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Old May 11, 2011, 09:33 AM   #1
Magnum Wheel Man
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Colt model 1917 revolver... whats the good, the bad, & the ugly ???

looking at buying one of these... not too worried about historical correctness, just looking for a shooter, & to add a vintage Colt to the stable... & a 45 auto revolver would be nice as well

anything I should be looking for, or avoiding???
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Old May 11, 2011, 12:59 PM   #2
James K
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Like all the old design Colts, the Model 1917 can get out of time and fail to lock up. The latter condition is mainly a problem in theory, because the cylinder will lock up when the trigger is pulled whether it does so when the gun is cocked slowly or not. Do not buy a non-functional gun or one that "can be fixed." Parts are scarce and gunsmiths who understand the mechanism are getting thin on the ground. Colt will not repair those guns.

Other than that, the guns are pretty solid and will give good service. Obviously, price will (or should) depend on condition. If you are concerned at all about value, watch out for reblues. A Parkerized finish indicates the gun was rebuilt, probably during WWII; that is not bad so far as performance goes, but the finish is not the original blue and that lowers the value.

Except for the very early ones, the gun will fire .45 ACP without moon clips but they will be necessary for easy extraction; without them one is reduced to using a fingernail or a tool to remove fired cases. The gun was designed for "half moon" clips (3 rounds) but can use most of the 6 round "full moon" clips as well. You can also fire the .45 Auto Rim, made especially for those (S&W and Colt) Model 1917 revolvers. You cannot fire .45 Colt ("long Colt"), .45 Schofield, or any of the British .450 and .455 cartridges.

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Old May 11, 2011, 01:13 PM   #3
carguychris
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Quote:
You cannot fire... any of the British .450 and .455 cartridges.
Since Magnum is looking for a shooter, I think it's worth mentioning that a number of Colt New Service revolvers were built in .455 for the Brits and Canadians, then modified to take .45ACP and moon clips when they were sold as surplus. These guns have relatively low value to a collector due to the modifications, but can make good shooters for a bargain price. You can usually identify these guns by the tool marks and/or non-matching finish on the cylinder face.
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Old May 11, 2011, 02:49 PM   #4
Magnum Wheel Man
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so... besides the fact I could use another classic Colt ( hmmm... only have one Colt revolver right now )

without getting into a Colt vrs S&W war... is the S&W a "more reliable" gun than the Colt in the 1917 model ???
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Old May 11, 2011, 03:20 PM   #5
jonnyc
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It's a potato/potahto thing. Both are good, serviceable pistols that make great shooters. You could get a bad one of either. If you have an urge for the Colt...go for it. Then get the S&W, and a Webley MkVI in .45 ACP.
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Old May 11, 2011, 10:38 PM   #6
James K
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I STRONGLY recommend against firing the Mk VI Webley converted to .45 ACP with GI or factory loads. I know of a couple of those guns that have blown cylinders firing .45 ACP and have seen pictures of a couple of more. The pressure of the .45 ACP is around 21k psi, vs the 14k the Webley was designed for. The Webleys are big and look like they should be super strong, but they weren't intended for that high pressure. And not only the MK VI was worked over for .45 ACP; many of the older Webleys, made for black powder, were also converted in the 1950's. Those are even more likely to let go.

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Old May 12, 2011, 05:02 AM   #7
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That's why you reload for all three.
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Old May 12, 2011, 07:18 AM   #8
Icopy1
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Mine was made in 1918 and I needed moon clips to shoot 45 acp with it. 45 auto rim isn't something you can find at wally world, ya know. Anyway, just make all the usual checks you would for any revolver, since you just want a shooter.

Remember for Colts, the cylinder should have minimal to zero rotatation when the hammer if forward and the trigger is held back.

They are great to shoot, and mine was pretty accurate too.
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Old May 12, 2011, 07:50 AM   #9
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I recently traded for a Colt 1917, previously owned by one of Merrill's Marauders.

It has a lot of holster wear, but wasn't fired all that much.

Only drawbacks so far, are that the rear sight notch is TINY, and the DA trigger pull is HEAVY, and the caps in those words are fully meant. Trigger reach is also fairly long.

My lady is a former pro horse breeder/trainer, and grew up on a farm. She isn't exactly a weakling (as most weaklings don't fling hay bales around). She was unable to use the 1917 in DA mode, and her hand isn't big enough to cock the hammer using her shooting hand.

I can cock the hammer with my shooting hand, but have to rock the gun in my hand like it's an SAA in order to do it.

And I can shoot it reasonably well in DA.

But I also have L/XL hands.

I'm happy to have it, and plan to shoot it quite a bit. It will be interesting to see how long it takes the trigger to break in.
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Old May 12, 2011, 09:40 AM   #10
Mike Irwin
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The Good? It's a Colt with a great history.

The Bad? It's not a Smith & Wesson Model of 1917.

The Ugly? The front sight.
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Old May 12, 2011, 01:26 PM   #11
DG45
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If I just wanted a shooter 45 revolver, I'd look for one of the 1937 Brazilian Contract versions of the S&W Model 1917 Army Model. I've heard that a lot of them were used in WWII by the Brazilian Expedition force that fought the Germans in Italy alongside the American army, particulary in the Monte Cassino area, but there's no way to know which ones were used in the war and which weren't.

I have one of these Brazilian contact models. They weren't used by the US in WWI or II so have little collecter interest in this country and are generally a couple of hundred bucks cheaper in price than the S&W 1917s with the flaming bomb insignia and marked US Army and all that..

However, I think they were better guns with better gun metal. Some people say they were just made of parts left over from WWI but I don't believe it, at least I don't believe mine was. I think mine was made of better steel than the 1917 guns were. Mine also had a high quality commercial blue finish and a squared rear sight, which is certainly an improvement over the S&W US Army revolvers of 1917. The only things on my gun that I think may have been parts left over from WWI are the smooth wood hand grips which are exactly like the WWI version, and the swivel ring on the butt of the gun.

The great thing about these 1917 Model guns whether Colt, S&W 1917, or S&W Brazilian Contract, is how versatile they are, and how inexpensive they are in price compared to comparable aged 45 autos and how inexpensive the RESUSABLE metal moon clips are as compared with 45 auto magazines. I believe the 45 Revolvers with Moon Clips are NEARLY as fast firing as 45 autos, are just as fast to reload, and with a 5 1/2 inch barrel are probably more accurate, but heres the real advantage: I routinely pre-load 15 REUSABLE moon clips with relatively inexpensive UMC 45 ACP ammo and take them and my gun target shooting. That's 90 rounds. In a 45 auto, you'd need 13 magazines to do the same amount of shooting, unless of course you want to load magazines on the range instead of shoot. (How much would 13 magazines cost, anyway?)

And by the way, for the recoil sensitive, the 1917 Model revolver is no lightweight, (it was a good skull buster, which is better to have than nothing when you're out of ammo) and because of that weight, its recoil when shooting UMC 45 ACP 230 grain ball ammo is surprisingly mild. Nothing at all to be afraid of. The muzzle blast noise is reasonably mild too, outdoors, but wear hearing protection anyway.

When I get home from the range, I reload with Black Hills 45 Auto Rim 255 Grain LSWC's (a rimmed cartridge made for a revolver; no moon clips needed)for bedside table HD duty. Hows that for versatility in a handgun?

Last edited by DG45; May 12, 2011 at 05:37 PM.
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