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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 12-11-2020, 04:08 AM
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Default What Do I have? S&W 1917 455

Which version is this? The gun appears to be unaltered but it is not with me, it is still in shop for the 7 day time out. The pictures are from my phone but are not too bad.




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Old 12-11-2020, 06:58 AM
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You don't have a 1917 as that was a US Army model in .45 ACP. Yours is a .455, MKII, Hand Ejector. AKA the .455 British Service Revolver. It is the 2nd version of this model. The first being about 5000 triple locks in .455. The triple locks have a shrouded extractor. The 2nd version has an unshrouded extractor due to British complaints about the precision machining of the triple lock. It looks like a Model 1917 because they use the same design. Your gun was made ca. 1916 as I interpolate the SCSW table. Someone like Hondo44 will come along and narrow that down for you and may even be able to tell you what month it was made.
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Old 12-11-2020, 07:59 AM
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Nice example to the 2nd type 455

Many of these were modified to fire 45 colts. With a good picture of the rear face of your cylinder we could probably tell you if yours has. They are great old guns. I am lucky enough to have both a triple lock and a 2nd model.

There is a complete thread on these here please join it

.455 British Svc Revolver Research Thread
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Old 12-11-2020, 08:19 AM
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I am lucky enough to have both a triple lock and a 2nd model.
Yes. So do I and here they are. The .455 2nd is a commercial model that shipped to Shapleigh Hardware in December 1917.


.455 HE, 2nd Model, Commercial






.455 HE, 1st Model, Triple Lock, British Service Revolver. This gun was converted to .45 Colt by shaving the cylinder face and reaming the cylinder after released from service.



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Old 12-11-2020, 09:40 AM
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Mine.

The 2nd type is unconverted


The Triple lock was converted by reaming and partial recess for thicker 45 colt rims and still fires the 455 as they have a wider rim.

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Old 12-11-2020, 09:41 AM
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MikeBiker, from Hondo44's thread referenced above, serial number 35711 shipped on Jan 6, 1916 and that's only a few hundred units from your 36099 gun. S&W was knocking these out in quantity during that period as they were up into the 50,000 serials by April. So, I think your gun shipped in January 1916.
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Old 12-11-2020, 10:38 AM
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Wow, that's a nice one compared to the majority we see!

Yours is a #3 version below:

1. “44 Hand Ejector-1st Model” Triple Lock, 812 (666 military & 146 commercially sold) in the 44 Spl # series factory converted to 455. Serial #s are listed in Neal & Jinks S&W 1857 – 1945, Pgs 204-205. Only marked Smith & Wesson with no cartridge marking.


2. “455 Hand Ejector-1st Model” Triple Lock #1 thru ~#5800* (previously thought to be 5461, and several higher #s in this range shipped commercial)


3. “455 Hand Ejector-2nd Model” ~#5801 (previously thought to be 5462) thru 74755.


4. “44 Hand Ejector-1st Model” Triple Lock 691 assembled at the end of the British contract but sold on the commercial market 1916-17, built from remaining TL frames and numbered in the 44 Spl # series ~ 12,000 – 14,XXX range. (Although some are known to have been shipped to or wound up in England).

Go to my post #223 for the database info, page 5 to get an idea of when yours likely shipped:
.455 British Svc Revolver Research Thread
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Old 12-11-2020, 11:54 AM
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The gun appears to be all-original and has standard Enfield acceptance stamps and the crossed-pennant proof, plus the opposing-broad-arrows mark for a gun “sold out of service”, but apparently no post-service British commercial proofing.
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Old 12-11-2020, 12:01 PM
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Fiocci makes ammo for these. They're fun, very low recoil shooters.



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Old 12-12-2020, 02:55 PM
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The Brits sure do love to stamp up a nice gun though.
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Old 12-12-2020, 03:10 PM
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Whenever I see one of these stamped-up BSR's, I get this mental picture of a 250 lb., mustached Beef Eater with a punch and 5 lb. sledge.
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Old 12-12-2020, 08:35 PM
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I have serial #64344 that made it as far as Shapleighs in St Louis in 1917 and as a result carries no British proofs. It's still in 455 which makes me wonder - was there a US market for this caliber at one time? As evidenced by all the rechambering to 45 Colt it must have faded quickly, or remained as a much less popular option.

Is there any differentiation made (and by "differentiation" I mean $$$ ) between a 455 that stayed stateside rather than being sledgehammered up by our Britics friends?
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Old 12-12-2020, 09:00 PM
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The guns shipped to Shapleigh in December 1917 are commercial versions and are relatively rare. If they haven't been modified to .45 Colt and are in excellent condition, they should bring low 4 digits. Here is my .455 HE with period holster that shipped to Shapleigh in December 1917.


