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Old 07-27-2018, 01:20 PM
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Default S&W 1917 vs. Colt 1917

How many, if any at all, parts are interchangeable other than both using .45 acp ammo and moon clips?

What are the major differences between the two?

Do the cylinders turn opposite of each other? Does the Colt cylinder open by pulling back and the Smith going forward? Are the internal actions the same? etc.

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Old 07-27-2018, 01:37 PM
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Totally different guns and mechanisms. Only the half moon clips are interchangeable.

The S&W 1917 is an N-Frame Second Model Hand Ejector model

The Colt 1917 is the Colt New Service model

Colt Cylinders turn in opposite direction from S&W
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Old 07-27-2018, 01:40 PM
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Lots of questions! Best get yourself an example of each revolver and do the research. You will learn a lot more than if I write a lengthy tome here. What you learn will stay with you longer than reading a lot of words here. Good luck. Ed.
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Old 07-27-2018, 01:46 PM
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They are completely different guns.

"How many, if any at all, parts are interchangeable other than both using .45 acp ammo and moon clips?"

Only the moon clips and ammo.

They are as different as a Ruger GP100 and a S&W 686.

The Colt M1917 was based on the New Service frame and line of guns. The S&W on the 44 Frame and their N frames.

Most of the standard reference works on handguns in the 20th century (Ezell, Smith, Boothroyd, and others) describe in detail both guns for the particulars. Particularly those that cover military revolvers. There are many versions of the M1917 on this forum.

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Old 07-27-2018, 01:52 PM
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I read a good explanation in laymens terms. Smith and wessons internals operate straight forward and make sense. Colt on the other hand has internals that work completely backwards in the mechanical thought process, as the opposite way one would think makes sense. Maybe the reason it is so hard to find anybody to work on Colts now days. The cylinders turn in on Colts and was once thier selling points in the strength of the lock up. Smith & Wesson cylinders turn counter clockwise. They are just two completely different animals.
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Old 07-27-2018, 01:54 PM
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In common:
The caliber
Both double action revolvers.

Different:
Everything else.
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Old 07-27-2018, 02:03 PM
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Pretty much what I thought......
Thanks everyone!

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Old 07-27-2018, 02:14 PM
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The military issued the same holster for both revolvers.
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Old 07-27-2018, 03:35 PM
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My S&W M1917 has a much smoother double action pull than my Colt M1917.
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Old 07-27-2018, 04:23 PM
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The military contracts for 1911A1 in WWII is quite different. They required the parts be interchangeable between all. So Ithaca, Colt, Remington Rand, USS&S and Singer parts had to fit each other. Parts made by sub contractors also such as barrels.

Just a side note not related to the 1917!
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Old 07-27-2018, 04:59 PM
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There was little time in WWI to quibble over revolver parts interchangeability. Guns were needed in a hurry, and both Colt and S&W had the capability to supply satisfactory revolvers which were already in production.

BTW, in the 1906-07 Army pistol trials, the Colt New Service and the S&W triple-lock were entered. For various reasons, the Colt revolver won out, which resulted in the later adoption of the Colt New Service revolver (as the Colt Model 1909, in .45 M1909) as a stopgap measure for use during the Philippine campaign, as the Model of 1911 autopistol had not yet been adopted. Aside from its chambering, the Colt Model 1909 and the WWI Colt Model 1917 are much the same gun.

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Old 07-27-2018, 05:11 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
There was little time in WWI to quibble over revolver parts interchangeability. Guns were needed in a hurry, and both Colt and S&W had the capability to supply satisfactory revolvers which were already in production.

BTW, in the 1906-07 Army pistol trials, the Colt New Service and the S&W triple-lock were entered. For various reasons, the Colt revolver won out, which resulted in the later adoption of the Colt New Service revolver (as the Colt Model 1909, in .45 M1909) as a stopgap measure for use during the Philippine campaign, as the Model of 1911 autopistol had not yet been adopted. Aside from its chambering, the Colt Model 1909 and the WWI Colt Model 1917 are much the same gun.
Yes they are. The 1917 only has the rear of the cylinder shaved to allow the half moon clips.
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:16 PM
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Yes they are. The 1917 only has the rear of the cylinder shaved to allow the half moon clips.
There is one other minor difference. The Model 1909 has a different design (and longer) extractor rod knob to limit the throw of the rod. Most would not notice it unless the two are seen side-by-side.
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:25 PM
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Since this thread mentions a few items of interest, one that I've always had a degree of curiosity about is whether or not S&W ever built a Model of 1917 with adjustable sights, like the TL or 2nd Model H.E.
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Old 07-27-2018, 05:29 PM
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Since this thread mentions a few items of interest, one that I've always had a degree of curiosity about is whether or not S&W ever built a Model of 1917 with adjustable sights, like the TL or 2nd Model H.E.
Not as a 1917. But there is the model 25

Edit. So I got it wrong.

