View Full Version : The first S&W revolver model ever made...

June 16, 2012, 12:27 AM
In May, I made the decision to purchase this piece. It is a 1st model, 1st issue, 3rd type. SN 1496. It came by way of a local wheeler dealer, who thought it was hunk of platinum (more than gold) when he got it. He basically came out the gate with a ridiculous number ($6000) and lowered his price every so often, until it was a number I could live with. He said that he turned down an offer from Roy Jinks himself, but then let me have it for $200 less than what Roy supposedly offered him. While that may sound goofy, the man who sold it to me is a little odd himself. He also knew I would probably take it for the money he offered it to me for. Perhaps he really needed the money.

To those of you less familiar with these old S&Ws, this was the 1496th revolver to roll off their assembly lines, period. Its a 7 shot 22 short bp revolver. While not very powerful, this was the first revolver to combine a bored through cylinder, with a self contained cartridge. This is the great great great grandfather to the concept of a revolver we know of today. This design was instrumental in making the percussion system, along with pinfires etc all obsolete. This was a major leap forward in revolver design. This one was probably made in 1857 or 1858 judging by the relatively low SN. There were 3 different issues of the first model (I posted my group photo) and of the first issue (this gun) there were 6 different design changes, which are called "types" today. So its a 1st model, 1st issue, 3rd type.

Overall, I like it a lot. Its my first 1st 1st and hopefully not my last. Judging by the condition of it in relation to pitting, it appears as though it was shot little. The finish was originally half plate, with a silver plated brass frame (a lot of finish remains) and a blued cylinder and barrel. The grips both have the SN, but the left grip is repaired at the bottom. The bore is pretty good for such a gun.

Imagine the stories this gun could tell. When it came out, it was state of the art. It also was made before the civil war, so it could have served there as well.

I'm really happy with this purchase. Opinions, advice, questions, comments are all welcome.

What antique grade would you give this gun? Very good, fine, etc?

I also need a mainspring screw (it was replaced). Anyone have one here I could buy? Where should I go for one?


The first, second and third. I need to upgrade the 3rd issue.


June 16, 2012, 12:30 AM

June 16, 2012, 12:46 PM
Great find!

I'd say very good condition.

June 16, 2012, 01:29 PM
Have to do this...how's she shoot? :)

James K
June 16, 2012, 09:59 PM
Nice gun, but for heaven's sake, straighten up that sideplate. As for a strain screw, one from any of the Model 1's should fit, and IIRC, even ones from later guns like the .32 SA have the same threads.

Others may note that that gun used a solid cylinder stop and a hinged hammer spur that is spring loaded. When the hammer is cocked, the thumb pivots the top part up to cam the cylinder stop upward so the cylinder can turn. When the thumb is removed from the hammer spur, it pivots down so it misses the cylinder stop on the way down, and the cylinder remains locked in the firing mode. The second and third issues had a split cylinder stop and a solid hammer. The hammer cammed the stop up when cocked, then went between the two arms, springing them apart, on the way down. Not maybe the greatest idea but it worked well enough that it was used as late as 1896 on the First Model Hand Ejector, S&W's first swing cylinder revolver.


June 18, 2012, 08:21 AM
Thanks for the kind words guys. Its a neat one, one that I thought I would never own. It has a special place in my S&W collection.

Nice gun, but for heaven's sake, straighten up that sideplate.

I'm not sure what you mean by that? Do you mean clean it up? Like with a wire wheel and polish? They say that increases the value 50% :p

Thanks for the tip about the screw. I wondered that, but was not sure.

James K
June 18, 2012, 07:16 PM
No, I sure don't mean using a wire wheel!!! Look at your second picture and you will see that the sideplate does not conform to the contour of the frame like it should (they were polished down together before being disassembled for plating). It looks like it should be turned about 180 degrees. IIRC, there is a little lug on them to make sure they go on the right way and don't turn, but that often gets stripped off.


June 18, 2012, 07:48 PM
Maybe you can get it to look like this one. ;)


(This is what a real $6K Model 1 looks like) http://rockislandauction.com/viewitem/aid/52/lid/1145


June 19, 2012, 09:47 AM
Wow that is a beautiful firearm. Hope you find the part your looking for!

June 19, 2012, 11:08 AM
A very nice and interesting piece of history there; thanks for sharing it with us.

If it were mine, I'd consider getting the grip panel restored. There are people who are capable of finding a piece of wood that would match the original, and making it look as though it had never been damaged. Not cheap, but it would increase the eye appeal, and value. YMMV, of course.

February 24, 2013, 05:09 PM
I got the letter a while back, and I forgot to post it.


February 24, 2013, 10:39 PM
Very very nice. That is a nice collection there.

February 24, 2013, 11:56 PM
As far as the other people telling you to replace or restore the grip panels. I say don't do it. They are not bad enough to be worth it. Replace them when they.

It would kill me to know if it still shoots if I owned it. Even if it was just a low power .22 CB.