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S&W 1917 Unusual Custom

blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
edited April 2011 in Ask the Experts
[img][/img]sw1917custom2.th.jpg[img][/img]sw1917custom1.th.jpg[img][/img]sw1917custom5.th.jpg

I hope someone can shed some light on this customized/modified S&W 1917, SN 100656.

I hope I've attached the pictures correctly.

It has a 3" barrel (measured from the cylinder front face to tip of the barrel) with a solid rib and quick draw front sight. The bottom of the grip frame says "US Army Model 1917" NO 100656 with the lanyard ring and pin removed. The rear of the cylinder face has a matching serial number. Every cylinder hole is proof stamped and there are three Crown proof marks stamped BV, BP & NP on the left side of the barrel. There's also another Crown proof on the left side of the frame where the barrel is inserted. There is the flaming bomb on the left side of the frame behind the cylinder and crossed swords also on the left side just behind the trigger guard. The crossed swords are also stamped with E, B & 2 with S7 just below it. "Not English Made" is stamped on the left side of barrel and also the left side of the frame (just behind where the barrel is inserted into the frame and below a Crown proof mark).

I acquired this back in the mid 1980's and The "old timer" who I bought it from, mentioned that is was modified for a English Officer by a British Military Armorer. However, about a year ago I ran across a very similar looking 1917 that was attributed to a gunsmith by the name of "Fitz". I've heard of a gunsmith named "Fitzgerald" who worked for Colt and supposedly did a lot of custom work on 1911's. I've also heard of another gunsmith who I think was also called "Fitz" who removed trigger guards, bobbed hammers and shortened barrels on revolvers of various manufacturers.

Smile....Nowadays I'm the "old timer" and I'm working with my old-man memory here......chuckle......so please bear with me. My memory just isn't as keen as it used to be. Back in the 80's I owned a gun shop and that's how & when I acquired this piece.

By the way, this is one heck of a shooter and it has served me well for all these years........if I should grab a handgun, it's usually this one.

I appreciate the help that I was recently given by some folks here on this forum regarding my 629-1 question.

I also have several other questions about a few firearms that I acquired many years ago too and if you good people aren't sick of me yet, I'll post some more in the near future (re 2nd gen SAA Colt, Winchester 1895 and a couple of other non-typical N frames).

Many Thanks.

Comments

  • rufe-snowrufe-snow Member Posts: 18,649 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    It's not been uncommon to run across customized S & W Model 1917's. Years ago when they were sold on the surplus market they were sold quite inexpensively. Yours does look like a much better, higher quality rework then a lot of the others I have run across over the years though.

    The English proof marks on 1917's aren't common. Many more W W II era "Victory Models" are found with similar proofs then 1917's.

    At this late date it would be virtually impossible to know who customized it, although it appears a quality job.







    sw1917custom1.jpg
  • Hawk CarseHawk Carse Member Posts: 4,319 ✭✭✭
    edited November -1
    The original old timer was most likely BSing you. You have a gun sold surplus to the Colonies by the British and modified by a gunsmith aftermarket.

    J.H. Fitzgerald, Fitz to his friends and customers, worked for Colt. He is known for his chop jobs on Colt revolvers, cutting off the barrel, cutting off the hammer spur, and most infamously for cutting out the trigger guard for a supposed faster draw from the pocket. Right.
    No way THAT Fitz would have worked on a Smith & Wesson. Maybe there was another gunsmith known as Fitz who did. It cannot matter at this late date.

    Looks like a nice job, that rib and ramp installation was not a simple project.

    I base my conclusions on what I know of the history. When we got in WW I, we were using all the weapons we could produce for ourselves. There were Colt and S&W contracts before 1917 for .455 revolvers going to England. The 1917s were substitute standards because Colt, Springfield Armory, and Remington UMC could not produce enough autos. By WW II the 1917s were obsolete and although the British took mostly .38s, apparently they were glad to get some .45s. (They were glad to get some .32s at one time.)
    After the war they sold off suplus guns by the ton. A lot were modified to make them more salable to gullible Americans in a more open market. I have seen a number of those guns. Yours is much nicer than the sweat shop products dumped here for $29.95 tops.
    Which is why I call it a British surplus gun (from the proof marks) customized by a conscientious American gunsmith.
  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by rufe-snow
    It's not been uncommon to run across customized S & W Model 1917's. Years ago when they were sold on the surplus market they were sold quite inexpensively. Yours does look like a much better, higher quality rework then a lot of the others I have run across over the years though.

