11,800, most using surplus WW I produced frames in the 166,000 – 175,150 range with exceptions as usual that have serial #s far out of this range like #s 67119, 79,100 & 80478. Therefore most with older style round top strap and small U notch rear sight. Some were the newer flat top frames generally in the 207,196 – 209,878 range, with a few round tops also reported in that range. These '46 contract guns had newly made 1917 smooth grips. These are also stamped “MADE IN U.S.A.”. Serial #s read with barrel to the left like all post war hand ejectors. But with mushroom extractor knobs.

Why 1946 Brazilians do not have sliding bar safeties and may have cyl hold open detents: “The first .45 H. E. Model of 1917 finished after World War I were made from frames and parts that had been completed and ready to be used for the military if the war had not ended. That is why you see a lot of post World War I "N" frames both .44 and .45 with the Springfield Armory inspection mark on the inside of the frame. Once these frames were used up the factory then began making new frames. However, to fill orders for Brazil after World War II the factory had to shake the crates and started to use up parts that had been made in World War I. You can usually tell these revolvers as the serial numbers are in the serial range of production handguns that were shipped during World War I such as serial number 168177 where most of the guns in this serial range were shipped to the military in January 1919.” Roy 45 HE 1937 Brazilian Shipment from 1946


“I believe the flat top-strap revision came to the N-frame in the 1926/1927 time frame. As I recall, the earliest Model of 1926 .44 HEs had round tops, but in short order the Model of 1926 production was using the flat-top frames with square-notch sight channels.” David Wilson 1917 military over-run or Civlian ?

Brazilians have myriad anomalies. S&W clearly used re-purchased (from the government) and scoured, old parts inventory for frames and pieces to assemble them. One can honestly say that you will see every combination of 1917 frames and parts of multiple vintages assembled, that one can conjure up! There are some trends but the old adage that "the main rule is, there are no rules" truly applies in no other case as well as it does here.



“Confusion abounds on 1917s.
So, I'll state a few things again that I believe to be facts-

1936 Brazilian Contract guns are all commercial guns exactly like any other commercial 1917s of the period:
A- Flat Top
B- High Polish
C- Numbered ABOVE the WW I range
D- Frames will NOT have Springfield stamps because they were made after the War
E- Barrels and cylinders may or may not have Springfield stamps
F- Checkered grips with flat chrome plated medallions
G- ALL have logos on left
H- All have numbers read with barrel pointing right
I- Mushroom knobs


1946 Brazilians-
Everybody wants to complicate these guns. They're simple. Hellstrom found a bunch of scrap iron, and turned it into money.
The remaining WW I frames were most likely discovered when they cleaned up after WW II and were getting ready to eventually MOVE the Factory. The new Factory was going to be totally self-financed. NO loans. Hellstrom had been hired as President at a fixed salary PLUS a percentage of profits. That deal eventually made him one of the highest paid executives in the US!
Are you tracking with me here?
CASH FLOW......
PROFITS......
We can take these obsolete, outdated, useless frames and scrap them when we move because we can't make guns with them because we haven't sold a round top frame with those awful, narrow sights in 20 years (since 1927)
OR........
Make the Brazilians an offer they can't refuse.
We'll be shipping those obsolete frames WAY off so they don't make us look bad. We'll be making good money off of scrap iron. We'll be using up all those damn barrels and cylinders the Gov made us buy back after WW I.
We're filling a 12,000 piece order with most of the materials paid for so long ago they are basically free.
WHOOPEE!
#2. 1946 Brazilians I have seen-
A- All are Round Top WW I frames
B- Satin Blue
C- No hammer blocks[the post war sliding bar]
D- Logo on left, "Made in USA" on right
E- Smooth grips. Newly made, not leftovers. Numbered to the gun.
F- Frames may or may not have a Springfield stamp. If a frame was a reject, it won't have an acceptance stamp. If a frame was simply a leftover that did not get used, it may have the stamp.
G- The butt number is read with barrel pointing left.
A 1946 Brazilian can have a serial number that falls ANYWHERE in the 1917 range. I've seen several 5 digits. I've seen a 4 digit. There are rumors of a 3 digit or two.
Still use mushroom knobs.

