|Fuzzy and far away.|
I started looking at old pictures, and immediately noticed that something wasn't right with the trigger. It was too far forward to be a single action New Model Number 3. And the trigger didn't match those of the later double action Number 3s. Perhaps it was a single action with a broken trigger. And look, a box of Winchester ammunition was found with it. Could it be a rare New Model Number 3 chambered in .38-44 Winchester?
The one thing I failed to notice in the picture was the relative size of the revolver to the ammunition box. Had I paid attention to that detail, I wouldn't have gotten my hopes up. As it turns out, this revolver is not a Smith & Wesson New Model Number Three. When the clerk at the gun counter brought it out, I immediately recognized from the size of the gun that this was something else.
|Mystery gun compared to a replica Schofield.|
How did I know? Because I have a replica of a Schofield Detective, which is an early variant S&W Model Number Three. This thing was tiny by comparison. So what the fudge did I have here? Some 1950's replica, made when pop culture was all about reliving the days of the Wild West. Was it even a real gun?
|National Arms Co. New York, USA|
The top of the barrel is labeled "National Arms Co., New York, U.S.A." I had never heard of the National Arms Co. And so I looked it up. There's only one problem with that. The National Arms Company went out of business in 1870, and their claim to fame was circumventing the Rollin White patent, which at the time was assigned to Smith & Wesson. So that didn't match. And I seriously doubted this was a nickel plated gun from the 1860s.
A little snooping around on the net, and I came across this page from a Sears & Roebuck catalog:
|$2.95 is a good price, if you ask me.|
What I have here is a revolver marketed by Sears as a "pocket pistol". These days, a pocket pistol is a semi-auto that can be carried in the front pocket of a pear of jeans. But back in the day a "pocket pistol" was meant to fit the pocket of man's suit coat.
These guns were designed and manufactured by Andrew Fryberg & Sons of Worcester, MA. Sears bought out Fryberg in 1904 and the company became the Meridian Firearms Company. That was pretty fortuitous of Sears, as two years later Winchester would refuse to sell any more guns to Sears. But Meridian didn't last long, and in 1918 Sears closed it down.
So why does mine say "National Arms Co."? At the time, Sears had a habit of relabeling guns to meet certain marketing needs, often rebranding them with the names of defunct manufacturers.
|A top break Meridian Firearms revolver in .38 S&W,|
reminiscent of the S&W New Model Number 3.
Sold in either .32 S&W or .38 S&W, this one is chambered in .38. The cylinder freely rotates until the hammer is cocked and then it appears to lookup properly. The single action trigger pull is stiff, and the double action trigger pull is sure to cause a shot to drift yards off target. It could probably use some oil down in the inner workings.
As a 100+ year old gun, the action is probably passable but word around the net is that I shouldn't attempt to shoot this with modern ammunition as the pressure spikes would likely blow it up, and that the metal used by the Meridian Firearms Company was not the best for standing the test of time. So this family heirloom will become a safe queen: a little bit of history my Grandfather felt he needed to hide from the family.
|A notice in the Sears catalog that Meridian keeps a list of the names of|
all its customer and freely opens that list to law enforcement.
Customers are required to provide two character references to purchase
Meridian pocket pistols.