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View Full Version : Old S&W single action help??? differences between "baby Russian" & model 1 1/2 & 2


Magnum Wheel Man
October 11, 2010, 09:36 AM
I currently have a S&W model 1 1/2 or model 2 in 38 S&W, & am looking at what the seller is calling a "baby Russian" even though the guns look similar, I can see a few differences, & heard here are several... can anyone confirm or specify the differences for me ???

My 1 1/2 in 32 S&W doesn't have a 1/2 cock notch, & in which the cylinder locks up tight, my model 2 in 38 S&W has a 1/2 cock notch, in which the cylinder spins freely when it's engaged... has a strain screw, & has a traditional S&W top break auto extractor...

the baby Russian has an extended underlug not found on the 1 1/2 & I have heard they had a different ( more complex ) style extractor... also not sure if it has a strain screw or not??? & not sure if it has a rebounding hammer, or has a 1/2 cock & is similar to my 1 1/2 or if it locks up the cylinder a 1/2 cock...

kinda interested in this other gun, but would like to know if there are enough differences to warrent buying one for the collection... thanks for any help you can offer... MAG

Magnum Wheel Man
October 11, 2010, 11:32 AM
in trying to do some research here... it seems I'm hearing conflicting information here, maybe the "real" baby Russian is actually a model 1 ??? the 32 Spur triggers are model 1.5's & the 38's after the ( baby russian model one ) were model 2's with some model 3's being spur trigger, but only in the Mexican model, which supposedly didn't have a 1/2 cock notch ??? :confused:

so this is a Model #1 " baby Russian" in 38 S&W ??? ( note the pinned extended barrel under lug, with some sort of mechanism attached, & the slightly thicker spur trigger support on the frame )

http://thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=63702&stc=1&d=1286814315

& this is a model #2 in 38 S&W ??? ( have seen several looking like this & listed as such, & I own one like this )

http://thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=63703&stc=1&d=1286814552

yet this one was listed ( & sold, a week or so ago ) on Gun Broker as a model one "baby Russian" could this have been a model 2 represented as a model 1 baby Russian ???

http://thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=63704&stc=1&d=1286814728

EDIT... OK, was advertised as a S&W #2 Model 1

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=193066835

I'm corn fused :confused:

Jim Watson
October 11, 2010, 01:44 PM
It is my understanding that the only one conventionally called the Baby Russian is the one in your first picture with the long ejector housing like the American and early Russians.

The one in the third picture is not a Baby Russian even though advertised as such.

There was another variant with the spur trigger housing a separate piece that could be replaced with the bow trigger guard of the 1891.

Magnum Wheel Man
October 11, 2010, 01:49 PM
Jim.. do you know the mechanical differences between these models ???

for example, my model 1.5's in 32 S&W don't have a 1/2 cock, & the cylinder remains locked up... the 38's I have all lock up the cylinder if the hammer is either all the way back, or down, but spin freely when in 1/2 cock... I'm curious if S&W made any changes in the lock work on the 38's between the "real" baby Russian, & the model 2's that are more common, until they went to the model 3's

James K
October 11, 2010, 02:17 PM
Magnum Wheel Man's pictures are correct, but his terminiology is not quite on. His first picture is of the .38 S&W Model 2, First Issue, known as the Baby Russian. The second is of the .32 S&W Model 2, Second Issue, with a much improved extractor system. The third is of the .32 Model 1 1/2 Center fire.

That order is the same as the chronology of the guns. The Baby Russian (1876) was S&W's first attempt at a small center fire revolver and it used a scaled down copy of the complex "cog wheel" extractor system used on the early .44 revolvers (including the Russian model). The improved .38 Model 2 Second Issue (1877), used the new cam extraction system that would be standard on all subsequent S&W top break revolvers. Then that system was used on the first .32 break top, the Model 1 1/2 Center Fire (1878).

FWIW, the Baby Russian extractor, like the similar one on the .44 models, is a bear to retime after disassembly. I strongly advise leaving it alone.

I hadn't planned to go this deep, but it helps to understand S&W's original numbering scheme, which was tied to the cartridge used. The No. 1 cartridge was the .22, the No. 1 1/2 was .32, the No. 2 was .38, the No.3 was .44. That made sort of sense but was highly confusing to collectors who assumed the numbers were model numbers instead of cartridges, and was complicated further by having a 1 1/2 rimfire (tip up) and a 1 1/2 center fire (top break).

