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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 10-11-2020, 08:12 PM
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I picked up a 1917 the other day. Knew nothing about it, just saw it in the pawn shop and liked it. Serial number is 181378. Read through a few posts using the search engine and still a little confused about what it actually is or roughly when it was made.
  1. It has no 'US Property' markings, so I guess it s a 'Commercial'?
  2. It clearly does not have the original grips, so cannot pull those and look a what is written on them.
  3. I believe that that is the 'Mushroom' knob?
  4. Serial number matches on cylinder, butt, barrel
  5. No other marking on cylinder face.
  6. Has an 'Eagle over S2' marking on the frame/yoke area. Cannot see any others.
  7. Guessing it has been reblued as the cylinder has a little bit of a 'case hardened' coloring to it. Maybe it didn't take the bluing the same as the rest of it. Kinda like it.
  8. No prefixes for the serial number. Though there is a 'B' before it on the barrel and there is a B stamped on the frame in the yoke area above the assembly number.
  9. The rear sight appears to be a square notch.
  10. Small S&W trademark on left side.

Any input is appreciated. Got it to shoot it, but when I found it was probably a little older than I thought, piqued my interest.
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Old 10-12-2020, 07:52 PM
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Does it have a Brazilian Crest on the Right side of the frame. You may have to look at the Right side with a magnifying glass. It may be hard see having been reblued .
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Old 10-12-2020, 08:14 PM
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Yes, you have a Commercial with a mushroom knob. Yes, it has been reblued.
As rincar said, look for traces of the Brazilian crest. If not there, it is most likely just a regular Commercial.
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Old 10-12-2020, 08:18 PM
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Is the eagle over S2 on the yoke or the frame? Everything else points to it being a commercial variation or a Brazilian.
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Old 10-12-2020, 09:24 PM
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I cannot see a trace of a crest or anything like that. Just some tiny pits if I really zoom in that contribute to my reblue theory. Really good idea though. Never even thought of that and it still might be valid.
Another thing that made me think of the reblue (other than the odd coloring) was that I thought the little 'nubbin' under the cylinder on the left side was supposed to stick out a little more. (I understand that is not the official S&W nomenclature!). If that was polished down as much as i think it was, so could a Brazilian crest.

The Eagle stamp is on the frame. As mentioned, it's the only Eagle stamp I could see.

Thanks so much guys for the info. I just like to know stuff about what I have.

I was going thinking of replacing the grips, but the ones on it feel really good. Guess I could get some repros and sell off the ones on it already. It's clearly been 'doctored' quite a bit already.

I guess with that much polishing, rebluing, lack of grips etc, it's going to be hard to date it without a letter. Might be worth it just to know. Whether it is a Commercial, a Brazilian or whatever, it's just interesting to think of how many hands the gun has passed through before ending up in a Houston pawn shop. If only they could talk, right?

It shot nicely and the action is great. Really pleased with it. Makes me want another .45 ACP revolver.

Thanks again chaps, really appreciate it.
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Old 10-12-2020, 09:48 PM
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Frankenstein, I think you have an older re-blued Brazilian model. I say that because your 2nd picture showing the hammer indicates that your hammer has the S&W patent warning on the rear. I’ve had many 1917 S&W revolvers over the years (bought my first one in 1959), and none of the US marked revolvers had the patent info on either the hammer or the trigger.
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Old 10-12-2020, 10:31 PM
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Originally Posted by MG34/bar View Post
Frankenstein, I think you have an older re-blued Brazilian model. I say that because your 2nd picture showing the hammer indicates that your hammer has the S&W patent warning on the rear. I’ve had many 1917 S&W revolvers over the years (bought my first one in 1959), and none of the US marked revolvers had the patent info on either the hammer or the trigger.
Wow! What an eye! I never even saw that. I'm going to have to dig it out now and look for other markings more closely.
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Old 10-13-2020, 09:03 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Frankenstein View Post
... The Eagle stamp is on the frame. As mentioned, it's the only Eagle stamp I could see.

...
That's puzzling (to me at least). I know that a lot of WWI frames were left over and used for years, but the change to the square notch rear sight was in the 1920s, wasn't it? Why would such a frame have the WWI inspector's mark?

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... I was going thinking of replacing the grips, but the ones on it feel really good. Guess I could get some repros and sell off the ones on it already. It's clearly been 'doctored' quite a bit already.

...
I would stay with those if they suit you for shooting. If you get repos, next you will want to replace the butt swivel (lanyard loop), which you would have to take back off to re-install the target stocks. I do note that someone thoughtfully left the butt swivel pin in place.
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Old 10-13-2020, 11:46 AM
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The B on the barrel preceding the serial # and on the right side grip frame is for the blue finish. The B in the yoke cutout is coincidental and is the civilian inspector stamp (can be any letter).

