The Smith and Wesson Schofield was a top break revolver designed by George Schofield and produced by Smith and Wesson.
In 1869 Smith and Wesson introuduced their first top break revolver which is known as the no. 3 American. It was a succesful design with major advantages over Colt's Cap and Ball revolvers. The Russians placed orders for the gun but the American army instead choose the Colt 1873 revolver. In 1875 George Schofield an American officer showed Smith and Wesson his ideas for a new revolver.
The new revolver which became known as the Schofield was a new top break revolver which had the latch on the frame of the gun, this meant that the soldier could simply pull the latch back and the revolver would break open, the empty cartridges would be automatically ejected and it could be reloaded quickly. The gun proved to have the advantage over the Colt 1873 and tests proved that the Schofield could be loaded much faster while on a horse than the Colt could.
The US army placed orders for the Schofield and asked Smith and Wesson to make the gun chambered for 45 long Colt. Instead Smith and Wesson made their own 45 cartridge, the 45 Schofield. The 45 Schofield could work in the Schofield revolver and the Colt 1873, however the 45 Colt could not be loaded into the Schofield. Even when the Army dropped the 45 Colt in favor of the 45 Schofield huge amounts of old 45 Colt cartridges remained in storage and soldiers armed with Schofields were sometimes sent the wrong ammunition, because of this most soldiers would choose the Colt 1873. Smith and Wesson had to pay George Schofield money for each produced Schofield and stopped production of the Schofield in 1878 after only three years of production. Smith and Wesson soon introduced their new model no. 3 revolver which became one of the most famous handguns of the rest of the 19th century. Some Schofields remained in service untill the Spanish American war in the late 1890's.
Things did not go well for George Schofield after production of his gun ended. His wife soon dies of unkown causes and he is later given a court martial, some say because he tried to collect money for his gun. By 1880 Schofield kills himself with one of his own guns.
In 2000 Smith and Wesson reintroduced their Schofield revolver, the replica's were identical to the originals. Since the original Schofield production line only lasted 3 years, Smith and Wesson stopped production in 2003. Other companies such as Uberti and Cimmaron continue to make modern Schofield reproductions chambered for 45 long Colt.