Wheelgun Wednesday: Target Conversion Of A S&W M1917 Revolver

    Target Conversion of M1917 Revolver

    Welcome to another edition of our weekly Wheelgun Wednesdays!  Since Pete’s announcement about adding Wheelgun Wednesdays, I was eager to find something unique.  The subject of this Wednesday’s Wheelgunnery is unique, not earth-shattering, but something you don’t see every day.  A member of AR15.com recently stumbled into an interesting trade for an accurized Smith & Wesson M1917 revolver.  Sporterizing surplus firearms is certainly not unheard of, but it’s nice to see an example of a sporterized firearm in which care was taken to do it right, with a clear goal in mind.  All pictures were used with permission. 

    Target Conversion of M1917 Revolver

    Target Conversion of M1917 Revolver

    It appears that the main conversion to this M1917 revolver was with the sights. It makes sense to address the sights issue if one of the goals is to make it a competition shooter.  The new owner of this accurized M1917 noted that the front sight was re-done with a King front sight blade.  The original blade appears to have been cut off half-way and to use as the base for the new insert.  The addition of the brass insert looks like a nice touch for something to focus on.  The Arfcom member noted that this sporterization mostly resembles the target conversions done by S&W for the Army’s Target Shooting Team after World War 1.  However, he was quite certain that this target conversion was not one of those five M1917’s, primarily because of the addition of the King front sight, which wasn’t available until the 1930s.

    Target Conversion of M1917 Revolver

    The rear sight was said to have come from a pre-war S&W Registered Magnum.  For those not familiar with standard M1917 revolvers, they were developed with an integral channel that worked as a notched rear sight on the top strap of the frame.  The addition of the adjustable rear sight on this target conversion isn’t completely unheard of, but it’s not that common either.  It also adds to the overall admiration for the gunsmith that originally worked on this M1917.  The new owner was quite happy with the accuracy of his M1917.

    Target Conversion of M1917 Revolver

    The new owner of this M1917 observed that his new target conversion revolver had most likely been worked over on the inside as well as the outside. He had the following to say about that:

    It’s easily one of the tightest S&W M1917s I’ve handled, including the one I already own.

    It’s sorta a shame that it was converted but it’s a good example of what a skilled and likely long passed gunsmith could do. I think it got a trigger job too as it’s a lot smoother with a bit lighter pull than my other M1917.

    While gathering information for this edition of Wheelgun Wednesday, I found that the owner’s photo was uncannily similar to an original M1917 photo on Wikipedia. The two images were just similar enough that I was able to make an animated gif file to show the difference in the sights from the original compared to the converted version.

    Target Conversion of M1917 Revolver

    I personally like this conversion.  However, my preference would be to have an unmodified original if I was also going to have a converted example, just as the Arfcom member owns one of each.  What do you think about the target conversion?  Do you own, or have you shot an original M1917 revolver?  How accurate was it for you?

    Doug E

    Doug has been a firearms enthusiast since age 16 after getting to shoot with a friend. Since then he’s taken many others out to the range for their first time. He is a husband, father, grandfather, police officer, outdoorsman, artist and a student of history. Doug has been a TFB reader from the start and is happy to be a contributor of content. Doug can be reached at battleshipgrey61 AT gmail DOT com.


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