View Full Version : Need info on my 1880 smith and wesson 1st model 44 russian revolver

January 1, 2011, 08:09 PM

I recently picked up a 1st model 1880 smith and wesson 44 russian revolver. I was wondering if anyone could give me some information as to the history of this revolver, date made, value etc. any information would be very much appreciated.

The serial number on the frame and cylinder both match it is 23884

thanks in advance for your help

January 1, 2011, 08:13 PM

James K
January 1, 2011, 10:01 PM
That gun is really not called the Russian, that term being used for a variation of the Single Action Model 3. That gun is commonly called the .44 Double Action, First Model; the most common chambering was for the .44 Russian cartridge. In spite of the odd appearance, they were decent revolvers. It is not an "1880" since they were not made until 1881. Production ceased in 1913, with 53,590 made. Yours probably dates to around 1895.

Just FWIW, information from S&W indicates that all the frames for that model were made before 1 Jan 1899, so they are all antiques under Federal law, even if they were assembled and shipped later.

Before making a value estimate, I would like to see a picture that would give a better idea of the amount of original finish. It looks good from those pictures, but it should have a more highly polished finish.


January 1, 2011, 10:09 PM

what type of picture would you like for me to take so that you could give a good estimate?

i added some i tried to get a closer shot of the finish it is proving difficult to get very detailed pics with my camera

January 1, 2011, 10:37 PM
some more hope they help

January 1, 2011, 10:43 PM
nice revolver. I would luv to know a guestimate on that badboy. I'll check back.

January 1, 2011, 10:49 PM
thanks youngun, i am hing to find out as much as i can on this. contemplating sending it and getting i written appraisal on it if would possibly be worth it. Deffinately a great piece of history

January 1, 2011, 10:57 PM
Well this gun is very rare. And this model was produced mostly in 1899. So I will assume it was Fabricated in 1899. Well this gun is under a class of a Top Break Revolver from what i heard of. It has a 6.5 Inch Barrel, And About 85% of these guns have an original Bluing. The sell price $1,500-$6,500. And another cool little fact was Buffalo Bill Owned one. Sorry if i couldn't help, But I Tried.

January 1, 2011, 11:00 PM
youngunz language: 6GRAND

what a gun. getting it appraised/authenticized, etc etc only helps the sell and the revolver even if you keep it

January 2, 2011, 01:24 AM
jesamoonda thanks for the info every bit helps that a cool fact about buffalo bill.

January 3, 2011, 03:03 AM
sending away for a written appraisal but any info still appreciated as well value estimates and history

James K
January 3, 2011, 03:53 PM
OK, here is my take. First, with some 54,000 made, those guns are not rare, though they are uncommon. You will see two or three at any large gun show. That gun appears to be in good mechanical condition, but it has none of the original finish which, as you know, is a good part of a gun's value to collectors.

The original finish would have been a hard black bluing. The current lack of finish is not due to wear; normal wear will leave original blue in crevices and in areas like the bottom of flutes and the bottom of the barrel. IMHO, the original finish was deliberately removed (possibly with blue remover since there are no signs of over-polishing), then someone attempted to reblue the barrel. Look at your picture SW7 and observe the difference in color betweern the top strap and the frame. They were originally the same, but now neither is the original finish.

In addition, the hammer and trigger were originally color case hardened; they appear to be blue. I think someone had the idea of "restoring" that gun, didn't have enough knowledge to do it right and decided to sell it as is.

Value? In like new condition (and that would be rare!) one should easily go well over $5000. Yours, with its lack of original finish, maybe $500 or a bit more.

If you want to see what a nice one looks like, check out this link:


Note that that gun has the later style grips.


January 3, 2011, 08:02 PM
I concor with Jim Keenan
You have a .44 Double Action. Serial numbers ran from 1 in 1881 to 54668 in 1913 with all frames made by 1899.
In the 2006 SCSW, value is listed as ranging from $500 in "Good" to $6500 "As New". Those values are with original finish which yours may not have.

Hopefully you didn't pay "too much" for it.


January 3, 2011, 10:55 PM
i paid 95.00 for it, shot it today shoots like a dream.

James K
January 3, 2011, 11:13 PM
"You have the right to remain silent...."

Talk about grand theft! $95 for an S&W DA .44! Wow!


January 3, 2011, 11:25 PM
Haha i figured at that price i couldn't go wrong i figured the finish wasn't original but the condition was very nice and came with ammo. So i was happy with it, and still am. Iwill still get the written appraisal just to have I am also sending away for the history of it fro, s,ith and wesson.

