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Old 10-09-2018, 02:30 PM
BillKilgore BillKilgore is offline
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Hello all.

I was recently given a 45 cal S&W model 1917 and would like to learn more about it. This is my first S&W. According to the serial number search, I think it was manufactured in 1919. I was told it was carried by a US Army Air Corp/USAF enlisted man during WWII and the Berlin airlift. It has seen some miles and a little neglect. I have replaced a missing screw and the missing butt swivel. Any other details are appreciated.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:33 PM
BillKilgore BillKilgore is offline
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A few more photos.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:36 PM
BillKilgore BillKilgore is offline
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Last batch.
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Old 10-09-2018, 02:38 PM
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SUPER NICE!!!

Very cool way to get into Smith and Wesson Revolvers.

The only thing I can say that may be helpful is those aren't the original grips. If you google 1917 revolver pics there are plenty that show the original type. Although you might want to get yours dated and see if they would be the older checkered type or smooth type. They both have the same basic shape with the half circle on top.

I think yours is an older type cuz it's blued. But I'm not an expert at all. Also, I didn't know that the cylinder WASN'T recessed on 1917
s for moon clips. I learned something with your pics. Thank you.
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:00 PM
BillKilgore BillKilgore is offline
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Originally Posted by ABPOS View Post
SUPER NICE!!!

Very cool way to get into Smith and Wesson Revolvers.

The only thing I can say that may be helpful is those aren't the original grips. If you google 1917 revolver pics there are plenty that show the original type. Although you might want to get yours dated and see if they would be the older checkered type or smooth type. They both have the same basic shape with the half circle on top.

I think yours is an older type cuz it's blued. But I'm not an expert at all. Also, I didn't know that the cylinder WASN'T recessed on 1917
s for moon clips. I learned something with your pics. Thank you.
Thanks for the advice regarding the grips. I have not seen other grips like these and thought they are probably aftermarket. The pistol was given to me with a pair of moon clips.
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Old 10-09-2018, 03:10 PM
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Very nice 1917. As mentioned by ABPOS, grips are not original. Cylinder is cut for moon clips clearance and 45 Auto Rim ctg. I see cylinder matches SN on butt, does barrel match? It looks like pin may have been removed and scratches on frame. Open cylinder and look on bottom flat area of barrel for SN.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:13 PM
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Moon clips=the original speedloader. The modern type of speedloader didn't come around until the 1980's or so. Moon clips are great as are half moon clips. Any of the various moon clip tools helps a lot. The 1917's a a lot of un to shoot. Interestingly, this is one of S@&W's earliest barrels made to withstand jacketed ammo. Enjoy. Original grips are around if you look.
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:16 PM
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Old 10-09-2018, 04:35 PM
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As 1917's go, that's a pretty nice condition example. Sure it has signs of use and typical military negligent handling, but otherwise almost all original and not molested/changed/refinished like so many we see.

The correct lanyard swivel for the 1917 has a pinned ring to the stud and is color case hardened. That one appears to be parkerized and therefore of much later vintage.

The grips are aftermarket and of the kind installed by English gun makers usually seen on refinished military revolvers, some converted after the war to more available ammunition (in England). But also sold in the USA.

Congrats and enjoy!
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Old 10-09-2018, 07:24 PM
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Welcome to the Forum.

The proper grips would be smooth walnut service grips with convex tops.
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Old 10-09-2018, 08:20 PM
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Originally Posted by S&W ucla View Post
Very nice 1917. As mentioned by ABPOS, grips are not original. Cylinder is cut for moon clips clearance and 45 Auto Rim ctg. I see cylinder matches SN on butt, does barrel match? It looks like pin may have been removed and scratches on frame. Open cylinder and look on bottom flat area of barrel for SN.
I do not see a serial number on the barrel, but I am probably not looking in the right place.

The butt swivel was missing when I got the gun. The current swivel is from Numrich.

Thank you all for the kind words.

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Old 10-09-2018, 08:28 PM
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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass!

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Old 10-09-2018, 09:06 PM
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Bill-

Swing open the cylinder and look under the barrel, on the flat area normally covered by the extractor rod with cylinder shut. You should see the serial no. there, as you see the US Property mark further up the barrel.