So collectors gave the guns new names, hardly less confusing, but something most folks agree on.

Jim

Magnum Wheel Man
October 11, 2010, 02:20 PM
actually the 2nd & 3rd pics are 38's... all my 32 single actions have had birds head grips

one of my 32's...

http://thefiringline.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=58603&d=1270210756

Tamara
October 11, 2010, 07:48 PM
the baby Russian has an extended underlug not found on the 1 1/2 & I have heard they had a different ( more complex ) style extractor...

That's the most visible external difference right there.

I did a very brief thumbnail sketch on some of the differences between the small-frame top-break Smiths here (http://cosmolineandrust.blogspot.com/2010/05/small-frame-smith-top-break-taxonomy.html).

Magnum Wheel Man
October 12, 2010, 06:05 AM
Thanks for the link, that was very informative....

Winchester_73
October 12, 2010, 02:49 PM
Jim.. do you know the mechanical differences between these models ???

I own a 38 SA 1st model aka baby russian, and I will be acquiring a 38 SA 2nd model. I also own 2 model 1 1/2 centerfires. One difference not mentioned is that the true baby russian, has an ejector release which is that lever/button underneath, forward the trigger. This was removed for the 2nd model probably due to mechanism differences and perhaps useful ness (I don't think its very necessary). The 38 SA 2nd model is kind of a 1 1/2 centerfire, just enlarged. The 3rd model aka model 1891 38 SA is a little different, featuring a standard trigger.

Magnum Wheel Man's pictures are correct, but his terminiology is not quite on. His first picture is of the .38 S&W Model 2, First Issue, known as the Baby Russian. The second is of the .32 S&W Model 2, Second Issue, with a much improved extractor system. The third is of the .32 Model 1 1/2 Center fire.

That order is the same as the chronology of the guns. The Baby Russian (1876) was S&W's first attempt at a small center fire revolver and it used a scaled down copy of the complex "cog wheel" extractor system used on the early .44 revolvers (including the Russian model). The improved .38 Model 2 Second Issue (1877), used the new cam extraction system that would be standard on all subsequent S&W top break revolvers. Then that system was used on the first .32 break top, the Model 1 1/2 Center Fire (1878).

I collect S&Ws, and while I'm not an expert, I never really saw this terminology before. When I and many others reference these guns, its popular to reserve "model 2" for the 32 rimfire revolver that was essentially S&Ws 2nd gun model ever made aka the army or old army model. The numbers do correspond to the frame sizes. The model 1 was the smallest, then came 2, medium, then 3 was large for the Russian and Schofield models. The 1 1/2 was called such because it was intended to reduce the size of the model 2 and flare it up for eye appeal (this did not occur until the centerfire break top version 1 1/2, the original 1 1/2s were tip ups, square butt, unfluted, IIRC.) The redesign of the model 1 2nd issue to the model 1 3rd issue was similiar: fluted cylinder, birds head butt, round barrel. S&W wanted the numbering to correspond in sizes where the higher the number, the larger the frame size so 1 1/2 is a frame inbetween the 1st frame and the 2nd frame.

When I discuss the 38 single actions (which I suppose can be called new model 2s), I simply call them S&W 38 SA, then 1st, 2nd or 3rd model. Calling them a new model 2 IMO causes extra confusion.

Magnum wheel man,

Ironically, the auction you posted was one that I was watching myself. I attempted to correct the seller about the auction title since its NOT a baby russian without the ejector rod housing. The initial email, which was full of good intentions (I told him that his title may confuse people, and lo behold it at least confused you, to some degree) but it became an argument when he suggested that I reference the SCSW, I then replied "I own it, and apparently you were too arrogant to double check your info" I told him that I didn't want him to mislead anyone since a true baby russian is much a more a collector's item than a 2nd model, which is the most common of that 38 SA series. He apologized after I got more irritated in my tone, but I don't think he meant it. He didn't care. The bottom line is there were only approx 10 k made for 2 yrs baby russians made and I felt someone could pay more for a 2nd model due to his auction title.

Magnum Wheel Man
October 12, 2010, 03:06 PM
Thanks for the info... I'm still trying to learn :o

I currently have ( what I believe to be ) ( 2 ) S&W 1.5's top break bird head grip 32 S&W's with rebounding hammers, & no 1/2 cock notch, one in original 3+" barrel length, & one that was shortened long enough ago, that the re-nickeled barrels finish, matches that of the rest of the gun, typical for these guns...

