Smill & Welson Spanish Counterfeit Revolver

This revolver looks like it is a Smith & Wesson DA from the early 20th century, right down to the S&W grips. However, it is actually a Spanish Eibar-made copy, and you can tell when you take a close look at the patent markings atop the barrel. Instead of “Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Mass, USA”, it says:

Smill & Welson, Sprangfeld, Mus, EUA

Close, guys…but not quite!

Thanks to Mike for loaning me the gun for this video!


  1. The most likely suspects for the counterfeiters are Aranzabal y Cia, which made S&W top-break copies in the Eibar region from the 1890s until just before WW2.

    Their main market was South America, where S&W revolvers were popular and they could easily undercut S&W’s prices. Most were in .32 or .38 S&W, however their large-frame top-breaks showed up in calibers such as French 11mm service, British 0.455in, and etc.

    During WW1, they made the “Trocaola” S&W top-break copy in 0.455in for the British government. Handguns were needed very badly for trench-fighting, and there just weren’t enough Webleys, Colts, and real S&Ws to go around. The British designation was “Pistol, OP, 5 in. barrel, No 2 MK 1”.

    These revolvers were blued and had lanyard rings at the bottom of the butt. The Enfield inspector’s mark is normally on the left side of the barrel, and the Trocaola trademark is on the right side of the frame. It is deliberately very much like the S&W trademark shield of the time.

    Aranzabal also made a copy of the S&W M10 Military & Police for the French, in 8mm St. Etienne M1892 aka “8mm Lebel” revolver caliber. These were also blued, had lanyard rings, and 4″ barrels. The common term for them among French collectors is “92 espagnole”.

    As for the rib marking on this one, considering that the main market was in South America, they may have been counting on the customers (even government types) being at best only marginally literate.



    • “at best only marginally literate.”
      Imitating weapons traces back at least to 9th century:
      many of swords have misspelled name, but anyway customers were don’t can read so text don’t have to be proper, only “close enough”.
      What is interesting: name derringer for small pocket pistol is from name of Henry Deringer, but producers of knock-offs added additional «r» to avoid legal process.

  2. Spain was the home of cheap and cheerful copies of just about any successful weapon. I own a “copy” of a S&W Triple Lock in a nominal 11mm/ .44 caliber. It is marked on the side of the barrel ” Use the American Cartridge which fits best ” OK so my revolver is probably in .44 Russian yet it will chamber a .44 Magnum ?????
    Never say never when it comes to Spanish weapons.

      • “Spain was the home of cheap and cheerful copies of just about any successful weapon”
        This apply to automatic pistol, here: are 356 various automatic pistols made in Spain (number starting with 37-).
        Notice that as they were produced by various independent factories quality varies from “hopefully will not explode” through “working” to “great”. So far I know STAR modèle 1914 automatic pistol (inspired by, but no copy of, Mannlicher 1901 automatic pistol) was good received in French service during First World War.

        • The Star Model 1 Military aka M1919 (although it was produced for the French and Italian armies from 1916) was actually a bit of an improvement over the original Mannlicher, in that it had a detachable box magazine and a rather better-shaped grip. It was also a bit more powerful, being chambered for 7.65 x 17R Browning (.32 ACP).

          In terms of its action, it’s interesting to note that its recoil-spring and slide arrangement later showed up almost unchanged on the Walther Olympia and S&W Model 41 .22 RF target autoloaders.



          • “better-shaped grip. It was also a bit more powerful, being chambered for 7.65 x 17R Browning (.32 ACP).”
            -small correction it is 7.65x17SR Browning, 7.65x17R is 7.65x17R Pickert
            -grip shape, here: you can read R.K.Wilson opinion: It is an extremely easy pistol to shoot with–light, accurate, handy and shapes well to the hand. It is said that the grip is possibly a little too square to the barrel, but I have not found this so.. Of course grip shape is subjective matter, so same grip shape might be liked by someone and disliked by someone else
            -cartridge power: in above linked material are stated following ballistic:
            7.63×21 Mannlicher: 86gr @ 1000fps giving energy: 193
            7.65 Browning (.32 Auto): 73gr @ 1043fps giving energy: 177
            Hence momentum is 86000 for Mannlicher and 76139 for Browning so first is more powerful

    • May I add that Spanish Military officers were required to carry a .44/11mm Smith & Wesson revolver. Many simply carried copies made in Spain. Many of these copies were of high quality. Contracts were made with Italy (cal 10.4) France ( cal 11mm M 1874/74) England (cal.455) and Romania (cal .44 Russian). The storied Ruby pistol was made in the millions. France, Italy, Greece, and many post WW1 countries carried them. Not all Spanish guns are junk or marked to deceive the unwary. There are many American solid frame or top break revolvers that are contemporary to the subject of this article that are inaccurate unreliable junk. As I said never say never.
      BTW the 1914 Star and it’s variants are indeed excellent weapons.

      • Yes. Even many of the Ruby pistols were actually reasonably well made. A larger problem for military use than poor overall quality was the almost complete lack of parts interchangeability between the different Rubies, including even magazines. It meant going back to early 19th century methods of repairing them, which was something that armies by WW1 were no longer equipped to do on such a large scale.

  3. Loads of Belgian produced Gasser knockoff had NI under crown, even it it was supposed to be stamped on guns in Montenegro (it was a state acceptance mark). Reason for this was that Belgian copies were actually forbidden since both Nikola I was not taking his cut and inconsistent quality, only original Gasser 1870 and 1870/74 with 9″ barrel being allowed as that one “must have” gun that every male over 16 was obliged to have.
    So, Belgian manufacturers countered this, and stamped NI with crown like crazy, guns were smuggled to Montenegro and sold – crown was proof enough, since a lot of people were illiterate.
    Ironically best way to see if it is copy or real proof mark is the fact that original Montenegrin proof marks were much more crude then Belgian counterfeit.

  4. Extra info: EUA is probably a contraction of something like the French translation of USA. In French, America is referred to as Etats-Unis (literal translation of United States).

  5. *EstaDos
    (sorry for mistyping)

    By the way, in the first comment, about Spanish 8mm Lebel revolver “92 espagnol” don’t need final e for linguistic reason : adjective must adapt noun’s gender (“pistolet” & “revolver” are both masculine nouns)

  6. The Spanish Smill&Welson pistol ranks up there with the Chinese Kawaseki motorcycle that are marked “made in Japan” on the crankcase. Real popular in Africa.

  7. I don’t think that’s a copy of a S&W, but instead of a Iver Johnson. Sure it’s got Smith grips and that mangled script, but the dimensions are wrong for a Smith and right for an Iver Johnson third model safety automatic.

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