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Old 12-12-2020, 10:23 PM
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^
Good to know, thank you.

No holster, but my 455 is in the same condition. I think I got good pricing because of a "no one likes" assumption of the 455 caliber.
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Old 12-13-2020, 02:56 AM
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Quote:
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The guns shipped to Shapleigh in December 1917 are commercial versions and are relatively rare. If they haven't been modified to .45 Colt and are in excellent condition, they should bring low 4 digits. Here is my .455 HE with period holster that shipped to Shapleigh in December 1917.


Many of those were purchased by the US home guard and of course didn't see any battle time or much use at all except target practice. Couldn't have been much ammo around for them; some from Colt and Dominion in Canada I suppose.
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Old 12-13-2020, 03:30 AM
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Jim, somehow I get this picture from your comments of a home guard carrying a holstered .455 with one bullet in his shirt pocket, a la Barney Fife.
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Old 12-13-2020, 03:31 AM
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You just got the same schoolin' that I did when I first posted this one and called it the same thing!
It and the 1917 are contemporaries and very similar, but not the same.
Fine looking specimen you've got there. Yours looks a lot more original and pristine than mine. I really like the looks of the grips on yours - mine has repro smooth non-dished service stocks. But they are OK for a shooter. Mine has 0% original finish since it has been hard chromed. It also has had the front sight converted to a semi-ramp profile, and has had its cylinder bored deeper to accept 45 Colt ammo.
Even though the .455 ammo is a lot harder to get, and the finish isn't as durable, I'd rather have yours than mine. Not that I'm complaining about what I got, 'cause its a fine shooter. Just not an original collectible like yours.
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Old 12-13-2020, 03:34 AM
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BC38, that's a purty revolver!
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Old 12-13-2020, 11:01 AM
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They are nice. I have 2, one’s still.455 while the other is .45lc. You will enjoy yours.
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Old 12-13-2020, 01:08 PM
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Quote:
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BC38, that's a purty revolver!
Thanks! It shoots as good as it looks too.
Somebody started with a really nice one to make it, and they did a good job on it. The rollmarks are so crisp you'd think it was an original finish if you didn't know better.
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Old 12-14-2020, 08:32 AM
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The Brits sure do love to stamp up a nice gun though.
Yes, and they would stamp the heck out of them coming and going.
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Old 12-14-2020, 12:59 PM
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Colt didn't load ammo. But Winchester and Dominion/CIL in Canada did load .455 Colt.

This used the longer MK I length .455 case and used a 265 grain lead bullet at a nominal 750 FPS. Service MK II loads only made about 600-625 FPS.

What .455 ammo was available here was prob. commercial .455 Colt.
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Old 12-14-2020, 01:11 PM
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I had a very nice second model .455, but never found .455 ammo when I could afford any as a poor college student. What there was was MK VI FMJ sold as surplus after WW II.

I sold that gun to eat when a GI Education Bill check was late.

Many here really need to study .455 Webley ammo in all six Marks. All work fine in .455 revolvers and some also use the prior .476 cartridge.

The UK declared .455 revolvers and .455 autos obsolete in 1947 and many were sold here in the 1950's and '60's. My first handgun was a Webley MK VI converted to .45 ACP. I was 13; my mother bought it. By 16, I had a Colt M-1917 .45.

I liked movies and books about British forces in colonial India and Africa and was very keen to get that Webley. Montgomery Ward's, remember them?

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Old 12-14-2020, 02:02 PM
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I have serial #64344 that made it as far as Shapleighs in St Louis in 1917 and as a result carries no British proofs. It's still in 455 which makes me wonder - was there a US market for this caliber at one time? As evidenced by all the rechambering to 45 Colt it must have faded quickly, or remained as a much less popular option. ...
Just from memory, I think the 1940 Shooter's Bible (I have a reprint) showed that Colt continued to chamber their New Service in .455 at least until 1940 and ammunition was still manufactured by the major companies. I believe S&W did the same.

I assume this was mainly for export to Canada and perhaps South Africa, Australia, NZ, etc., but I don't know. Maybe there was a niche market in the US.
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Old 12-14-2020, 05:32 PM
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Quote:
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I have serial #64344 that made it as far as Shapleighs in St Louis in 1917 and as a result carries no British proofs. It's still in 455 which makes me wonder - was there a US market for this caliber at one time? As evidenced by all the rechambering to 45 Colt it must have faded quickly, or remained as a much less popular option.

The only "niche" market for .455s that existed in the US at the time was as alternatives, because of the British purchasing commission literally buying up all suitable caliber guns in the US for it's civilian wartime defense of England, including commercially sold overrun .455s. Some of which, based on their markings, actually saw service in the trenches.