I have one bottom break that I thought was also a model 1.5 that's chambered in 32 rimfire

... & a couple 38 S&W 2nd models, both of which have a 1/2 cock notch, no rebounding hammer, & which the cylinder spins freely while in the 1/2 cock notch...

personally I'd like to find a single action in 38 S&W, that exihibited the traits of my 2 - 32 S&W's but I don't know if any of the improvements on that model ever got to that point or not ???

Magnum Wheel Man
October 12, 2010, 03:26 PM
as an aside... I also have a lemon squeezer top break in 38... & a 32 S&W double action top break...

still plan on buying a ( perfected model ) I think that is the one with the double top latch ??? & a 32 S&W top break lemon squeezer... then I'll have most of what I want for S&W top breaks... may still get a baby Russian, there is one I'm watching on Gun Broker with no reserve, though I'm sure it'll go for more than I can spend this week ( I just had to buy another safety police :rolleyes: )

so here's a link...

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=194761494

Winchester_73
October 12, 2010, 03:56 PM
I don't think they had a rebounding hammer on any 38 single SAs because the hammer was bigger so a half cock made more sense. I at least would prefer a half cock but perhaps on a 32 1 1/2 since its smaller, they gave it a rebounding hammer instead. When I play with my baby russian, no matter how I free wheel it, when I cock it, it locks it but I will double check.

I currently have ( what I believe to be ) ( 2 ) S&W 1.5's top break bird head grip 32 S&W's with rebounding hammers, & no 1/2 cock notch, one in original 3+" barrel length, & one that was shortened long enough ago, that the re-nickeled barrels finish, matches that of the rest of the gun, typical for these guns...

When you add all those features together, the 1 1/2 centfire is the only gun that matches. The earlier 1 1/2s were rimfire and tip ups, IIRC. The model 2 old army is also a tip up. Tip ups came first and were without auto ejectors. The break tops were a big thing and they are why my favorite wild west 6 shooter is a model 3 Schofield. Reloading was a snap compared to a colt SAA. The remington 1858 was ok because you could switch cylinders but overall I like the schofield the best for the time that you could ask for. The ballistic advantage of the 45 colt over the 45 schofield is nearly inconsequential when you consider the limitations and intended purpose of a handgun of the time.

Magnum Wheel Man
October 12, 2010, 04:06 PM
just to clairify... my 38's both lock up tight, with the hammer in the down position, & at full cock, but when in 1/2 cock, they spin freely ( probably a charictoristic of a gun with a loading gate, & hand ejector... but not a feature I like in my top break )

would love to have a big bore or two... but they are just plain & simple, out of my price range, for anything worth owning :o

Tamara
October 12, 2010, 04:48 PM
I don't think they had a rebounding hammer on any 38 single SAs because the hammer was bigger so a half cock made more sense.

The rebounding hammer on the .38 Single Actions showed up on the 3rd Models, 1891 and later.

Winchester_73
October 13, 2010, 03:57 PM
The rebounding hammer on the .38 Single Actions showed up on the 3rd Models, 1891 and later.

Thanks. I have the frame of one of those so I should have known but I forgot. I just got it actually....might post pics soon because its actually more than a frame but less than a 1891 revolver. Its unique...

Magnum Wheel Man
October 13, 2010, 04:05 PM
someone else just listed another 2nd model, as a "baby Russian" I haven't said anything, as I'm not interested in this gun, as it doesn't function, & doesn't have original grips... but I hate to see them listed that way... as it corn fuses dum dum's like me ;)

http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=195348411

Winchester_73
October 13, 2010, 04:46 PM
as it corn fuses dum dum's like me

I didn't mean anything towards you in my posts. S&Ws are complicated and confusing for many people unless you let them OWN your LIFE like I did. I cared about each sub variation, dash history, etc to study them a lot and gather a collection spanning 1862 to 2004. I had the drive to learn, to know and if you're just starting out, it takes time. Its nothing that one can be born with...