The S stamp following the serial # on the barrel for Stewart (Gilbert H. Stewart), Gov’t inspector, is used w/o eagle head or # following the S; found on cyl, under barrel and maybe frame.

The purple cyl is a common non-factory re-finish indicator. The cyl is heat treated and needs more time in the bluing tank than the rest of the gun to get completely blued.

The frame is a left over WW I military frame, hence the eagle head with S2 inspectors stamp. They were used for commercial models, both .44 and .44, and mostly for the 1946 Brazilian contract. The 1937 Brazilian contract mostly used later/new production frames.



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

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.
War time 1917s did not have S&W trademark logos.
If it has the S&W trademark on the frame it is a commercial gun, at least after ~ 1920, or a Brazilian.


1917 ARMY COMMERCIAL MODEL (not including PW Transitional models):

Produced 10,447 (per S&W Journal Book 2, pg 583). The factory added the 1917 as a regular cataloged commercial model in 1919 catalog (per S&W Journal Book 2, pg 583) and 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 WW I and post 1920:

• Com'l 1917 models have a serial # parallel to the butt like all other Com’l models (with a few exceptions stamped on the front grip strap). The butt # on all pre war guns will read right side up with muzzle to the right.
No “Army” grip mark, or “US Property” barrel mark. (Note: SCSW-3 states some coml. models can be found with barrel mark, but those are most likely military surplus military barrels.)
• Stamped "S.&W. D.A. 45" left side barrel and “SMITH & WESSON” on right side.
• 5-1/2" in cal 45 ACP, and the barrel reads "S.&W. D.A. 45" left side only and likely “SMITH & WESSON” right side.
Bright Blue.
Butt Swivel.
• Frames and sometimes cyls and barrels (w/o US property mark) are usually surplus military with eagle head and S# military inspector marks thru ~ 1926
• MADE IN U.S.A. right side frame except before 1922 or if made on a WWI surplus frame.
• Mushroom knob on all 1917s until post war Transitional Models.
• No hammer block safety until 1933 when 1917s first included the 2nd style side plate mounted hammer block safety (which uses the hand spring in front top of trigger) at ~ # 185,000 per SCSW 3rd Ed., pg 163 w/o an S prefix to butt # because of course it’s prior to 1946.
• S&W logo left side post 1920 [until after 12/1936, when changed to large logo on side plate].
• Smooth trigger until serrated trigger order change March 18, 1929.
• Com'l 1917s had Com’l grips of the vintage of when they were made/shipped: In the 1920s they had com'l checkered Svc grips w/o medallions, convex rounded tops. In the 1930s up thru 1941, standard com'l checkered Svc grips with flat silver medallions or pre war Magnas beginning 1938.
• A 1917 Coml #179698 shipped 9/20/27.


CYLINDER HOLD OPEN DEVICE:

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 to no man knows where.

Plunger shown here in bottom of yoke and has a spring underneath it:

Question about S&W 1917-img_0608a-copy-jpg
Photo credit: handejector


SERIAL # LOCATIONS:

To confirm all parts are original, one can check for the 6 (or 7 - Triple Lock models only) matching serial # locations for fixed sight pre war Hand Ejectors and all post war Hand Ejectors thru ~1956 and a few as much as 3 years later.
NOTE: Observing some of the serial #s with accuracy or even existence, especially on penciled stocks, requires magnification, bright light, and an attitude that it is there!

1. Grip frame butt (prefixed by a letter(s) following WWII) - or fore strap on I frame Regulation Police models and single shots with grips that cover the butt
2. Barrel - bottom of barrel or in extractor shroud, (Triple locks have tiny #s stamped in front end of the shroud; sideways/vertical if over 3 numerical digits, otherwise horizontal).
3. Yoke - on rear face only visible thru a chamber with a flashlight (except the .32 Model 1896 and no doubt a few others)
4. Extractor star – backside (which is actually the side facing the muzzle).
5. Cylinder - rear face
6. Right stock only - on back, scratched or penciled depending on vintage and stock material, stamped after 1929, (except most post war target grips because individual fitting not required.)
7. .44 TL models only: rear side of middle lock cam plate (Triple Lock models only)
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Old 10-13-2020, 12:44 PM
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I just got my commercial 1917, #180692, shipped in January 1936, down and it has the "dimple" rear sight notch. The OP's rear sight is definitely the newer square notch, flat top frame style. The only explanation I can think of is that this is a WW I frame that was updated to the square notch rear sight.
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Old 10-13-2020, 12:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MG34/bar View Post
Frankenstein, I think you have an older re-blued Brazilian model. I say that because your 2nd picture showing the hammer indicates that your hammer has the S&W patent warning on the rear. I’ve had many 1917 S&W revolvers over the years (bought my first one in 1959), and none of the US marked revolvers had the patent info on either the hammer or the trigger.
The patent marking on the the Hammer and Trigger on K and N frames began in June 1926 and continued until WWII production began. It was the patent notice for the color case hardening process. (SCSW - 4th edition page 493). I have a commercial 1917 (not Brazilian) with the notice on both. Estimate mine was made in 1929.
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Old 10-13-2020, 05:07 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Muley Gil View Post
I just got my commercial 1917, #180692, shipped in January 1936, down and it has the "dimple" rear sight notch. The OP's rear sight is definitely the newer square notch, flat top frame style. The only explanation I can think of is that this is a WW I frame that was updated to the square notch rear sight.
I figured someone enlarged the dimple sight. It didn't look like a sq notch to me. But the top of the frame is somewhat flattened. Although I haven't seen any WWI frames redone at the factory like that, you may be right!
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Old 10-13-2020, 05:22 PM
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Does the barrel have the "SMITH & WESSON" marking on it's right side? (Typically I don't see that with leftover WWI era barrels with WWI era inspector markings such as the "S" or eagle head/S-number.)

