Jump to content
SASS Wire Forum

Who makes a replica S&W number 3 revolver that is closet to the original?


baranjhn
 Share

Recommended Posts

I’d like to get a S&W top break #3 revolver. It can be a standard model, Russian or Schofield. I do want one that is close to the original as possible.

 

 

Edited by baranjhn
Punctuation
Link to comment
Share on other sites

UBERTI is the primary manufacturer of S&W reproductions.
Most of the CAS-related importers carry one or more models/versions (e.g., Cimarron, Taylors, Dixie Gun Works , et al)
Some are currently out of stock.

 

 

Edited by PaleWolf Brunelle, #2495L
add links
  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Short Answer . . . . NOBODY.  Then refer back to PaleWolf Brunelle.  

 

Extra Added Attraction:  Don't plan to shoot it with Black Powder.  Current replicas DO NOT play well with BP.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

If you can find one of the ones S&W had made under their name several years ago in .45 Schofield, they are probably the closest to original. The Uberti ones have longer cylinders so they can run modern .45 Colt rounds. However, this does not leave enough room for the fouling from BP, so if you get them, just go in expecting to run Smokeless. My Schofields run great in .45 Colt with smokeless loads.

  • Like 2
Link to comment
Share on other sites

PS, welcome to the place!

Link to comment
Share on other sites

2 hours ago, DeaconKC said:

If you can find one of the ones S&W had made under their name several years ago in .45 Schofield, they are probably the closest to original. The Uberti ones have longer cylinders so they can run modern .45 Colt rounds. However, this does not leave enough room for the fouling from BP, so if you get them, just go in expecting to run Smokeless. My Schofields run great in .45 Colt with smokeless loads.

Sorry, that doesn't work either.  The originals had a gap in front of the cylinder face and the rear of the barrel assembly.  The rear of the barrel was extended back to meet the cylinder.  I believe they originally intended to make the cylinder long enough to handle the .45 Colt's ammo the Army was issuing. The problem was, the Army ammo was originally too hot for the Schofield prototype. (Note: I CANNOT find documentation to support this theory, but bear with me.)  S&W then shortened the cylinder and brought the rear of the barrel back to meet the shorter cylinder, and came up with what the Army called .45 Revolver Ball, which we call .45 Schofield.  When later-day Smith & Wesson brought out the Schofield 2000, they were probably afraid people would follow Uberti and install a cylinder capable of handling .45 LC and cutting off the rear of the barrel extension.  So S&W shortened the frame so that mod couldn't be done!  As a result the 2000 isn't a true replica of the original Schofield either!

  • Like 1
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

About the only way to find "close to original" (especially if planning to load BP) is look for an original (auctions, estates, pawn shops)...there ARE some out there. ;)

(edit to add: also look for period foreign copies...quality will vary)

 

These are both chambered in .44 Russian (NFS!)

 

NM3s.jpg

Edited by PaleWolf Brunelle, #2495L
add comment
  • Like 4
Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Trailrider #896 said:

Sorry, that doesn't work either.  The originals had a gap in front of the cylinder face and the rear of the barrel assembly.  The rear of the barrel was extended back to meet the cylinder.  I believe they originally intended to make the cylinder long enough to handle the .45 Colt's ammo the Army was issuing. The problem was, the Army ammo was originally too hot for the Schofield prototype. (Note: I CANNOT find documentation to support this theory, but bear with me.)  S&W then shortened the cylinder and brought the rear of the barrel back to meet the shorter cylinder, and came up with what the Army called .45 Revolver Ball, which we call .45 Schofield.  When later-day Smith & Wesson brought out the Schofield 2000, they were probably afraid people would follow Uberti and install a cylinder capable of handling .45 LC and cutting off the rear of the barrel extension.  So S&W shortened the frame so that mod couldn't be done!  As a result the 2000 isn't a true replica of the original Schofield either!

Is there a reason that the Uberti cylinder cannot be shortened to create that gap?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

4 hours ago, Goody, SASS #26190 said:

Is there a reason that the Uberti cylinder cannot be shortened to create that gap?

