SOLD FOR: $8425
Make: Smith & Wesson
Model: Model 320 Revolving Rifle
Serial Number: 974
Year of Manufacture: 1886
Caliber: .320 S&W
Action Type: Top-Break Single Action Revolving Cylinder
Markings: The top of the barrel rib is marked “SMITH & WESSON SPRINGFIELD MASS. U.S.A. PAT’D JAN. 17 & 24. 65 JULY 11. 65 / AUG. 24. 69 APR. 20. 75. FEB. 20 & DEC. 18. 1877. REISSUE JULY 25. 1871”. The serial number “974” is marked on the butt of the grip frame, barrel latch, the right rear face of the barrel extension, the rear face of the cylinder, and the inside of the right grip panel. In addition to these factory markings, the left sideplate has been engraved “GHOST’S DOUBLE / USED AT / CONLIN’S GALLERY / BY ALL THE NOTED / SHOTS OF THE / COUNTRY” and the top of the grip frame (between the hammer and the knuckle is engraved “P. J. D. / NEW – YORK / 1889”.
Barrel Length: 9”
Sights / Optics: The front sight is a pinned, beaded blade that is designed to be replaceable with other front sights of different heights (none of which are provided.) The rear sight is a fixed “U” notched blade built into the top rear of the barrel latch. In addition there is the tiny and lower “U” shaped notch at the front of the barrel latch which is typical of S&W top-breaks.
Stock Configuration & Condition: The grips are checkered hard rubber that has turned brown. These grips have the S&W trade mark in a circle at the top and the diamond at the grip screw. There are a few little nicks and dings, mainly on the bottom faces. The right grip panel has a crack in the hard rubber at the grip escutcheon visible on the interior, “974” scratched into the inside, right below “1890” which has been scratched out. The forearm appears to be a smooth dark walnut with a few handling and compression marks on the exterior, a tiny chip at the left front and a crack at the escutcheon that is only visible from the inside. The grips rate in about Fine overall condition for an antique firearm.
Type of Finish: Nickel
Finish Originality: Original
Bore Condition: The bore is half bright and the rifling is visible for the full length. There is some erosion and scattered mild pitting in the bore.
Overall Condition: This handgun retains about 15% of its metal finish. The nickel largely remains along the sides of the ejector housing, barrel extension and the protected area behind the recoil shield. The majority of the finish is now a brown patina with the exception being some erosion where moisture has been trapped by the forearm. There are a few minor scabs and some areas of pinprick erosion. The barrel rib has a notable a couple dings into the metal about mid-way down the left side. The screw heads are lightly worn with strong slots. The seam where the two-piece barrel is joined at the end of the ejector housing is visible under a magnifying glass. It is also possible to discern where a dovetail blank has been fitted on the rib. The barrel rib is slotted to make it possible to replace the pinned beaded blade front sight with sights of different heights.The markings are clear. The hammer and the face of the trigger are finely checkered; the trigger guard retains its spur. Overall, this handgun rates in about Very Good condition as an antique.
Mechanics: The action functions correctly. The extractor works correctly. We did not fire this handgun. As with all used firearms, a thorough cleaning may be required to meet your maintenance standards.
Box, Paperwork & Accessories: Inlcuded are an S&W letter, a host of paperwork with information about the competitions these were used in and the men who used them, and a soft case.
Our Assessment: This is a unique S&W Model 320 Revolving Rifle, it displays a number of special features including a short forearm (roughly 2 ¾” rather than about 5”) that helps define it as a Revolving Rifle. The “rifle” does not have the notches required to secure a shoulder stock which would seem to be necessary to complete its description as a Revolving Rifle, though the lack of this feature is consistent with the shorter barrel. A close examination shows the seam where the two-piece barrel used in the Revolving Rifle was joined. Just ahead of that is an expertly fitted blank used to fill in the dovetail where the rear sight is normally fitted on the Revolving Rifle and they were generally offered in three barrel lengths: 16”, 18” and 20”, but this one has a 9″ barrel. The reason for all of these unique features is that this is a special order, it was one of two special order guns that had special specifications and were shipped to New York City, the other was serial number 973.
We believe that the famous New York City shooting gallery – Conlin’s Gallery (which in 1900 was the meeting site where the United States Revolver Association was formed) had this custom made for them by Smith & Wesson. We think that it was intended to be used as a long barreled revolver and was made by S&W with the 9” barrel and replaceable front sight feature at the factory. We believe it was used by all the participants at an 1889 match held at Conlin’s Gallery and was then offered as a prize to the winner. The inscription “P. J. D. New-York 1889” refers to Peter James Dolfen, who would later go on to medal at the 1912 Olympics as a revolver shooter (Men’s Free Pistol at 50 Meters-Silver and Team Men’s Free Pistol at 50 Meters-Gold.)
“Ghost’s Double” refers to an event held at Conlin’s – Which PJ Dolfen won. This Revolving Rifle’s serial number 974; only three more were made when production was ended at serial number 977 in 1887. This is truly a special and unique piece of Smith & Wesson’s history, as well as a testament to a time when revolver matches were a respected part of American life (even in New York City.) This will make an outstanding addition to a Smith & Wesson collection. Please see our photos and good luck!