General Milsurp Weapons > Milsurp Hand Guns & Sub Guns

The US Army's other .45acp

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Yes, the US military had two .45acp handguns.. the 1911 and the lesser known M1917. I found both of these old girls in a little tiny local auction. These were more to supplement the 1911, and supply rear line, non deployed, or secondary troops with sidearms. However, they do have a service history that stretches from WWI to Vietnam, tunnel rats in Vietnam were known to use them. Contracted by two makers, Smith & Wesson and Colt, both are very well known and popular revolver makers. The total production was around a 150,000 revolvers per maker. Quite a few of these ended up rechambered in .455 Webley or were sold off to Brazil, others have been tinkered with when sold off to the public. So to find a low production US military firearm, thats still original and in undicked shape is kind of rare. The serials on both show a 1918 build date, so if thats accurate, next year they will be a 100yrs old.

They show some use, but lock up and timing seem pretty good. I have seen newer production revolvers looser than either of these.

First up..the Colt

Now...the S&W

Their pretty close in looks and both are a double action design, are .45acp and share the name, United States Revolver, Caliber .45, M1917, but thats all they share, unlike the millions of 1911s, Garands, M1 Carbines, the M1917 Enfields, M1903s that were made, there is hardly an interchangable part between these two. True to each others design, that still shows today, there are major differences that set each apart.

Like a simple cylinder release.. on the S&W(left) you use your thumb to push forward, the Colt(right), you use your thumb to pull it back

Cylinder design and even the cylinder rotation when you squeeze a round off.
The Colt(top) cylinder rotates clockwise, the S&W(bottom) rotates counter clockwise, both from the shooters perspective.

Front sights and hammers..

Another is the barrels, the Colt has a slightly heavier barrel, but the S&W is threaded, and then pinned in place...and even the rifling twist direction between the two differ..

Cylinder rods...

I'm sure by know your like GM, how do you shove an rimless ACP round in a revolver and fire it, there is no rim to catch.. If you notice the photos of the two cylinders above, there is a rim cut in each, thats where the case head spaces in the cylinder.. Colt didn't add that until around pistol serial 30k.. so.. you can use moon clips or if desperate, load rounds individually.. after firing, the rimless rounds can be a bear to remove. If the moon clip is used, the normal star extractor will pop all 6 out. Also... there is a .45 auto rim, it's a rimmed .45acp that was developed for these, no moon clip needed, and the extractor will pop them out...

A final last parting shot, the butt shot.. again.. Colt and S&W had to label it totally backwards from each other..


Awesome, I like them both  8) I'm glad you didn't leave one behind  rofl 

I'm astounded by all of the differences. It's as if US Army Ordnance specifications said: "6 shot revolver, chambered in .45ACP". "Give us what you got and we'll call them the M1917".

You know I'm not a revolver fan...  But I could get behind that Colt!

Really cool revolvers. My shooting buddy totes one of these out to the range on every excursion. They're a blast, fun to shoot, and the novelty of a 45acp wheel gun is always good for grins. I know one of the makers, either Colt or S&W, commands a small premium over the other. Not sure if that's based on production numbers or quality or just artificial collectordom. I'd guess Colt.

I think it's "artificial collectordom" based off the name on the side.. the Colt typically carries the premium, S&W only made maybe 20,000 more revolvers. Quality wise.. I haven't seen a real difference, both have that old school quality and workmanship. Both have a previous military history, the Colt originated from the Army's M1909 New service model .45LC and the Smith originated from the Second Model .44 Hand ejector, just before they made this, they made the heavy frame version chambered in .455 Webley to support Britain.

Smith then made a version for Brazil in 1937..they will have the Brazilian crest, like their Mauser stamped on the right side.. this could confuse/cloud the price difference between the US military models as well

The moon clip design was a S&W design.. and they gave that design to Colt, at the request of the military.

S&W I think still currently makes a .45acp wheel gun.. the 625 and 325 models..

I also have a holster for a M1917, I can not currently tell if it's the real deal or not.. Based off wear and tear, I dare say it could be.. or it could be just a really old reproduction. It has all the signs of an original, but no maker/date stamp on the back I can see.


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