    The English proof marks on 1917's aren't common. Many more W W II era "Victory Models" are found with similar proofs then 1917's.

    At this late date it would be virtually impossible to know who customized it, although it appears a quality job.







    sw1917custom1.jpg


    Thank you rufe-snow. Indeed, I agree with you about the impossibility of trying to identify a mystery gunsmith from the past. I was just hoping that someone might recognize the style of work and maybe know who did that type of customizing (this quality work may have been recognized or recognizable). Also, maybe someone could confirm or deny the possibility of it being the custom work of a military British armorer. Hawk Carse has addressed that possibility and provided his opinion.

    By the way, I failed to mention that the "old timer" specifically said it was a WWII officer not WWI (supposedly it was a British pilots sidearm that he knew). Indeed, being a 1917 one would automatically assume WWI (sorry that I didn't mention that earlier). That probably answers why there are all of those British proof marks.

    Thanks again and Best Regards.
  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by Hawk Carse
    The original old timer was most likely BSing you. You have a gun sold surplus to the Colonies by the British and modified by a gunsmith aftermarket.

    J.H. Fitzgerald, Fitz to his friends and customers, worked for Colt. He is known for his chop jobs on Colt revolvers, cutting off the barrel, cutting off the hammer spur, and most infamously for cutting out the trigger guard for a supposed faster draw from the pocket. Right.
    No way THAT Fitz would have worked on a Smith & Wesson. Maybe there was another gunsmith known as Fitz who did. It cannot matter at this late date.

    Looks like a nice job, that rib and ramp installation was not a simple project.


    Hello Hawk Carse:

    Thanks for your feedback. Indeed, you may be correct about the old timer BSing me, but I sure didn't get that impression at the time.

    True, if the work wasn't done in Great Britan and was performed here in the USA, so be it......it really doesn't matter.

    From my personal perspective, I'd rather believe that he was mistaken about where the actual work was done rather than think the old boy was making up a story (BSing).

    At this point in time, it's of little or no consequence anyway.

    The gun is what it is...............

    As aside note: I'm having a hard time appreciating the benefit of cutting away the trigger guard on a double action revolver. Yes, I can see where one may get a finger on the trigger quicker without a trigger guard, but putting it into a pocket could be significantly dangerous.....it would be pointing in the absolute worst direction for an accidental discharge.

    Thanks again and Best Regards.
  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by rufe-snow
    It's not been uncommon to run across customized S & W Model 1917's. Years ago when they were sold on the surplus market they were sold quite inexpensively. Yours does look like a much better, higher quality rework then a lot of the others I have run across over the years though.

    The English proof marks on 1917's aren't common. Many more W W II era "Victory Models" are found with similar proofs then 1917's.

    At this late date it would be virtually impossible to know who customized it, although it appears a quality job.







    sw1917custom1.jpg


    What did you do to make that picture so large? Mine came out so small. What did I do wrong?

    Thanks again.
  • dcs shootersdcs shooters Member Posts: 10,969
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by blyeoo
    quote:Originally posted by rufe-snow








    sw1917custom1.jpg


    What did you do to make that picture so large? Mine came out so small. What did I do wrong?

    Thanks again.


    Click on the yellow envelope and put your pictures between the two marks.
  • blyeooblyeoo Member Posts: 31 ✭✭
    edited November -1
    quote:Originally posted by dcs shooters
    quote:Originally posted by blyeoo
    quote:Originally posted by rufe-snow








    sw1917custom1.jpg


    What did you do to make that picture so large? Mine came out so small. What did I do wrong?

    Thanks again.


    Click on the yellow envelope and put your pictures between the two marks.   That's what I've been doing all along DCS Shooters and they're still coming out small........????
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