Info on S&W Tip-Up Please...


March 2, 2012, 12:33 PM
Just recieved this S&W tip-up in what I believe to be a .32 cal. No model # on it. On bbl strap last patent date is 1880..Anyone tell me what I have?

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March 2, 2012, 01:38 PM
4th model?

Driftwood Johnson
March 2, 2012, 02:49 PM

Well, first of all, it's not a Tip Up. It is a Top Break. But don't worry, folks not familiar with the old S&W pocket pistols often get these confused.

These are Tip Ups. So named because to load and unload them the barrel hinges at the top and swings up, just like a derringer.

You have a Top Break. Top Breaks hinge at the bottom and the barrel rotates down for loading and unloading. They are so named because to open the revolver it 'breaks' at the top of the frame.

The Tip Ups came first, starting in 1857, then in 1870 S&W came out with the first Top Break, a great big single action 44 caliber revolver. Top Breaks have more complicated mechanisms than Tip Ups. To load and unload a Tip Up you pull out the cylinder and load it, then put it back in again. Top breaks are more sophisticated, with an ejector system that automatically pops all the empties out when the gun is opened.

Back to your revolver, are you sure it is a .32? Judging from proportions of the cylinder compared to the frame, and the position of the cylinder flutes, I am pretty sure what you have there is a 38 Double Action, 2nd Model. The identifying features are the shape of the side plate and the vertical grooves on the cylinder. Both the 1st and 2nd Models had the vertical grooves on the cylinder, but the side plate of the 1st Model had straight sides, whereas all the later models had a curved side plate. These are usually chambered for the 38 S&W cartridge, not to be confused with the 38 Special cartridge. The 38 Double Action, 2nd Model was produced from 1880 to 1884.

Here is a photo of my 38 Double Action, 3rd Model. Notice the curved side plate and the lack of the vertical grooves on the cylinder.

The vertical grooves are present on your cylinder because the early lockwork locked the cylinder in place it two places. There was a nub protruding up from the trigger in addition to the spring loaded, pivoting cylinder stop. You will notice that there are two locking slots for each chamber on your cylinder. The front one is for the nub on the trigger. The rear one is for the cylinder stop. The vertical cuts are clearance cuts for the nub on the trigger. When the 3rd Models of both the 32 Double Action and the 38 Double Action came out, S&W redesigned the lockwork, getting rid of the nub on the trigger. So the clearance cuts were no longer needed.

Be careful when you close the gun. If you the nub on the trigger is not lined up with one of the locking slots, or the clearance cuts, you can break something.

March 2, 2012, 03:34 PM
WOW :D Super info...Just what I was looking...Most Grateful...

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