S&W Model 1 Through 1 1/2 and Variations With Pictures of Each

The Smith & Wesson Model 1 was issued in three different variations. Each issue included technical advances and redesigns. Listed below are the specifications of each issue  and what was changed as well as a visual example of each variation.
Model 1 - 1st Issue
Smith and Wesson Model 1 - 1st Issue
The S&W Model 1 1st Issue is the most rare. Only 12,000 were produced over 3 years. 
The distinguishing features for the 1st issue are:
•             flared, square cornered shaped grip (also featured in the 2nd Issue)
•             split articulated hammer
•             small round side plate located between the rear of the cylinder and the grip (similar to early Colt open tops)
•             in early models a flat spring barrel mount catch.
There are said to also be 6 sub-variations within the 1st Issue. Each of these include minor changes in design such as the barrel latch going form a flat spring to a bayonet style. The barrel rifling and recoil shield was also changed.
Serial Numbers range for Model 1 1st issue were 1-12,000
Model 1 - 2nd Issue
S&W Model 1 - 2nd Issue
The 2nd Issue of the Model 1 shares the same grip and frame design as the 1st issue so they are often confused. There are several notable differences listed below.
•             The side plate on the 2nd Issue was much larger and irregularly shaped replacing the round one.
•             The profile of the frame was more flat
•             the hammer was now made in one piece
110,000 2nd Issues were produced from 1860- 1868
Serial numbers range  12,000 - 120,000
Model 1- 3rd Issue
Smith and Wesson Model 1- 3rd Issue
The Model 1 3rd Issue included a more substantial change in design from the 1st and 2nd  Issue.
Changes included:
  • fluted cylinder
  • round barrel
  • rounded "bird's head" style grip
  • Finish options included nickel plate and blued steel
Produced from 1868 through 1882, the 3rd Issues were serial number range 1 -  131,000.

The Model 1 1/2 had three issues. The first two (known as the first and second issues) were "tip-up" revolvers with the barrel release catch located on the side of the frame in front of the trigger, while the third (known as the "Model 1 1/2 Single Action Revolver") was a "top-break", with the barrel release catch located on the top of the frame, just in front of the hammer.
Model 1 1/2 1st Issue
S&W Model 1 1/2 1st Issue
The first issue of the Model 1 1/2 can be identified by :
·         smooth cylinder (lacking fluting)
·         square shape of the grip butt
·         blued or nickel plated finishes
·          most had 3 1/2" barrels, 4" barrel were made but less common
Serial number range 1 - 26,300
Model 1 1/2 - 2nd Issue
The second issue of the Model 1 1/2 features:
·         rounded barrel
·         rounded shape of the grip butt
·         also produced in blued steel and nickel plated finish
·          commonly 3 1/2" barrel, A rare 2 1/2" barrel was also made with the barrel markings on the side of the barrel  as opposed to the top strap on  3 1/2" barrels.
2nd Issue serial numbered consecutively after the 1st Issue were 26,300 -  127,000.
There was a transitional run in 2nd issue that used unrounded 1st issue barrels. The serial number range for transitional models was approximately 27,200 through 28,800.
Single Action Revolver
Smith & Wesson Model No. 1 1/2 Single Action Revolver
The third issue Model 1 1/2 is known as the "Model No. 1 1/2 Single Action Revolver"
There were major changes in this model including:
·         Top break design (just forward of the hammer)
·         No ejector rod under the barrel
·          large hinge located in front of and just below the barrel
·          an extractor that ejects spent cartridges when the barrel is opened
·         rounded butt grips similar to ones on the 2nd Issue
·         marked the debut of the .32 S&W centerfire cartridge.
Serial numbers range  1 - 97,500


  1. where can i get parts for the Model 1- 3rd Issue. I'm missing the barrel site and the piece right above the trigger broke is missing.

    1. The place to get a new front site is called Jack First

  2. were these Model 1 2nd edition all .22 Short? What was the grip material? What wood? thanks

  3. Any help will be appreciated, model 1 1/2, 32 cal, single action, spur trigger and trigger leaf spring needed.
    Thanks in advance

    1. "jack first gun parts" has parts for s&w model 1½.

    2. If you can't find the actually replacement part, you could consider fabricating a trigger leaf spring.
      I have made cylinder hand springs and simple leaf trigger springs from pieces of spring steel I broke off of a coiled flat spring taken out of an old vintage wind up alarm clock.
      Someone out there might know the dimensions,specifically the thickness of the metal, and you can easily find an alarm clocks coiled flate spring on eBay for $5 or $10.
      Spring steel cannot be sawed thru, so to shape it, you use a file, and to cut off a piece of the right length, just hold it in a vice, you can bend it back and forth until it breaks off.
      I recently made a cylinder hand spring for a Norwich Pistol Company "Protector" 32rimfire spur trigger revolver without knowing any measurements in advance.
      I paid $7 on eBay for a coil flat spring which was taken out of an old alarm clock, and after a bit of trial and error, filing to remove and shape the steel, it works fine and that revolver is fully functional and safe to shoot.
      Good luck!

  4. S&W made some high quality and innovative cartridge firing handguns right from the the start!
    I am fortunate to own a tip-up No.1½ "New model" that is in such nice condition, that it is hard to believe it was made in 1874-75!


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