If it were shortened, I think there would be a HUGE gap between the cylinder face and the rear of the barrel.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

11 minutes ago, German Jim said:

If it were shortened, I think there would be a HUGE gap between the cylinder face and the rear of the barrel.

Only shortened enough to give clearance for BP fouling. Much like what needs to be done on Vaqueros when they face off the surface of the back of the barrel. Of course you also have to watch for foulong to accumulate on the cylinder pin.

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

6 minutes ago, Goody, SASS #26190 said:

Only shortened enough to give clearance for BP fouling. Much like what needs to be done on Vaqueros when they face off the surface of the back of the barrel. Of course you also have to watch for foulong to accumulate on the cylinder pin.

 

I understand.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Goody, SASS #26190 said:

Only shortened enough to give clearance for BP fouling. Much like what needs to be done on Vaqueros when they face off the surface of the back of the barrel. Of course you also have to watch for foulong to accumulate on the cylinder pin.

 

That is not the issue.  The issue is the lack of a gas ring.  You can see that from the photos posted by Injun Ryder.  In the top photo below the cylinder gap there is a metal ring sticking out fo the front of the cylinder that goes around the cylinder base pin.  This keeps BP fouling from blowing directly on the base pin.  In the second photo there is no ring on the front of the cylinder and gas from the cylinder gap blows directly on the base pin.  Not an easy fix.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find that, caliber aside, my Uberti American and Schofield are fairly accurate looking replicas.  The dimensions are off a little, but they are well made reproductions.   I don't own one, but I have handled the Uberti Russians and comparing them to real Russians I am hard pressed to see much of a difference.  Even the caliber is correct.

I have not handled any reproduction New Model 3's, but I have two real ones.   If you want to shoot black powder, that's the way to go.   IMO, the New Model 3 was the best of the lot, but the American has a coolness factor that is hard to deny.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

20 hours ago, Abilene, SASS # 27489 said:

The Armi San Marco Schofields from 20-25 years ago are the closest in size to originals, but they were crap quality-wise.

 

I have seen this first hand. 100% crap from my sampling of one. ;) Beautiful gun but would not, could not make through one cylinder, 5 shots without jamming. Glad that gun was not mine.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

 

PLUS ONE for Larsen E. Pettifogger.  Please also note, the Gas Ring/Bushing in the original Sample Example has a unique pattern or "hour glass shape" which is designed to deflect gun gas away from the cylinder face.

 

S&W were also kind enough to screw up their own Replicant.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

1 hour ago, Warden Callaway said:

Doing some research,  there were clones made in Germany and Spain way back when S&W were still making them.  Do these show up for sale?  Are they shooters?

 

I have a Spanish copy of a Merwin and Hulbert, and it is an excellent firearm.   I would assume that other European "knockoffs" would be of similar quality.   I can't see them going to all the trouble of creating a copy and it not being a good shooter.   The locals would have just spent the extra money/effort on a real one if the local reproductions were not serviceable.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Have you looked at the Beretta Laramie?

I don't shoot black powder, but they get style points.

Wells Fargo model with 5 inch barrels in .38

Just a thought,

Coyote Kid

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Beretta Laramie (made by Uberti) was discontinued over ten years ago.  It was a marketing flop and the few CAS shooters that bought one found out the adjustable rear sight made it ineligible for many SASS categories.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

7 minutes ago, Larsen E. Pettifogger, SASS #32933 said:

The Beretta Laramie (made by Uberti) was discontinued over ten years ago.  It was a marketing flop and the few CAS shooters that bought one found out the adjustable rear sight made it ineligible for many SASS categories.

 

That was the basis for this modification allowance:

Quote

The Beretta “Laramie” rear latch with the adjustable rear sight may be replaced with the rear latch (with fixed sight) from the “Russian” Model to be allowed as a fixed sight model revolver.

SHB p.35

  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Thanks everyone for all the info. After reading what everyone has said, I think I may try and find an original or antique foreign copy.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/16/2021 at 8:40 AM, Dantankerous said:

 

I have seen this first hand. 100% crap from my sampling of one. ;) Beautiful gun but would not, could not make through one cylinder, 5 shots without jamming. Glad that gun was not mine.

