For most people, thinking about the venerable (and now defunct) Chicago retailer Montgomery Ward doesn’t conjure up images of guns. Over the years they sold plenty of branded guns (like this rebranded Stevens rifle), but the gun I’m writing about today is actually a Smith & Wesson .44 Double Action, First Model, that was shipped to the Chicago firm on July 15, 1892.
The first thing you notice about this gun is its weight. Clocking in at X pounds and X ounces without any rounds in the cylinder, this is a heavy piece of hardware. Robustly made and with a jewel-smooth action, this gun opens and closes with confidence.
An inevitable question that every gun collector asks is, “who owned this gun?” It’s a question whose answer is usually lost to history, since the idea of keeping records about who bought what gun is, in the United States, a relatively modern phenomenon, and an incomplete one at that. But a gun occasionally tantalizes the interested historian with clues about its first owner, as this particular gun demonstrates.
Colt’s Revolving Pocket Pistol, known to collectors as the “Model of 1849,” put Samuel Colt on the map as a firearms manufacturing empire. There wee over 300,000 of these guns produced during its 26 year production run, and the seemingly endless varieties and permutations of caliber, barrel length, cylinder capacity and accouterments make this gun a collector’s favorite; so much so that there’s an entire book dedicated to it.