Many 'overrun' guns, .44 HE TL 1st Models in .455, .455 HE TL 1st Models, and .455 HE 2nd models, were sold into the commercial market both here and abroad thru the end of the war.

To my knowledge and based on some research, I can't find any record of S&W .455s being produced by S&W after completing the contract guns in 1916. This includes .455s shipped to the Canadian government. Before the Brit contract for service revolvers we do know that a very few .455s built on the .44 HE TL 1st models were ordered and shipped out of the country.

Any .455s produced after the war would have been special order built on the 1917 or .44 2nd model frames (virtually the same frames) but no indication of that is available.


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Is there any differentiation made (and by "differentiation" I mean $$$ ) between a 455 that stayed stateside rather than being sledgehammered up by our Britics friends?
The value differentiation can go both ways for premium condition guns: military collectors want the stamped up guns, and general collectors prefer un-stamped guns.
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Old 12-14-2020, 08:36 PM
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Quote:
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Just from memory, I think the 1940 Shooter's Bible (I have a reprint) showed that Colt continued to chamber their New Service in .455 at least until 1940 and ammunition was still manufactured by the major companies. I believe S&W did the same.

I assume this was mainly for export to Canada and perhaps South Africa, Australia, NZ, etc., but I don't know. Maybe there was a niche market in the US.
I vaguely recall a forum conversation about .455 revolvers being somewhat common in the Northeast states near the Canadian border.
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Old 12-29-2020, 02:22 PM
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Quote:
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Just from memory, I think the 1940 Shooter's Bible (I have a reprint) showed that Colt continued to chamber their New Service in .455 at least until 1940 and ammunition was still manufactured by the major companies. I believe S&W did the same.

I assume this was mainly for export to Canada and perhaps South Africa, Australia, NZ, etc., but I don't know. Maybe there was a niche market in the US.
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I vaguely recall a forum conversation about .455 revolvers being somewhat common in the Northeast states near the Canadian border.
In case someone is still interested ...

I finally just opened the 1940 SB and confirmed Colt and S&W did indeed offer revolvers chambered in .455. Colt called it ".455 Eley" while S&W referenced it as both ".455 Colt and .455 Eley."

For Colt, it was the New Service, for S&W it was the 1926 Model .44 Target. In its blurb about the NS, Colt proudly proclaims "This is the standard arm of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police." Although they didn't say it, I think Colt provided this revolver to the RCMP chambered for both the .45 Colt and the .455 Eley.

Later on in the book, under the heading "Average Ballistics of Remington Oil Proof Pistol and Revolver Cartridges" is listed ".455 Webley Mark II" with a 265 lead bullet, muzzle velocity 600 (fps) from a 6" barrel. From this I infer that Remington at least was still producing .455 ammunition as late as 1940.

Whew! I hope someone wanted to read this!
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Old 12-29-2020, 02:51 PM
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Quote:
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....
For Colt, it was the New Service, for S&W it was the 1926 Model .44 Target. In its blurb about the NS, Colt proudly proclaims "This is the standard arm of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police." Although they didn't say it, I think Colt provided this revolver to the RCMP chambered for both the .45 Colt and the .455 Eley.
The RCMP emerged in 1919/20 when the North West Mounted Police was merged with the Dominion Police. From 1904 to 1919 the NWMP had issued the New Service in .455, but switched to .45 Colt in 1919 just prior to the merger. The Dominion Police (the Canadian federal police since 1868) was already using the NS in .45, so that became the standard RCMP issue caliber.

The Canadian military used the New Service from 1900 to 1928, but also in .45 Colt.

They did adopt the S&W 2nd Model and Webley Mk VI in .455 during WW I. The S&W’s reportedly remained in active inventory until after WW II, surviving past the adoption of the .38 M&P in 1939 and then the Inglis Hi-Power as standard sidearm in 1944.

I don‘t know to whom Colt were selling .455 revolvers post-WW I, especially as late as 1940, but it wasn‘t the Canadian government
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Old 12-29-2020, 09:08 PM
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"I finally just opened the 1940 SB and confirmed Colt and S&W did indeed offer revolvers chambered in .455. Colt called it ".455 Eley" while S&W referenced it as both '.455 Colt and .455 Eley.'"

Now the question is, has a 2nd Model .455 been lettered to the late '30s-1940? S&W listed the 2nd Model .44 Hand Ejector as being available in 4", yet no 2nd Models have lettered as shipping with a 4" barrel
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Old 12-29-2020, 10:49 PM
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1920 thru 1942 45 Colt NS revolvers were re-ordered by RCMP exclusively except for 1932 when the last batch of 455 Eleys (MK II) was ordered. To solve the issue of two different cartridges, all 45 Colt chambered guns were moved to eastern Canada and all 455 Eleys to west of Thunder Bay in Northwest Ontario.

