My S&W Model 1917 with range report


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Trebor
September 20, 2012, 01:46 PM
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v494/Trebor1415/SW1917.jpg

I turned 45 this year and decided to get a .45 caliber handgun to celebrate. Since I already have a couple 1911's the logical choice was one of the variants of the S&W 1917/HE2. I'm a military small arms fan and my WWI collection is underrepresented. I'm also a Indiana Jones fan and this was Indy's gun in the first movie (with a cut down 4" barrel).

This is a military issue 1917 with most of it's original bluing. When the U.S. entered the war the military did not have enough handguns and couldn't make 1911's fast enough. Smith and Wesson was already making a N Frame revolver in .455 Eley for the Brits and it didn't take much work to convert the design to .45 ACP. In order to use the rimless .45 ACP rounds in a revolver the stamped sheet metal "half moon clip" was invented that held three rounds and allowed the cartridges to head space correctly. It also acted as a speedloader for more rapid loading.

Colt also converted the New Service for .45 ACP in a similiar manner so there are both Colt and Smith & Wesson 1917 revolvers.

Many, if not most, of the S&W's were Parkerized during arsenal rebuilds between the wars. I added the lanyard hardware, but could only find Parkerized hardware.

I was going to cut down the barrel to make a replica of Indy's revolver in "Raiders of the Lost Ark" (which is a popular conversion among fans) but I've decided it's in too nice a shape so I'm leaving it as-is. I'm not a fan of swapping out barrels as these Smiths really weren't designed for barrel changes, only permament barrel replacement, so I won't be doing that either.

I may hunt up a second revolver sometime that's not as nice and do an Indy conversion on that gun. I'm keeping an eye out.

I've had it out to the range once, so far. I set up a plate rack at about 12 yards. First two runs were six for six, double action for all shots. I dropped a shot on the third run trying to hurry. It turns out the box of .45 ACP I grabbed was only about half full so it was an abbreviated test. Next time out I'll shoot for accuracy as well.

The action is a little stiff which I think is due to 90 years of dried up lube. I plan to flush out the guts by squirting some solvent in through the hammer and trigger recesses and then following up with a squire of some more modern lube. I don't want to take the sideplate off as I'm likely to bugger it up, so hopefully that will do it.

Later that same day I was giving some handgun instruction to a friend's 12 year old son. He did great with the .22 Ruger so I showed him the Smith at the end. He was amazed that I'd shoot a 95 year old gun and was impressed by the heft. I'll probably let him try it out at some future range session. (It was a little much for him right now, for his first pistol session).

Btw, if anyone wants to trade a set of 1917 military grips for my commercial S&W grips, please let me know.

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Jim K
September 20, 2012, 01:51 PM
If you plan to shoot that gun, stick with those stocks. You can get a set of GI stocks, or a copy, for display, but your hand will take a beating if you fire the gun with them.

Jim

Trebor
September 20, 2012, 01:52 PM
If you plan to shoot that gun, stick with those stocks. You can get a set of GI stocks, or a copy, for display, but your hand will take a beating if you fire the gun with them.

Jim

That would explain why the original owner swapped them out then. I'll keep that in mind.

cyclopsshooter
September 20, 2012, 02:10 PM
does the gun shoot above the point of aim?

Trebor
September 20, 2012, 02:24 PM
does the gun shoot above the point of aim?

I was really too close to the plates to tell. I was at about 10 or 12 yards or so. I only had about 20 or so rounds with me and wound up using 'em all up on the plates before I realized that was my only box of .45 ACP in the car. I was holding on the center of the plates and knocking 'em down, but I can't swear as to POA/POI.

Next time I'll have more ammo and plan to shoot some paper at 25 yards and see how it groups.

cyclopsshooter
September 20, 2012, 04:16 PM
my 1937 brazilian contract shoots 6" high at 30ft- i hear it is common with these revolvers.. id love to find a way to correct it with doubling the height of the front sight

rcmodel
September 20, 2012, 04:32 PM
That gun almost looks to nicely finished to be a WWI GI 1917.

Looks almost like a post WWII commercial they made up out of extra parts.
In that case, diamond grips would be correct.

Does it have a S&W logo on the sideplate??

rc

Trebor
September 20, 2012, 04:58 PM
That gun almost looks to nicely finished to be a WWI GI 1917.

Looks almost like a post WWII commercial they made up out of extra parts.
In that case, diamond grips would be correct.

Does it have a S&W logo on the sideplate??

No S&W logo. It does have the "U.S. Model 1917" markings on the butt and "United States Property" under the barrel, so I'm sure it's a military gun.

There's a little more finish wear then you can tell from the pics. The left side of the top strap/left side of the sight channel is worn away to bare metal as are a couple spots on the cylinder and parts of both the left and rigth side of the barrel. I'd rate it around 80%.

Still pretty nice, but not "too nice to shoot."

ultramag44
September 21, 2012, 03:18 PM
I have both; a 1917 that was arsenal rebuilt and parkerized.

Also have a very clean 1917 Brazilian Contract gun. One advantage to the 1937 is most (not all) were made a/ a flat-top frame ( the 1917 had a round top frame). The Flat top is easier for me to sight with.

Here's a trick if your gun still has the lanyard and you don't want your hand pounded by the skinny grips. Every gun show has a box of old, rubber packmyer take-off grips. $5.00 a pair.

Buy a set and use the sanding drum of your Dremell to cut a slot in the bottom of the grips. Now the lanyard is in place and your hand won't get beat up!

Trebor
October 1, 2012, 12:44 PM
finally got a chance to shoot the S&W at some paper. I thought this was decent, especially considering the tiny sights.

This was single-action, two handed, standing at 25 yards.
http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v494/Trebor1415/MikeWshoot049.jpg

The plate on the right was double-action, standing, at 25 yards. Not much different than the single action.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v494/Trebor1415/MikeWshoot052.jpg

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