Yep, that was my experience also.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Howdy

 

Larsen is correct. Shooting Black Powder successfully in a S&W Top Break has nothing to do with the barrel/cylinder gap. It is all about the bushing on the front of the cylinder protecting the cylinder arbor from fouling blasted out of the barrel/cylinder gap.

 

This is the cylinder from an original S&W Schofield made in 1875. Notice the bushing pressed into the front of the cylinder. Notice the bushing is outside the extractor rod and its spring.

 

plqUyDtfj

 

 

 

 

In this photo, the cylinder is lined up to the cylinder arbor, which is hollow.

 

popW499Rj

 

 

 

 

The cylinder is sliding onto the arbor in this photo. Notice the bushing on the front of the cylinder remains on the outside of the arbor.

 

pmBCDBjDj

 

 

 

 

in this photo, the cylinder is seated all the way. The top arrow is pointing to the front face of the cylinder. The lower arrow is pointing to the front face of the cylinder bushing. Notice there is horizontal separation between the two. When Black Powder fouling is blasted out of the barrel cylinder gap, it is blasted out pretty much in one plane. The horizontal separation between the barrel/cylinder gap and the front of the bushing is what keeps the fouling from being deposited on the cylinder arbor. Fouling blasted onto the arbor is what causes a revolver to bind when fired with Black Powder, it has very little to do with how wide the barrel/cylinder gap is.

 

Smith and Wesson perfected this design way back in 1869 with their #3 American Model Top Break and it worked like a charm. Colt followed suit in 1873 with the Single Action Army which also had a bushing fitted to the front of the cylinder for the same purpose. Look at any replica of a Colt today, even a Ruger, and you will see a bushing on the front of the cylinder.

 

pnYTXoIEj

 

 

 

 

OK, what happened in 1875 with the Schofield revolvers is S&W had been building all their #3 Top Breaks with a cylinder 1 7/16" long. This was plenty long enough for the 44 S&W American cartridge as well as the 44 Russian cartridge. When S&W was talking to the Army about a contract for a Top Break, the army was already using the 45 Colt cartridge, which was too long for a 1 7/16" cylinder. S&W was in the middle of building over 150,000 Russian models, mostly for export, with 1 7/16" cylinders. They were not about to change their tooling for a cylinder and frame long enough for the 45 Colt cartridge. Instead, the Army agreed to a shorter 45 caliber cartridge that would fit into a 1 7/16" long cylinder. Thus the 45 Schofield cartridge was born. S&W had no problem opening up their standard bores from 44 to 45, and the shorter cartridge meant they did not have to build new tooling for an Army contract they were not at all sure they would win. The total number of Schofield revolvers made was just under 9,000. S&W was happy they did not have to change their tooling and interrupt their huge orders for the Russian model.

 

What happened more recently was Uberti, (and ASM before them) wanted to chamber more common cartridges such as 45 Colt or 44-40 in their replicas of the Schofield and Russian models. These cartridges were longer than the 44 Russian and 45 Schofield cartridges and would not fit, just like with the originals. So Uberti  'stretched' the cylinder to make it long enough to accommodate the longer cartridges. Unfortunately they did not stretch the frame the same amount for the longer cylinder. Instead, they shortened the cylinder bushing at the front of the cylinder. Some folks will tell you they got rid of the bushing, which is incorrect. But the new bushing was too short to adequately shield the underlying arbor from fouling blasted out of the barrel/cylinder gap and they tend to jam quickly when fired with Black Powder.

 

Disclaimer: It is possible to shoot Black Powder out of the modern replicas, but one has to go to the trouble of using lots of BP compatible bullet lube on the bullets, and perhaps goop extra lube into the chambers in front of the bullets.

 

The Model 0f 2000 Schofields, which S&W built between 2000 and 2002 were not designed for Black Powder. I had the chance to examine one in a shop just a few weeks ago. In addition to having a frame mounted firing pin, unlike the originals which always had the firing pin on the hammer, there is almost no bushing at all on the front of the cylinder. So shooting Black Powder out of one would be problematic. Although only chambered for 45 Schofield, the cylinder is considerably longer than it needs to be, resulting in the reduced cylinder bushing. I wish I had had a tape measure with me that day so I could have measured how long the cylinder was.

