This is a good example of America's first cartridge revolver. The S&W Model 1, 1st Issue was a landmark gun here in America that fired seven rounds of fixed .22 ammunition. S&W produced approx. 11,671 of its First Issues. There were several improvements made along the way, mostly pertaining to barrel catches, cylinder ratchets, and rifling changes, that can be divided into six different sub-types. This particular example is a 6th type (SN# 5,500-11,671) which was the most common. The serial number is in the 10,000 range which dates its manufacture to 1859. I believe all of these 1st Models were shipped to S&W's sole distributor, J.P. Storr's of New York. During the Civil War, the number one model's water-proof self-contained cartridges made them quite popular with soldiers who carried them as back-up weapons.
Overall condition grades to NRA Antique Good++ to Very Good with the frame retaining 95% of its original silver plating. The metal has worn to a light gray patina with good edges and legible markings. Cylinder has a few minor pits but smooth overall with both its 1855 and 1859 patent dates visible. The barrel address is in good shape and reads, "SMITH & WESSON. SPRINGFIELD. MASS". Good screws throughout. Bore is in good condition and has its original 5-groove rifling. The mechanics are in excellent working order. These are almost never in good shape mechanically given their age and fragile components. To compound matters, the little circular inspection plate can make working on these difficult enough for even a watchmaker to curse. Our gunsmith is one of the best and he really did a nice job getting this little First model tuned up after 150 years of neglect. The hammer pivots correctly, cylinder indexes properly, and the bolt and stop spring lock cylinder in place. The barrel latches tightly to the frame. This gun needs nothing. Rosewood grips are in good condition with 60% original varnish. They fit the metal quite well...much better than what you see in the photos.
Disclaimer: As we state on the home page of our website, we do not sell antique guns as shooters. That said, S&W First Models are the last thing you'd want to attempt to fire. These are simply not safe to fire with any kind of modern ammunition. Aside from being 150+ years old, the soft brass frame and iron barrel are no match for the ammunition we have today...or even 50 years ago. We saw one of these last summer that had the barrel blown completely off the hinge on the frame. The owner had fired ONE Round of "harmless looking" modern .22 Short Ammunition back in the early 1960's. That single round managed to crack the cylinder, shatter the hinge, and launch the barrel several feet across a field. What was once a very scarce and valuable First Issue, 4th type was completely ruined.