Colt 1917 Serial-Service Numbers
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    Colt 1917 Serial-Service Numbers

    With the help of some of you, I have been accumulating data on serial (crane recess) vs. service (butt) numbers for Colt 1917 revolvers. While I will continue to do so, I thought is was a good time to show you what I have so far, at least in a general sense. As you know, there is no absolute correspondence between the two numbers, but there is a general correlation. I was interested to know, among other things, how much difference there was between the correlation and the actual numbers. The data are shown below:



    There is a fair amount of data displacement from the regression curve, and it seems more pronounced during the middle of production. The experimental regression curve itself is very close to the theoretical one, the small difference likely due to the finite data set (about 70 values). The maximum deviation is about ±12000, although much of the data is within ±5000 or less. The standard deviation of the absolute deviations would be a better measure of scatter, but I haven't gotten around to a better statistical analysis of the data yet.

    Anyway, that where the research stands so far. Please keep the numbers coming.

    Buck

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    "There is a fair amount of data displacement from the regression curve, and it seems more pronounced during the middle of production. The experimental regression curve itself is very close to the theoretical one, the small difference likely due to the finite data set (about 70 values). The maximum deviation is about ±12000, although much of the data is within ±5000 or less. The standard deviation of the absolute deviations would be a better measure of scatter, but I haven't gotten around to a better statistical analysis of the data yet."

    Uh, yeah, sure it is.

    In other words, they come purty close, right?

    Me thinks you have been eating your user name again.
    les.b likes this.

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    That's interesting. I have long believed that statistical analysis of serial numbers can open doors for our understanding of particular models in the larger context of a company's overall production.

    Keep it up!
    David Wilson (My avatar is a seemingly unfired Commando)

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    I agree. Excellent analysis. We need more people doing such things and advancing the knowledge base.

    Thanks,
    Kevin Williams

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    This type of analysis is important. Please continue to keep us posted in the future.Thanks.

    Regards

    AlanD
    Sydney
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    I have a Colt M-1917 and I am trying to figure the date of manufacture, but because this gun has several different numbers and stamps on it, I am getting conflicting info.

    There is a matching 3-digit (52X) on the crane, opposite on the interior frame, and the front of the cylinder. It also has a matching 4-digit number (559X) on the barrel, the crane, opposite on the interior frame, and the cylinder base (under the extractor). And a matching 6-digit (189,2XX) number on the crane, opposite on the interior frame, and under the side-plate. ... At the Colt Web Page at Colt Firearm Serial Number Lookup, the 6-digit number matches to the 1917 model with a manufacture date of 1919. (It is my assumption that the 3-digit and 4-digit numbers were added during Arsenal or Colt Factory refurbishings.)


    There is a 5-digit number on the grip-frame butt that is the military serial number, and this gun also has the inspector mark of Colonel John M. Gilbert (JMG), which I have read elsewhere appears only from about serial number 29,700 (1910) to about 64,000 (May, 1918). Based upon the Gilbert stamp, this guns 40,0XX military number would match an acceptance during WW-1 and before May 1918.


    The gun was also parkerized, presumably by Colt when it was refurbished shortly after World War II, - when they added a VP or Verified Proof mark just above the trigger guard. This gun also has Colt Factory Bakelite grips with silver Colt medallions, - I presume that these too were added during Post WW-2 refurbishing.

    So I am trying to figure out whether it was produced 1917, 1918, or 1919?
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Send me the full service (butt) number (40xxx), and I can give you the week it was delivered to the Government and how many were delivered that week. I would also like the full Colt serial number (189,2xx) for my M1917 database, if you agree. Nothing in the database ties a specific gun to its owner. The numbers 52x and 559x are likely arsenal rebuild numbers (some guns were refurbished twice) between the world wars, and 559x was likely done second since that number is on the barrel. The 52x barrel was probably replaced during the second rebuild. In addition to the places you mentioned, the rebuild numbers were supposed to be on the ejector rod shaft and internally on the hammer and trigger.

    The verified proof is interesting. Like you, I would suspect that it went to Colt after WWII under one of their refurbishing contracts. I am not sure where Colt is getting their dates - perhaps from Wilson's research which is in error for New Services in the WWI era. The same inaccuracies plague Proofhouse's dates from the same era, primarily because it is based on Wilson's data as well. There were very few M1917's produced in 1919, maybe about 5000 before the end of February. Yours is the first half of 1918. Again, I can get much more specific with the service number.

    Buck

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    Quote Originally Posted by haggis View Post
    Welcome to the forum.

    Send me the full service (butt) number (40xxx), and I can give you the week it was delivered to the Government and how many were delivered that week. I would also like the full Colt serial number (189,2xx) for my M1917 database, if you agree. Nothing in the database ties a specific gun to its owner. The numbers 52x and 559x are likely arsenal rebuild numbers (some guns were refurbished twice) between the world wars, and 559x was likely done second since that number is on the barrel. The 52x barrel was probably replaced during the second rebuild. In addition to the places you mentioned, the rebuild numbers were supposed to be on the ejector rod shaft and internally on the hammer and trigger.

    The verified proof is interesting. Like you, I would suspect that it went to Colt after WWII under one of their refurbishing contracts. I am not sure where Colt is getting their dates - perhaps from Wilson's research which is in error for New Services in the WWI era. The same inaccuracies plague Proofhouse's dates from the same era, primarily because it is based on Wilson's data as well. There were very few M1917's produced in 1919, maybe about 5000 before the end of February. Yours is the first half of 1918. Again, I can get much more specific with the service number.

    Buck
    The full service (butt) number is 40011, - the full Colt serial number is 189205.

    Thank you Sir !

    Rodger (AbnCavScout)

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    US Army 1-993; Colt 152364


    If you already have this please excuse the duplication.
    Thank you for providing the analysis.
    rayb
    "Low End Accumulator.........Ships aren't built for harbours, & guns aren't built for safes"

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    Rodger, your Colt M1917 was delivered to the Government during the week of March 2, 1918 as part of a weekly shipment of 2200 guns.

    rayb, your very early M1917 was delivered during the month of October, 1917 as part of the monthly shipment of 3800 guns. I don't have a weekly breakdown for the first month of production. BTW, I already do have your data which you likely had given me earlier.

    Thanks much to both of you for enriching my database.

    Buck
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