Smith & Wesson Model of 1917

Heeeeeeeeeey we're on a World War I kick lately.  Because why not. 

First up, the 1917, an animal built by both Smith & Wesson and Colt as a response to the U.S. entry into the First World War and the U.S. Government's call for a handgun to counteract the short supply of 1911s already on hand.  The move at Colt was to chamber their existing New Service in .45 ACP; Smith & Wesson did likewise with their heavy-framed line of Hand Ejectors.

Collecting the S&W M1917 can be an adventure in itself.  In early 1918 the U.S. government took over control of the plant in order to speed production, and as with any government takeover disorder ensued.  Until January of that year examples were marked high on the right side of the frame with the initials of inspector Gilbert H. Stewart.  Beyond that time the GHS stamp was replaced with an flaming bomb.  Additionally, the dishing on the upper grip panels was deleted, and guns from the period can be found with a variety of markings (and lack thereof). 

Through only produced for two years as a military arm, the 1917 would remain in service until the end of the Second World War.  Two special orders were placed by the Brazilian goverment in 1937 and 1945 in an effort to standardize their armaments.  The tops of first-shipment Brazilian frames are square, the second shipment (being assembled from surplus older frames) are round.  Both are distinguished by the Brazilian crest over the sideplate.  For a while a Brazilian model could be found for a decent price (I gave $400 for mine) this is no longer the case, with U.S. examples commanding a higher premium still. 

In theory Smith & Wesson offers a 'new' 1917 in their Classic theory.  Having inspected such an offering, any shooter who's spent time with an original can spot the fallacy in that claim.  The new models lack the heft of the old, the feel is otherwise off (an associate of mine purchased one and sold me the grips...which fit a K-frame M&P but not my Brazilian contract) and the less said about that infernal zit above the cylinder release the better. 

At any rate, the piece depicted here is an example of an early military run sent out from the factory before the government expedient measures took effect.  A Colt may be forthcoming at some point, along with a Brazilian Contract 1937/1945 and hopefully, someday, we'll see about adding .44 Hand Ejector to the lineup. 

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