Monday, May 28, 2007
Sunday Smith #3: .32 Hand Ejector 3rd Model, 1918
In the early 1890s Colt's debuted a solid-frame double action revolver with a cylinder that swung out to the side for loading. Smith quickly followed with their own version in 1896. Previous top-break Smiths would automatically eject the spent cases when hinged open, but the solid-frame gun with its swing-out cylinder required the shooter to manually operate the ejector rod in order to dump the empties; consequently, the new revolvers were dubbed "Hand Ejectors". The first Hand Ejectors were small revolvers in the new .32 S&W Long caliber, and their cylinders were unlatched by pulling forward on the ejector rod under the barrel. This frame size came to be known as the ".32" or "I-frame". In 1903, the I-frame was redesigned to add a thumb latch for releasing the cylinder, and a lug was added under the barrel that the ejector rod locked into by means of a detent, giving the Smith & Wesson cylinder a stronger means of locking than their Colt rivals.
The I-frame revolver in the photo above is a .32 Hand Ejector Third Model produced some time between 1911-1917. It has a factory nickel finish, a 3.25" barrel, and the factory hard rubber grips are in unusually good condition for their age. It's in fairly good shape, all things considered, with nice bright case coloring still evident on the hammer and trigger, and likely spent most of its many decades in a desk or dresser drawer providing peace of mind to a householder before its honorable retirement as a collector's piece only occasionally exercised at the range.