Barrel Lengths

Until this point Smith & Wesson’s Hand Ejector, 2nd Model barrel lengths had been standardized at 4″, 5″, and 6 “. The British bought all their .455s with the latter length. The U.S. Government figured that was too long and instructed Smith & Wesson to make their new .45 revolvers with 5 ½” barrels. The company gave these military handguns the same exquisite bright blue finish as put on their commercial revolvers. Also differing from civilian Smith & Wesson revolvers, a lanyard ring was installed on the butt. Markings were “U.S. Army Model 1917” also on the butt, and “United States Property” under the barrel. Over 150,000 were made by Smith & Wesson between 1917 and 1919.

That was the beginning and would have been the end of the .45 ACP revolver story, as regards the American military, if not for World War II. When we entered that fracas, again there were not enough 1911 pistols to go around and the need for them was even greater, as members of crew-served weapons, armored vehicles, and even flight crews were issued handguns. What 1917 revolvers survived World War I and the interwar years were stored in various arsenals. They were pulled out, refurbished, given a Parkerized finish and then used again. There are many photos of World War II combat troops holding U.S. Model 1917s, and interestingly most I have seen were Smith & Wessons.

Additional Reading
Read Handguns Of WWII Part 1: German P08 "Luber"

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 2: Japanese Type 14 8MM Nambu

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 3: The British Enfield No. 2 .38

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 4: The U.S. Model 1917 .45 ACP ( Colt Version )

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 5: The German P38 9MM

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 6: The Smith & Wesson Hand Ejector, 2nd Model .455 Webley

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 7: U.S. Model 1911/1911A1

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 8: The French Model 1935A

Read Handguns Of WWII Part 10: The Webley MK VI .455