Also, I'd like to see all the WWI era inspector markings stamped on the frame. As others have eluded to we typically don't see them with the commercial framed examples having the squared-off type rear sight notch.

I would think it unusual of S&W to convert an old U.S. contract frame oval rear sight area to the style found on the later commercial models but I'be learned to never say never with regards to the goings on at S&W.

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Old 10-13-2020, 05:38 PM
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Here are pics of the different rear sight styles.

The first pic is the U.S. military contract style frame.

The second pic is of the later era commercial models not built on WWI era frames.

Another thing of note.......the "S" inpsection stamp, such as the one on your barrel, had stopped being used in the earlier period of S&W M1917 production. Thus your example had it's barrel built and inspected in the WWI era and laid around unserialized for a number of years until built into a commercial model at a later time.

Was there an "S" stamp on the rear face of the cylinder as well?

We really need more pics. If your frame truly is a WWI era U.S. contract frame, with proper inspection markings, the would be somewhat of an unusual item having the later era commercial rear sight style (added).

I'd love to see all of it's inspector stamps, whether they be an early production "S" or later production eagle head/S-number style.
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Old 10-13-2020, 06:21 PM
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Amazing information guys!

To answer some of the questions.
Yes, it has Smith and Wesson on the right side of the barrel.
No, i only see the serial number on the rear of the cylinder
I've attached some more pics.
First is a better pic of the rear sight. Definitely looks like the second picture (to me at least)
Next is a picture of that S2 stamp.
Last three are stamps I found on the grip frame. First two are Left and right of the grip retaining pin, then there is something that looks like a '1' on the left side of the frame near the top of what would be covered by the grip
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Info needed on 1917-img_5544-jpg   Info needed on 1917-img_5543-jpg   Info needed on 1917-img_5509-jpg   Info needed on 1917-img_5512-jpg   Info needed on 1917-img_5506-jpg  


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Old 10-13-2020, 06:37 PM
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One more pic.
This is the left side plate. I cannot make out anything like a crest, but then I am not familiar with what it looks like.
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Old 10-13-2020, 06:39 PM
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An odd duck to say the least. It exhibits all the later era commercial traits we would expect to see on the frame and barrel with both obviously being inspected during the WWI era production run.

Not only that the barrel has an earlier "S" inspector marking, the frame has the later eagle head/S-number inspector marking and the cylinder exhibits no inspection stamps at all.

Just gonna reach a little further here.......can you verify if the yoke has a WWI era inspector's stamp on the area opposite of where it mates to the frame? If so which style is it?

A cool odd duck it is.

Dale
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Old 10-13-2020, 06:44 PM
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Quote:
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One more pic.
This is the left side plate. I cannot make out anything like a crest, but then I am not familiar with what it looks like.
Here's a pic of the Brazilian crest on the removable sideplate.

Even if your example happened to be a Brazilian example I still wouldn't expect to see the commercial features on the WWI era U.S. contract parts having inspection stamps from that era. I have simply seen too many Brazilian examples built with leftover WWI contract parts that did not have the commercial traits added to them. (As well as seeing way too many post-WWI commercial M1917 examples built with leftover WWI contract parts that did not have the later era commercial traits added to them.)
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Old 10-13-2020, 06:55 PM
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I can't help but wonder if for the briefest amount of time S&W added the later commercial features to the earlier leftover WWI era parts in anticipation of the changes to come.

