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Old Model Russian

Although it wasn’t well received in the American West, it laid the foundation for Smith & Wesson’s more successful future revolvers.

Phil Spangenberger

Almost as soon as Smith & Wesson’s (S&W) Model 3 “American,” the first practical bigbore metallic cartridge revolver, was introduced in 1870, a sample was presented to Russian military attaché Gen. Alexander Gorloff. By May 1, 1871, the first of many large contracts for the Russian military were being filled. The single-action handgun also began going through several modifications— most of these alterations were those requested by Russian military officers at the factory. A major change they required was a newer, more powerful cartridge than its .44 American round. S&W developed the .44 S&W Russian, resulting in the retooling to fit the Russian ammunition for the Russian contracts as well as for commercial sales. Thus, the First Model Russian looked virtually like its American predecessor.

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October 2019