1917 Military Revolver Research Help
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Thread: 1917 Military Revolver Research Help

  1. #1
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    Question 1917 Military Revolver Research Help

    Greetings this is my first post here. I was directed here from a revolver forum to find some knowledgeable people.

    I recently had the opportunity to look through a for-sale collection from a relative of my in-laws. Among the militaria and sporting guns was a 1917 S&W military revolver. It was the service weapon of a member of the family. I was told a uncle has more detailed information and I have sent an email but I would also like to gain more information from here.

    I would like to know the go-to source of information on these revolvers, and how I can research the manufacture date, history of the model, and specifics on markings, numbers, and rebuilding done to these.

    Hard copy or digital are both alright. The finish does not look original. It was mostly in a safe I believe. Had spotty care and has some surface rust visible even being restored.

    Markings:
    US Army Model 1917 No. 7355
    GHS stamp
    United States Property
    Inside number S1026

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    Thank you!

  2. #2
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    Welcome to the forum!
    jeepnut likes this.
    Cum Deo et victricibus armis

  3. #3
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    Thanks!

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  5. #4
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    This is out of my league but according to my book shipped 1917-45. Started w/ 1 & went to 209791 so yours is probably on the early end (after 1945 started w/ s/n 209792). Unlikely it was unissues @ a date that early so probably a refinish. Are there any markings on the grip frame under the wood grips that show a factory refinish?
    jeepnut and Oldgungeezer like this.
    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment & buy one" Jesus - Luke 22:36

  6. #5
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    No markings that I can see under the grips.
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  7. #6
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    Doesn't look like it was marked as a factory refinish. Either one that saw very little use or more likely a private refinish.
    Oldgungeezer and jeepnut like this.
    "He that hath no sword, let him sell his garment & buy one" Jesus - Luke 22:36

  8. #7
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    Welcome to the forum.

    Congrats on such a great family heirloom, and I hope you end up as the care giver of it. What price has been set for it?

    You have found a "go-to source of information" by coming to this forum.

    They weren't made in order of the serial #s but your family's is clearly an early 1st year gun.

    You can determine the year of manufacturer here: U.S. Military Dates of Manufacture
    Click on 1917 S&W and plug in your serial #.

    It indicated 1917 which is the 1st year. It's a rare gun and would be a very valuable gun with all of its early features detailed below. But having been re-blued not so much anymore. But it looks good now but still rare, and is still a great shooter.

    Of course it has been re-blued outside the factory since WWI, but it's a fairly nice job; just a little shinier and darker than the factory bluing. The rust pitting under the grips on the grip frame and left side of hammer show it had the usual hard military life before that.

    45 HAND EJECTOR US ARMY - Model 1917 PRODUCTION DETAILS:

    WWI Military 1917s: These are in the #1 thru # 169959 (the estimated last military #) range but with only 163,635 revolvers completed and delivered by or in 1918, and approximately 7,300 revolvers were delivered partially completed and were not counted in the 163,635 figure. As usual with S&W, revolvers were not completed in order of their serial numbers and all numbers were not used. All were shipped to Springfield Armory.
    Both S&W (7300 frames) and Colt were allowed to purchase M1917 revolvers left over when their rebuild contracts were terminated at the end of WWII. (Pate’s Book)

    Most early WWI 1917s are marked "GHS" in a circle, (Gilbert H. Stewart), Gov’t inspector, left side frame up near the hammer serial number range 1 to at least 43894. During this period just an S inspector stamp is used w/o eagle head or # following the S. There’s also a GHD Guy H. Drewry inspector from 1930-1957 (with various increasing ranks in front of his name), who was in charge of the Hartford Ordnance District and under whose authority and name, ordnance contractors stationed at the S&W factory inspected guns both for Lend-lease and for ASP (Army Supply Program) contracts.

    Middle range guns are marked with a flaming bomb on upper rear left side of frame, beginning c. #42000 to April 1918.
    Late war time produced guns are marked in various locations with an eagle head over an "S" followed by a number like S1, S2, S3, S4, S6, S9, S24, S27, S34, etc., in several places from April 1918 to war’s end. These are inspector stamps used on Military guns which are also roll stamped "United States Property” on the underside of the barrel. All have lanyard rings (which is the earliest version; pinned, polished and case colored, not sandblasted and blued). The butt of the gun has a two line serial number (when over 3 digits) and “U.S. Army Model 1917” in four lines.
    Exception: Mr. Jinks has said that S&W didn't stamp 'US Army Model 1917', and a circle with GHS inspector or the flaming bomb on all guns until after the Govt. took control of S&W in Jan 1918 because of Govt. dissatisfaction with S&W’s production speed of the M1917.

