On a recent trip back to my where I was once a police officer, I dropped by the gun store where I used to spend a lot of time—The Stockade, in Westminster, Calif. Tucked back in one of the display cases was a type of Smith & Wesson revolver that I had never handled. A conversation ensued, money changed hands, and I now own yet another S&W revolver. The little gun—a S&W Model One-and-a-Half, 2nd issue—is far too old to ever fire. I got it as a piece of history, and it is easily the oldest handgun I own. In its day, the 1 1/2 was a big seller for the Springfield plant, with over a 100,000 units made. Its day was right after the Civil War (1868-1875).
A hinged-frame revolver, this one is of the tip-up type, where the frame-barrel hinge is on the top, front corner of the frame. The revolver has a 4-inch, round and ribbed barrel. There are five chambers in the fluted cylinder. S&W used fancy rosewood for the round butt grips, which remain in excellent condition. A single action, the little revolver fires via a sheathed trigger. It is chambered for a .32 rimfire cartridge. Interestingly, there is no extractor system. To punch out the fired round, you open the action, pull the cylinder forward off its axis, invert it and run each chamber in sequence down on the rod.
It is a small and compact revolver with an almost toylike nature. Nevertheless, it was serious gear back when the grand old company was young and full of vigor. The little Smith is a tangible link to days gone by.