Model 1 Project

The Model 1 Project is an attempt to compile census data about Smith & Wesson’s seminal Model 1 revolver. Manufactured from 1857 through to 1882, the Model 1 was one of the most important reinventions of the handgun, and remained a tour de force of engineering and manufacturing prowess throughout its quarter-century of production.

There were three major “issues” of the Model 1. Within these issues, there are at least 30 minor variations. These represent different finishes, engineering changes, and a few sales gimmicks like the highly sought-after “2D QUAL’TY” guns that had minor casting defects.

Model 1 production record keeping is a perennial source of frustration for Model 1 collectors. Most of the guns were sold through Smith & Wesson’s sole sales agent, Joseph W. Storrs. Storrs’ sales records have never been located (if they ever existed), making the distribution of most Model 1’s virtually impossible to trace.

Still, the guns themselves offer a wealth of information about this important facet of early American manufacturing, and this project will attempt to capture data about surviving Model 1’s.

The questionnaire asks for very specific information about the guns, with the understanding that many gun owners are understandably reluctant to share this information. That is why the questionnaire is currently being conducted via paper forms. The information from each individual form will not be stored electronically, significantly reducing the chance of this information being stolen. Only aggregated data (for instance: “31% of Model 1, 2nd Issue guns were reported to have the larger roll mark on the top of the barrel, with all reported serial numbers higher than 80,000”) will ever be shared.