The Savage Automatic Pistol – Model 1917

I must confess, until I began researching vintage firearms in earnest, I had little knowledge of the murder weapons in my favorite books.  Names like Webley, Beretta, and Luger swam vaguely across my memory, with no visual association at all.

Feast your eyes with me, on this lesser-known model of automatic pistol.

Wikipedia by User Redxiv-Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License

American-made, the Savage Firearms Company produced its “1907” design as a service pistol for the French army during the Great War.  This “Model 1917” is an update of the 1907, available in both .32 caliber and .380 (the equivalent of 9mm), and was in production as a .380 from 1920 to 1928. It has a very streamlined, art-deco look – especially in the chrome nickel finish!

(Last time I checked, the Gun Library at Cabela’s had a sweet little chrome Nickel-plated .32 in stock:)*  Cabela’s Gun Library

Can’t you just see that slipping out of a white dinner jacket for a little ungentlemanly business?

I was lucky enough to find an article by someone who’s actually fired the 1917.  Apparently the name “Savage” is quite apropos – she bites: Old Man Montgomery

Many of the great classic detectives – Poirot, Alleyn, and Wimsey – almost never touched a gun, much less carried one.  Even the erratic Mr. Campion brandished one only rarely.  An armed sleuth seems to fall more into the hard-boiled style of gumshoe, rather than a golden-age sophisticated genius.  It almost seems a pity to leave such a pretty keepsake to the villains.

Does your favorite sleuth ever “pack heat”?  If so, what’s his signature weapon?

*Updated: the very kind R. G. Montgomery has corrected my mistake about the shiny finish – nickel plating, not chrome (see comments below).  Much appreciated!


2 thoughts on “The Savage Automatic Pistol – Model 1917”

  1. Thanks for citing me; I’m honored.

    As well as obscure firearms, I am also a fan of detective fiction. One remembers Sherlock Holmes shooting up his apartment when bored. (Not recommended. Highly NOT recommended.)

    By the way, Hercule Poirot did in fact have a firearm. He carried it while he was on duty as a Belgian police officer. The Carnival Films television series with David Suchet showed that ‘early’ sidearm was something in the nature of a .25 ACP automatic. His gun ownership and use shows up in “Curtain”.

    My favorite sleuth? Probably Nero Wolfe – who states an aversion to firearms (but he’s neurotic in many other respects as well). However, Wolfe’s legman, Archie Goodwin seems to have few qualms about carrying a gun, especially when on a murder case. Sadly, Archie carries fictitious weapons: a Marley .32.

    One other point of order: Very few firearms are ‘chrome’ plated. The pistols of the early 20th Century were often plated with nickel. It tends to rust less than bluing, but does flash in the light.

    1. Thanks so much! I can’t believe I forgot about Curtain. This is exactly the kind of detail I hope to build here on the site. Two scones for you and an extra lump of sugar in your tea! Welcome, and please visit again.

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