1954 all .45 caliber revolvers were retired since the S&W .38 Spl Military and Police had been adopted in 1939 (thought to be 5 ½” barrels).

1964 retired .45 caliber revolvers were first offered to Force members for $12 ea. Then the remainder were sold to the general public.
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Old 12-30-2020, 08:38 AM
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Originally Posted by Hondo44 View Post
1920 thru 1942 45 Colt NS revolvers were re-ordered by RCMP exclusively except for 1932 when the last batch of 455 Eleys (MK II) was ordered. ...
I thought it would be odd for Colt to proudly mention arming the RCMP if those sales were in the distant past. Thanks for providing that information.

Just out of curiosity, would it be a huge undertaking to go back to the pre-1940s records and see how many (if any) "1926 Model .44 Target" revolvers chambered for .455 Eley / Colt were manufactured and shipped by S&W? I assume it would be a daunting task, perhaps for more or less nothing, so there may be very little interest amongst those with the ability to do the research.
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Old 12-30-2020, 10:41 AM
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I also have a revolver like that, but it has English civilian fire. Ser. No. is 2193X
And smaller stamps than the one shown.
He has hit numbers on the back of the handle, does anyone know what they could mean?
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Old 12-30-2020, 11:42 AM
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Christian,
I believe the numbers stamped on the backstrap are British regiment markings. Someone more knowledgeable may confirm or correct my opinion. Also, they may be able to tell you what regiment.
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Old 12-30-2020, 12:23 PM
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I think Guy is right, although I can’t interpret the exact meaning either.

These markings appear somewhat haphazardly applied. But from observing others, usually the issue month/year was at the top, and that’s likely what the 1/15 or 1/16 (I can’t make sense of the last digit) is. January of 1915/16. 3 would be the gun number and 13 YK the unit (something with Yeoman?). Just my flight of fancy

So that’s all completely speculative. Peter or Alan could likely shed more light.
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Old 12-30-2020, 12:58 PM
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Yes above 3 / 16 middle 3 and below 13 / YK
It would be great if someone knew
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Old 12-30-2020, 01:39 PM
Muley Gil Muley Gil is online now
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Yes above 3 / 16 middle 3 and below 13 / YK
It would be great if someone knew
This forum can help with the stampings:


British Militaria Forums - Victorian-era British arms, accoutrements, and military history.
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Old 12-30-2020, 03:55 PM
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Appears to be the 13th Green Howards, a New Army btn which was originally a bantam btn.

Alexandra, Princess of Wales’s Own (Yorkshire Regiment) (“Green Howards”) – The Long, Long Trail
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Old 12-31-2020, 09:34 AM
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YK for "Yorkshire Regiment" ?
Christian
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Old 12-31-2020, 10:18 AM
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yes.

[dummy text to pad the reply]
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Old 01-07-2021, 02:24 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jack Flash View Post
Just from memory, I think the 1940 Shooter's Bible (I have a reprint) showed that Colt continued to chamber their New Service in .455 at least until 1940 and ammunition was still manufactured by the major companies. I believe S&W did the same.

I assume this was mainly for export to Canada and perhaps South Africa, Australia, NZ, etc., but I don't know. Maybe there was a niche market in the US.
I don't think Colt had any .455 NS revolvers in the warehouse in mid 1940, or else the British Purchasing Commission would have grabbed them along with the .45, .357 and .38 Special New Services that they bought "off the shelf". I know none are listed in the Colt shipping ledgers as being purchased by the BPC from 1940 to 1944, as I have gone through these shipping ledgers myself.

Regards

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Old 01-07-2021, 09:04 AM
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Good information, Alan. Thank you.

I worded my post badly. I did not mean to imply that I thought Colt was supplying the NS in .455 to anyone in 1940, or that they had any on hand. I certainly don't know that. I should have said something like "it was available" in that caliber, meaning revolvers could be ordered so chambered, according to the Shooter's Bible.

Just in general, it seems the Canadians were quite satisfied with Colt's New Service. One last quote from Revolvers of the British Services that I hope some here will find interesting:
"Canada had purchased 940 Colt "New Service" revolvers in nominal calibre .455 Eley for its troops going to the Anglo-Boer War in 1900. Canada purchased more such revolvers for its Royal North-West Mounted Police in 1904. Further purchases of this model revolver occurred both before and after the R.N.W.M.P. became the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in 1920, and a number of such arms were delivered in calibre .45 Colt."
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