S&W 1917 finish


September 9, 2011, 06:32 PM
I picked up a 1917 in trade last week and have to say I just love this gun. It is rough being of WW I vintage and is not a specimen I'd refer as a collectors piece. I fired it at the range with the original wood grips (not original to this particular gun) and could not keep hold of it very well, especially with the range temperature being on the warm side. A Hogue monogrip has solved that problem.

Anyway, I'm thinking I'll keep this gun and never, ever worry about a idiot mark, holster wear, or any of the other environmental concerns that make me treat some of my other guns as if they were made of gold.

It looks like it's been refinished at least once before, there is no visible rust although the pictures make it appear as if there is on the muzzle.

So I was thinking I'd refinish it again, maybe Parkerized or Durocoat or something that says "this is a working gun" and not a museum piece. On the other hand I don't want to destroy any hope that this gun could be more valuable to someone else in the future in it's relatively unmolested state right now.

What do you all think?

BTW, this gun has a really fine trigger; it is heavy, but it's smooth and consistent in all cylinder positions. Lockup is tight, timing is good. Bore is OK, I've certainly seen better defined, shinier ones.

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Old Fuff
September 9, 2011, 07:09 PM
Serious collectors with big bucks want at least 150% of the original finish (no, that wasn't a typo ;)) but a perfect finish does not make it shoot any better.

Keep in mind that those that were referbished for service in World War Two were Parkerized.

September 10, 2011, 12:09 AM
My two cents: Send it to S&W and for $155 they will glass bead and blue the entire thing. Turn-around is 8-12 weeks. Now THAT says "I'm a working gun and proud to be on my owner's hip."

September 10, 2011, 01:30 AM
S&w does not do any work on pre model number guns (including blueing). I am in the same boat as you are. Mine has been previously refinished. Gonna get the barrel chopped and have it hard cromed.

September 10, 2011, 05:58 AM
Good morning
I would keep it just like it is and carry it about never worrying about finish or looks. End of the day give it a light oil smear and do the same for years to come. If you really want a great free finish try any last 3 years auto polish.
I carry a 1903 made Colt New Service 44-40 all about the desert down here. No finish, some pitting and it shoots as good as I need. No worrys about another ding, thunk, or rock scrape. Ugly as can be but if hits what I shoot at.
Mike in Peru

September 10, 2011, 09:55 AM
I found these guys online that offer a variety of finishes: http://www.mahovskysmetalife.com

Prices seem reasonable with the most expensive being $150 + s&h.

I'm thinking though, I should probably have a 'smith take a look at the arm before investing money in a finish, he may see things I don't. I don't want to own a $1000 truck gun :)

September 10, 2011, 02:48 PM
Unless somebody here pipes up to say that it's more original than you thought, I'd vote for parkerization, It's practical, it looks nice, and it keeps with the martial history of the gun. It also hides tiny scratches well.

I understand that the color of the resulting parkerized finish has to do with what color oil is wiped on afterward - the green, for example, is allegedly done with some sort of snowmobile oil. I have also read that if you degrease a parked gun, you can oil it with something different for a new look - light grey, dark grey, green, or almost-black. Never tried it, but it sounds interesting.

September 10, 2011, 02:52 PM
This is a good read:

September 10, 2011, 03:04 PM
I don't think it looks bad the way it is, so I don't see much point in dumping a bunch of money into cosmetics. I much prefer the patina on a vintage gun over any kind of refinishing, unless it's so beat up that it needs a full restoration to be usable.

September 11, 2011, 07:21 AM

I have used Mahovskys a number of times for refinishing my guns and their work has always been outstanding. If you want an extremely durable finish, without regard to any historical perspective, then I would recommend their SS Metalife hard chrome finish. Other than that, if you wanted a more traditional look, I think having the gun parkerized or a matte blue finish would also serve you well for a no frills work gun.

September 13, 2011, 05:24 PM
To my eyes it's got a patina to it that says "Used but not AB-used". I'd leave it and shoot it often until it's like a lifelong friend that you always trust to do the right thing. And clean and lube it as is right for a user gun depending on what sort of environment you have in your area.

The only mod I'd entertain is fitting it with a Wolff spring kit. All my revolvers now sport the Wolff kits and they really make me smile when I shoot them.

Dave T
September 14, 2011, 03:34 PM
Gonna get the barrel chopped and have it hard cromed.


You may have seen this one before but I thought the OP might like it as food for thought.


I bought this one already chopped and re-finished. Barrel was cut to just in front of the ejector stud (3-5/16") and the front sight re-soldered and re-contoured (and done very well). The finish is industrial hard chrome. No idea who did the work. Shoots fine although the trigger is typically heavy.


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