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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 05-18-2020, 05:22 PM
22hipower 22hipower is offline
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Default So was this originally a Military 1917?

An interesting gun sold yesterday so I'll include a link for it below. It was advertised as:

"Smith & Wesson Model of 1917 chambered in .45 Colt!! This S&W was originally shipped on October 14, 1918 to Bush Terminal, after the revolver was released as war surplus, it went to the famous Kings Sight Company in San Francisco!"

While it has a hole for a lanyard ring it does not exhibit the usual military markings for a 1917 and has the large logo on the right side which a military 1917 should not have and a one line "made in the USA" which if I remember correctly came after 1922. Seems to have the SN in the right places, at least the places we can see. Appears to have been returned to the mothership in November 1946 perhaps for a refinish. Did the large logo and one line "made in USA" perhaps get added at that time and the military marks disappeared then too? Anyway, just looking to learn a bit and it is a very nice revolver. Hope someone here is the proud owner.

S&W Model of 1917 .45 Colt KING SIGHT VENTED SANDERSON GRIPS - Revolvers at GunBroker.com : 867431397

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Old 05-18-2020, 06:14 PM
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22hipower,

To me it looks like a S&W Hand ejector 2nd Model that has been modified into a target style revolver.
Theres no way to see under the grips to look at the lanyard ring, or see the possible hole where it might have been.
Sorry, I just saw all the pics, and lanyard hole.
To meit looks like its been altered, and very doubtful worth the price anyone was asking for that.
To me, the price they paid was excessive, especially without inspecting it first.
Also, Im not so sure that the M1917s had over a 5 inch barrel service barrel.
I do know that the Hand Ejector 2nd Models did have varying barrel lengths.
Ill show an example of my Hand Ejector 2nd Model in .44 Special.

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Old 05-18-2020, 06:17 PM
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Very nice and intetesting gun for sure. I noticed on one of the picures of the under the barrel flat a B inside a diamond. So I wonder if at some point the gun went back to S&W and got the longer barrel and/or Made in USA stamp when back at factory. I see another list stating that 200 S&W 1917's with 5.5 inch barrels were made in 45 long colt. I can not add any additional insight to this most interesting subject. Wish I could find something like this in a LGS or pawn shop around my neck of the woods. They would have no idea what it is. This is exactly how I bought my pre Woodsman King super target. They called Colt and asked, the rep. on phone at Colt replied "these are aftermarket sights some people had put on their guns way back when and add no value to the gun" This is exactly what the guy behind the counter told me and I preceded to buy the gun.
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:34 PM
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Originally Posted by daddio202 View Post
Very nice and intetesting gun for sure. I noticed on one of the picures of the under the barrel flat a B inside a diamond. So I wonder if at some point the gun went back to S&W and got the longer barrel and/or Made in USA stamp when back at factory. I see another list stating that 200 S&W 1917's with 5.5 inch barrels were made in 45 long colt. I can not add any additional insight to this most interesting subject. Wish I could find something like this in a LGS or pawn shop around my neck of the woods. They would have no idea what it is. This is exactly how I bought my pre Woodsman King super target. They called Colt and asked, the rep. on phone at Colt replied "these are aftermarket sights some people had put on their guns way back when and add no value to the gun" This is exactly what the guy behind the counter told me and I preceded to buy the gun.
There is a 1946 service department stamp in there. Certainly for that re-blue. Potentially for other work.

If anyone here snagged that gun hopefully they will share the letter, and *fingers crossed* SWHF information.
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:46 PM
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It's not particularly difficult to rechamber a .45 ACP 1917 cylinder to accommodate .45 Colt. It just needs to be rechambered slightly short to get the proper headspace for the longer .45 Colt case, i.e., so that the .45 Colt case will headspace on the case mouth and not the rim.
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Old 05-18-2020, 06:51 PM
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Check this thread:

Model 1917, Blued, 73193
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Old 05-18-2020, 07:02 PM
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Check this thread:

Model 1917, Blued, 73193
Well, that will at least confirm (or not) the 1918 date. And if it is indeed 1918 I guess that will suggest the logo and one line "made in USA" were added when it returned to the factory in 1946.

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Old 05-18-2020, 07:10 PM
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The theory that it is an overrun from the .455 British Contract makes the most sense. That would explain the barrel length, lack of military markings, and overall excellent condition. All the screw slots look perfect. It must have been refinished when the target sights were installed.

What puzzles me is that the gap between the cylinder and the recoil shield looks like it is large enough to accommodate .45 ACP cartridges with moon clips, yet the serial number on the cylinder looks untouched. Also strange that there is no caliber marking, especially since it went back to the factory in '46 and got other updated marks.

