Model 1, 1st Issue Variants
Collectors recognize six variants of the Smith & Wesson Model 1, 1st Issue. These guns can generally be identified by their serial number. They are:
Model 1, 3rd Issue Variants
The Smith & Wesson Model 1, 3rd Issue guns are a bit trickier to identify, since the only variation that falls into a particular serial number range is the “square top” versus “side top” variation.
In addition to the standard variations listed above, there are also a riches of embellished Model 1’s that will add intrigue to any collector’s collection. This list is by no means comprehensive, but it will discuss some of the other variants that collectors will encounter.
Engraved Model 1’s generally fall into two categories: factory engraved guns and aftermarket engraved guns. Factory engraved guns are rarer and generally more valuable, given the relative ease with which they can be documented. Aftermarket engraved guns were generally commissioned by the wholesaler, distributor, or dealer, and in some instances they were engraved by the same engravers that were commissioned by the factory.
Smith & Wesson Model 1’s generally shipped from the factory with rosewood or walnut grips. A few factory guns were shipped with fancy grips, but in most cases a non-standard grip would have been fitted by the wholesaler, distributor, or retailer. Grips have been found in bone, ivory, mother of pearl, and even sterling silver.