Sunday, May 6, 2012


Some years ago, I walked into a gun shop and found a  Model 22 of 1917 Smith and Wesson that had been converted to a 3" barrel, endured a decent parkerizing job, had the proper original wood grips (or that appear to be so) and an interesting front sight attached to the shortened barrel. It was bargain priced,  and I've never seen such a low price on a "customized" 1917. The trigger had been worked on and I have never measured it, but it's like the one on a Python.

 The gun shop owners, who I've known for some time, said an old customer bought it, had a gunsmith cut and re-crown the barrel, do action work and had the new sight attached. The new sight is taller and more angular than the stock sight on these guns, and somehow a white/creme color for the tip of the sight was acheived. It's a highly functional sight, despite it's unique appearance. Whoever designed and attached that sight knew what the heck they were doing.

The other customer wearied of the gun, and traded it back to them in this highly modified condition. It was just what I had been looking for, and at a bargain price. I snagged it then and there on the spot.

I threw a pair of N frame Pachmayer Presentation grips on it and El Fisho Jr. and I ran about fifty rounds through it, then let El Fisho Jr. have at it for a couple of 50 round boxes. El Fisho Jr. is a big fan of the other S&W Model 1917 that we have, a 5 and 1/2 inch barreled Brazilian contract version in excellent condition. In any event, the gun shoots like a dream and to point of aim at our usual practice distances, ranging from 7 feet to 25 yards. Of course, those groups broaden as distances increase, but are still "in the black" on a standard FBI target, but at 7 feet to 25 feet, you'll hit a coke can sized group without much effort.

I wish more bargains like that would come along in my life. The newer 1917 hasn't been shot much either. The cylinder is as tight as the day it left the factory, and the bore is in great shape, even better than the barrel on the little fired Brazian Contract model my dad bought many years ago.

 I don't claim to originate this idea, but someone somewhere whose musings I read in a blog or magazine article once talked about the 1917 with it's tapered 5 1/2 inch barrel was really the first "Mountain Gun", way before Smith and Wesson began producing the Mountain Gun line of large framed and usually limited run guns sorta suited to being good guns for hunting or hiking or fishing in the Mountains or other locales where one might need a large handgun for a predator threat.

Both of these guns are well suited to forays into the Texas wild. 3 rounds of snakeshot and 3 rounds of ball ammo and some speedy quick reloads with full moon clips. The short barreled version I have actually shoots better for me than the longer barreled version, but El Fisho Jr. has developed far more proficiency in their accurate use than I have. He likes WWI and WWII era guns, particularly handguns. He will focus on shooting them over more modern guns every time when out at the range.

A 1917 makes a good Mountain Gun for Texas. Although our mountains in Texas are in the far Western part of the state, a good Mountain Gun can be of use in the desert, in the swamps, in the hills and valleys throughout much of the state and just all kinds of places. Ammo for these guns is readily available at semi-reasonable prices, if one shops around particularly. With a set of Pachmayers, the recoil from the gun becomes "puny" at least to me in terms of recoil from other large frame handguns goes.

For me, a Pachmayer equipped 1917 is an easy shooting large bore handgun. I'm pleased with the accuracy and more than pleased with the low recoil nature of this round in this sized gun as equipped. The 3" version is a great carry gun, and I've got a Galco shoulder holster for a 4" in frame that also fits the 1917 well, despite the 1" in difference between barrels..

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