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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
An old friend wants me to look over a 1917 he bought for his Dad 15+ years ago. I know very little about these guns.

I cleaned and lubed it and plan on shooting it some this weekend. It has after-market grips and looks like someone used fine sandpaper to remove rust and pitting from the outside of the barrel. There is a very faint trace of "United States Property" and a serial number on the underside. The markings on the bottom of the grip frame are quite clear "U.S. Army Model 1917" and "No. 111517".

My questions concerns two numbers on the crane and frame below the barrel. One number is 12303 and is on the crane, frame and the barrel. In a different font on both the frame and crane is 255328.

The 12303 indicates the gun was made in 1917. What is the second number? Any help would be appreciated.
 

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The No.111517 is the military service number, and the 255328 is the Colt New Service serial number. The revolver probably dates to Sept/Oct. 1918. The 12303 on the different parts indicates the revolver went back for rebuild, and that is an assembly number to help get the parts back together.
 

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The "12303" is almost certainly a WWII era re-Arsenal inventory Number.

Were it a Colt Serial Number for the 'New Service', it would indicate a date of latter 1904, and, the Revolver would have several details and features which are different from the m1917 ( including, the lack of any Army Texts on the Butt ).
 

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Welcome to the Forum.

The Army Service number 111517 dates the gun to a delivery week of September 21, 1918 as part of a weekly shipment of 3000 revolvers. "255328" is Colt's serial number as part of the New Service series of revolvers. Colt M1917's thus have two different serializations, one for each of the organizations involved with the gun. Neither one is "more correct" than the other. "12303" is an arsenal rebuild number required on all M1917's that went back to a Military Arsenal and were disassembled for repair/refinish. Numbers on critical, hand-fitted parts insured that those parts stayed together during the rebuild. "12303" is large enough to suggest that the rebuilding arsenal was Springfield Arsenal who did more of them than any other arsenal (still, I have no way of absolutely proving that). The rebuild number should be located on the places you listed, as well as on the ejector rod, cylinder (under the ejector star), and on the hammer and trigger internal to the gun.

Buck
 

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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
Thanks Buck...I appreciate the expanded information. When I took the side plate off, I decided that doing much more than that was well above my pay grade. I didn't notice the numbers on the ejector rod, cylinder, hammer or trigger. That doesn't mean they don't exist, just didn't see them.

Do you have any idea when the arsenal rebuild may have occurred? I ask because when I removed the after-market grips, a small piece of heavy folded paper was inside the grip frame. Hand written in two lines was:
"A D Blan 382E" and "OID April 4, 1923".
 

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I have no way of knowing for sure when any particular M1917 was worked on in any arsenal. The most reported in any one year (by far) was in 1921 when 51,200 (or 51,300) Colt M1917's and 51,061 S&W M1917's were "cleaned and repaired". The first ones were repaired in 1920 (7780 or 14,655 S&W and 1450 or no Colts). There were none listed in 1922-23. These data come from Charlie Pate's excellent book U.S. Handguns of World War II, the Secondary Pistols and Revolvers.

Your unusual grip frame note is interesting. I think you can infer from the date that your revolver was reworked in 1920-1921. What the note means is unknown to me - perhaps someone else knows what the numbers and initials mean. If I were forced to hazard a guess, I would think that A. D. Blan of the Army's 382nd Engineers was issued the gun on April 4, 1923 shortly after it was refurbished. Just remember that this guess is worth exactly what you paid for it.:D

Buck
 

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MarkInTx;478538I didn't notice the numbers on the ejector rod . . . [/QUOTE said:
To find it, open the cylinder and push the rod in like you would to eject the shells, then look along the shaft between the rear face of the cylinder and the extrctor "star."
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thanks guys! The appropriate numbers are there, just where you said they would be.

As for the note in the grip frame...that all sounds logical to me and sure beats anything I could come up with.
 
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