Old Smith and Wesson


July 6, 2009, 06:52 PM
Hey guys
I have a Smith and Wesson revolver it belonged to my great grand father I'm looking for any information on this pistol. What it's worth, When it was made, Or anything else that ya'll can provide. From everything that I can find it's a New Model # 3. It has hard rubber grips, It's a top break loader. The sights are a blade type front and back. The caliber is 38 S&W and it has a 6.5" barrel. The serial number is 1180 and is located on the bottom of the pistol butt.

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July 6, 2009, 07:45 PM
If you have positively identified it as a New Model #3, with that low a s/n it's going to date from around 1878 or 1879 most likely, around the introduction date. If the grips are original that is a big bonus. Value will vary with caliber and condition, so it's not possible to even guess without a couple of very detailed, large photos.

The fact it is .38 S&W is odd, are you sure it's not a "Baby Russian?" Is the barrel exactly 6.5" or what does it measure from the front of the cylinder face to the muzzle?

July 6, 2009, 08:29 PM
The Barrel is 6.5" from the front of the Cylinder to the muzzle. I have looked at numerous pictures and I think it's a New Model # 3 I'll try and post some pics. I think it was nickel plated at one time but the nickel has worn off. Also the cylinder catch located on the bottom part of the frame has worn down over the years and no longer will lock the cylinder in line with the barrel. I have considered having this repaired. http://www.shutterfly.com/lightbox/view.sfly?fid=dd4e31d4574c8b5cd33ce936de451066

July 6, 2009, 08:38 PM

Here is a pic maybe

July 6, 2009, 09:45 PM
Based on the photo and allowing for the non-functioning cylinder stop, I'm thinking it's a .38 SA Third Model, the follow-up to the Baby Russians. I also think this is true based on the look of the grips and grip frame. The .38 SA 3rd Models are dead ringers for the New Model #3's except for size and caliber. The "cylinder latch" is the bit at the top of the break in the rear you use to open it. The "cylinder stop" is in the frame and is what holds the cylinder steady to line up the bores. I think you mean the "cylinder stop" is broken.

True test - how many cylinder bores does it have and how long is the cylinder itself front to back?

July 6, 2009, 10:35 PM
6 cylinder bores and the cylinder is 1.375" long

July 6, 2009, 11:22 PM
Well, standard length on early guns was 1 7/16", but let's say that's correct - the .38 would be under 1 1/4" I think, and five shot. So it might be indeed a new Model #3 in an off caliber - the fact it was .38 S&W made it imperative to be thorough (hard to do via the internet!).

Now, the front sight looks like a target sight. It's really hard to tell from the photo - does it have fixed or target rear sights? That might explain the odd caliber a little bit, and also make it worth more.

Jim Watson
July 6, 2009, 11:43 PM
The illustrated revolver is a No 3 New Model Target, very probably caliber .38-44 Target, not to be confused with the .38-44 High Velocity of the 1930s.

The cartridge is the full length of the cylinder loaded with a round nose bullet seated all the way down in the case so there is no jump through chamber throats, it goes directly from the case into the barrel forcing cone. This was an effort to improve accuracy, before the era of the wadcutter bullet. Except for its great length, dimensions are similar to .38 S&W so you can safely shoot .38 S&W in such a gun if you don't expect great accuracy. A collector here plinked with .38 S&W in one that had been sawn off and had little resale value.

There was also a .32-44 Target along the same lines except that the case was not full cylinder length, but long enough to seat the bullet submerged.

They only made about 3600 in both calibers but that does not appear to give them any higher dollar value than a more common .44 Russian.

I made cases for mine by cutting off .357 Maximum brass to cylinder length. It is a bit undersize but strong enough to fireform about 2/3 of the way back without splitting with the light target loads used. I have been given to doubt the wisdom of shooting it with smokeless, I will likely give it a try with black and then pass it on to a collector.

David Chicoine made repairs on mine and a friends No 3 N.M. .44 Russian.

July 6, 2009, 11:44 PM



July 6, 2009, 11:50 PM
This pistol is in non shooting condition as described above I was curious what it would be worth and If I had repairs made to it would I hurt the value of the gun.

Jim Watson
July 6, 2009, 11:56 PM
In my opinion, a mechanical repair would not hurt the value of the gun. You might not recover the full cost of the repair, but I think a functional gun would sell sooner than a broken one.

Mike Faires
July 7, 2009, 10:49 PM
You do infact have a NM#3 target in 3844, Maybe the ealist know my data base starts at 1239 for this caliber, Would you like to sell it contact mfaires@allcitites.org

July 8, 2009, 02:05 AM
You do infact have a NM#3 target in 3844, Maybe the ealist know my data base starts at 1239 for this caliber, Would you like to sell it contact

Now that more generous other posters have volunteered their time and expertise to help ID that, others will chime in to take advantage. So let us know, too, if you want to sell it. We won't let the vultures rip you off. ;)

Mike Faires
July 8, 2009, 06:37 AM
As you are probably aware this type action only locks the cylinder with the hammer all the way cocked or all the way forward. As to you serial number, the target series had it's on range #1 thru #4333. In this range there are 2930 in 32-4 and 1433 in 38-44 mixed through out. You appear to have one of the earliest in 38-44. I keep a data base of all obsereved guns and my currently lowest number 38-44 is #1230 it shipped 5/15/89. If you have any other question feel free to contact me at mfaires@allcitiesent.com.


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