I doubt if your gun was made in 1919. Prob. in 1917 or 1918. S&W's orders for the gun were cancelled after WW I ended on Nov. 11, 1918, but some guns may have been delivered on existing contracts into 1919. Some expert will probably show up and clarify this. But your gun is military production, with US markings, not a later civilian example.

Probably no way to verify the story about the airman carrying the gun. If he did, he probably acquired it via private means.

Enlisted aircrew usually weren't issued with siderms, although I know of a case where they were, in Burma in WW II. Their commander said they needed the guns for survival if forced down in the jungle and that they were a major morale issue with his troops. He got them the guns, prob. all 45 autos.

Officers were given pistols, and one man in a parachute shot down a Japanese Zero fighter when the pilot got too close as the US flyer descended. He drew his .45 and killed the enemy pilot! Alas, he was taken prisoner on landing.

I saw a documentary last night about the F-86 Sabre jet in Korea. A US pilot was shot down by MiG's and on landing, had broken ribs and some spinal injury. He was hiding, listening to an approaching helicopter coming for him, when he saw two Chinese soldiers approaching. He killed them with his .45 and was rescued. Thankfully, he fully recovered from his injuries and resumed flying!

In another case, an enlisted gunner on a B-17 shot down a FW-190 (?) or ME-109 with a S&W .38 that he'd prob. gotten via private means. He evidently hit the enemy canopy just right as the plane came in close, and killed the pilot. What must be the odds on that! Someone posted the newspaper story here.

Sorry for the drift, but your account of the US airman with that old .45 aroused those memories, and I thought that you'd like to read some verified cases where US airmen used their pistols productively.

(I carried a revolver in the USAF, but wasn't assigned flight duty. I never shot anything officially but targets. )

I agree with Jim/Hondo that your grips look like those furnished by Cogswell & Harrison in the UK on WWII .38-200 guns they refinished for civilian sale. Many were converted from .38 S&W to .38 Special, not really a wise conversion. Some were made into .22's!

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Old 10-09-2018, 09:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BillKilgore View Post
I do not see a serial number on the barrel, but I am probably not looking in the right place.

The butt swivel was missing when I got the gun. The current swivel is from Numrich.

Thank you all for the kind words.
Check to the right of the locking lug in this photo with cyl open:

Gifted model 1917-a4aac310-17b6-4e21-8835-3fbf0805a667-jpg
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:24 AM
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What a nice gift! Congrats, and thanks for all the nice pis!

These experts on here are great, and always willing to help out!
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:53 AM
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[QUOTE=BillKilgore;140193287]Hello all.

I was recently given a 45 cal S&W model 1917 and would like to learn more about it. This is my first S&W. According to the serial number search, I think it was manufactured in 1919. I was told it was carried by a US Army Air Corp/USAF enlisted man during WWII and the Berlin airlift. It has seen some miles and a little neglect. I have replaced a missing screw and the missing butt swivel. Any other details are appreciated.[/QUOTE

CONGRATULATIONS, THATS A GREAT OLD REVOLVER THAT SHOWS THE HONEST WEAR OF YEARS OF SERVICE TO OUR NATION......

DON'T TRY TO "TOUCH IT UP" COSMETICALLY. JUST CLEAN IT REGULARLY, AND SPRAY IT WITH PURE SILICONE, FOLLOWED WITH A WIPE DOWN, AFTER EVERY USE.....

.45 ACP CASES HEADSPACE ON THE CASE MOUTH OF THIS REVOLVER, THUS NEGATING THE NEED TO USE 1/2 MOON CLIPS TO FIRE IT......

TREAT IT WITH THE RESPECT THAT IT DESERVES, AND THIS OL' SOLDIER WILL GIVE YOU YEARS OF ENJOYMENT......
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:44 AM
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There is no trace of a serial number on the barrel. What does this mean? The former owner was not a “gun guy” and would not have replaced the barrel.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:57 AM
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All 1917s are cool. I like those Magna style full checkered grips and the fact they came with the gun..match made in heaven.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:08 AM
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There is no trace of a serial number on the barrel. What does this mean? The former owner was not a “gun guy” and would not have replaced the barrel.

