When the U.S. entered W.W. I in 1917, we were woefully lacking in many types of arms and war materials. One of the bright spots in the arsenal was the outstanding Colt Model 1911 45 ACP pistol; however; there weren’t near enough in inventory to meet the rapidly growing demand. The U.S. military needed many more handguns…and they needed them fast.
Turns out Colt and Smith & Wesson both already had large frame revolvers in their product lines. In order to avoid logistical problems, it was mandatory that any revolvers produced under military contract be chambered for the standard .45 ACP cartridge, but neither company had yet offered revolvers in that chambering. A method had to be devised that would allow the rimless .45 ACP cartridge to be positioned in the cylinder so it would fire in revolvers originally designed for rimmed cartridges.
Smith & Wesson re-designed its cylinders with a shoulder to accommodate the .45 ACP rimless round so it could be fired, but the spent cartridges had to be ejected one at a time. S&W then designed the “half-moon” clip that held three cartridges each in the cylinder and the use of two loaded moon clips facilitating loading and unloading and proving to be a great success.
After some wrangling about the design(s) the military had both Colt and Smith & Wesson producing revolvers using the “Half-Moon” clips loaded with .45 ACP. Full moon-clips came out after W.W.I. These Colt and S&W revolvers were adopted as the Model 1917 serving members of the U.S. military in W.W. I ….W.W. II and Korea!
The Range Classic of the Week is a Colt Model 1917