My thanks to Tom K
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Old 07-27-2018, 06:06 PM
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Quote:
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Since this thread mentions a few items of interest, one that I've always had a degree of curiosity about is whether or not S&W ever built a Model of 1917 with adjustable sights, like the TL or 2nd Model H.E.

Yes they did, but in very limited numbers and were essentially special order items, not cataloged. A quantity of somewhere between five (per the SCSW) and ten (per speculation by Jim Fisher in this thread): Commercial 1917 Target - letter confirmed, post #13 - SWHF docs, post #15





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Old 07-27-2018, 06:15 PM
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Machining and finish of the Colts leaves much to be desired; machine marks all over it, and a much inferior “bluing”, which seems to wear thin in a hurry.
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Old 07-27-2018, 06:34 PM
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...the two revolvers side by side...

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Old 07-27-2018, 07:00 PM
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Machining and finish of the Colts leaves much to be desired; machine marks all over it, and a much inferior “bluing”, which seems to wear thin in a hurry.
That is true. However, they still go "BANG". S&W, on the other hand, finished theirs to pre war standards and got themselves taken over by the government.
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Old 07-27-2018, 07:19 PM
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That is true. However, they still go "BANG". S&W, on the other hand, finished theirs to pre war standards and got themselves taken over by the government.
Got themselves taken over by the government? I didn't know this....please elaborate......
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Old 07-27-2018, 07:32 PM
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A government backed corporation, the National Operating Company (NOC), was formed to manage the S&W factory and assumed control on 13 September 1918. But based on Army reports on the delivery of S&W M1917 revolvers, the management transition did not significantly impact production. There is probably more to the story than this, but I think it was a result of labor problems affecting production quotas.
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Old 07-27-2018, 08:30 PM
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Here is a link to FM 23-36 (Field Manual for both the Colt and S&W M1917 revolvers). It contains some pretty good information and diagrams.
FM 23-36 Revolver, Colt, Caliber .45, M1917 and Revolver, Smith and Wesson, Caliber .45, M1917 1941 : United States. War Department : Free Download, Borrow, and Streaming : Internet Archive

You can read the manual on-line, but I would suggest downloading the PDF to your computer hard drive so you can read it at your leisure. Just click the link then when the proper website appears, scroll down a little to see the box on the right labeled "Download Options". I choose PDF, but if you prefer Kindle or whatever, suit yourself. It takes a while to download. Once you have it on your browser, you can save it to your hard drive.
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Old 07-27-2018, 09:05 PM
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It's kind of like the difference between Milky way and Snickers. They look similar, but are way different.
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Old 07-27-2018, 10:09 PM
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The lanyard rings are the same across both guns I believe.
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Old 07-28-2018, 07:00 AM
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Chevy and Ford, Use the same gas, headlights and tires (minus the rims) and thats about it.

I once had a 1917 Colt. Being a curious guy and having taken S&W apart, I took the Colt apart too. Little leaf type springs and small parts. To me way more complicated and dependent on those little springs. That and the ejector rod out there totally free and able to snag stuff, get bent etc. To me little short light leaf and v springs are more apt to fail than coils. I believe that the S&W is the superior design.

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Old 07-28-2018, 09:55 AM
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For the record, the S&W is by far both the superior design and the superior build quality.

I've owned both and having them side by side I'd never bother with another Colt 1917 again. You have to get yourself a good commercial Colt New Service before you see something approaching the same care and quality that S&W put into their military arms.

I'm honestly really unimpressed with the fit and finish of the old Colt service weapons, particularly because their more premium commercial offerings were so fine in the same era. If S&W had produced such sub-par quality weapons for our military I might understand it a little better, but they didn't. Government contract S&Ws are incredibly fine weapons, with the only real exception being the finish on Victory models. Just the finish though.

I tell anyone that if they want a Colt 1917 keep in mind it's really just going to be a display gun. If they want one to shoot they are going to be a lot happier with a good commercial new service. Honestly, I do really like the feel of the new service in my hand, it's a big gun and the grip is quite nice for bigger hands. Aside from that the S&W just blows it away in every possible way.
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Old 07-28-2018, 11:34 AM
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Own both. Shoot both. The S&W is much more refined, mechanically and in the finish. The Colt is a brute, with a tractor pull D/A trigger. They are both great guns in their own right. They are really fun to shoot, and it's really cool to shoot a piece of history.
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Old 07-28-2018, 02:19 PM
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"I tell anyone that if they want a Colt 1917 keep in mind it's really just going to be a display gun."