73193 does fit in the British Contract s/n range, late in the run. It also fits in the M1917 s/n range, but if an M1917, it should have shipped in or about June, 1918.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:03 PM
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I don't think the cylinder lug on this King Super Target was changed for an elongated 45 Colt cylinder.

The nickel gun below is a 1917 with a factory replaced 45 Colt cylinder where they also altered/replaced the lug. The blued gun is a 1917 in 45 ACP. Notice the difference in lug shape to account for different cylinder lengths.





This is the King Super Target

So was this originally a Military 1917?-screenshot_2020-05-18-photobucket-albums-a450-lewisfamilyfirearms-may-203-20gb-dsc_6775_zps52xb2-jpg

More than I would have paid but the King Super Target package with what I'm sure is an amazing action would be tempting. If actually a 45 Colt then that's even better though I've seen plenty of sellers refer to 45 ACP as 45 Colt (never mind the Auto Pistol part). The Sanderson's are nice too but are for the wrong hand.
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:18 PM
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What puzzles me is that the gap between the cylinder and the recoil shield looks like it is large enough to accommodate .45 ACP cartridges with moon clips, yet the serial number on the cylinder looks untouched.
Did you read my comment in #5 above?
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Old 05-18-2020, 08:47 PM
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Did you read my comment in #5 above?
Yes.

I said
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The theory that it is an overrun from the .455 British Contract makes the most sense.
Implied but not explicitly stated is that it would have had a .455 cylinder which would have to be modified to accommodate .45 ACP w/ clips. Yet we see no indication of the required machining to accomplish that conversion.

I suppose another possibility is that S&W fitted a new cylinder and numbered it to match when they had it back in '46, but why would they fit a .45 ACP cylinder if it was being converted to .45 Colt?

Perhaps LLoyd17 is on to something: The seller mistakenly calls it a .45 Colt but it's actually chambered for the .45 ACP.

Or maybe it's chambered for both as you suggest. But then .45 ACP couldn't headspace on the chamber shoulder, necessitating either clips or .45 AR. I wouldn't think the factory would do that but maybe the King Sight Company did. I sure would think the seller would say so if that's the case.
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:17 PM
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Yes, guilty as charged for buying this one. I spent quite a bit of time asking myself these same questions. Given the fact that this serial number could be a 1917 Army; .455 2nd HE; or a 1917 Transition based off of serial # alone it obviously needs some more research and work, to which I thank you all for commenting already. I have already learned a few things to look for from these posts I did not know. Much appreciated and I will keep you all informed.

In my opinion the gun is a early post-war transition build in 1946 or it is a late .455 HE 2nd.

Pros/Cons for being a .455 2nd:
Pros: Serial Number range; Pre-War location and font/stlye of serial number; Barrel Length; if it is in fact an original special order .45 Colt then the barrel would only be marked "Smith & Wesson" on the left side with no caliber designated; pre-war trigger/hammer; lack of stamps/markings indicates a commercial variation; pre-war ejector

Cons: Post-War style large S&W on side-plate; Serial number on cylinder appears to be post-war font, absence of .455 mark on barrel, location of "Smith & Wesson" on barrel is centered on gun and in a different location than known commercial overrun .455s (further supports .45 Colt special order or a barrel swap); trigger pin smoothed (implying post 1920s production or done in refinish), most of these factors could have happened during 1946 refinish.

Commercial .455 Overrun
.455 British Svc Revolver Research Thread

Late special order factory .45 Colt (.455 2nd HE)
2nd Model HE, .45 Colt

Pros/Cons as a transition Post-War 1917:
Pros: Perhaps this was a prewar frame from a left-over second model as the serial number was a late .455 series and perhaps assembled in 1946 which coincidentally is in the appropriate serial number range of N-frames (38/44s) etc made in 1946; refinish date ties gun to 1946; pre-war and post-war indications, pre-war frame but with post-war style serial number on cylinder and post-war style S&W on side-plate; I assume the frame was serial numbered with the barrel during initial assembly and the cylinder and final roll-marks are applied during subsequent assembly...corroborated by "10,868 frames were numbered in the 1930s but not completely assembled until after WWII" "991 new Model 1917s were produced between 14 May 1946 and 25 July 1947...these continued in the prewar serial number series" (Jinks); "it is likely that they have a mixture of pre and post war characteristics. Probably they do not have the "S" hammer block, and therefore would not have S-prefixed serial numbers" (source The Fifty Years of the S&W .45 US Service Model of 1917). This is all conjecture... thought it could be a left over N-frame assembled in 1946 for a special order basically, and that would most align with a .45 1917 Commercial was my line of thinking.