THIS is where the only mystery for me comes in-
WHY / WHEN / HOW was a WWI US contract number put on a surplus frame? IF the frame was numbered in WWI, it would also have the "US Army" marks. So, did they grind that off and re-stamp the number, or did they simply find an UNUSED number in the records and stamp it on a previously unnumbered frame? IF that is what they did, WHY? Why not just keep going with where the numbers were at that time? Puzzling.

General Data-
Most Brazilians have mismatched grips. They apparently came in soaked or packed in oil or cosmoline.
I think Century pulled the grips off most of them, soaked them in solvent, and threw a pair of grips back on them. They paid no attention to whether the gun should have checkered or smooth grips.


Serial Number range for the 1917 Commercial? Serial # confusion and true up:
Serial Number range for the 1917 Commercial?
“Jim, the section on postwar transition 1917 in SCSW is a little fuzzy and appears to mix apples and oranges. The 10,000 frames involved in the second Brazilian contract were the ones numbered below about 182,000 (the low end of the guns in the 1937 contract) that were made and stamped in the 1920s (not 1930s, as SCSW says). I believe there were also some higher numbered guns in the 207xxx to 209xxx range that were folded into the 1946 order. I don't see the exact serial numbers you cite, but I do now recognize that at least a few serial numbers higher than 200000 were shipped to Brazil in the 1946 order, and possibly as many as 2000 or a little more.

“I confess to some confusion about the size of the 1946 contract. Until a couple of days ago I had it in mind that this was a 15,000 unit order, or 60% the size of the 1937 contract. But then I refreshed my memory about the 10,000 frames S&W bought back from the government and thought that I had falsely inflated the size of the second order by 5,000 units in my memory. Now I find with a little internet research some assertions that the 1946 contract amounted to 12,000 units, most of which were built on the old frames and a couple of thousand of which were higher numbered and apparently built on the flat-top frame as were also used for the guns in the 1937 contract.

“If I can figure out and clarify what is going on with the serial number sequences I will post again. This feels like one of those questions that it ought to be possible to answer fairly accurately, and I am getting the feeling that I am only about 90% of the way there.”
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“Here are some notes about Brazilian serial numbers I gleaned from the two Roy Jinks letters I have and the SCS&W (see pages 163-165). I hope this is helpful.

Approximate serial number range for all Brazilian contracts, 1 to 210,000

First Brazilian Contract Group (25,000 units), 1938+,
serial numbers
181983 to 207043
Second Brazilian Contract Group (12,000 units), 1946+,
two s/n subgroups
166,000(can be lower) to 175150
207,196 to 209878
Note that I have a Brazilian (s/n 165xxx) which Mr. Jinks puts in the 1946 group, so the above serial number ranges are not meant to be taken as absolute.” Jack Flash
Thank you for the expert commentary! I learned a lot reading this post.
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Old 04-08-2018, 01:15 PM
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Great info. I have one too.
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Old 04-09-2018, 02:58 PM
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You did well, the early ones are coming up in value everywhere. If you've never spent any time shooting a .45acp/ar revolver you will be dutifully impressed. The advice of others concerning moon clips and a reloading tool is good. If you just want to take it out and bang away with it get yourself some standard velocity 45acp hardball (Winchester white-box) load it up and give her a go. If the cartridges do not fall out or pick out with a fingernail you can use something like a pencil to poke them out. Some shooters like myself prefer the 45Auto Rim cartridge which allows you to load the revolver like you would any rimmed cartridge and eject in the common method. Have fun with that one, I'll admit that in my youth these things just went over my head including the wonderful Models of 1950 and 1955, funny how life is. Now they are some of the best shooters I own and I spend as much time shooting them as I do .44 special.
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Old 04-09-2018, 04:38 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kinman View Post
You did well, the early ones are coming up in value everywhere. If you've never spent any time shooting a .45acp/ar revolver you will be dutifully impressed. The advice of others concerning moon clips and a reloading tool is good. If you just want to take it out and bang away with it get yourself some standard velocity 45acp hardball (Winchester white-box) load it up and give her a go. If the cartridges do not fall out or pick out with a fingernail you can use something like a pencil to poke them out. Some shooters like myself prefer the 45Auto Rim cartridge which allows you to load the revolver like you would any rimmed cartridge and eject in the common method. Have fun with that one, I'll admit that in my youth these things just went over my head including the wonderful Models of 1950 and 1955, funny how life is. Now they are some of the best shooters I own and I spend as much time shooting them as I do .44 special.
When I was a teenager, I wanted a 1917 S&W. At the time, my handguns were a cap n ball replica and a Colt Frontier.22 LR copy.