I also can't help but wonder how many such "transitional" commercial examples were made until those features actually became standard on later era parts? (The use of the word "transitional" is sure to ruffle more than a few feathers here!)
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:00 PM
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Quote:
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An odd duck to say the least. It exhibits all the later era commercial traits we would expect to see on the frame and barrel with both obviously being inspected during the WWI era production run.

Not only that the barrel has an earlier "S" inspector marking, the frame has the later eagle head/S-number inspector marking and the cylinder exhibits no inspection stamps at all.

Just gonna reach a little further here.......can you verify if the yoke has a WWI era inspector's stamp on the area opposite of where it mates to the frame? If so which style is it?

A cool odd duck it is.

Dale
I do not see one.
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:01 PM
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Here is a prime example of what I would expect a commercial example built using leftover WWI era parts to look like.

SCARCE, LIMITED PRODUCTION PRE-WAR CIVILIAN/COMMERCIAL MODEL 1917 .45 ACP REVOLVER, #178XXX

Take note of it's rear sight style and lack of right side "SMITH & WESSON" barrel markings. This is similar to WWI M1917 production examples. Also take note of it's relatively high s/n of 178xxx.

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Old 10-13-2020, 07:03 PM
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I do not see one.
Which makes a lot of sense if the yoke and cylinder were both non-WWI era leftover parts, assuming their lack of WWI era inspector markings would typically mean such.
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:18 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MG34/bar View Post
Frankenstein, I think you have an older re-blued Brazilian model. I say that because your 2nd picture showing the hammer indicates that your hammer has the S&W patent warning on the rear. I’ve had many 1917 S&W revolvers over the years (bought my first one in 1959), and none of the US marked revolvers had the patent info on either the hammer or the trigger.
Later era commercial models built with the more squared off rear sight will also have the patent marks on the hammer and trigger. My true commercial (non-Brazilian) example does have them and it is in the 1819xx serial number range.

The 1937 contract Brazilian M1917 examples built on commercial frames of that era are typically identical to the commercial S&W examples with the exception of them having the added Brazilian crest on the sideplate.

Once again the OP's example exhibits just about every later era commercial trait I can think of with the exception of it having the WWI era inspection stamps on it's barrel and frame.

I will make sure to keep the OP's example in the back of my mind when inspecting commercial and Brazilian M1917 examples.
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:40 PM
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Which makes a lot of sense if the yoke and cylinder were both non-WWI era leftover parts, assuming their lack of WWI era inspector markings would typically mean such.
So, the assembly numbers would be added at the time of. er, assembly? That's why those match.
Yoke s/n and extractor star underside s/n match the barrel, cylinder and frame too.
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:50 PM
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One other piece of info in form of a question. I hear about hammer safeties and the S prefix. Is it just a different newer version of safety that came with the S prefix?
This definitely has some form of safety. The hammer does go forward further with the trigger pressed than not. I also tested with a primed but empty case. IF I hold the trigger and release the hammer, the primer goes off. If I hold the hammer, pull the trigger, let the hammer go forward a bit, then let go of the trigger and let the hammer go forward, it gets 'stopped' before it can hit the primer
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:52 PM
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Frankenstein, in case you are wondering a commercial example (and 1937 Brazilian example) exhibiting physical traits such as yours I feel would have NORMALLY left the factory wearing checkered walnut stocks with silver medallions.

Both my commercial model and Brazilian 1937 have similar commercial traits as your example and they have s/n matching stocks which are checkered walnut with silver medallions (Unfortunately both my commercial and Brazilian M1917 were refinished prior to me owning them..........but funny enough they do still have their numbers matching stocks.)

Of course only a letter from S&W will give you absolute certainty with regards to the stocks that were on it when it left the factory. Sometimes things got built and shipped out of expected normal time sequence so anything can happen.

If it were mine I would attempt to locate a set of correct era stocks and a lanyard ring. For those of us who enjoy the minutia of the M1917 it is definitely a conversation piece.
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Old 10-13-2020, 07:58 PM
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Frankenstein, in case you are wondering a commercial example (and 1937 Brazilian example) exhibiting physical traits such as yours I feel would have NORMALLY left the factory wearing checkered walnut stocks with silver medallions.

Both my commercial model and Brazilian 1937 have similar commercial traits as your example and they have s/n matching stocks which are checkered walnut with silver medallions (Unfortunately both my commercial and Brazilian M1917 were refinished prior to me owning them..........but funny enough they do still have their numbers matching stocks.)

Of course only a letter from S&W will give you absolute certainty with regards to the stocks that were on it when it left the factory. Sometimes things got built and shipped out of expected normal time sequence so anything can happen.

