Tuesday, January 9, 2018

To Moon Or Not To Moon? That Is The Question.

I recently came across this Colt M1917 revolver .45 DA (dual action). According to the serial number, it was manufactured in 1920. I had a couple of friends who advised me that buying "moon clips" for shooting the pistol was the route to go. So, I ordered some steel ''full moon clips" from a seller on Ebay. I loaded one and handily dropped six rounds at once into the cylinder and thought this is going to be dandy. Instead, I found the cylinder "binding" up somewhat and had to help it along to rotate into battery. After shooting, I found the empty cartridges were a bugger to remove from the moon clips. A little more reading convinced me that later models had been headspaced to allow firing of the .45 acp without the clips. I tried it and it worked. Since the cartridge is rimless, I had to pull each spent casing with my fingernail and that was not too bad. Some fellow wrote on a forum I vistied that he had rather load his gun with individual cartridges and poke the empties out with a wooden dowel rather that "rassle" bullets into and out of the "moons" after firing. I am beginning to think that man is correct. At this point I have not tried any of the "half-moon" three shot clips. It is a good shooting gun to be nigh on one hundred years old. If anyone has any experience, antidotes, insight, etc. regarding these heavy but well built firearms, I'd be glad to hear it. 







17 comments:

  1. Use it in the old-fashioned way...moonless. I have an SKS and considered putting extended magazines and a polymer stock on it. I decided to keep it as it was. There is more character keeping it original.

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  2. You can also track down 45 "Auto rim" cartridges,or brass if you reload. Made for these and the S and W 45s.

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  3. My 1917 is about the same age. I found that higher quality moon clips work perfectly without issue but some of the cheaper ones are flimsy and not true. Of course any bent moon clip has given its all and gets tossed. As for unloading them, Brownell sells a handy tool designed to help pop them out. The later 1917's did indeed have a ridge in the cylinder to keep the rimless acp from dropping straight through(essentially head spacing in the case mouth). This was at the request of the Army so, in a pinch, a soldier could keep the piece going with loose ammo. There is rimmed acp designed for these that turn it into a regular revolver, no dowel to drive out the empties, but they are rare is and expensive when found.

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    1. I have a 1931 Smith made in Brazil and the Brownell full moon clips and tool work great.
      I also have a stack of cheaper full moon clips.
      My pistol has a rim in the cylinder, and I also bought some Auto Rim brass.

      I will take a few mike readings for over all cylinder length and full moon clip thickness and post them later.

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  4. YouTube is your friend.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KTaOc3eYxPo

    That said, unless you have a burning need or desire to run the original speed loader, I'd just use a pencil for an extractor.

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  5. Use good moons, get a demooner....not pesky.
    .45 Auto Rim....sells for around a buck a round.
    Brass from starline runs .19 cents a piece and roll your own.....45 revo....awesome!

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  6. Try 45 Auto Rim. Thicker rims; head space correctly and the extractor works.

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  7. Thanks to everyone for all the helpful comments. Has anyone tried the "plastic moon clips"?

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    1. Yes, in my S&W Model 625 with .45 ACP. They work great. Some fail (tear) after 40-50 uses, but I find that acceptable for the lower price and ease of usd.

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    2. Thank you too, Chris. I'll try a batch.

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  8. 45 Auto Rim Should work try them. Also advise the wooden dowel dude to research it and do the same. I believe most brass makers make it. Check Starline brass.

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  9. Research complete.
    Revolver was made in Brazil in the '30s and I bought one when they were imported back into the states some years ago.
    Full moon clips. All chambering of ammo was done using store bought dummy rounds.
    I found two different thickness of clips.
    The thinner clips miked in at about .040 and were smooth and lacked burrs. Ammo clipped in and out without much problem. I pushed the rounds into the clips using my fingers, and demooned the rounds with the tool.
    After closing the cylinder I could slide a .022 feeler between the cases and the back of the frame. No problems in single or double action rotation.
    The thicker clips miked at around .047 and had obvious burrs. The dummy rounds were much harder to get into the clips, although the tool removed them from the clips easily. As expected the gap was smaller and a .016 feeler fit between the case and frame. No functioning problems with either single or double action. I suspect these are the cheaper clips, and sometimes a savings isn't a savings.
    Revolver numbers.
    Cylinder gap. Close to .100
    Overall cylinder length. 1.537

    Cylinder length taken with a Brown and Sharpe 1-2 inch micrometer, and I checked it with the one inch disk before taking my readings.
    I checked the zero on my Lufkin 0-1 micrometer before using it to check all the feeler gauge readings.

    If you have any more questions I will help if I can.

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  10. Thanks for the very detailed information John. The clips I bought from an Ebay seller were not cheap, appear to be very smooth, and of quality steel. However, the ammo was fairly difficult to press into the moons and difficult to extract once fired (I used a screwdriver as I do not have a tool for the clips yet, but sounds like a must). I will mic/check spacing. Thanks again.

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    1. Glad to help. Didn't have any reasonable to way to measure the force, but the thicker clips with the burrs needed more force to insert the cases. I didn't try it, but I am guessing that a judicious use of abrasive cloth wrapped on a dowel and chucked into a cordless drill, or held in the drill press would help ease the process. And laying the abrasive cloth on a flat surface and then running the clips across it would clean up.

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    2. I had thought of "working" on them to a degree. Thanks again.

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  11. Jeffery, there are tools to load the moon clips, which are a big help:

    https://borepatch.blogspot.com/2009/01/range-report-smith-wesson-625.html

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Leave a comment.. Let me know what you think! :)