NEW! Serious Smith & Wessons
The N- and X-Frame Revolvers:
The S&W Phenomenon, Volume III
by Timothy J. Mullin
Serious Smith & Wessons is the third volume in our ongoing series on S&W revolvers. The series began with in 2012 with our 282-page title MAGNUM - The S&W .357 Magnum Phenomenon, followed in 2013 by the 502-page Volume II, titled The K-Frame Revolver. In order to facilitate reference within the series, the chapter, page and figure numbers run sequentially throughout all three volumes.
We begin with the small series of pre-production N-frame prototypes chambered for the rimmed-case version of the experimental Frankford Arsenal "Model 1906" .45 caliber cartridge, known at the factory as the ".45 S&VV Special". These were followed by another pre-production N-frame series of twelve .44 Special "Club Guns".
The First Model .44 Hand Ejector (the "New Century" or "Triple Lock"), introduced commercially in 1908, has long been considered by many to be "the finest double-action revolver in existence".
In 1915 the Triple Lock was superseded by the Second Model Hand Ejector, which did away with the third locking feature and the enclosed ejector rod. Most of these were procured for military use during WWI, in the British and Canadian ".455 Government Model" configu¬ration, or as the .45 ACP U.S. Model 1917.
The Third Model (the "Model of 1926") resurrected the distinctive ejector rod housing, and formed the basis for N-frames chambered for the beefed-up .38 Special High Velocity (.38/44) cartridge and the .357 Magnum, introduced during the nineteen-thirties.
The story continues with the military use of the Model 1917 during WWII, followed by the introduction of the new short-action N-frames (circa 1950), and the .44 Magnum, introduced in the mid-1950s.
Mention of the .44 Magnum and the later .41 Magnum, developed in 1963, introduces Elmer Keith, who was a main driving force behind both programs. From the March, 2015 auction of items from the Elmer Keith Estate we depict a number of Keith's personal N-frames, as well as his highly-modified "Number Five", the ultimate Colt Single Action.
The watershed change from model names to numbers was announced in 1957, and the firm has since introduced an ever-increasing array of new N-frame models, many constructed from stainless steel and lightweight, space-age alloys.
Most recently the N-frame lineup has been augmented by the bone-crushing S&W .460 and .500 Magnums, built on the mammoth stainless steel X-frame, the firm's largest.
Serious Smith & Wessons concludes with a comprehensive Index of all three volumes in the series.