The Model 17: Keep or Trade


July 19, 2008, 01:14 PM
Hello, all!

First post. I confess I have lurked these threads for some time to try and garner some wisdom from the well, but I've finally got a question of my own that I hope I can get some opinions on.

I am the proud owner of a S&W Model 17, serial K-41xx. According to the sticky in this forum, this is a 1947 model. I purchased it in Albuquerque earlier this year, and it's previous owner seems not to have appreciated the weapon in the very least: stored in a leather holster, barely ever cleaned, and plenty of cheap ammo put through it. I've had the pits buffed out and cold-blued by my gunsmith and luckily none of the corrosion reached into the barrel. The threads are intact, and she still fires a helluva lot straighter than I can hold! The years of scum were much more difficult to remove, but I've finally managed to get the chambers to a mirror polish.

However, the ol' girl looks like hell. Patches of different bluing, bad corrosion on the hammer, and the timing notches in the cylinder have seen so much use in 51 years that they're getting a sort of scoop shape instead of a sharp-sided notch! On top of that, I've had endless and terrible trouble with sticky chambers. I clean it after each use, no matter how many rounds I fire, and the metal in there reflects about as much light as I could hope for with ultra-fine steel wool. But even if it's the first 6 rounds I fire, I have to give the ejector rod a couple taps with the back of my Leatherman to get the shells out. I resorted to this after I gave myself a rather nasty cut on the frame when using just my hand.:cuss:

This problem, plus the very obvious age of the revolver, is making me lean towards trading it in. It's replacement, after trying out several .22LR revolvers, would be a Smith 617 with a 6-round cylinder.

Can any of you comment on this? Should I trade her in to a collector or should I get her refinished and keep using it? If I keep it, does anyone know a foolproof way to get around the extraction problem?

Cheers, all!

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July 19, 2008, 01:56 PM
Moleman. . .the finish sounds similar to the finish on my grandfathers M18. IMO the M17 is a fine little shooter and a keeper. A competent gunsmith may be able to help you with your extraction and finish issues. If your not interested in a "project gun" I'm sure you will have little trouble finding a new home for her.

best luck. . .

July 19, 2008, 02:35 PM
I'd try some Flitz or even J&B Bore Polish on a felt polishing bob in the chambers before giving up. As to the cosmetics, that's a personal issue - all correctable w enough $$ and a little patience while it's off being rehabbed.

Personally, I'd rather have the 17 than a stainless, esp one w a lock. My ugliest revolver is a 14.3 that shoots great - some previous owner cold blued the whole thing but, when aiming it at arm's length, looks fine to me. All I added were new rear sights.

July 19, 2008, 03:45 PM
The Mod 17 is an excellent gun and so is the Mod 617. I still have my M17 which I bought new in 1975 and I rarely shoot it now since I got the Mod 617 10-shot about 6 years ago. I like the stainless finish vs. the blued and I can fire 10 shots before reloading. Both guns are very accurate. If it were me, I would sell the Mod 17 and not spend anymore $ and get a used or new M617, IMO.

July 19, 2008, 04:49 PM
I bought a Model 17, made in 1958, last year. After thoroughly cleaning it, I discovered the cylinder was beat up some. The locking notches were badly beaten. I sent to to S&W. The gunsmith said he could recut the notches and refinish the cylinder, or for the same money, replace the cylinder. I had him replace the cylinder. It now shoots very nicely indeed, but I find the finish on blued guns slightly fragile, so I prefer to primarily use my stainless guns. I have a 4” 10 shot 617, a 5” 6 shot 617 and a 5” 63. I tend to use them and keep the 17 in the safe, but I have no intention of ever getting rid of it.

In your case, I would consider a new cylinder and refinishing the entire gun at the factory. I think you will be amazed by the results. Get a 617, but don’t even think about getting rid of the 17.

July 19, 2008, 06:20 PM
Were you by any chance shooting Stingers?

They are a little longer than the old long rifles.

Try some different ammo before you do anything drastic.

Luis Leon
July 20, 2008, 04:03 PM
I would keep the 17, I have one made in 1947 that I bought for $350 five years ago. I hope to never have to part with it. It is a very, very accurate revolver. Never to be made again.

best regards,

Luis Leon

July 20, 2008, 04:49 PM
IMO, the 17 is one to keep and just because it has a little character is no reason to get rid of it ;)

July 22, 2008, 01:41 AM
I'd keep it and fix the extraction issue, but only if it shoots well.

July 22, 2008, 02:15 AM
Heck, I'd be willing to buy a Model 17 in that condition if I could locate one nearby. I never see them around here.

I say spend a few bucks and have a 'smith diagnose it. The Model 17 is a fine, fine revolver, and you could do many things to prolong its life. Refinishing by S&W or having it hard chromed would be make it more visually acceptable, and with any luck you may be able to have her running solid for a reasonable amount. If so, keep it! I would never advise getting rid of a Model 17 unless something was seriously wrong with it (i.e. cracked forcing cone or stretched frame).

July 22, 2008, 06:48 AM
Get it fixed. Man, the 17 is a classic GREAT .22 revolver and worth spending money on. Would Smith and Wesson refurbish it? It'd be worth the expense IMHO.

July 22, 2008, 08:27 AM
I bought a Model 17 a couple of weeks ago. Man, I thought I had a find. A week or so later I'm back in the same shop and there's another one, just like the one I bought, maybe a little nicer for the same price.

They made a bunch of them.

If you don't like this one, trade it, or sell it and get one you do like. If you do like this one, the others have given you some good ideas of things to do.

July 22, 2008, 09:19 AM
I consider shipping it ti S&W for re-blue and tune-up. Sometimes they're less expensive than the local shop; sometimes not.

July 22, 2008, 10:30 AM
Of course, we're talking pre-17 here. K-22--and a five-screw to boot. Most knowledgeable shooters consider the K-22 Target Masterpiece one of the smoothest and most accurate revolvers ever produced. I have one of the same vintage--and I'll never sell it. Keep it, repair it, and enjoy it. They're harder and harder to come by every year.

July 22, 2008, 10:45 AM
Keep it!

July 22, 2008, 03:11 PM
If the gun still shoots well, I would consider replacing the cylinder. At least let a good gunsmith give you his opinion.

Have you fired a 617? Might not be a bad idea to do that...

Fixing up your old M17 will most likely be cheaper than a new 617, and I'd dare say you wont find the same nice linear trigger pull on the 617 as you have on that old M17!

Just my thoughts,


P.S. - a bit biased here, I prefer bluing to stainless - but in reality, the stainless will prolly look better longer over the guns lifetime...

July 23, 2008, 02:06 AM
Give the factory a call first. They may not work on it due to it's age. They had a cut off point and wouldn't work on anything made prior to that.

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