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S&W Antiques S&W Lever Action Pistols, Tip-Up Revolvers, Top-Break Revolvers, and ALL Single Shots


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  #1  
Old 06-03-2009, 06:03 PM
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What Gun Killed Jesse James? What Gun Killed Jesse James?  
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Some guy named Bob Ford, if memory serves, shot Jesse James in the back with a topbreak S&W.

Was it a Schofield or a New Model No. 3 in .44 Russian? Memory fails me.

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Old 06-03-2009, 06:56 PM
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Okay, but was it a single-action or a DA Frontier?

Can you post a photo? Thanks,

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Old 06-03-2009, 07:06 PM
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http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Ford_(outlaw)

Here's a Wikipedia entry showing Ford with a Colt SAA which he said was the gun!

My guess is that the S&W was confiscated when Ford was arrested, and he bought the Colt later, to pose with.
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Old 06-03-2009, 07:48 PM
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The gun was a .44 Russian caliber New Model SA No. 3 serial number 3766. The Coroner's report called in a Colt revolver, but the serial number listed for the gun in the evidence locker was the serial number for a S&W New Model. For years some researchers and writers called it a Colt, in various articles, probably based on the picture of Bob Ford with a Colt SA. According to a newspaper article in the Baltimore Morning Herald,Jan 2, 1904, The gun was Jesses's originally and he had given it to Bob Ford. Bob Ford presented the gun to a Col. Corydon F. Craig, at the time of the shooting. Later the S&W factory engraved the side plate "BOB FORD KILLED JESSE JAMES WITH THIS REVOLVER AT ST. JOSEPH. MP. 1882" Ford tried to collect the $10,000 reward for James from the Gov. of Missouri, but it was never paid, however he was pardoned by the Gov. Col Craig was the young son of the sheriff of St. Joseph, Mo. at the time of the shooting, and was given the gun in gratitude for the nice treatment Ford received during his stay in the St. Joseph jail. Craig lated sold the gun to a friend, James Gary Jr. The gun went through several hands and was stolen, but recoved and sold again at auction in 1993 for $160,000. Ford was killed in a gun fight in Creede, CO. in 1892, by shootist Ed O'Kelley's double barrelled shotgun. The gun was auctioned off again by the 1993 buyer at Little John's auction Nov. 19, 2003 for $385,000. ( I was a bidder, but not the high bidder!) Ed.
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Old 06-04-2009, 04:25 AM
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This was the only picture I could find on google images:
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Old 06-04-2009, 11:47 AM
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Quote:
Originally posted by opoefc:
The gun was a .44 Russian caliber New Model SA No. 3 serial number 3766. The Coroner's report called in a Colt revolver, but the serial number listed for the gun in the evidence locker was the serial number for a S&W New Model..... Ed.
Interesting!
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Old 06-04-2009, 09:44 PM
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Twaits, That picture is the gun. I took it all apart before the auction and all numbers match, except the grips did not have a number that I could see. It was probably penciled on the back of the right grip panel at one time, but has faded, or perhaps the factory put on new grips when they did the inscription engraving. Both Frank James and Bob Ford were known to have sold off various guns after Jesse's death, each claiming "this is the gun that put poor Jesse in his grave!" One midwestern museum exhibited a Colt revolver for some years as "the gun" until a collector pointed out that the gun's serial number indicated it was made 5 years after Jesse was killed. Ed.
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Old 06-08-2009, 09:33 PM
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There is a long article in the current (summer 2009) issue of Guns of the Old West. It is titled " The Gun That Killed Jesse James" "S&W New Model No. 3 that gunned down America's most famous outlaw!"

It includes pictures of the gun shown above.

Ken
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Old 06-09-2009, 10:52 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by opoefc View Post
Twaits, That picture is the gun. I took it all apart before the auction and all numbers match, except the grips did not have a number that I could see. It was probably penciled on the back of the right grip panel at one time, but has faded, or perhaps the factory put on new grips when they did the inscription engraving. Both Frank James and Bob Ford were known to have sold off various guns after Jesse's death, each claiming "this is the gun that put poor Jesse in his grave!" One midwestern museum exhibited a Colt revolver for some years as "the gun" until a collector pointed out that the gun's serial number indicated it was made 5 years after Jesse was killed. Ed.