 

For those not aware of it, there were five separate models of the big Number Three Top Breaks.

 

The American Model

 

The Russian Model

 

The Schofield,

 

The New Model Number Three

 

The 44 Double Action.

 

Currently Taylors is importing a replica of the American Model.  It looks a lot like this. This is actually a 1st Model Russian, which was visually identical to the American Model, the only difference was the American Model was chambered for the 44 S&W American cartridge, which used a heeled bullet.

 

pl6Wef70j

 

 

 

 

This is a Schofield.  Notice the serpentine shaped barrel latch near the hammer. The Schofield was the only S&W Top Break that used that style latch, and S&W had to pay a royalty to Colonel Scofield for every one of these revolvers they made because he held a patent on the latch. Notice the nicely rounded grip.

 

po2ipRb2j

 

 

 

 

This is a Russian model. Specifically, it is the 2nd Model Russian. Notice the large, pointed hump on the grip. S&W called this a 'knuckle'. The Russians specified the big knuckle to prevent the grip from rotating in the hand during recoil. It does a very good job of this. Unfortunately, all S&W #3 Top Breaks have a long reach to the hammer spur. Longer than a Colt. I always shoot these revolvers with one hand. I have fairly large hands, but in order to reach the hammer spur with my thumb I have to regrip and put the palm of my hand against that pointy hump. Then I have to regrip again to get my hand back below the hump. If I forget, and fire the revolver with the point against my palm it hurts. Even with a fairly light recoiling round like 44 Russian. For this reason I always recommend shooters buy the Schofield model, not the Russian model. I find the Schofield model much easier to shoot, I allow the grip to rotate in my hand in recoil. This brings the hammer spur closer to my thumb so I can cock it. The I flip the revolver slightly to regrip and get my hand back where I want it for shooting. About the spur on the trigger guard, there have been all sorts of reasons proposed for why the Russians wanted it. My own thought is it is just a European stye embellishment, nothing more.

 

po79otSDj

 

 

 

 

This is a New Model Number Three. This is what the Laramie was based on. The NM#3 was the best of the S&W big #3 Top Breaks. These were chambered for something like 13 different cartridges, but 44 Russian was the most popular. I actually have two of these, both chambered for 44 Russian, and I like to bring them to a match a couple of times a year. This model was never chambered for 45 Colt, but it was chambered for 44-40 and a few were chambered for 38-40. S&W lengthened the cylinders and frames by 1/8" for those cartridges. Notice the grip shape, very similar to a modern K frame S&W revolver.

 

plfqz6z6j

 

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
  • Like 4
  • Thanks 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

I've shot a pair of Uberti Russian 3-5 stages on a few shoots with straight BP, 1/20 lead bullet & BP lube.

 

Yes, I agree that the problem is the Uberti not having a gas ring that is under the forcing cone cone.  (as seen in Driftwoods' excellent pics)

 

But...

I have thought about filling or having machined the area just above the forcing cone to the same contour as an original.

I have a few originals to compare to. 

The Uberti profile looks to be blocking/redirecting BP fouling down & in instead of out & away.

On the originals you can see daylight left to right above the forcing cone & the area is profiled differently.

 

Also the edges of the cylinder flutes on the front edge of the cylinder are much less contoured on the Uberti than on the originals.

I would again think this would help reduce fouling.

 

Fun to shoot but it would me nice to be able to get thru a 6 stage match without cleaning & fiddling.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Looks like the cylinder can be taken off easily with no tools.  How hard would it to be to pull the cylinder off back at the cart and scrub up the cylinder face and where it sets on the the frame before the next stage?

Link to comment
Share on other sites

21 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

Looks like the cylinder can be taken off easily with no tools.  How hard would it to be to pull the cylinder off back at the cart and scrub up the cylinder face and where it sets on the the frame before the next stage?

 

Nobody has tried this?  

Link to comment
Share on other sites

23 hours ago, Warden Callaway said:

Looks like the cylinder can be taken off easily with no tools.  How hard would it to be to pull the cylinder off back at the cart and scrub up the cylinder face and where it sets on the the frame before the next stage?

