This was S&W's first pocket sized single action revolver with its new top break action. Caliber is .38 S&W with standard 3-1/4" barrel. Officially, this model is called the 38 Single Action First Model Revolver but most of us less nerdy collectors simply call it the "Baby Russian" after its resemblance to S&W's large frame .44 caliber Old Russian Model Revolver. The Baby Russian was only produced for two years; 1875-1876 before S&W made improvements to their automatic ejector design thus eliminating the need for the lug underneath the barrel. By 1877, the more distinctive looking Baby Russian was no more. Its less colorful successor was called the .38 Single Action Second Model and was produced until 1891, outnumbering its predecessor 4:1 in numbers. At any rate, this Baby Russian is in a great configuration with scarce original wood grips and the desirable but less frequently encountered blued finish. The vast majority of Baby Russians we've seen come with checkered hard rubber grips and nickel plated finish. Barrel address has numerous patent dates ranging from 1865 through 1875. There are some tiny proofs on cylinder and barrel indicating shipment to the United Kingdom, specifically London. Today, many us collectors have all but ignored the fact that Great Britain was one of American gun manufacturers' best customers. With the vastness of their empire, many a Colt, Smith and Wesson, and Winchester became world travelers in the hands of their British owners. You would be amazed at how many American-made guns with English proofs turn up in some of the farthest corners of the world. This British angle may help better explain the scarcer wood grips on this Baby Russian as the 1870's Victorian era Great Britain was rather slow in accepting S&W's and Colt's shift to molded hard rubber grips. A good example of this are Colt Cop and Thug Models, early Lightning Double Actions, and even large frame Model 1878 Revolvers shipped to their London Agency. These guns almost exclusively have wooden grips made of rosewood instead of checkered hard rubber. Who ever heard of such a thing? Someone preferring wood over genuine plastic back in the 1870's! If only that were true today.
Overall Condition Grades NRA Antique Fine+ with 50% thinning blue overall. Hammer has 75% bright original case colors. Front sight blade retains 95% of its proper nickel finish. Screws and Pins are in Very Good Condition Overall. Grips have a few nicks but remain in Very Good Plus Condition with perfect wood-to-metal fit and are numbered to the gun. For that matter, all the numbers on this gun are matching. Barrel locks up to frame perfectly. Action cycles flawlessly with a near mint bore. Nice strong example of a Baby Russian with desirable blued finish and wood grips.