Original U.S. Smith & Wesson Nickel-Plated First Model Russian No. 3 .44 Revolver with Ivory Grips - Serial 8912

Item Description

Original Item: Only One available. This is an amazing find! Every young "Old West" fans dream: A real Cowboy Six-shooter! This is a very nice U.S. Smith & Wesson First Model Russian No.3 Revolver, made around 1870. It retains a very large percentage of its Nickel Plating and has lovely aged ivory grips. These were identical to the Russian Contract models, except for the markings.

The S&W Model No. 3 was introduced in 1869 as the U.S. Army's principal sidearm, which they used until 1873. It was also noticed by Russia, examples were made in a new .44 Russian caliber for the country. The First Model of these guns, also known as the "Old Model Russian" or "No.3 Russian 1st Model", was essentially a reworked American Model. These lack the distinctive "spur" on the trigger guard that makes the later models so distinctive looking.

The serial number on this example is 8912, found on the bottom of the grip in the usual location. Assembly number 235 A is marked on rear-face of cylinder, barrel extension, and on the frame underneath grips. The barrel latch however is not matched, so it was swapped out at some point. The barrel is 8" in overall length with very distinct rifling.

The top of the barrel bears all the S. & W. patent dates up to 1869, and clearly identifies it as a Russian model:


While designed for the Russians, after they reverse engineered the design, Smith & Wesson turned to the commercial market and other Governments to sell the revolver to. As this is a nickel plated example, it is most likely commercial issue, as Nickel Plate was not overly popular in the military world.

This is a Top-break revolver making loading extremely easy and frankly a much better system than the side loading Colts and Mervin & Hulbert revolvers. This was the same model revolver that the famous Lawman Wyatt Earp used in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral on October 26th 1881.

The revolver functions perfectly, with a good cylinder lockup, and smooth crisp action. There is very little slop in the mechanics, so it does not appear to have been used much. The revolver breaks open correctly with strong ejection, though sometimes it doesn't properly close after this, and needs some slight force to get it properly closed and cycling. Moving the hammer to the fully forward or fully cocked position prevents this from happening, as it looks like the hand gets stuck on the ratchet. The bore on the barrel has clear rifling, with just a few signs of wear and oxidation. The grips on this example look to be ivory, either walrus or possibly elephant. They are quite aged and cracked, giving this revolver a great look.

AN AMERICAN CLASSIC, it really is a monster with truly substantial lines. Ready to be the crown jewel of your "old west" revolver collection!

More on the "Russian Model" No. 3:

Almost as soon as Smith & Wesson’s Model No. 3 American, the first practical big-bore metallic cartridge revolver, was introduced in 1870, a sample was presented to Russian military attaché Gen. Alexander Gorloff. By May 1, 1871, the first of many large contracts for the Russian military were being filled. The single action handgun also began going through several modifications—most of these alterations were those requested by Russian military officers at the factory. A major change they required was a newer, more powerful cartridge than its .44 American round. S&W developed the .44 S&W Russian, resulting in the retooling to fit the Russian ammunition for the Russian contracts as well as for commercial sales. Thus, the First Model Russian looked virtually identical to its American predecessor.

History of the Smith & Wesson Model No. 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.


Year of Manufacture: c. 1870
Caliber: .44 Russian
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 8 inches

Overall Length: 13 1/2 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver

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