View Full Version : S&W Mod-1917 45ACP Need info...

March 21, 2010, 07:12 PM
I received a phone call from a gun friend of mine today, who has just purchased a S&W Model 1917 in 45ACP with s/n 12XXX with a prefix of "S" ....he seems to believe that the "S" makes the pistol worth more in value ??? The gun is in excellent condition ....I don't have any pic's but could get some if need be !
Any input would be most appreciated !

Thanks Jim

James K
March 21, 2010, 08:06 PM
The Model 1917 was made during WWI for the military; it had its own serial number range up to about 169959. Between wars, S&W made a commercial version they called the 1917 Army, continuing the serial numbers. The Model 1950 .45 revolver was also in .45 ACP, but was purely a commercial model, even though it continued in the same serial range.

The S prefix was not used until after WWII, and eventually the .45 ACP guns became the Models 25 and 26, with serial numbers continuing upward. In brief, that low a serial number would not have had an S prefix, so something is wrong, either in the identification of the gun or in recording the serial number.


March 21, 2010, 09:09 PM
Thanks for the quick reply Jim .....If the s/n is 127xxx ,would that be accurate ???? I undoubltley wrote down the serial numbers incorrectly ...I'll double check with my friend tomorrow ...Thanks,Jim

March 22, 2010, 07:57 AM
Hi Folks,and Jim,The s/n I gave you was incorrect the correct s/n is 495xxS...What does the S stand for ....My friend has been offered $1800.00 for this pistol...but he feels it's worth more ??? Thanks Jim

March 22, 2010, 01:07 PM
I received a phone call from a gun friend of mine today, who has just purchased a S&W Model 1917 in 45ACP with s/n 12XXX with a prefix of "S" ....he seems to believe that the "S" makes the pistol worth more in value ??? The gun is in excellent condition.

correct s/n is 495xxS

Okay, we have some conflicts. An "S" prefix would be S495XX, but this does not jibe with known post-war Model 1917's. Those serial numbers were in the S209xxx to S210xxx range.

Double check the number of digits you are providing. Post-war "S" prefixed guns should have a six-digit s/n. A pre-1946 revolver may have a s/n of 495xx but it is unlikely to have an "S" prefix. That's why some of the confusion. Also note whether the "S" is the same size as the digits or a smaller sized "S" or "s" stamp. This would have a different meaning if stamped on the gun later.

Either serial number - 12,xxx or 49,5xx would be within the first 163,600 made for the U.S. Army in 1917-1919.

Serial numbers are stamped on the butt, cylinder face, barrel flat, yoke and back of the extractor star. If the gun was rebuilt at some time by the Army, some of these numbers may not match (i.e. if the gun was rebarreled).

A 1917 made between 1917 and 1946 should show the following features;
- A 5½" round barrel with a 1/10" round blade front sight.
- S&W D.A. 45 stamped on the barrel's right side.
- A one-line "Made in USA" on the right side of the frame, but lacking the later address for S&W.
- Military frames lack the S&W trademark logo
- Lanyard ring in the butt (or a factory hole for mounting one)
- US Army guns will have U.S. Army Model 1917 stamped on the butt in 4 lines.
- US Army guns have UNITED STATES PROPERTY stamped on the barrel flat underneath the barrel.
- U.S. Ordinance "Flaming Bomb" stamped on left receiver near the hammer. Early guns may have "GHS" in a circular stamp here.
- Various inspector marks w/eagle-head stamp combined with a letter-number combination (S1, S2, S9, S24)

He could also have the later Model of 1950 which looks similar but is a commercial version. These were in the serial range of S85000 to S236000. A four-line address on the right of the frame above the trigger guard; large S&W logo on the sideplate; New Hammer design for the "short throw" action - compared to earlier models, the hammer spur is not parallel to the top strap and is preceded by a deep cut or notch in the hammer shape (modern hammer shape).

March 22, 2010, 02:33 PM
Ok,another call the s/n is S495xx ,now the "S" is 3x to 4x Larger than the stamped s/n ,and it's a military issued pistol that was issued in 1946 or 47.....

Oh, how the plot thickens ....

Thanks guys,Jim

James K
March 22, 2010, 06:58 PM
I am beginning to wonder if it is a Model 1917 at all. Can your friend provide some pictures and/or all markings and where they are located?

On S&W's with prefixed/suffixed serial numbers the letters were stamped separately when the frame was made, then the actual numbers done later. It is common for the letter font to be slightly larger, but not 3 or 4 times the size of the numbers.


March 22, 2010, 08:58 PM
If you're unsure how to post pictures and/or don't have a photobucket account, send a few of the pictures to me (click on my name, view public profile and find my email address). I'll put them on-line for folks to see.

Typically, an "S" suffix or a "small" letter "s" stamped on the butt of the gun indicates the gun had the then-new hammer-block safety installed. On some models, the small "S" was also stamped near the rear of the trigger guard opening on the left side of the frame.

Barrel markings may be key to identifying this one.

March 23, 2010, 09:26 AM
Gentlemen...The fellow that now has the 1917 ,is rather very knowlegdgeable on guns ....it's the "S" that is throwing the wrench into the works ...all the other data is accurate regarding identifying the gun....I know how to post pic's but the gun is around 1/2 hour away ....I could have him drive up and snap some pictures .....but again the question is on the letter "S" what does it stand for ???? Does it have an impact on the selling price of the revolver ????

I'll give my friend a call today and see if he has time to drive up !!!

Thanks again for all the replies ,gun mysteries are great !

see ya ,Jim

James K
March 23, 2010, 10:56 PM
Well, BillCA told you what "S" stands for on some revolvers, but S&W also used it in post-war production of the M&P, just dropping the "V" on the late wartime Victory Models which had an S prefix and a V suffix. Then they used it on post-WWII N frames, which would include their civilian .45 ACP revolvers.

But the S as described does not sound like the normal S prefix. If photos are not available, any guesses would be pure speculation. It could stand for Joe Simpson or the Smallville Police Department or anything else beginning with S.


March 23, 2010, 11:19 PM
It's very likely, if the "S" is near the serial number, it means the gun was refitted with the hammer-block safety. Easy to verify. Ensure the gun is unloaded and using a strong light, slowly cock the hammer. Look between the front of the hammer and the frame it rests on for a blued bar moving downward as the hammer is cocked. It should slide up as the hammer is lowered. This blocks the hammer from moving forward enough to contact the primer if it is struck hard.

If there is no hammer-block safety inside the gun then it'll be more difficult to ascertain the meaning of the "S".

Post war "S" prefix guns indicated the addition of the hammer-block safety (hence the "S") but these had serial numbers in the 209-210,000 range.