In 1868, the legendary firm of Smith & Wesson introduced their Model 3, a large-caliber, hinged-frame, single-action revolver. The type saw a run into 1898 with use spanning into 1915 under many national flags including the United States and Russia. The type proved reliable and of good construction but was never heavily favored in the American market where there proved reservations about a large-caliber, hinged-frame design. This prompted Smith & Wesson to introduce a new solid-framed revolver and this became the famous ".44 Hand Ejector 1st Model New Century" of 1908. Production was handled out of the Springfield, Massachusetts facility and spanned into 1915 to which 15,376 examples were eventually delivered. The weapon came to be known under its popular name of "Triple Lock" for its three-locking lugs at the cylinder crane (due to the powerful cartridge) and was the first weapon delivered by Smith & Wesson in the 20th Century - hence its official title of "1st Model New Century".
The 1st Model New Century delivered a typical revolver arrangement with an integrated handle (covered by grips), an exposed hammer, an underslung trigger group and rotating cylinder. The cylinder sat within the solid frame, the structure providing additional robustness. The weapon was chambered for six .44 Special cartridges and managed through a double-action system which cocked and released the hammer through a single trigger pull. The operator was allowed quick access to the cylinders by way of a side-opening (left) mechanism. An integrated ejection system was managed by the operator to clear the chambers quickly and effectively. The barrel measured 6.5 inches long while the weapon showcased an overall length of 11.75 inches. Weight was a handy 2lbs, 6oz.
The S&W Triple Lock saw service in World War 1 where it proved the expected reliability of Smith & Wesson revolvers. There was also a special form chambered for the British .455 Webley revolver cartridge and this saw issuance to both British and Canadian elements. These were notable not only in their chambering but in their lacking the third lug which was dropped for expediency, cost and operational simplicity. The Triple Lock went on to have favorable following with some regarding it as one of the best revolvers ever produced. The original 1st Model was then followed by the "Hand Ejector 2nd Model" which lacked the Triple Lock's third locking lug. The follow-up "Hand Ejector 3rd Model" continued the trend.
The Triple Lock form was encountered in World War 2, Korean and the Vietnam War to certain extents.
298 mm (11.73 in)
165 mm (6.50 in)
2.38 lb (1.08 kg)
Double-Action; Rotating Cylinder
S&W .44 Hand Ejector 1st Model - Initial production model appearing from 1908 to 1915; modified forms sold to Canada and Britain in .455 Webley chambered form.
S&W .44 Hand Ejector 2nd Model - Sans ejector shroud and third locking lug.
S&W .44 Hand Ejector 3rd Model - Appearing in 1926; sans Triple Lock feature.