Thats really cool Ed. Just handling a piece of history like that must have been such a rush!
You're lucky just to have held it!
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Old 06-09-2009, 12:58 PM
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The auction house values my opinions on collectable firearms, especially S&Ws, so asked me to provide same on the originality of the revolver, etc. as they wanted to be sure there were no ticking time bombs somewhere that could come back to haunt them after the sale. That had happened to them in the past on some clever fakes that both the consignor & the auction house had thought were the real deal. I mainly checked for replaced parts, correct fitters & assemblers stamps, etc. and verified as much of the written provenance I could in a short time. I could not verify, but I couldn't disprove it either, the story that the factory added the engraved inscription 20ys after the fact, as there was no quick & certain way to find the original return & engraving paperwork & invoice in the S&W archives at the CVHM, but the gun is what it is and the engraved inscription doesn't devalue the gun, in my opinion. Several stories have come down over time, that this gun was one of a pair, so collectors need to ferret out where that missing mate may be. Hint: Get a factory letter fron Roy on the inscribed gun. If it was shipped as a pair, identify the serial number of the other gun, and start your hunt! Good Luck! Ed.
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Old 06-09-2009, 04:04 PM
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Ed,

Were there original police documents that stated the serial number of the gun that killed Jesse James?
I thought for a while, like many others, that it was a Colt simply because thats what people said for years (because of that one picture of Bob Ford with the Colt).

If you haven't seen the movie "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford", I believe they used the correct S&W in the scene where Ford shoots James.
If you know about the gun in the movie, do you know if it was a reproduction or the real thing? The gun in the movie appeared to be in new in the box condition.

-Erik
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Old 06-09-2009, 10:53 PM
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Erik, Yes, I remember the movie and recall that a S&W was the revolver used in the movie, but I have no knowledge about that particular gun. I'm sure, however it wasn't the actual gun used by Howard, as the owner of the real gun would never have allowed it to be used in a movie, I don't believe. There are evidence notes and a sheriff/coroner's report that call the gun a Colt, but gave the serial number of a S&W New Model No. 3 Other documents, correctly call the gun a S&W. Most LEOs, then and now, are ignorant about guns, with few exceptions, and call revolvers automatics and repeating rifle machine guns. No wonder the media never gets it right either! I still recall the TV coverage of Kennedy's asassination, where the Dallas LEO was holding up the Carcano carbine found in the Texas Book Depositoiry bld. for the media crowd, and proudly claiming he had recovered an "automatic Mauser rifle !" Ed.
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Old 07-29-2009, 07:53 PM
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and that S&W Jesse had given to Ford as a present!! is the one that he killed him with.
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:02 PM
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If you visit the house Jesse was killed in, in St Joseph, MO, they have a pistol on display next to the hole in the wall where Jesse was shot.
It is a double action that was manufactured after his death.
Since, the bullet that killed him did not exit, I wondered about the "bullet hole" in the wall as well
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Old 07-29-2009, 08:13 PM
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oh i should have said the gun in the movie was the same one as given him to him by jesse was used we tvo it and went back and forth so many time's in slow and fast motion it was funny my wife son and me agureing lol Yes now that you mention it it was a Dlb action i remember now when I went there back in 1980-86 sometime when I was stationed @ Ft. Worthleaven was what we called it!! I wish I still had the movie on tvo I think that one was a dlb action also cant remember but think it was oh well you guy's really know your stuff every day i spend some hours just reading your post and have really learned alot!! what I know mostly about revolvers has bee self taught by read books and watching DVD's on Gun and tv and the Army
thanks guy's and gal's
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Old 08-01-2009, 03:58 PM
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Quote:
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oh i should have said the gun in the movie was the same one as given him to him by jesse was used we tvo it and went back and forth so many time's in slow and fast motion it was funny my wife son and me agureing lol Yes now that you mention it it was a Dlb action i remember now when I went there back in 1980-86 sometime when I was stationed @ Ft. Worthleaven was what we called it!! I wish I still had the movie on tvo I think that one was a dlb action also cant remember but think it was oh well you guy's really know your stuff every day i spend some hours just reading your post and have really learned alot!! what I know mostly about revolvers has bee self taught by read books and watching DVD's on Gun and tv and the Army
thanks guy's and gal's
The one in the current Jessie James movie with Bradd Pitt is exactly like the original gun that I posted a picture of at the beginning of this thread. Single action.
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Old 08-01-2009, 04:32 PM
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http://www.imfdb.org/index.php/Assas...Robert_Ford%2C


