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Colt Model 1917 questions

3117 Views 30 Replies 8 Participants Last post by  Oyeboten
Other than Googling "Colt Model 1917" and doing Wikipedia searches, is there a legitimate and accurate source of information for someone who only has a vague knowledge of these pistols. I have started looking in earnest but find too many loosely described pistols, especially on Gunbroker and other gun sites. So, can anyone point in the right direction for learning about these pistols?

So far, I have this:

Colt Model 1917 Army New Service Model 45 ACP Double Action Revolver - Profile of Colt Model 1917 Army New Service Model 45 ACP Double Action Revolver

[/URL]And, of course the list goes on. Gunbroker is an interesting exercise when one looks at the "completed" items to look at history. Lots of variation in asking prices, description, and condition.

Any and all advice is appreciated.

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There's a deal of info in the Timothy J Mullins Colt New Service Revolver book.
Should be lots of info here on the forum, which could be accessed using the search function.

Do you have an m1917 already?
Thank you for pointing out the obvious. Yes, I did the search function thing before I started and I also did the Google thing which is where I got the initial URLs to post. My point in asking here is for a clear and concise source for information so that I can do my homework BEFORE I buy one. No, I don't own a Colt or S&W Model 1917 - yet. ;) My search here pointed out a few members with both who touted the advantages of the S&W trigger over that of the Colt but I still lean towards the Colt. Don't ask me why because I don't know.

The trouble with searching (not really a trouble at all) is that most posters ask specific questions about various specific things. I am trying to figure out what is original GI issue, what is post-war, civilian and just plain made up. Quite a while a go someone posted a picture of a Colt Model 1917 with virtually no finish on it but in good operating condition. I loved it. Then, when you go to Gunbroker and look at offerings, some with very high prices, one sees items all over the board with refinishes, aftermarket grips, and rust.

Dogface6, thank you for the reference.

To all, sorry for the delay in responding but we had a death in the family and things are still in an uproar.
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Hi Grumpa17,

It's just that way...or, one would usually acquire knowledge a little here, a little there, and add to it with one's own increasingly informed observations, and, so on.

I do not know of any Book which will cover all salient aspects directly, of one's wishing to understand the variations ( made-up Guns, wrong parts, on and on ) of the 1917 Colt. Even if some Books would include sufficient detail for one to lean about distinguishing early, mid or late Military Issue, and to tell them from the latter Commercial Issues which used left over WWI Parts, and to tell those from re-Arsenals, and to tell those form Post Office Issue of re-arsenals, etc.

Much of that information is spread over however many Threads, here on the Forum, where the salient Posts evolve from discussion of a particular Revolver someone is writing in to ask about.

Of course, if one has some background in the earl 20th Century Dolt DAs generally, one is already half way there for understanding the m1917 and for evaluating or noticing critically, the departures from 'Stock' configurations which we encounter.

The S & W M1917 is a smaller Frame and smaller Grip Revolver than the New Service, aside from their differing details otherwise, so it is sometimes a perfect size for some people's medium-large Hands, and, the larger New service is sometimes perfect for someone with larger Hands.

Or, these two always seemed different enough from one-another to me, as to preclude being an 'either-or' sort of thing...even if both chamber the .45 ACP and both being WWI Arms and both being m1917s.

Ideally, one would have one of each, anyway, for the most fun!
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I have been doing my best to educate myself on these WWI revolvers and I do admit that the search function point out some very nice tidbits. The bad news is that I very little knowledge of any sort of revolvers. I own two "newer" Rugers from the early 1970s and then my most recent acquisition which is the Colt Commando and I REALLY like that pistol. I may lose it if I don't keep my eyes on it because my son-in-law just discovered how nice it shoots. All that said, I am still reading AND searching looking for more information on these. Thank you.
It's a lot like if one is interested in 1932 Fords, and, wishes to learn more.

Maybe it is not as bad as that, Lol, but, there is a lot to learn, if one wishes to sort of know one's way around them.

Any particular example you may be wishing to have evaluated, from Gunbroker or other, if you can direct us to the Auction or post images of it, quite a bit can then be told from there, about that particular one.

Many we to see have been messed with, or are re-arsenal, or re-finished privately.

Every exception from bone 'Stock' will be it's own example of a departure from 'Stock' and or will be valued less than a Stock example in the same condition ( or with very rare exception anyway, like say, is a period modified, period privately re-finished example, had belonged to some famous person and has the documentation to prove it ).