If it were mine I would attempt to locate a set of correct era stocks and a lanyard ring. For those of us who enjoy the minutia of the M1917 it is definitely a conversation piece.
Thanks. I was just going to ask that very question!
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Old 10-13-2020, 08:15 PM
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With your example having earlier WWI era parts I guess there is also the slightest of chance that it could have had the checkered non-medallioned stocks typical of the commercial models from 1920s built using leftover military M1917 parts.

Once again, if you are willing to pay for a factory letter you may find some certainty there.

Unfortunately with your example having the earlier WWI era M1917 parts with later era commercial features it's a bit of a toss-up.......but I would lean towards the later era checkered silver medallioned stocks due to the later era commercial features it also exhibits.

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Old 10-13-2020, 08:29 PM
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One other piece of info in form of a question. I hear about hammer safeties and the S prefix. Is it just a different newer version of safety that came with the S prefix?
This definitely has some form of safety. The hammer does go forward further with the trigger pressed than not. I also tested with a primed but empty case. IF I hold the trigger and release the hammer, the primer goes off. If I hold the hammer, pull the trigger, let the hammer go forward a bit, then let go of the trigger and let the hammer go forward, it gets 'stopped' before it can hit the primer
Do not confuse the "S" inspection stamp with the "S" stamp on revolver examples later fitted with hammer block safeties. The late WWII Victory model and post WWII M&P examples comes to mind with their added "S" stamps, SV and S prefixes. Maybe someone can tell us if the post-WII M1917 commercial variants examples also had the hammer block safeties incorporated into them. Unfortunately I do not currently have a post-WWII commercial variant in my collection. (I do have a 25-2 but that doesn't really help us here.)

It is a normal design feature for the hammer to rebound rearward once the trigger has returned to it's forward position.
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Old 10-13-2020, 08:32 PM
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With your example having earlier WWI era parts I guess there is also the slightest of chance that it could have had the checkered non-medallioned stocks typical of the commercial models from 1920s built using leftover military M1917 parts.

Once again, if you are willing to pay for a factory letter you may find some certainty there.

Unfortunately with your example having the earlier WWI era M1917 parts with later era commercial features it's a bit of a toss-up.......but I would lean towards the later era stocks due to the later era commercial features it also exhibits.
Would the question/info I posted about it evidently having some form of hammer safety (even with no S prefix on the serial number) point towards the later era?

I wasn't sure if the prefix just meant it had a newer type of hammer safety than before, or if prior to that, there were no hammer safeties at all.

edited: Just saw your answer to my question. Thanks!

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Old 10-13-2020, 10:26 PM
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Personally, if this to be a shooter, I would add John Culina's smooth Magna grips. Since this one has been refinished, it will never be a true collectible, so why search out expensive grips that wouldn't be numbered to it and aren't as comfortable when it comes to shooting.
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Old 10-13-2020, 10:34 PM
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Personally, if this to be a shooter, I would add John Culina's smooth Magna grips. Since this one has been refinished, it will never be a true collectible, so why search out expensive grips that wouldn't be numbered to it and aren't as comfortable when it comes to shooting.
It's plenty collectible to a guy like me..........but I fall well short of a purist and tend to be an accumulator, especially of conversational items such as this.

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Old 10-14-2020, 10:42 AM
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So, the assembly numbers would be added at the time of. er, assembly? That's why those match.
Yoke s/n and extractor star underside s/n match the barrel, cylinder and frame too.
There is also an assembly number stamped on the backside of the removable sideplate. It should match the assembly numbers stamped on the frame and yoke if original to the revolver.
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Old 10-14-2020, 11:02 AM
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So, the assembly numbers would be added at the time of. er, assembly? That's why those match.
Yoke s/n and extractor star underside s/n match the barrel, cylinder and frame too.
Normally I would approach a S&W frame as an assembled item having it's yoke and sideplate fitted and marked with an assembly number matching the frame's assembly number during initial manufacture.

After a caliber and grip style was selected for the frame the appropriate caliber barrel, cylinder, and selected style grips would be fitted to the frame and then all of the associated parts would be serialized.

Of course I may be way oversimplifying things here but you get the gist.

With your example you have an older WWI era inspected frame that has a yoke mated to it that does not have an older WWI era inspector marking at all. This tells me your frame was most likely not a complete "assembled" WWI era frame, but possibly just a bare frame prior to being assembled into a commercial model. Even the barrel would be incorrect for the time period of the frame as it has the earlier "S" inspector stamp versus the frame's eagle head/S-number stamp. Also the commercial marked hammer and trigger tells us the internals were fitted/installed at a much later time period versus the frame's original manufacture.

Your example is a contradiction of the expected norms on so many different fronts........but once again is proof as to why I "never say never" with regards to what S&W does.

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Old 10-14-2020, 11:36 AM
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Another thing of note.......the "S" inpsection stamp, such as the one on your barrel, had stopped being used in the earlier period of S&W M1917 production. Thus your example had it's barrel built and inspected in the WWI era and laid around unserialized for a number of years until built into a commercial model at a later time.