Check the above site for the movie guns, all of which I believe were either USFA or Uberti repros. One story I heard was that Brad Pitt
liked his 7.5 SAA so much he bought it or just kept it as his own after
filming. It was his production company, I belive.

The above site also contains hundreds of "movie guns" used in films or at least the types used in films. Look at the box in the left corner and pick
"Movies." An alphabetical list will come up.
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Old 08-01-2009, 07:38 PM
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Conflicting reports but good information guys. I can only add the truth . . .

The gun that killed Jessie James was the OTHER GUY'S gun! LOL

T.
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Old 08-09-2009, 07:56 AM
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As an aside, a few years ago a professor from George Washington University exhumed Jesse to try to establish that his was actually the body buried in the grave. I talked with the professor afterwards to see if he found any evidence that would show it was a S&W vs. a Colt. He said he didn't find the bullet and the characteristics of the wound didn't provide any clues.
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Old 08-13-2009, 01:12 PM
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I think the recent issue of Guns Of The Old West has an article on the Jesse James gun.
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Old 08-16-2009, 01:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by twaits View Post
I think the recent issue of Guns Of The Old West has an article on the Jesse James gun.
Quote:
Originally Posted by CowboyKen View Post
There is a long article in the current (summer 2009) issue of Guns of the Old West. It is titled " The Gun That Killed Jesse James" "S&W New Model No. 3 that gunned down America's most famous outlaw!"

It includes pictures of the gun shown above.

Ken
Yes, it does.

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Old 08-15-2018, 10:29 AM
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Quote:
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Interesting!
Nearest SN I have is 3813, 6.5" Nickel, came from Montana to me about 25 years ago. All my Model 3s are lettered excepting very few. This is one of the few I have not yet "lettered".
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:10 PM
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The thread is a zombie, but very interesting. Thanks for bringing it back up!

Too bad the picture of the gun seems no longer accessible.
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Old 08-15-2018, 01:16 PM
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Great thread, very interesting
Walt
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Old 08-15-2018, 02:22 PM
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I am currently reading "Shot All To Hell" about the Northfield bank robbery. Good read. I found a used copy on Amazon for less than 6 bucks delivered.
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Old 08-15-2018, 02:56 PM
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The Springfield XD Mod 2 chambered for 45ACP.
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Old 08-15-2018, 03:45 PM
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Interesting article from 1993.

(c) UPI 2018

Gun that killed American outlaw up for sale - UPI Archives

Part of the confusion is likely due to the fact that Jesse James himself, as well as his brother Frank, at one time or another carried Schofields. It's pretty well known in cowboy action shooting circles. So a quick search turned this up:

Smith & Wesson's Most Famous Top-Break: The Schofield | Gun Digest

(c) 2018 Gun Digest Media
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Old 08-15-2018, 07:06 PM
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I may crazy, but I think they have a model 3 at Bass Pro museum that says it's the one that killed him. I was looking for model 3's while I was there since I have one which is why I remember it. It's an NRA museum.

