The very first firearm manufactured by Smith and Wesson was the Smith and Wesson Model 1. This handgun was what put Smith and Wesson on the map and it was one of the most successful products of its time. This revolver’s production started in 1857 and went well into 1982. The reason for the success of this revolver was that it was the first to be able to use rimfire cartridges commercially in place of percussion caps, loose powder, and musket balls. This tip up revolver is single action and has the ability to hold seven black powder cartridges of .22 calibers.
This revolver was being researched on by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson, in order to develop a prototype representative of a revolver with a metallic cartridge. This was being done as the patent for Samuel Colt revolver was about to expire in 1856. During this time the two partners, Smith and Wesson approached Robin White, a former employee of Colt, because Colt held the patent for the ‘Bored-through’ cylinder which was an essential component required to manufacture this combination of revolver and design.
White was offered partnership in the company in return for this item. This was given in the form of a royalty of $0.25 on every ‘Model 1’ revolver that was being made. In exchange for this White was required to defend the patent during any court case. This proved to be a cause of financial ruin for White but worked out very well for Smith and Wesson Company.
There were a number of variants that were introduced in regard to Model 1 revolver. Each variant introduced a number of technical changes in addition to its predecessor:
This issue played its part in emphasizing the model greatly. It was
produced over a period of three years, throughout which approximately
12000 units of this handgun were produced. There were a number of
features which aided in distinguishing this variant, such as:
- A carefully articulated hammer which was split
- The small round plate which was placed at the side
- It had a barrel latch of flat spring
- It also featured a flared, square cornered shared grip; this feature was also present in the 2nd issue.
- Its frame had a round profile which was present between the grip and the back of the cylinder.
This issue of the model was similar to model 1 in many ways;
however, there were a number of differences between the two
variants. This time the frame’s profile was much flatter and it featured
a hammer which wasn’t split and was in one piece. The point of
similarity between the two issues was that this issue still featured
the square cornered grip which was flared. Apart from this, the tip
up style, which was octagonal in shape, was also similar to the first
variant. This made it easier to confuse the two frames at a glance.
The second issue variants were produced between the years 1860
and 1868 and they totaled to 110,000 approximately.
There was a substantial difference in this variant and it was quite
different from its predecessors in a number of ways. For instance,
it featured a cylinder which was fluted and had a round barrel. The
grip style that it featured was like a rounded ‘bird’s head.’ Both
the barrel and the frame were nickel plated to provide a finer look
and it also featured a blued steel finish. This variant was produced
from 1868 to 1882 and its serial numbers ranged from 1 to roughly