Gun Library ArticleSmith & Wesson
Do you remember Clint Eastwood playing Inspector Callahan in the movie ‘Dirty Harry’? That movie was a masterpiece in its own right, but mostly due to the interpretation of the great actor. But how about the handgun that he made famous? It was one of the most popular handguns produced by Smith & Wesson, a model 29, chambered in .44 magnum. Dirty Harry said, "the most powerful handgun in the world" and with those words Smith & Wesson couldn't produce those guns fast enough to meet the demand.
Somewhere around 1852, two dreamers met and decided to turn their dreams into reality. These two were Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson. They both had experience in the field, Horace having worked previously for the National Armory in Springfield and Daniel learning all the secrets of the trade from his brother, an experienced and dedicated gun maker of the 1800s. They formed a strong partnership and adventured straight ahead, hoping to produce a lever action repeating gun that could use for the first time in the world an innovative cartridge, self-contained. Though their ambitions reached to the skies limit, their first try was not at all successful and soon they were forced to sell their company to another famous name in the gun making industry: Oliver Winchester. He didn’t waste any time and in just a couple of years he introduced the design for the Smith & Wesson gun under his name. He developed a powerful company, Winchester Repeating Arms Company and contributed to history on his own.
As for the two idealists, their journey wasn’t over. They rejoined forces after four years and this time they had managed to turn history around. After having already patented a special cartridge in 1854, called the Rimfire, they came up with a new design for what was going to become the first self-contained cartridge revolver in the world. The name of Smith & Wesson finally started to gain the proper recognition that it deserved and the two were sure that more was about to come. They never stopped trying or believing in what they envisioned, and always demonstrated what ambitious men are capable of achieving. As for the handgun history, there probably has never been anyone with such a strong desire for achievement. They returned in 1870 with a fresh design, called the Model 3, which was the first large caliber cartridge revolver. It made Smith & Wesson even more famous, a true inspiration for all handgun manufacturers. Perhaps the most engaging fact related to that handgun is that not just America was interested in purchasing guns for the US Cavalry, but even Russia started to pay interest, purchasing the firearms for the Russian Imperial Government.
One might think that was the last significant thing that Smith & Wesson would have accomplished. Well, that’s not the case. After Wesson remained the sole owner of the business, Smith having retired, the company continued to stay in the business and cater to the needs of their customers. Throughout the time, they introduced various handguns, always implementing innovative techniques and technologies. Somewhere along the end of the 19th century, they produced the first hammerless revolvers, which incredibly, are still part of the current production today. The 20th century brought only good things for Smith & Wesson, with them continuously contributing more and more to the development of the firearm industry. They started to provide firearms to various police departments, military companies, and even security companies with the model 10 or 38 Military and Police. Without knowing, they had quickly become top leaders in the handgun manufacturing industry.
Soon, Smith & Wesson was a company regarded as professional and dedicated to providing handguns for both safety and protection. They came up with the first Magnum revolver in 1935 and continue to show how important performance, precision and professionalism is for a company producing firearms. In 1955, the model 39 came out on the market and it was recognized to be the first double action auto-loading pistol ever made by an American Company. After just one year, the model 29, the one that was used by Clint Eastwood when he was playing Dirty Harry, was released. The company was enjoying an incredible popularity, especially due to the fact that they were able to constantly amaze its customers with new products. They also introduced the first stainless steel revolver, the model 60, unveiling a new period filled with achievements for Smith & Wesson.
The innovation that Smith & Wesson company has always proved was mainly reflected in the handgun design and technology implemented. They are even up to this day, top producers of professionally-made handguns, serving police departments and other law enforcement agencies throughout the world. They did not stop to look back for a second and always tried to be one step ahead. Today, they are far from being just dreamers; they have expanded their line of work for shooters, hunters and even just for those who are passionate about firearms. They also produce handcuffs, sporting equipment and apparel. Without a doubt, they know what it takes to be successful.
From the first time when one of the Smith & Wesson arms was displayed at an exposition in Paris, they knew that they were going to become famous. It was the kind of thing that you just know. And when you are contacted by the Grand Duke of Russia himself, how can you not feel incredibly successful? The worldwide market was interested in the guns produced by Smith & Wesson and that is also valid today. They are known for launching professional Magnums and also the first stainless steel revolvers. They have served the demands for firearms throughout the Civil War, plus concentrated their entire activity on warfare handgun production during the Second World War. And as for being famous, they were and quite proud of that. As it was already mentioned, they kept on expanding, including defensive equipment for police officers in case of public riots, night vision gadgets and even for identifications kits. They knew how to develop and they entirely deserve their reputation for being the best.
They’ve come a long way since 1852 and they have always kept their promise of meeting the highest standards of quality. Even today, they look for the most innovative techniques, hoping to better serve the needs for firearms. They are known to have produced a series of sophisticated auto-loading pistols, at the end of the 1980s. As for newer technologies, they produced polymer semiautomatic pistols, called Sigma. By using cutting-edge applications, they have greatly contributed to the modern history of handguns and they have certainly proven themselves as a leader in the firearm industry.
After 150 years of being a leader in the handgun manufacturing industry, Smith & Wesson has managed to maintain their level of professionalism, coming up with a new generation of stainless steels revolvers, using a combination between aluminum and titanium. Everyone was amazed how easy they could be handled and also impressed with their light weight. As technology continued to improve, so did Smith & Wesson firearms. In 2000, they came up with the new series of Magnums. They were even light weight and had all the modern characteristics a handgun should have. And probably who knows what other surprise is Smith & Wesson preparing right now?
From all the firearm manufacturers, Smith & Wesson has somehow managed to continuously stand out and prove themselves as leaders in the industry. They have built up a solid and respected reputation based on the quality and enhanced use of their products. They’ve catered to the police, to the military and even to private security agencies. As they know how important it is to keep up with technological innovations, they are constantly updating their equipment and look to use techniques that are more than forward-looking. It is hard to conceive the history of American handguns without the name of Smith & Wesson, which is probably one of the most important companies in the firearms industry.
Useful Link for Smith & Wesson Collectors: Smith and Wesson Collectors Association - The Smith & Wesson Collectors Association is the oldest specialized collectors association in the United States. It was founded in 1964 by six Smith & Wesson collectors while attending a gun show in Tulsa, Oklahoma. This group of collectors met each year at different gun shows around the country. The Collectors Association is dedicated to the collecting of all Smith & Wesson products from the antique firearms to the most modern arms currently produced by the company. The association’s main purpose is the preservation of Smith & Wesson’s history. Members of the association receive the association-published journal that contains stories on both antique and modern Smith & Wesson firearms. The Association hosts an annual meeting, which is held in various parts of the United States to allow all members an equal chance to attend.