(Not exactly) Made in Connecticut: Smith & Wesson Model No. 1, Third Issue

Model No. 1, Third Issue

Model No. 1, Third Issue

Why “not exactly”?  Before Smith and Wesson established their eponymous company in Springfield, Massachusetts, they had a factory in Norwich, Connecticut where they intended to manufacture the lever-action Volcanic pistol.  They sold their interest to a new company, the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company, who moved the factory to New Haven.  Smith and Wesson both worked for Volcanic for a while, before returning to Smith’s hometown, Springfield, Mass.  The rest is history.

(continued)

But there is a clear Connecticut connection there.  (And the Volcanic factory soon went into receivership, was bought by Oliver Winchester and later became Winchester Repeating Arms.)

The Model No. 1 was Smith & Wesson’s first product.  A single-action revolver with a spur trigger, it was chambered for 7 rounds of another of S & W’s inventions, the .22 Rimfire Short which was a black powder cartridge at that time (also the first American metallic cartridge).  A break-bottom design, the barrel tipped up and the cylinder could be removed for loading.

Loading

Loading

There were three “Issues” of the Model No. 1.  Only 11,500 of the First Issue were made; the Second Issue took over the serial number range from 11,500 to 126,000.  Both of these Issues had octagonal barrels and unfluted cylinders with square grips.  The finish is described by Fjestad’s as silver-plated brass, but I have also seen it described as nickel-plating.

Markings

Markings

The Third Issue had a round 3-3/16″ or 2-11/16″ (sometimes 2-3/4″) barrel, and a fluted cylinder.  Instead of square grips, it had a birdshead grip.  They made 131,163 of them, starting from serial #000001, during the years of 1868 to 1882. The sights on all of the Model No. 1’s were small but useable, probably not ideal for the intended purpose of self-defense.  Then again, a black powder .22 rimfire short isn’t much on stopping power.

 

Sights

Sights

This example is in excellent condition, falling in the middle of the serial number range.  The 3-3/16″ barrel has markings on the top (the shorter barrels have their markings on the side).  It’s missing some of the finish on the sharp parts of the cylinder, and there’s a little patina on the metal in front of the cylinder and underneath the topstrap, but it’s in great shape for a gun this old.

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