Only if it was dug up from a French battlefield trench. For about 7 years I was using one of my Colt M1917s for both bowling pin matches and IDPA competition.
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Old 07-28-2018, 02:37 PM
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Testing the trigger on a Colt 1917 almost turned me off to double action shooting completely. I had not fondled a lot of revolvers at that point and I was like, I don't know how you'd hit anything with that thing. It felt like some kind of farm implement or auto tool. Or something.
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Old 07-28-2018, 03:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DWalt View Post
A government backed corporation, the National Operating Company (NOC), was formed to manage the S&W factory and assumed control on 13 September 1918. But based on Army reports on the delivery of S&W M1917 revolvers, the management transition did not significantly impact production. There is probably more to the story than this, but I think it was a result of labor problems affecting production quotas.

Interestingly Ford Motor Company also was basically taken over by the government during WWII, the government was concerned enough about the old man's health and mental capacities at that time that they basically "commissioned" Hank Ford Jr. who was serving as an officer at the time to take over the running operations of the company during wartime operations.
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Old 07-28-2018, 03:29 PM
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There are ways to tune the New Service revolver. I carried a Colt 1917 as a duty gun for a year or so. The DA trigger was heavy, but it was very smooth. I used it for qualification one year and shot a 59/60 score.
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Old 07-28-2018, 04:47 PM
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"I tell anyone that if they want a Colt 1917 keep in mind it's really just going to be a display gun."

Only if it was dug up from a French battlefield trench. For about 7 years I was using one of my Colt M1917s for both bowling pin matches and IDPA competition.



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Old 08-04-2018, 10:00 PM
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I know Pershing wanted at least Corporals and Sergeants in the AEF to be armed with a handgun in addition to a rifle. Does anyone know what handgun Alvin York was using the day of his actions that resulted in the award of the Medal of Honor? I know that, besides his deeds with his M1917 U.S. Enfield, he took on a group of Germans who attacked him at close range in a bayonet charge. He dispatched them all with his sidearm.
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Old 08-04-2018, 10:29 PM
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I know Pershing wanted at least Corporals and Sergeants in the AEF to be armed with a handgun in addition to a rifle. Does anyone know what handgun Alvin York was using the day of his actions that resulted in the award of the Medal of Honor? I know that, besides his deeds with his M1917 U.S. Enfield, he took on a group of Germans who attacked him at close range in a bayonet charge. He dispatched them all with his sidearm.
The usual references say a Colt M1911. But in the movie he used a Luger. Something about 9mm blanks being available, but not .45 blanks.
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Old 08-04-2018, 11:09 PM
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The usual references say a Colt M1911. But in the movie he used a Luger. Something about 9mm blanks being available, but not .45 blanks.
I read an article many years ago that said that the 1911 was one of the hardest handguns to make function with blanks.
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Old 08-05-2018, 05:43 AM
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Originally Posted by Muley Gil View Post
I read an article many years ago that said that the 1911 was one of the hardest handguns to make function with blanks.
Yeah, I saw something about that too but can't remember where. The article said that this is why the Star model B often filled in for the 1911 in the movies.
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Old 08-05-2018, 04:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Moo Moo View Post
Yeah, I saw something about that too but can't remember where. The article said that this is why the Star model B often filled in for the 1911 in the movies.
IIRC, it was an article in Guns & Ammo from the 1970s.
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Old 08-06-2018, 12:21 PM
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IIRC in the old days, in movies movie prop makers had issues with getting the 45 acp blank ammo to feed and reliably cycle the guns. I believed, for a long time that it had to do with the low pressure of the 45 acp. But according to this article that was not the case.

Why Did Hollywood Shun the Colt .45 Government Model in Cinema? - Guns & Ammo

"According to Mike Gibbons, former owner of Gibbons, Limited, once one of the largest current suppliers of firearms to the motion picture industry, a 1911 was no harder to modify than was a 9mm or other caliber. The reason they were not used widely in early films actually was because of the blanks themselves. Until the last few years there was no brass available that would allow a .45 blank to be made with a full crimp—a feature that was critical for proper feeding. One alternative involved using standard .45 ACP brass with card wads, but there were chambering problems, and wads have a tendency to gum up the works of an auto. Some loaders even tried to trim down .30-06 brass, but the cases were just too thick to effect a good crimp.

Back in the old days, there were three major Hollywood firearms suppliers, Stembridge Gun Rentals , Ellis Mercantile and The Hand Prop Room. All had their own particular style of blank, and very often an Ellis blank would not work in a Stembridge gun, or vice-versa—magnifying an already difficult situation.



Read more: http://www.gunsandammo.com/blogs/history-books/why-did-hollywood-shun-the-colt-45-government-model-in-cinema/#ixzz5NPtelJfw"

The death of Brandon Lee changed some particulars of how blank guns are used. A different type of restricter barrel was developed.

Explanations of how they work are in the links below and of the "ammo" used in them.

.45 ACP Brass Blank Ammunition

Modifications to a pistol to allow blank firing?

Last edited by tipoc; 08-06-2018 at 12:35 PM.
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