The barrel has been replaced. It was replaced at the Augusta Arsenal, probably getting it ready for WW II.
The ammo in WW I had corrosive primers. That ammo also had cupro-nickel jackets, which cause more pitting than copper jackets because of "dissimilar metals corrosion". I can't prove that, but I have heard it for decades.
My point is that 1917s often show severe barrel pitting, and I would imagine many needed new barrels by the time WW II came along.
In your pic below, you can see the "AA" mark applied by the Augusta Arsenal.
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Old 10-10-2018, 12:45 PM
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Can someone explain to me how that cylinder is cut for moon clips? It doesn't look like there is any recess at all in it. I just see the extractor star.
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Old 10-10-2018, 01:42 PM
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Can someone explain to me how that cylinder is cut for moon clips? It doesn't look like there is any recess at all in it. I just see the extractor star.
Just look at the gap between the cylinder and the recoil shield. I'm using full moon clips they attach from the inside, half moons attach from the outside and should be more visible.
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Old 10-10-2018, 02:39 PM
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Originally Posted by ABPOS View Post
Can someone explain to me how that cylinder is cut for moon clips? It doesn't look like there is any recess at all in it. I just see the extractor star.
1917, 1950 .45 ACP and 1955 Target revolvers aren't "cut" per se. They are all forged for the extra headspace necessary for using .45 ACP cartridges and half moon clips. The half moon clips hold three rounds and the rounds are clipped into the inner radius. Post WW I, Remington created the .45 Auto Rim cartridge which had an extra thick rim to compensate for the extra headspace. .45 AR appealed to those folks what didn't want to clip and unclip .45 ACP rounds into the half moon clips.

Around the 1970s, the full moon clip was introduced that held six rounds, creating a "speedloader" that didn't have knobs to turn or buttons to push.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:20 PM
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The barrel has been replaced. It was replaced at the Augusta Arsenal, probably getting it ready for WW II.
The ammo in WW I had corrosive primers. That ammo also had cupro-nickel jackets, which cause more pitting than copper jackets because of "dissimilar metals corrosion". I can't prove that, but I have heard it for decades.
My point is that 1917s often show severe barrel pitting, and I would imagine many needed new barrels by the time WW II came along.
In your pic below, you can see the "AA" mark applied by the Augusta Arsenal.
Dang, sure enough, two 'A's. I thought those were handling nicks!
The master comes thru for us again.

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Old 10-10-2018, 05:28 PM
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1917, 1950 .45 ACP and 1955 Target revolvers aren't "cut" per se. They are all forged for the extra headspace necessary for using .45 ACP cartridges and half moon clips. The half moon clips hold three rounds and the rounds are clipped into the inner radius. Post WW I, Remington created the .45 Auto Rim cartridge which had an extra thick rim to compensate for the extra headspace. .45 AR appealed to those folks what didn't want to clip and unclip .45 ACP rounds into the half moon clips.

Around the 1970s, the full moon clip was introduced that held six rounds, creating a "speedloader" that didn't have knobs to turn or buttons to push.
And, since an image is worth a thousand words:

Half moon clip:

Gifted model 1917-halfmoonclips-s-jpg

Full moon clip:
Gifted model 1917-45acpmoonclips-jpg
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:29 PM
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Can someone explain to me how that cylinder is cut for moon clips? It doesn't look like there is any recess at all in it. I just see the extractor star.
The factory turns cyls from round stock and made them shorter by 'facing off' the rear face to create extra head space for the clip thickness. Not "cut" for clips in today's terms like we see done on 45 Colt chambered revolvers so that 45 ACP can be fired as well.
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Old 10-10-2018, 05:42 PM
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Around the 1970s, the full moon clip was introduced that held six rounds, creating a "speedloader" that didn't have knobs to turn or buttons to push.
The full moon clip actually came 1st, designed and patented by S&W in the late 1800s for their top break revolvers with rimmed cartridges, but never used.

That's the clip S&W originally submitted to the military for use with the 1917 Army.