January 4, 2011, 02:01 PM
Hopefully that's not the original box? S&W didn't become part of Bangor-Punta until the 20th century

January 4, 2011, 02:09 PM
Talk about grand theft! $95 for an S&W DA .44! Wow!

Why don't I ever get in on these deals? :mad:

James K
January 4, 2011, 06:50 PM
I don't normally recommend restoration, but that gun is a good candidate for a quality restoration. I say that because it has no serious dents, rounded corners, or missing parts. Done properly, a restoration could raise the value of that gun to the over-$1500 level (and I am talking about an acknowledged restoration, not fraud), making the work worthwhile.

If you want to consider it, Google "Turnbull restorations" and send them an e-mail with pics and see what they say.


January 4, 2011, 08:59 PM
good point jim but OP needs to make sure restoration will help and not hurt this firearm. sometimes the unrestored are worth more and restoration hurts and vice versa depending on the situation. Of course, you might already have known this before you posted; I just don't want the OP to make a rash decision before being positive.

January 4, 2011, 11:22 PM
i will deffinately check out for restoration thanks jim.

and it isnt the original box, just one i had sitting at the house.

January 5, 2011, 01:08 AM
I sent them a message to recieve a quote now just waiting for a reply

James K
January 5, 2011, 10:32 PM
Hi, youngunz4life,

Yes, I considered all of that, and ordinarily I wouldn't suggest restoration. If the gun had any significant amount of original finish or, on the other hand was badly worn or beat up, I would say to leave it alone. But a gun like that, with the outer surface intact (no buffing, no dents, no deep scratches), can be made to look almost new. Plus bsheets got it at a price that will allow him to spend some money on it and still have a gun that will be worth significantly more than he will have in it.

And, of course, Turnbull is the top restorer in the country, not some hamhand with a buffing wheel who thinks markings are obscene and to be removed as quickly as possible.


January 6, 2011, 01:04 AM
well turnbull responded today and said that they do not do work on this type of reolver i am extremely interested in getting a proper restoration done. if there is anyone else that there may be who is reputable and can do this for me, i would appreciate if someone could send me a link to their website.


James K
January 6, 2011, 10:14 PM
If I still had a license and a shop I would love to take that one on. But no can do. I defintely would not take it to the average gunsmith; most of them go by the old motto "Lean a little harder on the wheel, there are still some markings on that gun."

Maybe Google would help, but I would certainly talk to the people and find out a lot about them before taking a chance. No restoration is always better than a bad restoration.


January 8, 2011, 12:24 AM
well i have contacted a few different companies and nobody seems to work on this particular type of revolver so I guess it will go into the safe till I can find someone to work on it, or find the need to sell it, thanks for all the info and help.

Jim Watson
January 8, 2011, 11:05 AM
A friend and I had elderly S&Ws worked on by David Chicoine.

He could make yours look good but it won't be cheap.

January 10, 2011, 08:23 PM
Member Hammer IT has had some wonderful restorations done by Fords:

Searching his name will bring up some great before & after pics. I've no idea wether they'll work on a topbreak, but it doesn't hurt to call them.

James K
January 10, 2011, 09:33 PM
Restorations, done right, are never cheap. That is why it is important to choose the item carefully, even if the restorer doesn't. I recall one old gun that a man had restored elsewhere after I advised against it. The restoration was good, but cost nearly $400, high at that time; the gun was worth $25 before and maybe $75 after, but the owner was happy.


January 14, 2011, 12:56 PM
I noticed that those grips look like they would fit a current production round butt S&W revolver.

James K
January 14, 2011, 03:05 PM
Blue Train, they might. I have replaced grips on S&W breaktop .32 and .38 revolvers with grips from the J frame. They are a bit long (easily taken care of) but otherwise fit perfectly; even the pin is in the right place.


January 14, 2011, 04:51 PM
The more things change, the more things stay the same. I also notice that some of the so-called classic S&W revolvers (which might be called reproductions, in a manner of speaking) actually have the very old style slim grips.

January 14, 2011, 09:41 PM
NEW MODEL 44, No. 3.
Blued or Plated.
Central Fire, Double Action, six shot, weight 2 1/4 lbs.,
Cal 44-100, Length of barrel 4-inch, $17.50; 5-inch $17.81;
6-inch...$18.12; EXTRA, Pearl Stocks, $5.00; Ivory, 2.18.

Pictured with revolver is a cartridge marked 44 RUSSIAN

And the headline at the top of the page;
Smith & Wesson Automatic Revolvers.