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I inherited this M1917 from my Uncle a couple of years ago. It was about three months before he passed away that he showed me this revolver and gave me some background. Bear in mind, this is the story of an 80 year old who was on heavy morphine. He said his Grandfather received the gun when he was in the US Postal Service (I'm guessing something to do with a Postal Inspector). His Grandfather gave the revolver to his Father, who carried it in Korea as his service pistol during the war (my Uncle didn't say if it was ever used during combat). My Uncle's Father gave the gun to him right before his death, I believe in the 1980s. My Uncle used it to plink out in the woods many years ago but it mostly became a safe queen. As you can tell by the pictures, the gun is dirty and it looks like some steel wool has been dragged across it. It has matching S/N on the butt and the barrel. Just thought I would share.
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Gun Firearm Photograph White Trigger
 

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Welcome to the forums from the Wiregrass! That's a very early 1917. The 1917 database says it was made in December 1917 but I think that is incorrect. Check the back of the right grip panel to see if the number stamped there is the same as your 8277 frame serial number. If so, those grips, of which not many were made, are original to the gun. It probably needs a good cleaning. You can do that with equal parts acetone and automatic transmission fluid. Take off the grips and immerse the gun in that mixture in a sealable, chemically inert container for a week or so. Then, you can flush out the action with aerosol brake/carb/parts cleaner. It will strip all the oil, varnish and gum from the action. Relube with about 5 drop of oil into the action through the hammer or trigger openings. It should be good for another 100 years.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Thank you Guy for the detailed information on the age and some cleaning options. I will take a look under the grips to validate the s/n and definitely get it cleaned up per your guidance.

Pat
 

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Pat, I did some checking on Model 1917's with known shipping dates and it looks like your gun shipped in December 1917. For example, .45 H. E. Model 1917 serial number 9421 was shipped in January 1918. There are a number of other guns with serials below yours and above yours that shipped in December. That's about as close as we can come without an historian's letter.

Your gun appears to be unmolested. It does show that it was carried and used. We say it has "character." I wouldn't change a thing. I know it's an heirloom, and priceless, but you should value it at $850 for insurance purposes. It actually may bring more that that if you decide to sell it. Congratulations on receiving a wonderful and historic handgun with history from your family! Write down what you know for future family.

BTW, your gun is missing a lanyard ring. You can find original rings, and the pin that holds them in the butt frame on eBay or at gunpartscorp.com
 

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Pat, I don't know who made your shoulder holster but we have some members who know lots more than me about holsters. I will say you should not store the gun in the holster. Leather can absorb moisture and cause surface rust to form. It is best to put the gun in a silicon sock or rug. WRT the holster, I use Black Rock Leather N Rich on my holsters. It doesn't change the color and keeps the leather from dry rotting. You may have to order it over the internet.
 

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Hey P,

Welcome to S&W!

Way to go!

Pics of a great 1917.....right out the gate!

Later, Mark
 
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According to Charles Pate's book the Postal Service was loaned a number of Model 1917 revolvers during WWII. They were transferrred in 1951 to the USPS. (found on pages 68-69).
I believe I have read of other use of them on mail cars during the gangster era but I can not offer a source.
 
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