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Smith & Wesson Model 3 (Schofield)

Six-Shot Revolver (1869)

Infantry Small Arms / The Warfighter

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The Smith & Wesson Model 3 was given several useful qualities in its design including an ejector system which cleared all six chambers at once.

Authored By: Staff Writer | Last Edited: 12/26/2020 | Content ©www.MilitaryFactory.com | The following text is exclusive to this site.
Smith & Wesson was established in 1852 by Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson to center on the design and production of firearms - their name today commonly associated with revolvers and pistols. In 1869 the S&W "Model 3" revolver debuted which utilized a "top-break" frame design, a Single-Action firing function, and a cartridge-based bullet. It went on to see widespread use along both civilian and military market lines and was seen from Argentina and Australia to Russia and Japan before it fell out of favor. The weapon eventually emerged in several notable forms and was primarily chambered in .44 caliber and in both American and Russian flavors. A plethora of other chamberings were witnessed over time.

The weapon weighed some three pounds in the hand and featured a standard length of 12" inches with a 6.5" long barrel. The Single-Action (SA) operation meant that the pull of the trigger affected the release of the cocked hammer - the hammer being cocked manually with each firing. Muzzle velocity was 800 feet-per-second and feeding by way of a six-round rotating cylinder surrounded by the gun frame. The top-break action design allowed the forward section of the pistol to be turned down along a hinge, providing access to the six chambers for reloading. An integrated ejector system ejected casings from all six chambers at once, speeding reloading of the weapon. Sighting was accomplished through a rear notch/front fixed post combination arrangement.

During 1870, the United States Army took on the Model 3 revolver in .44 S&W American chambering as a standard-issue sidearm - this marking it as the first cartridge-firing, standard issue revolver for the U.S. military Additional work in 1875 on a .45 caliber model produced the "Schofield Revolver" - named after Major George W. Schofield who added his expertise to the design. Two versions of the Schofield - "First Model Schofield" and "Second Model Schofield" - were eventually realized.

In 1871, approximately 41,000 Model 3's was ordered by the Imperial Russian government in .44 Russian chambering. The Russian order ultimately spanned across three major variants brought on by changes forced on the original. The initial offering was known as the "1st Model Russian" with the revised version becoming the "2nd Model Russian" mark. Still more changes ultimately led to a "3rd Russian Model" being issued. Like other classic revolvers of the period, the Model 3 was illegally copied elsewhere in the world (including Russia itself) to make for a cheaper end-product.

For 1877, the original Model 3 was out of the Smith & Wesson lineup and replaced by the aptly-titled "New Model 3" which was designed around the .44 Russian cartridge. Other chamberings eventually appeared to suit market interest. Model 3 guns survived up until about 1915 by which time more modern products had become available - including semi-automatic hand guns which looked to threaten the hold that revolvers held on the personal arms market for some time. Some saw service in World War 1 (1914-1918). By the end of it all, the Model 3 was a company success.


Service Year

United States national flag graphic
United States


Six-Shot Revolver

Smith & Wesson - USA
National flag of Argentina National flag of Australia National flag of Belgium National flag of Canada National flag of modern Japan National flag of Montenegro National flag of the Philippines National flag of Poland National flag of Russia National flag of Spain National flag of Turkey National flag of Ukraine National flag of the United States Argentina; Australia; Belgium; Canada; Imperial Japan; Imperial Russia; Montenegro (Kingdom of); Ottoman Empire (Turkey); Poland; Philippines; Spain; Ukraine; United States
(OPERATORS list includes past, present, and future operators when applicable)
Pistol / Sidearm
Compact design for close-quarters work or general self-defense.

Overall Length
305 mm
12.01 in
Barrel Length
165 mm
6.50 in
Empty Wgt
2.87 lb
1.30 kg

Iron Front and Rear.



(Material presented above is for historical and entertainment value and should not be construed as usable for hardware restoration, maintenance, or general operation - always consult official manufacturer sources for such information)


Model Dependent: .44 Russian; .44 S&W American; .38 S&W

Sample Visuals**

Graphical image of a .40 S&W (Smith & Wesson) pistol cartridge
Rounds / Feed

6-Round Rotating Cylinder
Cartridge relative size chart
*May not represent an exhuastive list; calibers are model-specific dependent, always consult official manufacturer sources.
**Graphics not to actual size; not all cartridges may be represented visually; graphics intended for general reference only.
Muzzle Velocity
800 ft/sec
(244 m/sec)

Model 3 - Base Series Designation.
Model 3 Russian, 1st Model - Variant for Russian Empire order.
Model 3 Russian, 2nd Model - Improved 1st Model
Model 3 Russian, 3rd Model - Final Russian production model.
Model 3 "Schofield" - U.S. Army variant in .44 S&W American caliber.
Model 3 New Model - Improved model of 1877; .44 Russian standard chambering though other cartridges supported through special order units.
Model 3 Australian - Model of 1882 for Australian police forces (South Australia Police).; .44 Russian chambering; 7" barrel length.

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