Original U.S. Smith & Wesson 1st Schofield Model No.3 .45cal Revolver Serial 464 in Rare Unmodified Condition
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Original Item: Only One available. This is a really nice and rare old Wild West Revolver to find. This is a very nice Smith & Wesson “Schofield Model” No. 3 revolver, in .45 Smith & Wesson Caliber. It has some lovely aged walnut grips. The S&W Model No. 3 was introduced in 1869 as the U.S. Army’s principal sidearm, after which they requested several changes to the design suggested by Major George W. Schofield.
A contract was issued to Smith & Wesson for 3,000 of the new “Schofield” model revolver in September of 1874. These guns would become known to collectors as 1st Model Schofield revolvers. The reports from the field and testing were positive enough that a second order was placed for 3,000 more revolvers in March of 1875, and these would become known to collectors as the 2nd Model Schofield. These were slightly different, with a redesigned barrel catch / rear sight, as well as a frame made of steel instead of iron.
This fine example of a 1st Model Schofield features an unmodified 7″ barrel and has a cylinder capacity of 6 shots, functioning in single-action only. The left side of the barrel bears the Smith & Wesson patent information:
SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD MASS. U.S.A. PAT. JAN.17TH
The right side of the barrel bears the Schofield patent information:
SCHOFIELD’S PAT. APR. 22D 73
These patent markings are definitive for a 1st Model Schofield, as is the design of the revolver, which features a frame latch that pulls back, instead of lifting up. The 2nd Model Schofield had an additional patent date on the right side, and also had a more “dished out” barrel catch. There is also a U.S. marking on the bottom of the grip, indicating U.S. Army Service, next to the original serial number 464, which also appears on the back of the cylinder and on the inside of the grip scales. The inside of the grips also shows some very nice personalization, including the name GEO. WEAR, on the right scale, and some symbols on the left.
The U.S. Army eventually decided to switch to the Colt Single Action Army revolver in .45 Long Colt, so they disposed of the Schofield Model Revolvers via the surplus market, where they became very popular in the “Old West”. 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 is in very nice “frontier used” condition, sure to delight any Americana Collector. The finish has worn down to a peppered patina in many areas, with the original bluing still present in more protected areas of the revolver. This gives it a great “worn in” look. The walnut grips are nicely worn, with only a few small dents and chips, and no trace of the original inspection cartouche.
The revolver functions well, cycling correctly with a good cylinder lockup and strong dry fire. As with any revolver of this age, it can be finicky at times. The cylinder lock spring is a bit worn, so the cylinder can be spun counter clockwise when the hammer is fully forward. It cannot be spun clockwise. The revolver breaks open correctly with ejection, and correctly retracts. The bore is in very good condition, mostly bright with clear lands and grooves, with just a bit of wear and oxidation. This revolver looks to have been carried extensively, but not actually fired very much.
A great old west revolver, ready to become a part of your collection!
History of the Smith & Wesson Schofield Model .45cal Revolver
The U.S. Army adopted the .44 S&W American caliber S&W Model 3 revolver in 1870, making it the first standard-issue, cartridge-firing revolver in US service. Most military pistols until that point were black powder cap-and-ball revolvers, which were (by comparison) slow, complicated, and susceptible to the effects of wet weather.
In 1875, the US Ordnance Board granted S&W a contract to outfit the military with Model 3 revolvers incorporating the design improvements of Major George W. Schofield (known as the “Schofield revolver”), providing that they could make the revolvers fire the .45 Colt (or “.45 Long Colt”) ammunition already in use by the US military. S&W instead developed their own, slightly shorter .45 caliber round, the .45 Schofield, otherwise known as the .45 S&W.
When it became obvious in the field that the two cartridges would not work interchangeably in the Schofield (although they both worked in the Colt), the U.S. government adopted the shorter .45 Schofield cartridge as the standard cartridge. Despite the change, old stocks of the longer .45 Colt rounds in the supply line caused the Army to drop most of the Schofields and continue with the Colt. Major Schofield had patented his locking system and earned a payment on each gun that S&W sold, and at the time, his older brother, John M. Schofield, was the head of the Army Ordnance Board and the political situation may have been the main issue for the early end of army sales.
Many of the S&W Model 3 Schofield revolvers served in the Indian Wars, with reports of them in use as late as the Spanish–American War and Philippine–American War. Like the other Model 3s, they were also reportedly popular with lawmen and outlaws in the American West, and were reportedly used by Jesse James, Bob Ford (who used one to kill James), John Wesley Hardin, Pat Garrett, Theodore Roosevelt, Virgil Earp, Billy the Kid, and many others. The S&W No. 3 revolver was famously used by Wyatt Earp during the gunfight at the O.K. Corral with the Clanton Gang.
While the standard barrel length was 7 inches, many Schofields were purchased as surplus by distributors, and had the barrels shortened to 5 in, and were refinished in nickel. After the Spanish–American War of 1898, the US Army sold off all their surplus Schofield revolvers, which were reconditioned by wholesalers and gunsmiths (at professional factory-quality level), with a considerable number offered for sale on the commercial market with a 5-in barrel, as well as the standard size barrel of 7 in.
Lieutenant Colonel Schofield shot himself on December 17, 1882, with a S&W Schofield revolver after suffering a bout of mental illness, stress, and isolation.
An engraved, gold-plated New Model No. 3 with pearl grips was presented to sharpshooter Annie Oakley in the 1890s by her husband Frank Butler. The revolver was one of three embellished guns that were cased for Oakley as a presentation group.
Year of Manufacture: c.1874
Caliber: .45 Smith & Wesson
Ammunition Type: Centerfire Cartridge
Barrel Length: 7 inches
Overall Length: 12 3/4 inches
Action: Single Action
Feed System: 6 Shot Revolver