johnny blaze
October 16, 2006, 09:28 PM
I looked at 2 Smith and Wesson revolvers today. I am trying to find out what they are and what they may be worth.
I looked in the Blue Book of Gun Values, but i am not sure what they are exactly.
They are both the same type of revolver, but one is marked US MILITARY and the other one is not. They look identical.
They are both engraved, but I do not think that it is factoty engraving. It is pretty neat.
They are marked "SMITH AND WESSON 45".
They look like they are on the same frame as the model 27 Smith.
They are both arouind a 5 inch barrel. They have what seems to be plastic handles, light in color.
They are stamped "Patented 1901, 1908, 1908".
They both have 4 digit seriel numbers.
The one guy told me that one is a model DA45 and the other is a model 17. I thought the 17 was a 22.
Any thoughts on what they are?

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October 16, 2006, 09:38 PM
It sounds like they're both Model 1917 revolvers. The one marked US Military would be a military model, and rarer, the other would be a commercial model, and more common. They are indeed on the same frame as M27, the N Frame. Engraving on the military model would definetly not be factory, but I don't know about the commercial model. I hope that gives you a good start. I'm sure Xavier or Fuff will be here shortly to give you a detailed answer. The folks over at have always been friendly and helpful to me as well.

johnny blaze
October 16, 2006, 09:44 PM
Thanks for the reply.
That makes sense, the guy said that it was a model 17. I guess that he meant a 1917.
I assume that they are standard 45 long colt?
I really liked both of them. I could not stop looking at them.
Now I just have to figure what a fair price is on them.

October 16, 2006, 09:49 PM
They are actually .45ACP. They use moon clips. They were ordered by the US gvt. when they realized they did not have enough 1911's on hand. Colt also produced a large frame .45ACP revolver model of 1917.

October 16, 2006, 09:54 PM
I have sent a PM to Old Fuff and he should clarify this quite a bit. If they are 1917s they will be chambered in 45 ACP as they were made for the war effort and ammo compatability when the 1911 was in short supply. They use half moon clips to hold the 45 ACP cartridges' recessed rims and facilitate smooth ejection. They can also speed up the reloading process.

October 16, 2006, 09:56 PM
Colt mfg approx 156,000 mod 1917s. I suspect S&W did a similar amt. Didn't Brazil also order some S&Ws in the 30s? I would think the civilian model was rare. For sure quality of workmanship and finish on civilian mod should be better.

October 16, 2006, 10:00 PM
Cowboy, I believe you are correct, and I believe the guns sold to Brazil are the commercial models. Perhaps it is the commercial modls that are rarer, trying to remember all this S&W history. :banghead:

johnny blaze
October 16, 2006, 10:05 PM
Thanks for the replys.
IThe only one that I could find in the BLUE BOOK is the 45 Hand Ejector (Model of 1917).
It states 45 auto rim or 45 ACP with half moon clips.
If this is the proper model, It lists the approx values.
Would the engraving hurt or add to the price?
They are both engraved about the same with the fine engraving around the frame. They are both engraved with the same persons name on them.
The one is marked under the barrel "US ARMY PROPERTY"

October 16, 2006, 10:15 PM
In 100% original condition the 1917 has collector value but with aftermarket engraving (of unknown quality to us who have not seen them) the value is greatly diminished. Especially engraving that includes the previous owners name! Big deduction for that (unless it's someone famous, of course). Hard to say on something like this, but I would guess at about $500 for a 1917 Smith with aftermarket engraving. Mostly as a shooter and an oddity. Others may say more or less.

October 16, 2006, 10:16 PM
Johnny, you have indeed found the correct model in your blue book. I would say that the engraving, and a name engraved as well, definetly hurts the value. It particulary hurts the value on the military model. If there was proof that the engraving was done by one of a very few well known and regarded engravers, whose names escape me, it could increase collector value on the commercial model. I'm giving a best guess on this, I am I not an expert, so please consider that. If a local gun shop or library has a copy of the book "The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson" I would look there, as it is the best S&W reference currently available. I say go to a gun shop or library because the 3rd edition is out of print and the 4th edition is set to ship soon. I offer that as its the best help I can give. I'll sit back and wait on one of the folks here who can give a true chunk of expert opinion. Hopefully my little tid bits have been helpful.

