Smith & Wesson Model 320
|Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving Rifle|
|Place of origin||United States|
|Manufacturer||Smith & Wesson|
|Feed system||6-round cylinder|
|Sights||fixed front post and rear notch|
The Smith & Wesson Model 320 is the rarest Smith & Wesson in existence and highly prized by collectors.
The Smith & Wesson Model 320 revolving rifle was based heavily on the design of the Smith & Wesson Model 3 pistol.
977 revolving rifles were manufactured between 1879 and 1887. They were serial numbered 1 to 977, with 840 being sold in the U.S. while 137 were exported.
The revolving cylinder design, while popular with pistols, did not work well for rifles. The cylinder would spray out burning powder when the weapon was fired. This was not a problem for pistols, as both hands were behind the cylinder when firing. In the rifle version, though, the shooter's left hand was in front of the cylinder, resulting in the burning powder fragments being sprayed into the shooter's left forearm at high velocity. This undesirable characteristic significantly limited the revolving rifle's popularity.
Design and features
The model 320 revolving rifle used a top break frame similar to that used on the model 3 pistol, and featured a detachable stock.
The revolving rifle used a special .32 caliber cartridge. The use of a cartridge was a significant improvement compared to the design of the Colt revolving rifle, which did not use cartridges and as a result was often subject to chain fire problems (the firing of all cylinders at once due to loose powder or residue in the weapon). While the Smith & Wesson Model 320 did not suffer from chain fire problems, the Model 320, like the Colt, tended to spray burning powder from the cylinder into the shooter's forearm.
Three barrel lengths were available, in 16, 18 and 20 inches.
"The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms" By Dean K. Boorman