Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association“"The Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver"”Stephen ThomasLecture at the Imperial...
Desperate CustomersNotorious and noted persons used the Model 3. Pat Garrett carried a New Model Russian, serial number 10...
Japanese MilitaryNor was the Model 3 shunned by military customers. S&W sold many more revolvers to the Russian militaryth...
Enters productionFor the 12 years since 1857, S&W had enjoyed a monopoly in cartridge revolvers thanks to its licensing of...
The Russian ModelsBut this rebuff was of little commercial import to S&W as it had already secured a very lucrative contra...
The Schofield ModelS&W did have some limited success in selling to the US Government. In 1875 it won a contract to sell an...
New Model Number 3By 1878 the Russian contract was fulfilled and S&W issued the New Model Number 3, which incorporatedmany...
New Model Number 3It was this Model that Bob Ford is alleged to have used to murder Jesse James at St Joseph Missouri in A...
Target ModelsIn order to capitalise on the 44 Russian’s just reputation for accuracy, S&W started issuing the Model 3 with...
Double Action ModelsIn 1881, the double action Model 3 was produced to compete with Colt’s 1878 revolver. It was a ruggedr...
By the early 1900s, the Model 3 had been eclipsed by modern solid frame, swing-out cylinder designs and waseffectively obs...
Upcoming SlideShare
Loading in …5
×

The Smith and Wesson Model 3 revolver, a lecture to the HBSA

4,748 views

Published on

Lecture by Stephen Thomas to the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association of Great Britain, Imperial War Museum, London, 21st February 2011
This is a presentation delivered to a monthly meeting of the Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association (HBSA) in London, UK.
www.hbsa-uk.org

Published in: Education
0 Comments
1 Like
Statistics
Notes
  • Be the first to comment

No Downloads
Views
Total views
4,748
On SlideShare
0
From Embeds
0
Number of Embeds
8
Actions
Shares
0
Downloads
0
Comments
0
Likes
1
Embeds 0
No embeds

No notes for slide

The Smith and Wesson Model 3 revolver, a lecture to the HBSA

  1. 1. Historical Breechloading Smallarms Association“"The Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver"”Stephen ThomasLecture at the Imperial War Museum, London21st February 2011 The Smith & Wesson Model 3 Stephen Thomas, HBSACompared to the iconic Colt Single Action Army revolver, the S&W Model 3 is often thought a minor player inthe American revolver market of the late Nineteenth Century. However when the sales of all the sub-modelsof the Model 3 family are added together they rival the sales totals for the famous Colt over the same period.
  2. 2. Desperate CustomersNotorious and noted persons used the Model 3. Pat Garrett carried a New Model Russian, serial number 1096.Annie Oakley used a target New Model 3 chambered for 32-44. Jesses James and Wyatt Earp are said to haveused the Schofield Model 3. The psychopathic John Wesley Hardin had a double action Model 3 in his pocketwhen he was shot by John Selman at the Acme Saloon in El Paso in 1895. And it is claimed that the ‘dirty littlecoward, who shot Mr Howard’, Bob Ford, used a New Model 3 in 44 Russian to ‘lay poor Jesse [James] in hisgrave’.
  3. 3. Japanese MilitaryNor was the Model 3 shunned by military customers. S&W sold many more revolvers to the Russian militarythat Colt did to the US Army. 130,000 Model 3 revolvers were sold to Imperial Russia versus 37,000 sold byColt’s to the US Government. Japan, Argentina and the Royal Canadian Mounted Police all purchased Model3s for service use.
  4. 4. Enters productionFor the 12 years since 1857, S&W had enjoyed a monopoly in cartridge revolvers thanks to its licensing of theRollin White Patent. When it produced the First Model American in 1869, it had a 44 calibre service gradelarge bore revolver that was well in advance of any of its competitors. It sold 1,000 of this model to the USArmy but lost out to Colt in trials conducted in 1872, thanks to the better performance of the Colt in ‘torture’tests, and because the 45 Colt was a far superior cartridge to the 44/100 cartridge used by the Model 3.
  5. 5. The Russian ModelsBut this rebuff was of little commercial import to S&W as it had already secured a very lucrative contract withRussia. This contract kept the factory busy until 1878 in manufacturing over 130,000 revolvers. It also resultedin the invention of the first modern pistol cartridge, the 44 Russian, which used interior lubrication, and whichbecame an archetype for all future self-contained metallic cartridges.
  6. 6. The Schofield ModelS&W did have some limited success in selling to the US Government. In 1875 it won a contract to sell animproved Model 3, the Schofield Model, to the US Army. This model used a rugged stirrup to operate thebreak barrel mechanism so that the revolver could be opened one handed by a man on horseback.Unfortunately the dimensions of the cylinder meant that the Schofield took a ‘short’ 45 calibre cartridge. Thiscartridge would fit a Colt revolver but the 45 Colt would not fit the Schofield, thus giving the Army a seriouslogistical problem. With only a few thousand revolvers issued, the Schofield was withdrawn from service bythe late 1870s. Many had their barrels cut down, were refinished and sold on the commercial market.
  7. 7. New Model Number 3By 1878 the Russian contract was fulfilled and S&W issued the New Model Number 3, which incorporatedmany of the design improvements that appeared on the American and Russian models. Also it took someimprovements from the 1877 38 cal single action model, such as a shortened and simplified extraction systemand a new cylinder retention mechanism, which did away for the need for a cylinder retention screw. Thismodel stayed in the S&W price list for over 30 years until it was made obsolete by solid-frame models adaptedfor smokeless powders.
  8. 8. New Model Number 3It was this Model that Bob Ford is alleged to have used to murder Jesse James at St Joseph Missouri in April1882. The very revolver that Ford is supposed to have used was sold at Wallis and Wallis in 1993 for an eye-watering £105,000. However Ford himself swore in an affidavit that he had used a 45 cal Colt Single ActionArmy revolver, serial number 50432, so we shall probably never know the truth of it.
  9. 9. Target ModelsIn order to capitalise on the 44 Russian’s just reputation for accuracy, S&W started issuing the Model 3 withtarget sights. It also started chambering the Model 3 for calibres specifically adapted for target shooting: the32-44 and the 38-44. Ira Paine and Walter Winnans used the Model 3, though Winnans used a customisedNew Model 3 revolver, which used the older style barrel with the longer extractor, which is said to have givenit better balance.
  10. 10. Double Action ModelsIn 1881, the double action Model 3 was produced to compete with Colt’s 1878 revolver. It was a ruggedrevolver with a much better lock than the Colt.
  11. 11. By the early 1900s, the Model 3 had been eclipsed by modern solid frame, swing-out cylinder designs and waseffectively obsolete. The double action model lingered on the S&W price list until 1913, thus ending a veryrespectable 40 year production run. The Model 3 will never have the instant recognisability of the Colt SingleAction. But by today’s collector, it is cherished as a well made and elegant pistol that is readily available tocollectors in the UK, thanks to its principal chamberings being on the ‘Obsolete Calibre List’ as issued by theHome Office.

×