However, because of more efficient packaging, the military wanted it changed to a half moon clip. The govt also requested S&W to share the design for Colt's production w/o collecting royalties which S&W agreed to do.
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Old 10-10-2018, 06:58 PM
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Originally Posted by handejector View Post
The barrel has been replaced. It was replaced at the Augusta Arsenal, probably getting it ready for WW II.
The ammo in WW I had corrosive primers. That ammo also had cupro-nickel jackets, which cause more pitting than copper jackets because of "dissimilar metals corrosion". I can't prove that, but I have heard it for decades.
My point is that 1917s often show severe barrel pitting, and I would imagine many needed new barrels by the time WW II came along.
In your pic below, you can see the "AA" mark applied by the Augusta Arsenal.

That was the answer I was curious about, I made out the A A marking but couldn't figure out why it was there, thanks again for the education.
I believe the military probably had something to do with the design of the half moon over the full moon, half moon clips by design are much less prone to damage while carried...full moon clips can be bent by simply dropping while loaded...I hate them and use Auto Rim exclusively along with speed strips which fit into a jacket pocket nicely.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:17 PM
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I have found the half-moon clips to be rather flimsy, especially if you try to reuse them much. Full-moon clips are much more robust, in my experience. I do admit that I haven't performed drop tests on them, but I can't imagine that the thinner half-moons would fare better in such testing.

My favorite are third-moon clips since they are easy to load and unload without tools and seem to last forever.
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:37 PM
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Thank you all for the enlightenment.

I understand the cartouche on the upper left side is for the Ordinance Corps. Any thoughts on this one? It is on the lower left side near the trigger guard. Maybe an inspector’s stamp?
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Old 10-10-2018, 07:42 PM
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Yes an inspectors stamp.

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Old 10-10-2018, 08:48 PM
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That's an Eagle over an inspectors number.
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Old 10-10-2018, 09:46 PM
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Originally Posted by murdock23 View Post
That's an Eagle over an inspectors number.
I thought it was an old style coffeepot and symbolized employees being authorized coffee breaks, due to improved labor laws.

Just kidding...

But seriously, I recently read that the North Viets and VC didn't recognize the Screaming Eagle patch on uniforms of the famed 101st Airborne Div. when they deployed to the Vietnam war. Thought the bird was a chicken. I think they were soon better informed!

As for clips, I've owned a Colt M-1917 and a S&W M-1950 Target.45 and hated fooling with clips for both. Preferred .45 AR, but the soft lead bullets seem not to take the rifling in these guns well, as it's intended for jacketed .45 ACP bullets. Handloaders can get around this a lot by loading harder cast lead bullets, but I often lacked time.

I suspect that I might endure those compact two-shot clips. But it's easier to just use speedloaders and conventional revolver ammo in other calibers.

BTW, Elmer Keith wrote that M-1917 barrels could be shot out within 5,000 rounds. The steel was soft and the bullet jackets that I think he meant were erosive. A Colt .45 auto can easily get a barrel change. The revolver, not. I think owners of M-1917's in good shape should try to use hard lead bullets. Alas, factory ammo doesn't offer them.

From a military standpoint in 1917, this wasn't crucial, as the .45 revolvers were intended as emergency war efforts, and few soldiers would fire anywhere near 5,000 rounds in that conflict!

However, Keith's friend Capt. Bill Stone (?) said that in one battle, he fired several magazines in his M-1911 and didn't think he missed a shot. Pistols played a greater role in combat than many think.

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Old 10-10-2018, 11:35 PM
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I too, dislike clips. I shoot both handloaded AR and ACP. The ACP falls from the chambers.

The only time I use a clip, a full moon clip, is for a speed load in a Ruger single action, believe it or not. It's faster to swap cyls in a single action than unloading and loading one at a time. The clip is slightly modified to use with the larger Ruger cyl. Clipped ACP ammo is pre-loaded in a spare 45 Colt or 45 ACP cyl on my belt. The clip keeps the rounds from falling out of the cyl while swapping.
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Old 10-11-2018, 10:02 AM
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But seriously, I recently read that the North Viets and VC didn't recognize the Screaming Eagle patch on uniforms of the famed 101st Airborne Div. when they deployed to the Vietnam war. Thought the bird was a chicken.

The "affectionate" nickname for the 101st patch back in my day was "The Puking Pigeon"


The 82nd also had a few nicknames I won't go into.
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