S&W Model 3 Russian Revolvers
How to I.D. the 1st, 2nd, & 3rd Models
click photo to enlarge
Donít let the "Model 3" designation confuse you when it comes to talking about First, Second and Third Model Russians. Any large frame S&W top-break is considered a Model 3 frame, just as any large frame modern hand-ejector S&W is considered to be an N-frame. Also, donít confuse the New Model Russian with the different New Model #3.
All 3 models of the Russian are chambered for the .44 Russian cartridge. They were made in the 1870ís, and were the result of changes required in the Model 3 by the Russian government for their large military order. However, S&W made Russian models for the U.S. market, and they were popular in the American West. The .44 Russian cartridge enjoys a reputation as one of the most intrinsically accurate large-bore cartridges of the era.
The First Model Russian, (also known as the "Old, Old Russian"), is essentially identical to the S&W American - square butt, no knuckle on the back strap of the grip. Standard barrel length is 8". The only difference from the Second Model American is that the First Model Russian is chambered for the 44 Russian cartridge and is marked "Russian Model" at the end of the barrel address.
The Second Model - also known as the "Old Model Russian", incorporates the somewhat radical grip design changes required by the Russian Government for their large contract purchase - note the round grip and extreme knuckle in the back strap of the Second and Third Model Russians. Also the trigger guard spur is typical of Second and Third Model Russians, although this was sometimes cut off, especially in the American West, to make the gun handier. You may occasionally see a custom ordered trigger guard spur on the very different New Model Number 3 variation.
The Third Model Russian (bottom), also known as the "New Model Russian," (again not to be confused with the New Model Number 3) shares the distinctive grip shape and trigger guard spur of the Second Model Russian. Here are the differentiating features between the Second Model (Old) and Third Model (New) Russians. The Second Model has 7"barrel while Third Model has 6 Ĺ" barrel; Second Model has a pinned front sight while the Third Model has an integral forged front sight; Second Model has a small screw in the barrel top strap above the cylinder while the Third Model has a large screw in that location knurled on the edges to allow turning by hand. Finally, the Third Model has a shorter ejector housing underneath the barrel and has an additional pin through the frame forward of the trigger guard, with a bump in the bottom line of the frame to accommodate the pin, along with a different type of ejector release lever on the bottom front of the frame.
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