This is one of the earliest Model 1, 2nd Issues I've had over the years. The serial number is in the 21,000 range which dates this revolver to the year 1861....right after the outbreak of the Civil War. This revolver was built just after the Model 1, 1st Issue production had ceased 1858-1860...1-11,000...S&W's first revolver. The 2nd Issue had several improvements which included a flat-sided frame, larger more accessible sideplate, and a solid hammer. Technically speaking, these early S&W's were the first guns ever produced that chambered the .22 caliber rimfire cartridge. Many of these early S&W's were purchased privately during the Civil War by Soldiers as personal carry weapons. Even though this was only .22 caliber, if I were in their shoes and knew it took the better part of a minute to load an Enfield or Springfield rifle, I guess having a revolver with seven shots available in reserve for firing at close quarters would have put my mind slightly more at ease.
This S&W is in NRA Antique Very Good condition overall. For a gun made in 1861, this is in exceptional condition and would be above avg. compared to most post war examples. The frame retains 80% original silver which is turning dark and tarnishing with the brass from the frame peaking through mostly in the high spots. The cylinder and barrel profiles show evidence of cleaning from a novice, however there is a surprisingly good amount of bright original blue remaining on most of the barrel flats, underneath the rib , and along the cartridge ejector. In spite of the careless cleaning, I would estimate the barrel retains at least 50% bright blue. Someone has slighly altered the German Silver sight, probably long ago. The hammer still has some fading case colors while the rosewood grips have 70% of their original piano varnish. Cylinder retains all of its tiny rolled patents which are dated 1855, 1859, and 1860. Top of the barrel has a nice early style Smith and Wesson address. The action works well with one exception...after 144 years, it feels as though the cylinder stop spring no longer has enough tension left to lock the cylinder in place...this is THE MOST COMMON mechanical issue found on these. A gunsmith can remedy this very easily with a tiny piece of flat spring steel if desired....almost every early S&W I've ever found has this problem to some degree....if you find one that doesn't, then someone has probably already worked on it. The bore is surprisingly good with strong rifling with very little roughness...far better than average. All in all, if you're looking for a good example of an early S&W with a great Civil War date, this one is a nice example at a good value. Note: THIS REVOLVER IS 144 YEARS OLD AND WAS NOT DESIGNED, NOR MADE FROM MATERIALS EVEN REMOTELY SUITABLE FOR FIRING ANY KIND...ONE MORE TIME "AND WE MEAN IT", ANY KIND OF MODERN SMOKELESS AMMUNITION.