While Rollin White’s patent for the bored-through cylinder was a massively important element in the development of Smith & Wesson as a company, White’s actual firearms design was impractical and never produced. In fact, there is only one firearm that actually bears his name – the solid frame .22 rimfire revolvers made by the Rollin White Arms Company. And yet, his association with that company is a bit mysterious and certainly not very deep.
The company was formed in 1864 and by 1865 had a contract to make rimfire revolvers for Smith & Wesson to resell. This implies some sort of cooperation with White himself, but White is not listed as an officer of the company at its foundation, and by 1865 it changed its name to the Lowell Arms Company, clearly indicating a break with White – whatever the initial association had been.
S&W bought all of the Rollin White and Lowell produced revolvers, 11,853 in total. They were marked “Manufactured for Smith and Wesson” in the same manner as the four brands of patent infringing revolvers that were sued by White and S&W. Later examples include a loading gate and ejector rod, but this early one is of the basic standard pattern. To reload, the cylinder is removed and the axis pin used as an ejector rod.
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