Was there an "S" stamp on the rear face of the cylinder as well?

We really need more pics. If your frame truly is a WWI era U.S. contract frame, with proper inspection markings, the would be somewhat of an unusual item having the later era commercial rear sight style (added).

I'd love to see all of it's inspector stamps, whether they be an early production "S" or later production eagle head/S-number style.
Mr. Jinks has said that S&W didn't stamp 'US Army Model 1917', and a circle with GHS inspector or the flaming bomb on all guns until after the Govt. took control of S&W in Jan 1918 because of Govt. dissatisfaction with S&W’s production speed of the M1917.

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 approximate range 1 to at least 43894. During this period just an S inspector stamp for Stewart is used w/o eagle head or # following the S; found on cyl, under barrel and maybe frame. Note: 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.

Later guns are marked with a flaming bomb on upper rear left side of frame, beginning c. #42000 until deleted April 1918. So we see an apparent overlap of the two stamps being used. But most likely the bomb stamped guns numbered below 43894 were produced/shipped after the end of the GHS stamp use.

The April 1918 date is likely correct. But as usual with Smiths there are anomalies caused by the complete lack of Smith's serial # chronological correlation to their manufacturing and shipping dates. Therefore we find frames stamped with the flaming bomb most likely before April 1918, but not shipped till later, as late as the end of 1918 and mixed in with guns w/o the bomb stamp.

Later war time produced guns are inspector stamped 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., in several places from April 1918 to war’s end: an early example is s/n 111XXX.

More details of inspector stamping: stamp on 1917 frame
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Old 10-14-2020, 11:38 AM
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So, the assembly numbers would be added at the time of. er, assembly? That's why those match.
Yoke s/n and extractor star underside s/n match the barrel, cylinder and frame too.
Assembly #s were needed once the frame, yoke and sideplate were fitted because the serial #s were not stamped yet.
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Old 10-14-2020, 11:42 AM
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Would the question/info I posted about it evidently having some form of hammer safety (even with no S prefix on the serial number) point towards the later era?

I wasn't sure if the prefix just meant it had a newer type of hammer safety than before, or if prior to that, there were no hammer safeties at all.

edited: Just saw your answer to my question. Thanks!
• No hammer block safety until 1933 when 1917s first included the 2nd style side plate mounted hammer block safety (which uses the hand spring in front top of trigger) at ~ # 185,000 per SCSW 3rd Ed., pg 163 w/o an S prefix to butt # because of course it’s prior to 1946.

After 1946 The post war sliding bar hammer block safety was used and the S serial # prefix began. However, there are some few post war examples missing the S but having the post war sliding bar safety.
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Old 10-14-2020, 12:07 PM
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Is there any way to know who the S2,S3 etc. inspectors were?
Thanks, regards, Ray

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Old 10-15-2020, 01:50 AM
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Well,
Because this one seems to be a little unusual, due to the combination of early and later features, and also because of the incredible generosity from the people on this forum with their time and knowledge, I think it is only fair that I 'drop the benjamin' and put in the request for a letter. At least then we might have some additional information that we can add to the collective. I will also take off the side plate (don't panic, I won't use a pry tool! ) and take pics.

Thank you so much everyone for all the information. I honestly had no clue there was so much to this model. Truly fascinating stuff. So much history. As I mentioned earlier, if only these things could talk.....
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Old 10-15-2020, 02:20 AM
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In actuality your 1917 and its combination of early and later features is no more unusual than any other examples of pre war commercial 1917 production.

In fact it's the practices of S&W wholly to utilize existing surplus wartime parts production is in itself rather unusual and/or unique for all 1917 subsequent pre war production and as you've become aware, also includes the pre war 44 Special 2nd Model, pre war '37 Brazilians, and post war '46 Brazilians.

However, I agree you should get the letter.
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Old 10-15-2020, 08:54 AM
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In actuality your 1917 and its combination of early and later features is no more unusual than any other examples of pre war commercial 1917 production.

In fact it's the practices of S&W wholly to utilize existing surplus wartime parts production is in itself rather unusual and/or unique for all 1917 subsequent pre war production and as you've become aware, also includes the pre war 44 Special 2nd Model, pre war '37 Brazilians, and post war '46 Brazilians.

However, I agree you should get the letter.
It's a bit unusual that S&W modified the WWI era military contract frame to the later commercial style rear sight. Not saying it's the only one like it out there but I do not recall ever seeing another one like it. Typically with the post-WWI M1917 commercial models built using the leftover WWI era frames they left the frame in it's original configuration, rear sight wise.

