Adding a Third Lock to a 1917 S&W


In our report on the trio of Smith & Wesson “Triple Locks,” we missed the fact that the forward lock was absent from all of them. We don’t know why S&W left that forward lock off, but we know why we missed it. None of our test crew looked for it, because we all were sure it would have been there. There was no reason not to have it.

Surely it would not have cost S&W much more to put it there. Those guns were specially made units hammered together in the S&W Performance Center, where they can make anything happen. We apologize to our readers for our incorrect reporting.

The trio were very accurate, and have shown no signs of losing any of their gilt-edged accuracy in subsequent testing. One might conclude the front lock is unnecessary. We don’t think that way, though. We wanted all three locks. We wanted them so much, we took the necessary steps to have all three installed in one of our personal revolvers.

We sent the original 1917 .45 ACP revolver, which we mentioned in that same “Triple-lock” report, off to one of the country’s finest and most innovative gunsmiths, Mrd Christiansen, whose relatively young Michiguns Ltd. operation, (616) 273-4867, is fast becoming backlogged with custom work.One of his specific — and thoroughly amazing –metalworking tricks is to put “checkering” in the form of raised cones onto the front and back strapsof 1911 autos. He does this by machining away the metal and leaving a multitude of small cones standing, instead of normal checkering diamonds. He calls these “Conamyds.” Christiansen also had a strong hand in the design of the “Demooner” tool for .45 ACP revolvers.

We had Christiansen install a third “lock,” in the form of a ball detent, into the top of the 1917’s crane. This did not stress Christiansen’s vast metal-working talents very much, but I have known Christiansen many years, and I knew the job would be done exactly right. It was, and now we have a revolver with all three “locks.”

The addition of the ball detent makes it necessary to apply approximately 3 pounds of force to the crane of the old 1917 to swing it out, as measured with a trigger-pull gauge. This is the same force needed to open any one of the three S&W custom-shop revolvers, which use a larger-diameter ball but place it closer to the crane’s axis, which gives the ball less mechanical advantage.

While the addition of a ball detent did not appreciably help the 1917’s accuracy in our very brief testing so far, we didn’t really expect it to. We were merely trying a concept. We noted, as did Christiansen, that it would be easy to install two or even three of the ball detents in the same location. However, we wanted more. We wanted a positive lock, not a ball detent.

We have now asked Christiansen to accomplish the impossible. We have sent him a revolver for modification into a genuine triple lock, with a pinlocked extension added to the front of the crane, as on the genuine S&W Triple Lock, or First Model Hand Ejector. This work will be done to a very accurate revolver, and ought to have the effect of keeping it that way for a very long time. We’ll keep you posted.


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