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Interest in classic Smith & Wesson revolvers seems to be at an all-time high and this is a good thing. These guns, along with their counterparts from Colt, are the major service revolvers of the 20th century. They are the law enforcement guns we really carried and fought with. After 1911, the military was pretty well locked to you-know-what, but the coppers relied on wheelguns until late in the troubled 20th. These guns are part of American history. Both S&W and Colt revolvers were beautifully machined and fitted. The quality of the finish varied in both makes from year to year. For a moment, let’s dwell on one make, and what more than one authority has proclaimed to be “the finest revolver ever.” The gun is known as the Smith & Wesson 1st Model .44 Hand Ejector, or sometimes, as the Triple Lock. If it isn’t the best revolver ever made, I don’t know what is.

guntalk21.jpgTriple Locks were made for a fairly brief period between 1907 to 1915. They were the fourth Hand Ejector models introduced around the turn of the century. The .32 HEs came first in 1892, followed by the eternally popular .38 HEs in 1899, and the short-lived .22 HEs in 1902. In 1907, S&W brought out the .44 HE and chambered it for a brand new cartridge called the .44 Special. The gun set a new standard for power and accuracy in a big bore revolver. The .44 Special round was a lengthened version of the .44 Russian cartridge and served as the progenitor of the .44 Magnum some 50 years later. The terminology of .44 Hand Ejector refers to the fact that the shooter had to push the ejector rod in the cylinder by hand to eject the empties. In earlier break top revolvers, the ejection process is automatic when the gun is hinged open.

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