If anyone else has a similar M1917 example having a WWI era inspected frame modified to resemble the later era commercial frame please share it with us. I wonder how many WWI era frames S&W modified in this manner before they stopped using them for their commercial models. (The huge assumption here is that S&W actually performed the rear sight area modification, of which appears to be identical to the later era commercial framed examples.)

If you do send off for a letter be sure to provide clear pics of the rear sight and WWI era inspector stamp on the frame. You might also ask if Roy if he feels it was truly a S&W modification of the rear sight and if there are records as to how many may have been converted in this fashion if it was a factory modification.

While I don't expect everyone to be as curious as I am about this, I am still very curious none-the-less.

Don't forget to verify the sideplate's assembly number while you have it off inspecting the internals.

Be sure to place the sideplate screws back into their original locations as the forwardmost sideplate/yoke retaining screw is properly fitted. (This is assuming the sideplate/yoke retaining screw is still in the correct location after all these years!)

Dale

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Old 10-15-2020, 09:28 AM
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I honestly had no clue there was so much to this model.
With regards to the post-WWI/pre-WWII commercial M1917 models I would typically divide them into 2 categories......

1. The early commercial models built using leftover WWI era frames and parts, having the associated WWI era inspection stamps and physical traits such as the small oval rear sight, barrels not having any markings on the right side, and the triggers and hammers not having the patent markings. (Of course there may be periods as various older WWI era parts were used up later era parts were fitted, but typically we don't see modified WWI frames to look like later era commercial frames.)

2. The later commercial models built using a completely different commercial frame having the larger more squared off rear sight, "SMITH & WESSON" marking on the barrel right side, and the patent marks on the trigger and hammer.

If your example actually had it's rear sight modified by S&W to have the appearance of the later era frames being brought into production then not only was there a period for the WWI era parts being used up on the commercial models............ but there also now appears to have been a period of time where the older WWI era frames were modified to look like the newer commercial frames they were wanting to/or had already transitioned to.

Just one more thing for me to keep an eye out for, but to be honest I usually don't let too many M1917 examples escape my inspection so that's why your example seems a bit unusual to me. Maybe there are (many) more of them out there?

While we are on this subject does anyone have an example of a Brazilian M1917 example having a WWI era inspected frame that had it's small oval rear sight converted to the later era commercial style larger squared off rear sight similar to the OP's example? Once again the Brazilian M1917 examples typically fall into two categories...........those built with later era commercial frames and those built with WWI era (inspected) frames. Both exhibiting their individual features and I do not recall ever seeing a Brazilian M1917 example built on a WWI era frame modified to have a later era commercial style rear sight.

Dale

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Old 10-15-2020, 10:21 AM
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How does it shoot? It looks like a nice gun, whatever it is or when it became what ever it is. Have fun! It seems the research is a large part of the fun!
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Old 10-15-2020, 10:25 AM
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Here's another thing I found interesting about the OP's revolver......

While the OP's frame is obviously a WWI era inspected frame the serial number on the butt reads with the barrel pointing to the right, similar to my later era commercial model and my Brazilian M1917 built on a later era commercial model frame.

TYPICALLY the post-WWI era commercial models built using leftover WWI era frames had butt serial numbers that read with the barrel pointing to the left. Heck even the post-WWII delivered Brazilian examples built using leftover WWI era frames TYPICALLY have their serial numbers read with barrels pointing to the left. (I've attached a pic of forum member Ray's very fine Brazilian example built on a leftover WWI era frame whose s/n reads with the barrel to the left. I've also attached a pic of my later era commercial M1917 example with the butt serial number reading with the barrel to the right, similar to the OP's example.)

So this also leads me to believe the rear sight modification on the OP's example may be a factory legit modification if they also saw fit to serialize the butt in a manner similar to what we would expect to find on later era commercial framed examples, and still opposite of what we would expect to find on earlier commercial models utilizing leftover WWI era frames.

All very curious to me.
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Old 10-15-2020, 11:03 AM
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I know my posts have been considerably lengthy with regards to the OP's example, and for that I apologize, but if any forum members have similar commercial M1917 or Brazilian M1917 examples built on a WWI era frames exhibiting later era commercial frame traits please speak up and provide additional pics or links.

Thanks in advance,
Dale

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Old 10-15-2020, 11:34 AM
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Dale,

I don't find it inconceivable that possibly all the WWI frames were not in the same state of completion. The gov't pulled the plug on 1917 production with ~7500 frames not assembled into completed guns, and who's to say they were all in the same state of completion. Perhaps S&W used up the completely machined frames first. Then by change order of Oct 17, 1927 when the new sq notch rear sight was officially ordered, they may have been down to incomplete machined frames, finished machining them including the new rear sight and flat top strap. The few frames left had the rear sight re-machined, and used them up.

