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Original Japanese Contract U.S. Smith & Wesson Model 2 Army .32cal Revolver with 6" Barrel - Matching Serial 60494

Regular price $1,895.00

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Item Description

Original Item: Only One Available. This is a very nice service worn example of a Japanese Contract Smith & Wesson .32-caliber rimfire Model 2 Army Revolver, made in the late 1860s or early 1870s. It features a 6 inch unshortened barrel, and has a lovely service worn patina of age.

As a result of the "Meiji Restoration" that ended the Tokugawa shogunate and returned power to the Emperor, the country began a period of "Enlightened Rule." Japan ended its long isolation, and began a policy of modernization across all aspects of life. This of course included the military, and they began to import larger numbers of small arms, as their domestic arms production industry was only in its infancy. These came from all over the world, which of course would include the large industrial capacity of the United States.

From what we can see, there were several importers in Japan, located in major port cities of the empire. Smith & Wesson factory records may be able to tell which importer acquired this pistol, however some were sent outside official channels. The left side of the barrel is marked with Japanese date 明 治 二 十 一 , or Meiji 21, which is 1888 in the Western Calendar. After this is the registration number 二 〇 五, or 205, with a character after it that is probably for the prefecture where it was registered, which we unfortunately are unable to read. This date is definitely well after the gun was imported, as it wasn't until 1872 that registration was required for guns such as this. We have seen examples of contract guns that were not dated until 1898, thirty year after importation.

The serial number is 60494, probably dating production to 1869-1870, right during the time period when these were being imported into Japan. This number is found on the bottom of the grip, as well as on the inside of the right grip scale. There is also assembly number 340 on the grip frame, barrel, and cylinder. That makes this a very desirable "ALL MATCHING" example, with no major parts swapped out over the years!

With three pins (one ground down) on the top of the frame and a large serial number, some consider this to be a Model 2, type 4. The hardwood grips are original and have a matching serial number on the inside of the right scale, though both show wear and possibly refinishing. The revolver has a lovely aged dark gray patina overall, with some areas of the original bluing still visible. It still has the original Smith & Wesson address marking faintly marked on top of the barrel rib:


The Patent information on the cylinder is completely worn away, with the cylinder looking to have been refinished at some point. The revolver cycles great, with accurate indexing, a firm cylinder lockup, and a crisp dry fire. We did not notice any of the usual finicky behavior we often see on revolvers of this age. The bore is in good condition, showing clear lands and grooves with a partly bright finish. There is however some scattered oxidation on the interior, as well as some wear.

This is a nice chance to own a historically significant gun in very nice service worn condition! A Japanese contract revolver from the 19th century, this revolver is ready to research and display!


Year of Manufacture: late 1860s - early 1870s
Caliber: .32cal
Ammunition Type: Rimfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 6 inches
Overall Length: 11 inches
Action: Single Action 
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

More on the Smith & Wesson Model 2 Army:
Revolvers with serial numbers under 35,731 are considered to be civil war guns since they were manufactured before May 1st, 1865. All are 32-caliber rimfire with a six shot non-fluted cylinder. All were manufactured with rosewood grips and blue or nickel-plated finishes. The barrels are marked on top with the manufacturer and patent dates are stamped on the cylinder. Most were made with 6 or 5 inch barrels, with 4 available as a special order.

According to published sources, 77,155 Model 2 Army revolvers were made. To date, the serial numbers on observed specimens have not substantiated this figure, 76,642 being the highest number noted. Unfortunately, the Smith & Wesson factory records for this period are incomplete and do not give a comprehensive picture of production.

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