This was S&W's very first attempt at a revolver featuring a double action mechanism back in 1880. Guess it worked out pretty well for Springfield Mass. based company because they've been building double action revolvers ever since. 128 years later, they're still going strong having built double action models through all or part of 3 different centuries. This little gun is where it all started! Unfortunately, while there are lots of early DA's in both .32 and .38 calibers, these first models are quite elusive when it comes to finding a nice one for collections. The first model is easily distinguished by their unique square sideplate. Only 4000 .38 Caliber 1st Models were built in 1880 before they changed the design to an oval shaped plate to strengthen the frame. It also has the dual cylinder stops with cut-outs and half-flutes on the cylinder. 3 1/4" barrel, nickel finish, with blued and case colored accents. Checkered hard rubber grips w/S&W monogram. Serial number is in the 1500 range with all matching numbers on the frame, cylinder, barrel, and latch. Very earliest style barrel marked with several patent dates running from Jan 17 & 24, 1865 up to Jan. 19, 1875.
Overall condition grades easily to NRA Antique Excellent Plus showing very little usage while retaining 98% bright original nickel. This revolver shows very little use or evidence of being fired very much as the nickel has now deterioration from powder at the muzzle and barrel/cylinder junctions. Only notable blemishes are someone lightly scratched the date "May 1880" on the left side of the barrel and some light scratches on the circumference of the cylinder....a very common occurrence. Both hammer and trigger show nearly all of their strong original case colors. Latch and triggerguard have 97% original bright blue remaining. Fine grips show mild handling wear with perfect fit to the metal. No chips, cracks, or breaks. Action works nicely including the automatic ejectors...another great feature found on this early S&W. Action works nicely. Bore is bright and shiny with strong rifling with a few pits. Very Good+ overall. If you're looking for a nice 1st Model, this would make a great investment as well as providing a cornerstone to any S&W or pocket pistol collection.