Original Spanish made Smith & Wesson Model 3 Revolver Copy for the Russian Contract Market - Serial 2524

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Item Description

Original item: Only One Available. Here we have a very nice Spanish made Copy of the Classic Smith & Wesson "Russian" Model 3 Revolver. In 1870/71 General Alexander Gorloff of the Imperial Russian Embassy had visited Smith & Wesson, and placed an order for 41,000 units. In 1872 Grand Duke Alexandrovich also visited the factory to great accolades, resulting over the following years the Imperial Russian Army ordering over 130,000 of this Model Revolver in total.

However, the Russian government was across the globe from Smith & Wesson, which meant additional cost and time waiting for revolvers. Shipments could also be disrupted by weather, war, or other issues. This also meant that it was unlikely S&W would be able to enforce litigation, so Russia started contracting European companies to produce the design. In addition, S&W had also angered the Russians by selling arms to Turkey and Japan, enemies of Imperial Russia. So, in 1876 the Russians decided to move No. 3 Russian revolver production from S&W in America to Ludwig Loewe in Berlin.

With news of this spreading throughout Europe, other makers looked to grab a portion of the Russian contract market, so various companies across the continent started producing their own copies, which were sold domestically if they were unable catch Russia's interest. This example was made by the Orbea Brothers in Eibar, Spain, a company that still exists to this day as a manufacturer of Bicycles.

It still has a mostly clear marking on the top of the barrel rib, which reads:


As there are no Russian markings on the revolver, this was definitely a private purchase example, possibly sold in Spain or else where in Europe. Russian contract guns would have Russian acceptance markings, and usually were marked in Cyrillic across the top of the barrel rib. The revolver looks to have been at least partially nickel plated at some point, which is still present on the cylinder and on the left side of the revolver. The serial number 2524 is still visible on the bottom grip frame, and the grip scales look to be bakelite or gutta percha. They were originally checkered, but that has now worn on both sides, and also they look to have shrunk over the years, so they do not quite fit correctly anymore. Both are marked with the O.H. (Orbea Hermanos) logo at the top.

The revolver is in good condition, with a lot of wear overall, and definitely looks to have seen long service. The bore shows clear lands and grooves, with some areas of oxidation. The frame brakes open correctly, and the ejector presents, though it does not release inward when fully open. The revolver does cycle, however the internals are worn, as is the cylinder lock, so it does not index correctly at present.

Despite the great production, "Russian Model" revolvers are very rare and hard to find today, even the copies made in Europe.. A very nice example, completely honest, ready for display!

History of the Smith & Wesson Model 3

The Smith & Wesson Model 3 was a single-action, cartridge-firing, top-break revolver produced by Smith & Wesson from circa 1870 to 1915.

It was produced in several variations and sub-variations, including both the "Russian Model", so named because it was supplied to the military of the Russian Empire (41,000 No. 3's were ordered in .44 caliber by the Imperial Russian Army in 1871), and the "Schofield" model, named after Major George W. Schofield, who made his own modifications to the Model 3 to meet his perceptions of the Cavalry's needs. Smith & Wesson incorporated these modifications into an 1875 design they named after the Major, planning to obtain significant military contracts for the new revolver.

The S&W Model 3 was originally chambered for the .44 S&W American and .44 Russian cartridges, and typically did not have the cartridge information stamped on the gun (as is standard practice for most commercial firearms). Model 3 revolvers were later produced in an assortment of calibers, including .44 Henry Rimfire, .44-40, .32-44, .38-44, and .45 Schofield. The design would influence the smaller S&W .38 Single Action that is retroactively referred to as the Model 2.


Years of Manufacture: circa 1876-1880
Caliber: .44 Russian
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 7  inches

Overall Length: 12 3/4 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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