My momma got a raise and said I could have any gun I wanted, up to $200. I puzzled and puzzled on that and got a Old Model .45 Colt Ruger Blackhawk. Retail at the time was $96. Later handguns were a Webley .455 converted to .45 ACP/Auto Rim and a 1911 built on a Essex frame.

When I entered law enforcement, the chief deputy allowed me to carry my 1911, but he didn't really like it. His prejudice may have to do with the .45 caliber hole in the top of his desk, caused by another young deputy with a .45 auto. BTW, that young deputy is now the high sheriff of that county.

Anyway, I found a reblued 1917 S&W and I started carrying that. My chief deputy was pleased. I sold that 1917 when I had a M27 converted to .44 Special.
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Old 04-12-2018, 10:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Aemsl69 View Post
Hi Guys,

I just bought this. It will be in my hands next week. This will be my oldest S&W. I’m a little leery about the outcome. What did I get myself into?

Please take a look and let me know what I have. Can I get an approximate date and value on it? No rust or pitting on the gun as stated by the seller. All numbers match as the pictures illustrate and has appropriate rollmarks and ordinance stamps.

I’ll add some more pics here in a while.

Thanks,

Mike

About March, 1918.

Buck
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Old 04-13-2018, 05:59 PM
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So, I picked it up this afternoon. I was not disappointed as the pictures illustrate. I promptly broke out the Hoppe’s No. 9 and Renwax. She cleaned up very nicely.

The Grips number to the gun. I have no idea how to rate this gun but it’s gotta be pretty high in my estimate. Any opinions would be appreciated.

Trigger is smooth as silk. Lockup and timing are what you expect.
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Old 04-13-2018, 06:02 PM
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More pics. I wish I was a better photographer! My pictures do not do this gun justice.
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Old 04-13-2018, 07:13 PM
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Beautiful 1917, I would like to add one to my family also. Congrats

Cory
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:03 AM
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You may be aware that Colt also produced a military .45 ACP Model 1917 revolver during WWI. Both look about the same from a distance and fit into the same holster. I have noticed that Colt 1917s usually sell for higher prices than S&W 1917s in similar condition. Just something else to look for.
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Old 04-14-2018, 12:28 AM
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Congrats! Nice 1917! Like Kinman I prefer to shoot Auto Rim instead of ACP and moon clips. For some reason my M1917, no. 83,613, is much more accurate with Auto Rim loaded to hardball specifications. I was surprised at the difference.

M1917s are a great piece of history, particularly this year when many of them, like mine, turn 100 years old!
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Old 04-14-2018, 08:59 AM
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That's a mighty purty .45. Your 1917, SN 97156, was manufactured in August 1918. You are now REQUIRED to have a 100th Birthday Party in August. We'll all OOOHH and AAAHHH and comment on how good she looks to be that old.
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Old 05-04-2018, 02:52 PM
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It would be nice to see all my data in Post #10 credited to me.
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Old 05-04-2018, 08:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handejector View Post
It would be nice to see all my data in Post #10 credited to me.
Agreed and done. My apologies, and please let me know if the edit suffices.

