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This comes up on occasion, what is the best guess as to what handguns Custer carried during his last fight? It really doesn’t matter I guess but it gets asked often.

Mike Franklin
Poteet, Texas

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I had originally posted that there where some 16,000 S&W Model 3 revolvers, but I was mistaken. I have reviewed my sources and sorted out the correct number of Model 3s sold from the initial 1000 in .44 cal.

My mistake was mine, based on how I read various reports, including those provided by Smith & Wesson. I have attempted to "shave off" some of the confusion and simply post "line data", rather than fluff.

I apologize for the mistake I made.

In 1870, the U.S. Army contracted with Smith & Wesson to deliver 1,000 Model No. 3 revolvers in .44 S&W caliberr, 800 blued and 200 nickel-plated.

3,000 Schofield revolvers of the “1st Pattern” revolvers were manufactured for the U.S. Army in 1875.

5,285 of the 2nd Models were produced for the U.S. Army in 1876

Total S&W Model 3 revolvers to the US Army: 9, 285
This include the initial .44 cal Model 3 sale

Also, I found an article that proposes that Custer may have used a Weberly revolver. According to the article, the assumption is based on the idea that the Weberly was the only weapon belonging to General Custer that has not been accounted for. I will try to find the article again, but maybe someone else saw it also...
George & Tom Custer each owned pairs of Webley Royal Irish Constabulary model DA revolvers in .450 Eley caliber. George's were bright-plated & white-gripped, probably ivory. Tom's were blued & had wooden grips. Tom's are still around. George's haven't been seen since 1876. Tom apparently carried a pair of standard-issue Colt SAAs at LBH, since his Webleys are still extant. George issued a direct order prior to the campaign--each trooper was to carry 2 revolvers & all sabers were to be left behind. Since Tom's Webleys are still around & George's haven't been seen since June, 1876, it seems to be obvious what George was packing on the fatal day.
While this may not have any direct bearing on what Custer or other officers were carrying for firearms, you can check what was officially issued by the Ordnance Returns. The Ordnance returns were prepared on a quarterly basis on the company/battery level for the entire US Army and were forwarded to the War Department. These are available on microfilm from National Archives and relevant roll is the one that covers returns for the period 1864-1878. They're pretty complete although sometimes the entries are not too legible.

I've reviewed the roll for the 7th Cavalry and I can safely say that Schofield pistols were not issued to the 7th for the 1876 time frame. :-)
So then what are the odds that a Civilian Scout or a hostile NDN at the battle would have had a .45 S&W? Could any have been lost to hostiles at the Rosebud?
If someone has it, post again the list of ammo and fired cases found, so far, at the battle site.
I'm guessing that there's not a list of arms carried by Scouts of the 7th?
IIRC, in many instances Scouts either brought their own weapons or were supplied with cast-offs from the Army (which they kept), in which case they would be off the property books and thus not accountable property.
Scouts' revolvers were often nickel-plated, since they tended not to clean them very well. The nickel at least kept the exterior from rusting. The Apache tribal police were issued Springfield carbines--which were painted! The paint both kept exterior rust down & served to identify which weapons belonged to which company of police.
Yes, it is possible, but not probable, that Custer carried a Schofield revolver at his last stand. It is also possible that he tried to fight off the enemy using a match box. LOL

The Schofield recovered may not so mush have been abandoned, as simply not found immediately after the battle. Even today people find unrecovered weapons at old battlefield sites.
A lot of weapons carried by Custer where not issued to the 7th cavalry... or any US military units of the time for that matter, including the Weberly revolver.

By the logic presented in your post, Custer never carried any of the weapons that he was known for carrying and history about Custer's weapons is pretty much a wash. :)

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