Wheelgun Wednesday: 3-War Colt 1917

Rusty S.
by Rusty S.

A long-serving veteran

Welcome to another Wheelgun Wednesday, where I swear it’s purely a coincidence that I selected a 1917 this week! This week’s revolver is a Colt 1917, as opposed to the previously featured S&W. It has the added distinction of not only being carried in combat in WW1 (Cue Sabaton’s new album Great War) but also at the tail end of the Korean War and was in Southeast Asia for a decade during the United State’s involvement in Vietnam. (“One war, one police action and one undeclared conflict” didn’t sound as good for the title).

I had the honor of coming into ownership of this fine piece of history via a good friend of mine. His father served in WW1 and this was his issued revolver. He gave it to his son (my friend), who then carried it as a Navy pilot flying F4U Corsairs and F9F Panthers in and after the Korean War. Later, my friend brought this Colt 1917 with him to Southeast Asia, where he was involved with the Vietnam conflict for a decade as a government contractor (though he preferred to use .45 Caliber SMG’s in actual combat).

Along with the revolver itself, I was lucky enough to receive one of his father’s issued holsters, half moon clips/pouches, belt, and sealed original WW1 US Army medical kit (complete with mercury-based antiseptic). Even more interesting is some vintage ammo (with the boxes in great condition) from the ’50s and ’60s. These cartridges were military contract run cartridges made by the Olin Matheson Chemical Corporation and Western Cartridge Company.

Revolver of the century

Vintage WCC ammo loaded in the half moon clips

As to the Colt 1917 revolver itself – it loads .45 ACP ammo via half moon clips which prevent the rimless cartridges from falling through the cylinder and provide for faster loading. Though there is a chip out of the corner of the right grip panel, the revolver itself is in great overall condition. The rifling is in great condition, and there is minimal pitting and surface rust for such an old pistol which has been all over the world.

I don’t shoot it much, but when I do I use the Black Hills .45 Auto Rim SWC ammunition. This prevents wear to the half moon clips by precluding their use. The revolver shoots great and is pretty damn accurate still. I do make sure to keep it wiped down with a silicone cloth and to oil the internals lightly about once a year, as it is one of the most historically interesting firearms in my personal collection.

I’m sure many of our readers are lucky enough to have family heirlooms/pieces of history in their firearms collection. For me, it was and is a deep honor to have received this revolver from my friend. It is more than a gift, it is a piece of history that one can experience and interact with. Thanks to the high level of craftsmanship at Colt in that era, this revolver is still shooting and functioning excellently to this day, more than a century after its manufacture.

A sincere thank you to my friend for this gift of history!

Rusty S.
Rusty S.

Having always had a passion for firearms, Rusty S. has had experience in gunsmithing, firearms retail, hunting, competitive shooting, range construction, as an IDPA certified range safety officer and a certified instructor. He has received military, law enforcement, and private training in the use of firearms. Editor at Outdoorhub.com

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2 of 19 comments
  • Mr. Katt Mr. Katt on Sep 19, 2019

    Alas, from a day when pride and craftsmanship went into gun making instead of injection moulding and stamped out parts.

  • Adverse6 Adverse6 on Sep 20, 2019

    "Weapons of war" in civilian hands to be banned. You really think only the "AR's"?