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Old 08-15-2018, 07:46 PM
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Never was able to confirm the stories about Jesse's mother buying junk revolvers and selling them to tourists stating they were owned by Jesse. I remember 40 years ago I visited Jthe James house and the tour guide made that same statement as well.
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Old 08-16-2018, 01:17 AM
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Quote:
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I am currently reading "Shot All To Hell" about the Northfield bank robbery. Good read. I found a used copy on Amazon for less than 6 bucks delivered.
I second that. Excellent book. I got the Kindle edition for less than that on sale a while back, although that's now back up to the regular 12 bucks.
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Old 08-16-2018, 03:45 PM
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Gary Mrs. James pic reveals a real Hottie. Plus she may have been a stellar
entrepreneur. Gotta make a buck!
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:00 PM
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Bod Ford was a coward.Rest In Peace Jessie James!
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Old 08-16-2018, 05:00 PM
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Quote:
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I may crazy, but I think they have a model 3 at Bass Pro museum that says it's the one that killed him. I was looking for model 3's while I was there since I have one which is why I remember it. It's an NRA museum.
They'd have to have 100% perfect provenance to convince me that that was anything more than baloney.

Quote:
Never was able to confirm the stories about Jesse's mother buying junk revolvers and selling them to tourists stating they were owned by Jesse. I remember 40 years ago I visited Jthe James house and the tour guide made that same statement as well.
Rumor has it that Bat Masterson did the same thing quite a few times. I forget who he claimed to have shot with "it".

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Old 08-17-2018, 11:41 AM
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I've read that in later life Geronimo sold "his rifle" many times.
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:04 PM
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I've read that in later life Geronimo sold "his rifle" many times.
Well heck, if he himself sold it, it was by definition his, and who are we to quibble over how many he had and how long he had them before selling them again?
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Old 08-17-2018, 03:48 PM
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Pancho Villa guns are right up their with the rest of them. His widow was famous for peddling "Pancho's favorite gun" I have one in my collection that is a stunning cased Model 1861 Colt Navy factory conversion .38RF, beautiful engraving with carved Ivory Mexican Snake & Eagle stocks and vestiges of gold plating. Case has brass plate that says" Pancho Villa " ( Colt records indicate the gun was made years before Pancho was born, but doesn't mean he didn't steal it somewhere later on ! ) I think I paid about 100 Pesos for it in Mexico around 1945. Es un pistola muy grande, Seņor ! Ed.

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Old 08-19-2018, 07:08 AM
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Man their are some interesting folks on this forum and you guys come up with some interesting questions .I would like to pt out the name of a very interesting book by Ted P. Yeatman titled Frank and Jesse James,The Story Behind The Legend. I am somewhat of a history buff especially around the time of the Civil War and aftermath and found this book very informative .Unfortunately as Jesse James was moved after his death twice before the last forensic investigation and buried in a wooden coffin his remains weren't in excellent shape .The report stated that the wound in his skull was made by a .44 or .45 caliber bullet but I don't recall anything about the actual gun used being mentioned. You take into consideration of the times and the people involved and you can bet there were many guns sold that were said to be this is the gun that Bob Ford used to kill Jesse. I mean I can see why so much controversy has surrounded questions like this .In this book Bob Fords brother states " Jesse turned his back and I gave my brother the wink and we drew our revolvers but he was a little quicker than me and he ( Jesse) heard us cock our revolvers and was about to turn his head when my brother fired" seeing it was a death shot I did t fire. Unfortunately he didn't say what kind of gun was used . Anyway I picked up a Hard Back copy of the book for 5 bucks in nearly new condition at a thrift store just last month.interestingly there is a picture of a Smith and Wesson American 44 caliber revolver taken from Jim Younger and it days Cole Younger had one like it with Ivory grips.
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Old 08-19-2018, 09:21 AM
Pisgah Pisgah is offline
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What Gun Killed Jesse James?  
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From the number of "This-is the-gun" accounts, I would say that half the revolvers in St. Jo, MO, were used to kill Jesse...
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Old 08-19-2018, 09:50 AM
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sspierce8 sspierce8 is offline
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What Gun Killed Jesse James? What Gun Killed Jesse James? What Gun Killed Jesse James? What Gun Killed Jesse James? What Gun Killed Jesse James?  
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You know, now that I think about it, the one at Bass Pro I think it is a model 3 owned by Jesse, not the one that killed him. Sorry.
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