Thursday, February 11, 2021


Dick Williams has a piece up over at American Cop on a Savage 1917 he picked up recently.

They're such neat guns, with their sort of ray gun Art Deco lines, striker-fired operation, and double-column magazine. (Elbert Searle was over a decade ahead of Browning and Saive with that.)

Savage Model 1917-20

With collectable Colt and Smith prices through the roof, Savage pocket autos are still pretty reasonably priced for the collector on a budget. Also, there are at least two dozen variations, just in the production models of .32 and .380, which makes for fun collecting.

Table of .32 production totals and serial number ranges in Savage Automatic Pistols

While the pistols are cheaper and there's not as large a field of collectors, that means reference materials are more scarce and expensive. James Carr's little volume Savage Automatic Pistols is a handy identification guide but is short on background material, long out of print and expensive when you find a copy. The coffee table book Savage Pistols by Bailey Brower is a more comprehensive history and lavishly illustrated, but it's not cheap either.

Maybe I'll do a Sunday Smith style series of posts on the Savages I've managed to accumulate.

When I'm done with those, I think Bobbi has a few, too, and I don't think we've duplicated any models between us, but I'm not sure.

EDIT: Heh. In the linked piece, Dick Williams mentions that this was his first experience with a Savage, and I noticed a couple issues. 

The first thing that caught my eye was referring to the gun as blowback operated as opposed to locked-breech recoil. Which it is...kinda? 

The Savage is supposed to be a mechanically-delayed blowback, with the rotation of the barrel as the bullet travels through the rifling keeping the barrel and breech together until the projectile exits the muzzle. As to whether or not it actually does this in real life, though? Well, that's a matter of some debate. 

The other was this:
The gun has an external hammer attached to which is a long firing pin that moves rearward with the hammer when the gun is cocked and forward when fired. The Savage is the first gun I’ve seen with this feature as opposed to the internally mounted, spring operated firing pins on the more modern guns I normally shoot.
While the Savage certainly looks like it's hammer-fired, the thing that looks like a hammer spur is just an external cocking piece linked to the striker. The intent may have been to allow the user to de-cock the gun by controlling the "hammer spur" while pulling the trigger, gun safety as we currently know it having not yet been invented in 1907.