.32RF long Smith & Wesson Model 2 Army

Maker: Smith & Wesson

Caliber: .32RF long

Date: 1864

Status: Original condition, in collection

Marked SMITH.&.WESSON.SPRINGFIELD.MASS. on top of the barrel and serial number 23026 on the butt. On the cylinder its marked PATENTED APRIL 3.1855.JULY 5.1859&DEC 18.1863

The Smith & Wesson Model 2 Army was introduced in 1861 and made till 1872 and in that time 77.155 revolvers Model 2 were made.
S&W was producing a similar looking but much smaller size revolver in .22 Short called Model 1 since 1857. The Model 2 was basically a scaled up version of the Model 1.
The model 2 was a six shot were the Model 1 was a seven shot revolver. Later, in 1865 S&W introduced a revolver that came in between, the model 1 1/2. The Model 1 1/2 was also a .32RF long but could be made on a smaller frame than the Model 2 because it was a five shot revolver in stead of a six shot. The model 1 1/2 was sold as a 'pocket size' revolver and the Model 2 as a Navy revolver.

Civil War use: The S&W Model 2 was never sold on Government contract but was a popular personal sidearm which the soldiers had to buy them selves. Often soldiers bought a handgun them selves for extra protection what can be understood since some were equipped with single shot rifles. Model 2 revolvers with a serial number under 35731 are produced before the end of the war and thus can be one of those personal sidearms.

The Model 2 was offered in three barrel lengths, 4", 5", 6" and there is at least one and possible more made in 8".

Shown with the correct .32RF long cartridges
Loaded with .32RF long cartridges.
For loading the barrel has to be tipped up and cilinder removed. (shown are incorrect .32RF short cartridges)
For ejecting empty cases there is a special rod mounted under the barrel.

The Model 2 was offered in three barrel lengths, 4", 5", 6" and there is at least one and possible more made in 8".
Variations: The model 1 was made in three variations (or issues as S&W calls it) with significant differences and the model 1 1/2 was made in two variations. The Model 2 was basically made in one issue with only a small production variations. The number of pins holding the cylinder stop is the most significant. At first there were 2 pins, one acting as hinge pin, the other holds the spring in place. The cylinder stop has no maximum travel and when cached with clothing or a holster it could break. This was solved by adding an extra pin to maximize the travel, this is found on serial numbers up from 3000.
With serial number 23026 my Model 2 is most probably from April 1864. (a factory letter is requested)

On this site a book about the S&W model 2 is mentioned.
Also there is a lot to read about the model 2 and all kind of small variations.

* (from the book History of Smith and Wesson by R. Jinks)

2-pin on top, 3-pin below.(*)
2-pin variation
3-pin variation

Loading and cocking

To load the revolvers model 1, 1 1/2 and 2 the barrel has to be tipped up and the cylinder removed in order to load the cartridges in the cylinder. Un-loading and removing shot cases goes the same way. For removing shot cases a special rod is mounted under the barrel. The cylinder stop acts as a rear sight on the moment the gun is cocked. The cylinder stop is actuated by the hammer, a simple but good working system. On the hammer there is a cam which when cocking moves the cylinder stop upwards and so freeing the cylinder. When cocked or uncocked the cylinder stop is not actuated and locks the cylinder.

Uncocked. Cylinder can't rotate.
Cocking. The hammer lifts the cylinder stop and the cylinder rotates.
Cocked. Cylinder can't rotate.


Shooting with antique guns is controversial. When making a mistake a gun can be ruined. Also not all antique guns are safe to fire. This revolver however is in a that good condition that I did dare to shoot it and the result was very satisfying! After maybe a pause from more than a hundred years it had to shoot 5 rounds and did hit the target well enough!
Of course I did not shoot with antique ammo, that would be unsafe to do so and to costly. HC collection, a French company offers special cartridges for a lot of antique calibers and I bought a try out set of 5 rounds.