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SMITH & WESSON MODEL No. 2 “OLD MODEL ARMY” REVOLVER – MODIFIED BELLY GUN - GREAT FRONTIER APPEARANCE:  Modified to be carried as a “belly gun” or a “hide out”, this Smith & Wesson Model No. 2 “Old Model Army” Revolver has definite eye appeal and is evocative of the gamblers, ne’er do wells and ladies of the evening who plied their trades in the saloons and gambling halls of the frontier towns.  According to Smith & Wesson production records, this particular revolver – Serial Number 41654 - was likely manufactured in the year immediately following the end of the Civil War, and would fit well into any Western, or Gambling and Saloon display or collection.  

In order to conceal this pistol in the owner’s clothing, the barrel was cut to just a hair under 1 ¾” long, and the rammer pin was removed from under the barrel.  As incongruous as it may seem, the gun smith performing the modifications went to the additional effort of cutting a dove tail mortise in the remaining top rib of the barrel for the installation of a front sight.  Not only would the usefulness of a front sight be somewhat questionable on a barrel this short, but the protruding front sight blade would interfere with the very purpose of shortening the barrel in the first place – that is creating an easily concealed, and more importantly, an easily deployed short barrel pistol for self defense.    Apparently the front sight was never installed or was removed shortly after the pistol was put to use, as the mortise has the same patina as the surrounding metal.  All of these  alterations were nicely done and the surfaces show evidence of wear since the cuts were made, indicating the modifications were done during the period of use when such a belly gun would have been necessary and easily carried under a vest, in a coat pocket, or a ladies purse.   

The butt strap and interior surface of the grip panel bear matching serial numbers, and the barrel boss, cylinder and frame (under the grip panels) bear the same three digit factory assembly number.  The hammer and trigger are mechanically crisp, the cylinder indexes properly, and the barrel hinge is solid with only a very minor amount of play.  The only quirk this one has is one common to many Model No. 2’s that have seen any use – the spring that applies tension to the cylinder stop on the top strap has weakened with age, allowing the cylinder to advance after the hammer is cocked.  This is a fairly simple repair should you choose, but as it is; it does not appreciably affect the appeal of this pistol.   Chambered for the .32 Rimfire Long cartridge, the bore is bright and the rifling clear and strong, and chambers of the cylinder are likewise all bright.  The exterior metal surfaces have a soft gray, even patina, with some traces of original blue remaining in the protected or shielded areas.  The original rosewood grips still retain much of their original finish and are in very nice condition save a single sliver of wood missing from the rear edge of the right panel.    

Overall, this unique and eye-catching Smith & Wesson has survived the years in respectable condition, showing all the signs of truly having been witness to many a interesting turn of the cards, and  perhaps more than its fair share of frontier excitement without being abused or neglected.  These “belly guns” have become quite popular in recent years and it is always a treat to be able to introduce one as nice as this one to the market.  (0222)  $625



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