Tell me about the model 1917

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Mar 7, 2007
The Land of Bowie, Crockett, Travis & Houston
Both Colt and S&W made a model 1917, chambered in .45ACP. Both are similar in size.

They don't seem to be too common, though. I've searched and haven't found a whole lot of info on them.

The Smiths (including their model -22 and-25 cousins) fetch some pretty good money. While I would like one some day...

...I found a Colt on-line that seems to be priced pretty good. Has after-market Pachmayr grips and has been re-blued. Pics look good. It's not mint, but it is in "good" condition with "bright, sharp rifling." Accd to the seller, it's an early model - 1918. Ad says nothing about lock-up, end-shake, etc.

Would this be a good gun to pursue? Would it (statistically) be a good shooter? Are those older, DA Colts known for any horrendous tricks they like to pull? Are they still servicable, or are they "gunsmith's friends?"

Any general info on the Colt 1917 is appreciated.

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Just awful big guns.

I always preferred the S&W 1917 over the Colt due to how huge the Colt was.
You need XL-size hands and fingers to like the Colt.

Back in the day you could buy them for less then $25 bucks all day long. My first big-bore handgun was a 1917 S&W in about 1960 or 61.

My shooting buddy had a Colt 1917.
His was one of the early ones with bored-through chambers so he had to always use half-moon clips or the shells would fall out the front when you put them in the back.

There apparently were not a lot of them made that way before they changed to the S&W type chambers that would fire single rounds.
Very few got loose on the surplus market, but it is worth checking if they have .45 ACP chambers, or .45 ACP holes through the cylinder.

It is also worth mentioning that the 1917 S&W did not have the hammer-block safety at that time, and could conceivably fire if dropped hard enough on the hammer to shear the hammer pin stud.

Anyway, I never imagined in the 1960's there would come a day when a near-mint & unmolested 1917 would be harder to find and more valuable then a Model 29!

Check out this old news paper style catalog from Seaport Traders,a gun dealer pre 1968 GCA, take a look at the bottom left corner 1917 Colts for $ 36.95 VG for$29.95 delivered, the S&W counter part upper center.
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The Big Colt is a war-horse for sure but it is a shooter. Bought mine in a consignment case in a gun shop, reblued US marked, 1917 mfg. Had it now for... 15+ years, never broken any parts, shot it a great deal. Biggest problem I've seen is the exposed ejector rod can be bent. Otherwise it's a grand old revolver suitable for target shooting or defense. I've knocked down bowling pins at 100 yards with it, thought mostly I've had it as a 'fun' gun.

Never ran +p ammo through it, though It seems to like 230gr Hydrashocks. Winchester Silvertips (185 gr) shoot really high in my pistol. Also likes lead bullets a lot. Shot a lot of 200gr SWC out of it.

I'd say if it's in your budget, get it.
I did a Google on

Colt New Service .45 ACP

Look for a hit/link to the American Handgunner Article
very thorough history on the Colt New Service, 1898-1941.

The Author states it was the largest handgun produced
until the intorduction of the Dan Wesson .44 Mag, and the
RUger Redhawk. You need big hands with Long fingers.

The 1917 Colt is really the New Service in military trim. The 1917 S&W is the Hand Ejector Second Model in 45 ACP.

Colt sold the same gun to Britain in their 455 Ely caliber. S&W sold both the First Model Hand Ejector (Triple Lock to most) and the trimmer and simpler Second Model when the Brits griped about the 1st Model's weight and complexity.

I have a couple of these. The Colt was sold through their London office in 1917. British officers had to buy their own sidearms. Between then and now it was converted to 45 Colt and nickel plated.


This 455 Triple Lock was also shipped in 1917 to a retail outlet after the Brits stopped buying this model. Also has been changed to the Colt caliber.


Original 1917s in good shape command collector prices. Even beaters will sell for a surprising amount.
Both M1917s are excellent Revolvers...different from eachother in their ways of being Colts or S & Ws respectively.

Either if halfway nice to nice, are going to be five to seven hundred or nine dollars now.

I'd say, be patient, get one which is 'original' and not re-done, low blue, medium blue, high blue, all are fine, all are lovely when 'honest' what it takes, cherish it, and never look back.

Many have mere Holster wear and are low miliage.

Both are very very durable, very reliable, very high endemic problems I ever heard of.
I've got two S&W 1917's - one a nice example of the way they were when released and available as surplus in places like that shown in dagger dog's scan; the other also nice enough but with signs of some amount of pitting, British markings along with U.S. Property markings, an old refinish, and a looser lockup than the first.

I get a kick out of taking them out back for a shoot. Both are servicable and shoot pretty good considering. I use moonclips almost all the time with them because I like keeping a box full of loaded clips on top of our refrigerator ready to go whenever I feel like firing off one, or ten. Smith1917.gif


The only photo I have of the British marked 1917 is this bluegun family album shot. It's the one with the odd color. I had it for sale in GB recently but took it down when there were no takers at $575. Now I've got a new hand and bolt for it and am thinking of cutting the barrel down, nickeling it, and put a pair of Ahrends on to have an old snubbie something.
You need XL-size hands and fingers to like the Colt
You need big hands with Long fingers.

Well, that put the kibosh on this until I get to handle one and feel it 1st hand. I have small hands and small fingers - as an example, the long trigger on a 1911 is uncomfortable for me. The shorter trigger on the Springer GI & MilSpec is money.

Thanks, all. I still want one...but I'll wait to handle in person first before investing.

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