Old Fuff
October 16, 2006, 10:21 PM
Well if these revolvers are indeed Smith & Wesson model 1917's that were sold to the Army during World War One they should have the following features.

1. Be marked on the butt: U.S. ARMY MODEL 1917 in 4 lines, and then a serial number. There should also be a lanyard loop in the butt.

2. have a 5 1/2" barrel (cylinder face to muzzle) that has patent dates on the top ending in 1901, 1906 and 1909. It should be stamped on the bottom: United States Property," not military. "S&W D.A. 45" should be stamped on the right side.

3. Be chambered in .45 ACP/.45 Autorim.

4. Be serial numbered between 1 to 169,959.

5. Have various inspection stamps on the frame.

6. Have plain,uncheckered wanut stocks. Plastic ones would be an obvious replacement.

A civilian (commercial) model would be the same, but lack the military markings and have a serial number (stamped on the butt, rear cylinder face, and bottom of the barrel above the extractor rod) that is over 170,000 but not over 209,780

So now go back and look again... :)

johnny blaze
October 16, 2006, 11:04 PM
SaxonPig - Thanks for the values, that is kind of what I was thinking for the price range. The engraving is neat, but I am not sure who did it.

ugaarguy - I will check and try to find the books mentiioned

OLD FUFF - I will check them out again

I just thought that these pistols were really neat. I was a little turned off by
the persons name engraved into the pistol.
I do have another question of the half moon clips. Are they a pain to use? I really like the 45 acp round, but I have never owned or messed around with the half moon clips.
If I buy one or both of the pistols, I will definately shoot them. I am just wondering about the half moon clips.

October 17, 2006, 12:49 AM
I have a Webley .455 that has been converted to .45acp and uses the half moon clips. It is really neat. However, the clips are a pain to unload. Loaded rounds just kind of snap in, but getting the empties out can be awkward (without bending the clips) I have a tool for this (cost About $1), and it really helps.

Some guns will take full moon clips (six rounds), But I haven't found any that fit my Webley (too thick). There is also a cute little 2 round clip (quarter moon?) that I ran across a few years ago. Don't know who made them though.

.45 AR (Auto Rim) ammo is also a good choice, if you can find it (or brass). It was designed for use in the 1917 revolvers, so you could shoot something without using the clips. Takes it's own shellholder, but loads with standard .45 ACP dies.

October 17, 2006, 12:23 PM
This is a refinished commercial S&W 1917. No military markings, and a small S&W emblem just below the thumb piece.


johnny blaze
October 17, 2006, 07:53 PM
Thanks for all the information.
Sounds like the half moon clips are alright, but have problems.
I am goind to buy one or maybe both of the pistols. Too bad they are engraved, as they are pretty decent shape otherwise.

Old Fuff
October 17, 2006, 09:29 PM
Engraving, in and of itself is not bad. If it's well done it will add to the value of the gun, but it isn't it will substantially degrade the gun with a respective drop in its worth. As for the former owner's name - a good engraver might be able to remove it and then cover the area with additional engraving to cover it up.

While the engraving has probably ruined both guns in the eyes of a "pure" S&W collector that believes originality is everything, those who are looking for a fancy, out-of-the-ordinary gun will see it as a plus.

If you can locate the former owner of the guns he may be able to tell you about their background - and if it's a good story and you get it on paper the value of the gun(s) may be increased.

What you should be most concerned about at the moment is the condition of the guns. Are the bores clean and unpitted? Are they properly timed? Check them out using Jim March's checklist that you'll find posted at the top of the revolver forum. Keep in mind that finding some parts for these older guns can be very difficult, and is almost always expensive.

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