View Full Version : Colt Model 1917 qestion

October 19, 2005, 10:25 AM
I recently came to a Colt Model 1917 revolver through family and I had a few questions.

The revolver came in a US stamped leather holster marked G&K 1918 A.G. on the back and the revolver s/n 223xxx has the US Army imprints on it. It is the belief of the family that we acquired it sometime during the 1920's or 1930's.

However, I shot it for the first time last night and was using .45 Long Colt rounds. The barrel is stamped 'Colt D.A. 45' but through research I thought all these weapons were chambered for .45 ACP and could not fit the .45 LC round.

I have read that some of the Model 1917s were sold as surplus in the 50s to NRA members and were rechambered. Were these the only 1917s chambered so?

It is a great shooter and has nice historical value to me but it would have less sentimental/story value if it was purchased by the family as surplus.

October 19, 2005, 10:51 AM
1917's were in 45 ACP. If you got it to accept 45LC someone has done a conversion on it. Unless they re-cylindered it, you should have a headspace problem. The difference in rim thickness between 45 ACP/Auto Rim and 45 LC is about .030. It will fire, but really wouldn't be the safe as there would be the chance of blowing a case head. I would take it to a competent
gunsmith and have it checked out.


Jim Watson
October 19, 2005, 11:09 AM
All 1917 revolvers were chambered .45 ACP.
If it will shoot .45 Colt, I see three possibilites.
1. It was rechambered. I never heard of any general program, certainly not by NRA, but it would not be a complicated job... if you had the reamer. The normal rim thickness of .45 Colt vs rim+clip of .45 ACP or the thick rim of .45 AR could make ignition spotty, depending on tolerances in headspace and firing pin protrusion. I doubt there would be a risk of case rupture or head separation with modern solid head brass.
2. It is out of the first run of Colts which are commonly said to have been chambered straight through without headspacing shoulder. Not many of these are actually seen, maybe they replaced the cylinders later.
3. It has a .45 Colt cylinder installed. Which would require shortening the barrel shank and cutting back the litte nub on the sideplate that keeps the cylinder from sliding back off the crane when open.

Will it accept .45 ACP in clips? If so then 1 or 2 applies. If there is a visible reduction in chamber diameter ahead of the case mouth position, then it is no. 1, rechambered.

October 19, 2005, 11:29 AM
Straight-bored chambers to service number 30451 (stamped on the butt), counterbored thereafter. This would suggest that counterboring began at about SN 179500, and that 223xxx is almost certainly counterbored.
Look inside a chamber - you can see the shoulder (unless someone has converted it).
If you slip a .45ACP case into the chambers and the case stops with the rim protruding from the cylinder face, then it's .45ACP. You do not need clips to shoot it. I shoot mine without clips.

October 19, 2005, 12:19 PM
The revolver is service number 69043. I do not have any of the half-moon clips and do not know if any came with it. I will check on that.

I guess I should also check to make sure that the .45 LC rounds fit properly. It shot fine as there were no misfires but I hate to think I might have damaged it in any way.

Thanks for all the responses.

Johnny Guest
October 20, 2005, 07:11 PM
Began a post but thought better of it.
Good luck to you - -

October 21, 2005, 11:38 AM
I just looked at my colt book (Colt : An American Legend) According to it there were 150,700 Colt M1917s made. Serial numbers ranged from 150,000 to 301,000 and all were chambered for .45ACP AND .45 Colt. Now I know what I want for Christmas. You might want to check with Colt though, I read a whole bunch of history books in school that were nothing but lies.

October 21, 2005, 01:22 PM
As Jim Watson said, all U.S. M1917 revolvers were chambered for .45ACP - NOT .45 Colt.
The revolver is nothing more than the Colt New Service. This revolver was adopted by Army Ordnance in 1909 chambered for .45 Colt as a stopgap measure for two years while the trials for a new sidearm were underway.
It was designated the U.S. M1909.

October 21, 2005, 03:57 PM
That's what I thought, I own a 1917 S&W. That's why I suggested a call to Colt. I Quess now for Christmas I want a new Colt book.:(

James K
October 25, 2005, 03:40 PM
ALL, repeat, ALL, Colt Model 1917 revolvers were made for the .45 ACP cartridge and designed for use with half moon clips. If the gun accepts .45 Colt (".45 Long Colt") cartridges and fires normally, it is either not a Model 1917 or the cylinder has been replaced with a .45 Colt New Service cylinder.

The Model 1909 will accept the .45 Colt cartridge but the ammunition issued with it was actually the Cartridge, Pistol, Cal. 45, Model 1909. The Model 1909 cartridge has a larger rim than the .45 Colt and was adopted because the .45 Colt cartridge jumped the extractor due to its tiny rim.

The .45 Colt can be used in the Model 1909, but the Model 1909 cartridge can be used in the Single Action Army only if every other chamber is loaded.

FWIW, the Model 1909 was adopted to fill a need; at that time it was not certain that any automatic pistol would be adopted or how far away the changeover might be. The Model 1909 was intended to be the new service revolver, not just a stop gap. It was, incidentally, the control gun for all the later automatic tests, firing thousands of rounds without a failure while several autos broke, failed or just fell apart.