Direct quotes have always been credited to you and others as in post #13.

Thank you for the heads up,
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Old 05-16-2018, 12:18 AM
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Quote:
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handejector View Post
It would be nice to see all my data in Post #10 credited to me.
Agreed and done. My apologies, and please let me know if the edit suffices.

Direct quotes have always been credited to you and others as in post #13.

Thank you for the heads up,


The addition of this paragraph is a pretty weak attempt to give credit:
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
* Much of the data below compiled from posts by LEE JARRETT. Also gleaned from Roy Jink's and other's books, observations of many other members, and personal observation as well. Direct quotes from LEE's and other member's posts are credited to them in the text below.
All the authors deserve credit for their writings. I have no desire to get credited for the data gleaned by others, nor their mistakes.
You really should make it plain when you quote members here, and also give book credits.

If you are going to compose these conglomerations, why

don't you simply click the button and then copy and paste the data? That ensures credit to the author, AND provides a link back to the original post by clicking that little arrow after the name of the OP:

Why not like this????? >>>>>>>>>>

Quote:
Originally Posted by handejector View Post
Just for clarity-
I've never seen a Heavy Duty built on a 1917 frame. All HDs are flat tops because they came out in 1930. N Frames became flat tops in 1927. WW I 1917 frames are round tops.
I've never seen a round top Brazilian shipped in the PRE-War shipments, only flat tops built on COMMERCIAL frames. The 1917 Commercials (non-Brazilians) from the 30s that I have seen are flat top commercial frames. You will occasionally see some flat top Brazilians with Springfield inspected barrels or cylinders.
All round top Brazilians I have seen shipped in the POST-War shipments.
Quote:
Originally Posted by handejector View Post
Confusion abounds on 1917s.
So, I'll state a few things again that I believe to be facts-

1>The first Brazilian Contract in 1936 was all commercial guns exactly like any other commercial 1917s of the period:
A- Flat Top
B- High Polish
C- Numbered ABOVE the WW I range
D- Frames will NOT have Springfield stamps because they were made after the War
E- Barrels and cylinders may or may not have Springfield stamps
F- Checkered grips with medallions
G- ALL have logos on left
H- All have numbers read with barrel pointing right

1946 Brazilians-
Everybody wants to complicate these guns. They're simple. Hellstrom found a bunch of scrap iron, and turned it into money.
The remaining WW I frames were most likely discovered when they cleaned up after WW II and were getting ready to eventually MOVE the Factory. The new Factory was going to be totally self-financed. NO loans. Hellstrom had been hired as President at a fixed salary PLUS a percentage of profits. That deal eventually made him one of the highest paid executives in the US!
Are you tracking with me here?
CASH FLOW......
PROFITS......
We can take these obsolete, outdated, useless frames and scrap them when we move because we can't make guns with them because we haven't sold a round top frame with those awful, narrow sights in 20 years (since 1927)
OR........
Make the Brazilians an offer they can't refuse.
We'll be shipping those obsolete frames WAY off so they don't make us look bad. We'll be making good money off of scarp iron. We'll be using up all those damn barrels and cylinders the Gov made us buy back after WW I.
We're filling a 12,000 piece order with most of the materials paid for so long ago they are basically free.
WHOOPEE!
2> 1946 Brazilians I have seen-
A- All are Round Top WW I frames
B- Satin Blue
C- No hammer blocks
D- Logo on left, "Made in USA" on right
E- Smooth grips. Newly made, not leftovers. Numbered to the gun.
F- Frames may or may not have a Springfield stamp. If a frame was a reject, it won't have an acceptance stamp. If a frame was simply a leftover that did not get used, it may have the stamp.
G- The number is read with barrel pointing left.
A 1946 Brazilian can have a serial number that falls ANYWHERE in the 1917 range. I've seen several 5 digits. I've seen a 4 digit. There are rumors of a 3 digit or two.
THIS is where the only mystery for me comes in-
WHY / WHEN / HOW was a WWI US contract number put on a surplus frame? IF the frame was numbered in WWI, it would also have the "US Army" marks. So, did they grind that off and re-stamp the number, or did they simply find an UNUSED number in the records and stamp it on a previously unnumbered frame? IF that is what they did, WHY? Why not just keep going with where the numbers were at that time? Puzzling.


