Savage Model 1917 Locked Up


October 1, 2012, 11:16 PM
Quick history of this pistol: It was inherited from my grandfather after sitting in a shoebox in their closet for as long as I remember. Knowing it hadn't been fired in at least 50 years I took it to a local "gunsmith" I had never worked with before because my original guy retired and moved away. This was in the hopes that even though I'm fairly familiar and according to some reasonably intelligent, putting it in the hands of someone who does this for a living was worth $50 to get it cleaned up and inspected.

Now then, when I went to pick it up I couldn't be more pleased. I had wanted to shoot it since I was a boy getting in trouble for finding it in the closet like buried treasure! The guy explains they only cleaned it and we went around back for a proof-of-pudding example. He fired three brass .380's through it seemingly fine he had in his pocket and that's all he happened to have on him. However the 3rd round didn't eject completely but popped right out with a quick tug.

I had no reason to think anything foul and was pleased with the results....

Now the mystery of this story: I went to shoot it a couple days later and found the slide would not, and will not budge even an inch. It is apparently completely and hopelessly locked up!! :cuss:

So I can only assume failure by an internal mechanism and would like to remove doubt towards the work of the gunsmith. He fired it right in front of me and I saw it with my own eyes.

I guess my question would be, has anyone see this before? How could I even begin to identify which internal part failed, let alone disassemble without being able to move the slide even a hair? ANY insight would be welcome, or I'm just going to write it off as a sign from gramps that nobody's supposed to shoot his pistol but him and it's now a unique paperweight. :banghead:

Thanks for reading, and yet more for responders!

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Jim K
October 2, 2012, 03:53 PM
Safety off? The slilde won't retract with the safety on.


October 3, 2012, 02:15 AM
Absolutely, tried everything. The hammer can still be cocked and the trigger will still engage it. However the slide just does not budge (with the safety off.) I'm thinking though from the lack of responses I may just be SOL unless someone might know the culprit of this troubleshooting fiasco, was worth a shot asking though and thanks for the reply!

October 3, 2012, 03:21 PM
Your pistol uses a delayed blow-back operation based on the Searle rotating barrel.
In order for it to open, the barrel must rotate about 5 degrees to unlock it from the slide.

It's hard to say what your problem might be from a distance.
But it could just be 100 years of dried oil & crud sticking the rotating barrel.
I would try the following.

1. Carefully look down the muzzle with a strong light behind you, and insure there isn't a dud round or empty case stuck in the chamber.

2. Spray the gun throughly inside & out with WD-40 or Rem-Oil and try to get some lube down inside it.

3. Get a 6" length of 5/16" wood dowel rod.

4. Drop it down the barrel.

5. Put the end against something solid.

6. Jump on the grip with all your weight.

That will either open it, or not.


October 4, 2012, 02:56 AM
RCMODEL!! You sir, are most definitely owed at least a beer! How could I not have thought of drowning it in WD40 before giving up?!

Well I did just that, let it soak for hours and just when I was about to bed down for the night I thought I'd give it a shot and cussed while giving it my all and what would you know? It broke loose!!! The slide went back before I could realize so I tried again, still with some serious cursing but it slid back again and I was able to slap a pencil in for the night to let it soak some more but it's all I need to at least get it apart!

So thank you, two gold stars and a beer if you'll allow it. I'm in NE KS, just tell me what you've made me a happy camper! :)

Share in this evenings triumph! haha :D

October 4, 2012, 11:32 AM
Well all right!!

If you haven't found any instructions for disassembly, there is some info here on the 1907.

BTW: Yours is not a Model 1917, as it doesn't have grip screws.
I believe it is a Model 1907.

Be especially careful with the grips, as it has the original hard rubber grips, they are getting very delicate / brittle with age.
I would suggest you not even try to remove them from the frame.


October 5, 2012, 01:49 AM
Ah see my familiarity with these old Savage's has the extent as far as what I can find on the net, which without some direction has been more or less trial and error. Mine doesn't have the lanyard ring in the frame on the bottom like most of the pictures I see.

Either way I won't have time to try the task of getting her disassembled again until the weekend, will let you know how it goes! I'm still questioning as to whether it was the type of thoroughly cleaned I would expect for $50 by the fella I took it too or if he hadn't just oiled up and did what I was afraid to without inspection and just shot it?

Oh well, it's just another story at this point as I intend on getting it operational again soon but this time by my own hand. It's a great looking pistol, can't just let it become a paperweight :)

Thank you again! Really!!

October 5, 2012, 04:46 AM
Definitely a 1907 - and a very good looking one at that! The another way to tell is that the 1917 has a very pronounced trapezoidal shape to the grip, rather than the more traditional looking one one the 1907. They arent found in that condition very often. As RC said, leave the grips alone, you don't need to remove them to clean the gun and they are likely to break even when using the upmost care in removal. I'm curious as to why it locked up, you didn't happen to see the brass that the gunsmith shot through it, did you? Not that that would necessarily have anything to do with it. Keep us posted.

Here is a pic of a 1917 and a 1907 together for comparison.

October 6, 2012, 03:43 AM
Well looks like this story is about to have a happy ending, and the mystery was solved. I made the time to tear it down completely (except the grips) and quickly came to the conclusion I might as well have just paid another man $50 to punch me in the teeth...

Apparently, peoples opinions on what a "thorough cleaning" actually means must differ a lot more than I would have originally thought... So after almost 2 hours of gunk cleaning and soaking and cleaning and's what I got! I should have kept a pile of the crud I dug out and sent it to this guy. Instead of paying him to save me the time and peace of mind in trusting professional judgement, I should have just done it myself in the first place.

So it's now sparkling inside and out (except the barrel, which I would have expected him to mention the pitting, swing and a miss again) and is moving smooth so I'm going to try and take it to the range over the weekend. Thanks again fellas. Pics below.

October 6, 2012, 11:25 AM
Look'n good now!

I'd get a jar of JB Bore Paste and give the barrel a good working on.


hang fire
October 7, 2012, 01:08 AM
Look'n good now!

I'd get a jar of JB Bore Paste and give the barrel a good working on.

Me, I would get some all copper Chore Boy scrub pads, (beware of lower price copper plated steel pads) cut or tear off some strands and wrap around an old wire bore brush and dry scrub bore down throughly. I have use that trick on bores which looked much worse and was amazed at the crap it cleaned out.

Jim K
October 8, 2012, 08:29 PM
Many ideas on why Searle used a separate breechblock that was held in the slide like that. Just about everone misses the real reason - the idea of a slide and breechblock in one piece had already been patented. By one John Browning.


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