Smith & Wesson Model 1 Variants

There were three major issues of the Smith & Wesson Model 1, but there are over 20 variants. Some of these variants can be the difference between a gun that’s worth $300 and a gun that’s worth $3,000, so it’s worth exploring this to better understand your Model 1.

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, 2nd Issue Variants

The design of the Model 1, 2nd Issue didn’t evolve nearly as much as the 1st Issue, but there are still some different variations that collectors observe. They include:

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.

Special Variants

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 guns

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.

Fancy Finishes

The standard finishes for the Model 1 were as follows:
Some 1st and 2nd Issue guns were factory finished in a “full plate” nickel finish, which bring a slight premium. It has been reported that Smith & Wesson also made a few pinto finish Model 1’s, which have a nickel plated barrel and frame and a blued cylinder, or vice-versa.