General Data-
Most Brazilians have mismatched grips. They apparently came in soaked or packed in oil or cosmoline.
I think Century pulled the grips off most of them, soaked them in solvent, and threw a pair of grips back on them. They paid no attention to whether the gun should have checkered or smooth grips.

The Transition guns in the final run were all Flat Tops.
They all have modern hammer blocks whether they have the S or not.
All I have seen had swivels.
All shipped with checkered magnas.

Brazilian armorers apparently did many repairs over the years. I've seen replaced, unnumbered barrels made by S&W. I've seen replaced, unnumbered barrels that were NOT made by S&W that were probably made in Brazil.
I've seen reblued Brazilians that I believe had been reblued in Brazil. Generally, fairly nice matte blue. They did not appear to have been buffed. More likely pickled or bead blasted.
Quote:
Originally Posted by DCWilson View Post

I confess to some confusion about the size of the 1946 contract. Until a couple of days ago I had it in mind that this was a 15,000 unit order, or 60% the size of the 1937 contract. But then I refreshed my memory about the 10,000 frames S&W bought back from the government and thought that I had falsely inflated the size of the second order by 5,000 units in my memory. Now I find with a little internet research some assertions that the 1946 contract amounted to 12,000 units, most of which were built on the old frames and a couple of thousand of which were higher numbered and apparently built on the flat-top frame used for the guns in the 1937 contract.

If I can figure out and clarify what is going on with the serial number sequences I will post again. This feels like one of those questions that it ought to be possible to answer fairly accurately, and I am getting the feeling that I am only about 90% of the way there.
See?
Obviously credited.
EASY to get back to the original threads.



VERY Important-
You can post your data anywhere you wish.
However, the data posted on this forum by other authors, including myself, does NOT belong to you and is copyrighted by this forum.
So, these "summaries" of yours cannot be posted elsewhere on the net, including forums, blogs, and other websites.
That also applies to pics posted by other members.
Consider this to be a formal demand that you delete any of our data that is not yours that has been posted elsewhere. If it has been quoted, you should also have that removed as a copyright violation.
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Lee Jarrett
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  #27  
Old 05-16-2018, 04:40 AM
Hondo44 Hondo44 is online now
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Quote:
Originally Posted by handejector View Post
The addition of this paragraph is a pretty weak attempt to give credit:


All the authors deserve credit for their writings. I have no desire to get credited for the data gleaned by others, nor their mistakes.
You really should make it plain when you quote members here, and also give book credits.

If you are going to compose these conglomerations, why

don't you simply click the button and then copy and paste the data? That ensures credit to the author, AND provides a link back to the original post by clicking that little arrow after the name of the OP:

Why not like this????? >>>>>>>>>>





See?
Obviously credited.
EASY to get back to the original threads.



VERY Important-
You can post your data anywhere you wish.
However, the data posted on this forum by other authors, including myself, does NOT belong to you and is copyrighted by this forum.
So, these "summaries" of yours cannot be posted elsewhere on the net, including forums, blogs, and other websites.
That also applies to pics posted by other members.
Consider this to be a formal demand that you delete any of our data that is not yours that has been posted elsewhere. If it has been quoted, you should also have that removed as a copyright violation.
Lee,

Please consider this a formal apology.
I appreciate the heads-up and the instruction! I will do as you demand starting with the thread above.

Thank you!
__________________
Jim
S&WCA #819

Last edited by Hondo44; 05-16-2018 at 05:18 AM.
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