    Earliest have smooth, concave round top service stocks and circular hammer grooves up to about #15,000. Although, many have been observed sporadically up to the #20,000 range. As with all things S&W, there is seldom a specific serial number cut off. Deletion of the stocks w/concave top and the hammer grooves were of the earliest changes. Jan 1918 is the date given for the request by the military to stop using the grooved hammers and at ~#15000 (Jan '18 went to ~ 16500), but found sporadically thru Feb '18 (17500 to 25000).

    The 1917 military issue have round top straps and a U notch rear sight. The change order of Oct 17, 1927 revised all N frames from the rd top frames with U notch rear sight to flat top with sq notch rear sight. Later built frames with early #s have been observed with flat top strap and square notch rear sight; example #113934.
    War time 1917s did not have hammer block safeties in the side plate, nor S&W trademark logos, not even commercial models (nor did any hand ejectors) following the war until ~ 1920.

    Arsenal Rebuilds: If there’s an extra large stamped # up to 5 digits (sometimes preceded with an R or S) in the yoke, yoke cut out, under the barrel, or all three places, it’s an arsenal # indicating an arsenal rebuilt gun. The R may be found on the frame left side as well. Examples: http://smith-wessonforum.com/s-w-han...-revolver.html

    BEWARE of the Cylinder hold open detent:

    In my experience military 1917s had the cylinder hold open detent in the yoke as did all pre war N frames and some early I and K frames. The cyl hold open detent went away on all frames after WW II with the usual few exceptions that had frames/yokes made pre war. It's been reported that some 1917s do not have the detent as a war time expedient, but of the hundreds of 1917s I've seen all did or at least had the hole with wear evidence that the detent spring and pin were lost. Use caution if you remove the yoke and cylinder from the frame or the spring and plunger can launch across the room.


    SERIAL # LOCATIONS:
    To confirm all parts are original, one can check for the 6 matching serial # locations for fixed sight pre war Hand Ejectors and all post war Hand Ejectors thru ~1956 and a few as much as 3 years later.
    NOTE: Observing serial #s for accuracy or even existence, especially on penciled stocks, requires magnification, bright light, and an attitude that it is there!

    1. Grip frame butt (prefixed by a letter(s) only following WWII)
    2. Barrel - bottom of barrel or in extractor shroud
    3. Yoke - on rear face only visible thru a chamber with a flashlight
    4. Extractor star - backside
    5. Cylinder - rear face
    6. Right stock only - on back; penciled on


    ASSEMBLY (factory work) #s:

    These multi-digit numbers of 3 to 5 digits, are on the yoke at the hinge, in the ‘yoke cut’ on frame opposite the yoke near the hinge (usually accompanied with a stamped inspector letter, but not always), and inside of the sideplate, for the pre war and early post war period thru ~early 1958.

    After 1957 Model #s were assigned and stamped in the yoke cut. The serial # was soon after added in the ‘yoke cut’ as well and the assembly # moved to the left side of the grip frame parallel to the butt. Once the gun is shipped, the only use for the assembly # is to confirm the three parts it's stamped on, are original.

    Enjoy and be sure to take it shooting if you get it,
    Jim
    Last edited by Hondo44; 08-25-2019 at 01:43 AM.

  9. #8
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    Thank you all for the great information!

    I received the email from the aforementioned uncle. For your general interest here is what he provided:

    The sidearm was carried by relative Francis as a member of the 145th Infantry Regiment the "Buckeye Regiment". He was a Lieutenant mustered at Camp Sheridan on December 9th, 1917 from where he served in The Great War until discharge at Camp Sherman in April 1919. He operated with his unit on the following frontlines: the Baccarat Sector, Avocourt Sector, Meuse-Argonne Offensive, Pannes Sector, Ypres-Lys Offensive #1 and Ypres-Lys Offensive #2.

    The uncle provided photos of the unit in Belgium, newspaper articles paying tribute to his and other veterans service, an excerpt from "A Record of the American Legion at K.T. Crossen Post" about his service.

    One of the provided photos included with the caption: "Group Photograph of officers of the 145th Infantry Regiment, 37th "Buckeye" Division taken in Seghem Belgium. Belgian army officer in center of group."
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  10. #9
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    Wow, that's pretty interesting. Those were areas of intense combat during WW1. My dad always used to mention having an uncle that was gassed in France. He survived but had respiratory problems the rest of his life.

  11. #10
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    Yeah I'm currently spending my work breaks reading about some of the places and events mentioned.

    It really was hell for all those involved especially those who carried problems home like your family member.

    I think I will ask about purchasing the revolver. Its historical interest to me outweighs any collector value.
    Cliff likes this.


 
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