The Smith & Wesson .44 Hand Ejector 1st Model termed as ‘New Century’ is more commonly referred to as the triple lock. It is known to be a revolver featuring double action and is regarded as the best revolver ever to be made by anyone, by Elmer Keith, an expert on handguns.
This revolver got its title, ‘triple lock’ from its design. The design of the revolver initially featured an extra lock that restricted the cylindrical shaped crane. The third lock was introduced as an extra precaution taken to counteract the enhanced fire power featured by the special cartridges of the.44 (an extended .44 Russian, along with one which paved the path for Magnum .44 caliber). These were chambered as part of the ‘triple lock’ for the very first time ever.
The .44 is part of the name of this model and this is not in regard with the chambering capacity of any revolver. The term ‘Hand Ejector’ was used to distinguish it from all the other top revolvers by Smith & Wesson. The design of the 19th century featured an ejector which was automatic and it came into motion as the frame of the revolver was actually tilted up. The latest versions of the Hand Ejector required the users to apply a plunger in order to expel exhausted cases. It was named ‘The New Century’ as it was Smith & Wesson’s first design for the 20th century. This design was used for as many as 15,376 revolvers between the year 1908 and the year 1915. The entire stock of this design was sold out by the year 1917.
This design was swapped for the second model of the .44 Hand Ejectors. This model was considerably different from its predecessor and it was made without the third lock and the ejector cover. There were several reasons for Smith & Wesson to change their design: The Canadians and the British had purchased large quantities of this model in order to serve in the Great War and they were not impressed with the design which is why they pressured the company to remove the third lock along with the shroud. This was done to address concerns about the precision of the weapon and to avoid any possible malfunction.
Furthermore it gave Smith & Wesson a chance to lower their rates for the gun from $21 to $2 for its very first model while the second model of the gun was priced at $19. This was possible mainly due to the simplified production of the gun.
Later in 1926, the company again introduced the shroud, however, they never used the Third lock feature in their guns again.