Cons: Barrel Length; Not marked S&W DA 45 but Smith & Wesson;

Other important information, my main question for the seller was whether or not they chambered .45 acp and .45 Colt. They stated that .45 acp fell directly through and .45 Colt seated well with both a opened/closed cylinder. It could have been a .45 acp originally but the detailed photo of cylinder rear and ejector star do not look converted from .45 acp to .45 Colt.

King or S&W could have simply replaced barrel and cylinder. May never know.

The Letter not shown but quoted by seller, was puzzling. I asked the seller and they admitted that the letter was rather dated 1990s and the current configuration of the gun did not obviously match. So instead of causing more confusion they cautioned and chose not to include. The letter read as if the request and answer were for a 1917 US Army and stated a 5.5" barrel. So I think the letter request back in the 90s described the gun as a 1917 and therefore Roy saw the serial number and lettered it as a converted Army 1917. I think the existing letter is in error, but that was my gamble. This gun needs to be re-researched to confirm or deny the other two possible guns with the same serial number is my thought.

I have always wanted a King Super Target, I collect .45 Colts and Custom Target Stocks, this checks all of the boxes. I have only been serious at this for a few years but there is perhaps a handful of .45 King Super Targets out there, I've seen two and the other was a .45 Acp 1917 Army. If this is an original .45 Colt then heck yeah, but even a factory converted .45 Colt pretty darn cool. Worst case it's a .45 acp that maybe chambers a .45 Colt. I was taught to buy it when you see it!

UPDATE
.455 H.E. Second Model serial 73193 was shipped in July 1916.

So it was a .455 H.E. Second Model. It is late in the serial range, currently a .45 COLT, and no proof of being a .455, my guess/hope is it was one of the .45 Colts shipped to the Canadian Government that has been King converted and factory refinished in 1946. I don't think there are records by serial number of those .45 Colts shipped to Canada so we only have the gun to judge?
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Old 05-18-2020, 10:27 PM
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Well, whatever the original frame turns out to have been it is now a great looking revolver and certainly one of a kind. Wonder where the seller got the "originally shipped on October 14, 1918 to Bush Terminal" information? The ship date from Roy should help pin down the history; are you going to letter it? Those Sanderson stocks are terrific too. Hope you'll let us know how it shoots when you get it.

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Old 05-18-2020, 10:48 PM
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Well, whatever the original frame turns out to have been it is now a great looking revolver and certainly one of a kind. Wonder where the seller got the "originally shipped on October 14, 1918 to Bush Terminal" information? The ship date from Roy should help pin down the history; are you going to letter it? Those Sanderson stocks are terrific too. Hope you'll let us know how it shoots when you get it.

Jeff
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Thanks Jeff.
I added some commentary above on my thoughts regarding the seller's letter. Hopefully the ship date research will provide some more clarity! I will definitely letter this afterwards and look into the SWHF invoices. The enclosed (wrap-around) Sandersons were the little extra nudge to buy this one. It's my own hunch from a little extra work, but I think this gun may have shipped to the West Coast or ended up there which explains the King work.
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Old 05-19-2020, 11:59 AM
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That frame number is in the 455 series, NOT the 1917 series.


I don't have time to read all of this right now, so I'll just throw out my best guess-


So, we have a 455 frame.
How the gun got built:
1> An employee built it for himself from scratch using leftover parts.
OR

2> Someone sent a 455 to the Factory in 46. It may or may not have had the barrel replaced with a 455 barrel that was numbered to the gun. It may be the original 455 barrel. Many did not have cal marked. The cylinder may be a replacement. It IS chambered in 45 Colt- look at the pics. The frame lug matches the cyl. The recoil shield MAY be faced off slightly- the ratchet clearance slot looks a little shallow. The tangs were grooved. The gun shows heavy buffing, yet there are still some dings visible at the "Made in USA" stamp, making me think it was a used 455 and not built from scratch. The rebound slide stud is flat, also pointing toward a used gun. "Made" was stamped before buffing. The logo was stamped after buffing, and the sideplate may or may not be a replacement. The logos on 455s were a very shallow stamping. It probably had the King rib installed before the Factory work.


All the above is pure conjecture.

Things that would be interesting to know-
1- Is there a hammer block in this gun?
2- Is the channel on top of the frame under the rib blued, or in the white?
3- Is the barrel throated?
4- Are there chafing bushings on the hammer and trigger? (but they may or may not be original)
5- When open, does the cyl have excessive endshake, or does the frame lug retain it properly?
5- Are the yoke and extractor numbered?
6- Are there assembly numbers on the yoke and sideplate?
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