Afterall, the best handgun company of all time should have a complicated company/model history, right? :eek:;)

Winchester_73
October 13, 2010, 04:49 PM
someone else just listed another 2nd model, as a "baby Russian" I haven't said anything, as I'm not interested in this gun, as it doesn't function, & doesn't have original grips

I just informed him now.....why do I do it? Because I care that much about the guns and the hobby......too much.....:rolleyes:

Magnum Wheel Man
October 13, 2010, 04:57 PM
WIN... I didn't take anything personal... I appreciate any info I can get...in fact, most would cornsider me smarter than normal ;)

even being in general a "revolver guy" I've never been able to keep all S&W's models straight :o... I can pretty much handle the frame sizes though...

but when I took interest & started collecting top break pocket guns ( mostly because they were cheap )... I like the Hopkins & Allen Safety Police models, but as well, I've gotten to like the S&W 1.5 & model 2 the best, even though they are only single action, & most of the others are double action... I like my 38 Lemon Squeezer from a collection point, but the frame seems longer than I like for shooting purposes...

just trying to learn what all changes were made through these revolvers different models & versions...

Winchester_73
October 13, 2010, 05:06 PM
It might be worth it for you to buy the SCSW 3rd ed. It outlines everything you want to know. The downside is that it has a few typos, (10 to 20) so for big decisions, double check the info. I however learned much from it and highly recommend it. Aside from the blue book, it is my most referenced book mostly due to how much I enjoy the company, the history, the products, etc.

If you stay "antique" by ATF definition, they're not as complicated but yet very interesting. When the DA swing out cylinder guns came out, things got much more complicated, IMO. My S&W coillection is approx half antiques, if that goes to show how much I enjoy them.

Magnum Wheel Man
October 13, 2010, 05:18 PM
just talking handguns ( cause I'm out of room for any more long guns :o ) I've got a good collection of modern guns ( was / am partial to stainless from a practical point of view ) & partial to revolvers, but still have "enough" modern semi autos, & a good collection of C&R Czech semi autos... but lately ( after getting my CCW ) I became pretty interested in old CCW type guns... often a chopped off barrel on an old gun, turns off the "real collectors" which I guess is good for me, as I find those more interesting ( & affordable ) than a pristine non chopped model...

my chopped ( like 75 - 100 years ago ) 32 S&W model 1.5 & my Model 2 that I chopped the barrel on, because the guns finish was in poor condition, but mechanically it was perfect, & the last inch of barrel at the muzzle was heavily pitted, are probably my 2 favorite guns right now... I load for both cartridges, & have both a target ( with lead round ball ) & an acceptable defense load ( with 100 grain cast bullets ) that I can shoot in these guns... I think they are just plain fun to shoot, & put a big :D on my face when I shoot them

Tamara
October 13, 2010, 08:43 PM
It might be worth it for you to buy the SCSW 3rd ed.
This! ^^^^^ What he said!

If you're going to play the old S&W game, that book is money well spent.

James K
October 13, 2010, 10:30 PM
I am not even going to try to wade through all that. I tried to use the original S&W terminology, but the collector terms and what "I use" always win.

I will note, for Winchester 73, that the statement "The 38 SA 2nd model is kind of a 1 1/2 centerfire, just enlarged" is not quite correct; the .38 came first, so the .32 is the .38 SA 2nd Model reduced. Also a free tip - if you have to remove the cylinder from a Baby Russian, do not force it; cylinders have been ruined that way. Remove the screw in the top strap; that releases the cylinder retainer, which then can slide back with the cylinder until the cylinder comes free.

If you want a decent book on the older S&W's skip SCSW and see if you can find a copy of Neal and Jinks' Smith and Wesson 1857-1945. The pictures are better, the writers more knowledgeable, and the X-ray photos alone are invaluable.

Jim

Magnum Wheel Man
October 14, 2010, 06:08 AM
I can find the Neal & Jinks book listed on Amazon's search, but not the SCSW book... can someone tell what that is the abriviation for ??? so I can see if they have a copy ??? I've picked up what material I can find on the Hopkins & Allen Safety Police models, I should get some reference material on these Smiths as well... thanks for the book suggestions

Tamara
October 14, 2010, 07:31 AM
I can find the Neal & Jinks book listed on Amazon's search, but not the SCSW book... can someone tell what that is the abriviation for ???

Standard Catalog of Smith and Wesson, 3rd Edition, by Supica and Nahas.

Jim Keenan is correct that the Neal & Jinks book is much more in-depth and tightly-focused, but the downside is that it's also more in-depth and tightly-focused. Of course, if you have a C&R, it does cover the only portion of S&W history you're probably interested in. ;)

Magnum Wheel Man
October 14, 2010, 07:38 AM
thanks TAMARA...

... that helps alot... behold... many listings... thanks again...

James K
October 14, 2010, 07:35 PM
Sorry for not spelling out that abbreviation. I am so used to everyone knowing what it means I slip up from time to time.

Jim