More about the Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver

My first blog post this morning, about a unique Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolver I found in the Panhandle-Plains Historical Museum a couple of weeks ago, has attracted a fair amount of attention.  Several e-mails have asked for more information about the gun, particularly because its widespread use in the ‘Wild West’ isn’t as well known as its Colt Single Action Army rival (popularly known as the ‘Peacemaker’).

You can read more about the revolver at the links I provided in this morning’s post.  Here’s a video evaluation by YouTube user Hickock45, in which he demonstrates how it’s loaded and fired, and goes into more detail about its features.

In my next Western novel, ‘Rocky Mountain Retribution’, due out in a month or two, you’ll be able to read a lot more about these revolvers, and their greatest advantage over all competing weapons of the 1870’s.  The only reason they didn’t vastly outsell Colt’s Peacemaker was that so many tens of thousands of the S&W revolvers were shipped to Russia and other overseas customers, instead of being sold locally.



  1. Those Model 3 wheelguns were also perhaps too well made. The spaces between cylinder and frame were smaller than on the Colt guns. That means that the crud that builds up when firing black powder would cause them to become inoperative quicker than the Colts.

    People might want to fire more a dozen round before needing to stop and clean the gun.

  2. I am not convinced that is the best way to load 5 rounds.
    It might be better to keep an empty cylinder under the hammer to index a live chamber at first cock after reloading.


  3. @BCE56: There's a reason for the way he does it. You reload the Model 3 with the hammer at half-cock, because if you close the action with the hammer down, it'll impact the primer of the cartridge beneath it. That could get . . . interesting!

    If you close the action with the hammer at half-cock, and a round underneath it, there's no risk of hitting the primer. By then bringing the hammer back to full cock, then lowering it onto the empty chamber, he's ready to go with a live round beneath the hammer when he cocks it a second time.

    It makes sense, if you think about it. I had to handle one (several) of the Model 3's before I figured it out.

  4. Fair enough.

    Can the hammer be lowered from half-cock? Would it be reasonable to index the empty chamber at 12:00 and reholster with hammer at half-cock?
    I handled a Schofield many years ago but cannot recall, so I did some research.
    This may shed some light:

    Note references to hammer positions and cylinder stop.

    It would be interesting to consult period documents for manual of arms and Military doctrine.


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