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Teddy Roosevelt S&W

From the Vault: Teddy Roosevelt's Smith & Wesson No. 3

one year ago

Get ready to feel a "history rush" because Steve and Keith are back Rock Island Auction Co. with what Keith calls two of the coolest guns he's ever seen. It's a pair of Smith & Wesson Model 3 revolvers, the first owned by Theodore Roosevelt, one of our nation's most famous and colorful presidents. This Model 3's provenance proves it was personally ordered by TR from the Smith & Wesson factory and delivered to him the day he shipped out for the Spanish-American War.

But Roosevelt didn't carry this gun on the famous charge up San Juan Hill. Instead, he carried a Colt Model 1892 revolver salvaged from the wreck of the USS Maine. (Who else but Teddy Roosevelt would do that?!) This No. 3 is chambered in .38 Long Colt, the U.S. Army's standard caliber of the time. There is tasteful engraving on the frame, cylinder, and rear of the barrel. Note the beautifully contoured and checkered "diamond" grips. But wait, there's more!

The guys also have a much plainer S&W Model 3 that was owned by TR's good friend, Gen. Leonard Wood, after whom Fort Leonard Wood is named. Gen. Wood ordered this revolver from the factory in 1905 when he was governor of the Moro Province in the Philippines, during the Moro Rebellion. It is chambered in .44 S&W American (aka .44 American), and it has obviously been carried and fired a lot. Despite that, the lockup is still tight as a tick. Note the "dragoon"-style triggerguard.

The Smith & Wesson Model 3 is a top-break revolver like the British Webley. In order to load it, you push up on the release lever with your thumb, tip the front of the barrel down, and as the back of the cylinder tips up, the leverage automatically activates ejectors that boot spent the cases out of all 6 chambers at once.

Officers frequently supplied their own sidearms in those days. Smith & Wesson preferred to sell their guns through dealers. But if you were important and famous enough, like Roosevelt and Wood, you could order your custom revolver directly from the factory.