 

I don't shoot BP in my S&W's but after awhile, the extractor mechanism gets fouled. The cylinder face is OK. In order to clean the extractor mechanism, the two screws on the rear sight must be removed, the cylinder removed, the extractor mechanism disassembled (LH threads on the S&W), cleaned, lubed and reassembled (I use some loctite), reinstall the cylinder and rear sight. 

 

Doing this during a match would be quite annoying. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

This video shows a Uberti Russian.   About 9-1/2" minutes into it he takes the cylinder out by loosing a big thumb screw on top and slipping the cylinder off. I thought some models had a button ahead of the hinge that released the cylinder. 

 

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

On 7/19/2021 at 3:44 PM, Warden Callaway said:

This video shows a Uberti Russian.   About 9-1/2" minutes into it he takes the cylinder out by loosing a big thumb screw on top and slipping the cylinder off. I thought some models had a button ahead of the hinge that released the cylinder. 

 

Howdy Again

 

You have far more patience than I do. I don't have the patience to sit through amateur videos where the author blabs and blabs instead of getting to the point in a timely manner.

 

Anyway, yes, Uberti makes a replica of the 3rd Model Russian. This model had a knurled screw on the top strap for easy removal of the cylinder. My Russian is a 2nd Model, which did not have that knurled screw, instead there is a small slotted screw. It's been a long time since I took my Russian apart, but I seem to remember that screw has to be loosened a bit.

 

poBtL2cuj

 

 

 

 

Then the retainer piece visible in this view can be slid out so the cylinder can be removed. As I say, it is a long time since I did this, and I don't really want to try it right now.

 

poommuI7j

 

 

 

 

So yes, popping the cylinder out of a modern replica of the 3rd Model Russian to clean the cylinder and cylinder arbor underneath would probably be a viable option.

 

 

 

 

The Schofield Model is different. In this view you can see I have removed one screw and the barrel part of the latch can than be rotated up so the cylinder can be slid off the arbor. On the originals the screw in question had half of its shank machined away. That way the screw did not have to be removed, only turned about half way and the piece in question was free to rotate up. I do not know what the screw on the current Uberti replicas looks like, if it too can be turned halfway or needs to be removed to lift the piece in question.

 

popW499Rj

 

 

 

 

So with an Uberti Schofield one would need a small screwdriver to remove the cylinder and clean the cylinder arbor and cylinder face of Black Powder fouling. It appears the cylinder on the Uberti replica of the Russian model can be removed without tools. Which, by the way, is probably why S&W changed the screw to a knurled screw with the 3rd Model Russian.

 

 

 

 

 

By the way, the 1858 Remington New Model Army had no gas bushing on the front of the cylinder. They and their modern replicas are particularly prone to binding when fired with Black Powder because of this and because the cylinder pin is so thin. Notice helical relief cut on the arbor of the my Russian model. All S&W #3 Top Breaks had a cut like that on the arbor. It served as a clearance cut for any soot that had gotten past the bushing. The soot would tend to collect in the groove and not bind up the cylinder. I do not know if the current Uberti replicas have such a groove. Anyway, when I shoot my 1858 replica with 45 Colt ammunition loaded with Black Powder, I have to remove the cylinder every time to poke out the empties and reload. I take that opportunity to wipe off the face of the cylinder with a damp rag, since I have to remove the cylinder to reload anyway. Notice the grooves I cut in the cylinder pin on my old Remmie. The thought was the grooves could hold extra BP lube to help keep it running. Not very successful, however I have seen examples on another board where a shooter performed more surgery on the cylinder in of one of these with better results.

 

plHhasuij

Edited by Driftwood Johnson, SASS #38283
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Join the conversation

You can post now and register later. If you have an account, sign in now to post with your account.

Guest
Reply to this topic...

×   Pasted as rich text.   Paste as plain text instead

  Only 75 emoji are allowed.

×   Your link has been automatically embedded.   Display as a link instead

×   Your previous content has been restored.   Clear editor

×   You cannot paste images directly. Upload or insert images from URL.

Loading...
 Share

×
×
  • Create New...

Important Information

By using this site, you agree to our Terms of Use.