So, learning to evaluate an original finish or what is left of an original finish ( even if thin, worn or with no Blue left ), vis-a-via distinguishing that from an old worn re-Blue, becomes important.

And this comes easy enough for looking at examples which are being discussed in the Forum.

Early m1917 Colts had Cylinder Chambers bored more or less straight through ( even if they may have tapered somewhat ) with no 'step' to co-respond to the Case Mouth edge, which occasions a lot of Blow By and detracts from Accuracy...after that phase, the Cylinders enjoyed a proper 'step' and hence represent an improvement to some minds ( mine for example ).

The m1917 was Serial Numbed in with the on-going New Service run, so on them, one would tend to glance to the Army Inventory Number stamped on the Butt, to have some notion of how early or middling or late it may be, within the confines of the total m1917 production figures ( which I do not recall of the top of my Head but others here would).

Phosphate or Parkerized finishes are either examples of re-Arsenal for WWII, or, were done privately after WWII by individuals who wanted that kind of finish for themselves.
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It's a lot like if one is interested in 1932 Fords, and, wishes to learn more.

Well, the '32 Ford reference gives me lots of understanding since I am in a nation-wide club for vintage Corvettes. With that marque, so much is known that if one asks "what is the bolt head marking on a 1972 small block head?" that question can be answered. My issue is that I see blued and parkerized and now understand the difference. I see some with the "flaming bomb" and understand that and then I see some with a small icon just behind the cylinder and below the hammer. There are certainly lots of variations here and I am trying to learn. While I understand collectible values and such, that isn't my driving force. I really want one in good mechanical condition for shooting. As I mentioned in my earlier post, I did see someone with a 1917 with almost no finish, just great patina but in excellent condition. I said "self, I want that." My son shares my gun passion but, unfortunately, he is more into newer guns. He did, however, almost do a cartwheel when I bought him a CMP M1 Garand just because. Now he is saying he wants to shoot my M1 Carbine and probably wants one. ;)
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Grumpa, you might find a two-part article in Man At Arms magazine to be helpful. Part 1 covers the S&W 1917 and part 2 covers the Colt. They are:

Volume 21 # 6 from Nov/Dec 1999 for part 1 (S&W) and

Volume 22 # 1 from Jan/Feb 2000 for part 2 (Colt's)

They are available as back-issues at the following website: Man at Arms Magazine for the Gun and Sword Collector Back Issue List
It's my opinion that Bob Murphy's monograph Colt New Service Revolvers has the best collection of facts about Colt New Services with a good section on M1917's. There is a great deal of information about both Colt and S&W M1917's in Charlie Pate's book U.S. Handguns of World War II, the Secondary Pistols and Revolvers. Unfortunately, both books are recently out of print. It's hard to find a copy of either on the secondary book market, and even when found, prices are considerably higher than they originally were. But if you want to learn about these guns, your best bet is to scour the used book sites and pay the price. Good used book sites are Bookfinder, Abe Books, Alibris, Amazon and IDSA Books.

Grumpa, PM me your e-mail address - I've got a few things that may interest you.

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Haggis, the Man At Arms articles I mentioned cite both Murphy and Pate among thei source material.
PM sent

aka [email protected]

To the rest, I have the information and will be calling for the two back issues of the magazine but have pressing issues now.
Haggis, the Man At Arms articles I mentioned cite both Murphy and Pate among thei source material.
Yes, and I suspect that they would have cited Tim Mullin's book had it been available then. It fulfills a very specific need insofar as the detailed pictures, and I always recommend that a serious collector get a copy. But even Mullin states that Murphy has the details of production and features captured very well in his monograph.

BTW, one of the things I sent Gary was your second Men at Arms reference on the Colt M1917, in PDF format.

Best Regards,

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I just purchased # 76 colt 45 military issue 1917. It appears to be in good to very good condition although I am interested in having it serviced. reconditioned. How does one thing the reconditioning will affect the value and what does the actual value really appear to be?>
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I just purchased # 76 colt 45 military issue 1917. It appears to be in good to very good condition although I am interested in having it serviced. reconditioned. How does one thing the reconditioning will affect the value and what does the actual value really appear to be?>

What do you mean by 'reconditioned'?

Does it have mechanical troubles?

Cosmetic issues?


If you have a Model 1917 Colt with the service number of 76 on the butt, the best thing you can do to it is nothing but clean it up.
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I think we are all anxious to see it!

Where's them pics??!!

( That is a LOW Number alright...)


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