Sunday, August 07, 2016

Smith and Wesson No. 3

Talking yesterday about cowboy revolvers, commenter M. Silvius asks in comments:
I know nothing about the sport, but always wondered why we don't see the Schofield type being used in cowboy action shooting. I'd think the top break would be an advantage for fast reloads.
Interesting question.  First, the genre of cowboy shooting that we do is Cowboy Fast Draw, a completely different game than Cowboy Action Shooting.  Our game is a single-shot game that doesn't require reloading quickly, so the speed of reloading really doesn't enter into our thinking.

But, Smith and Wesson's Number 3 revolver is an interesting artifact.  It came out in 1869 and saw service in the Indian Wars, the Spanish American War, and even World War 1.  Smith and Wesson sold a bunch of them to our Army, and to various other governments in Europe.  Famously, they sent over 131,000 of these revolvers to the Imperial Russian Army, in a caliber designed especially for the order,  The .44 Russian (as opposed to the .44 American) was the first example of an internally lubricated  cartridge.  Before that, all of the fixed cartridge ammunition had a rebated heel, externally lubricated bullet, similar to today's .22 Long Rifle that we all know and love.

In short, the story of the Smith and Wesson No 3 is an interesting one.  Frank James, brother of Jesse James, carried a Number 1 1/2 and the No 3 was used extensively worldwide.  Even the Australians got in on the action.

The simple question of why we don't use them in the games today boils down to cost.  A nice working original would cost north of $2000, and you'd be using an historically valuable revolver in a game that's tough on revolvers.  Uberti makes a copy, but even then, the MSRP on them is over $1100.00, depending on finish, barrel length,etc.

We buy a lot of revolvers in this game, and we're tough on them.  We've bought eight cowboy revolvers this year alone, at an average price of $500.00 each.  Hopefully, everyone now has the gun they like, but I'm always on the lookout for a good used spare.  I routinely haunt pawn shops for cowboy revolvers.

The Smith and Wesson Number 3 is an interesting revolver with wide historical relevance, but the simple fact is that I can pick up a good cowboy revolver for less than half the price of a Number 3.

1 comment:

M. Silvius said...

Well thank you very much for the clarification.
Kind regards:
Michael