And I did find this statement in my 1917 notes: "Later assembled frames with earlier #s in the military range but previously unused, have been observed with flat top strap and square notch rear sight; example #113934."

Just my theorizing.
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Old 10-15-2020, 11:46 AM
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Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
Dale,

I don't find it inconceivable that possibly all the WWI frames were not in the same state of completion. The gov't pulled the plug on 1917 production with ~7500 frames not assembled into completed guns, and who's to say they were all in the same state of completion. Perhaps S&W used up the completely machined frames first. Then by change order of Oct 17, 1927 when the new sq notch rear sight was officially ordered, they may have been down to incomplete machined frames, finished machining them including the new rear sight and flat top strap. The few frames left had the rear sight re-machined, and used them up.

And I did find this statement in my 1917 notes: "Later assembled frames with early #s in the military range but previously unused, have been observed with flat top strap and square notch rear sight; example #113934."

Just my theorizing.
Jim I agree with the various states of completion theory, unfortunately I just haven't seen a commercial M1917 built on a WWI era frame with later era commercial rear sight until now. (And we must not forget the many post-WWII revolvers shipped to Brazil using found/leftover/rejected WWI era M1917 frames and parts that did not get the later style rear sight modification.)

This begs the question..........how many (or how few) are there if this is the first I've seen in over 10 years of collecting, scouring shows and shops, as well as being an online M1917 pic junkie?

I wonder if S&W kept detailed enough records to state whether or not a commercial (or Brazilian) M1917 frame was leftover WWI era or later commercial era.........and on top of that if the frame was a WWI era frame and in a rather incomplete state prior to being completed/machined to look like a later era commercial frame?

This is why I find the OP's example rather interesting. I only deal with what I know, and what I know is what I have seen or can see. I am trying not to deal in a rough generality here but possibly we may never know if a great many or a great few were produced on a similar fashion as the OP's?

While I am fully aware of the fact that I have not personally inspected each and every commercial model M1917 this is the very first I have seen in a configuration such as the OP's out of the many I have looked at. Thus my request for actual confirmation of others that may be out there............so post'em if you got'em please.

Hopefully many more will turn up and increase my hopes of someday adding one to my meager M1917 collection!

Thanks,
Dale

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Old 10-15-2020, 12:49 PM
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Let me put it another way, numbers wise............

Colt only made somewhere between 1000 to 1500 Civilian Model of 1917 revolvers (depending upon whose numbers you believe)........of which I am so utterly fortunate to own 3 of at the moment. (Nothing crazy expensive, right place, right time, luck, etc....they are actually barrel marked "COLT MODEL 1917 .45 AUTO. CTGE.")

And I still see them pop up on the radar every so often.

Once again, the OP's is the first such configured commercial S&W M1917 I have actually seen........not that that actually means a whole heckuva a lot. Maybe there are many many more of them and we just don't see the detailed pics of them online? I know I have yet to physically hold one in my hands.
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Old 10-15-2020, 01:44 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
Mr. Jinks has said that S&W didn't stamp 'US Army Model 1917', and a circle with GHS inspector or the flaming bomb on all guns until after the Govt. took control of S&W in Jan 1918 because of Govt. dissatisfaction with S&W’s production speed of the M1917.
Jim,

Can you clarify this statement please, as I just can't wrap my head around exactly what you are trying to get across. Please be very specific. (It seems to be implying there may have been very early M1917 WWI contract examples that do not have the "US Army Model of 1917" marking, nor the GHS or the flaming ordnance bomb markings on the upper left frame.......?)

Maybe the toxic fumes from the many chemicals we use on aircraft are catching up to me.............

My early 4-digit S&W M1917 example has the butt marking and GHS stamp as expected.

Thanks,
Dale
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Old 10-15-2020, 03:17 PM
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I also meant to add..........I also wonder about the possibility of it being a Brazilian M1917.

If it were to be a Brazilian example built on a leftover WWI era M1917 frame that was made to look like the later era commercial frame Brazilian M1917 examples then I wonder about it being delivered right alongside the other pre-WWII delivered Brazilian examples and made in a similar looking fashion as them.

Typically we associate the post-WWII Brazilian made examples built on leftover/rejected WWI era frames as being sold to the Brazilians at a really good deal price and were simply assembled in the original WWI military M1917 style.

Many questions abound without that factory letter first telling us what it actually is and when it actually left the factory.

The sideplate does look heavily refinished to me so it could be a very viable possibilty. I would still wonder why we don't see more of them though as many surplus Brazilian examples were dumped on the U.S. market.

Maybe you guys can have a look at your commercial and Brazilian M1917 examples with the later era commercial frame rear sight style and tell us what you find?

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