History of Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson began in 1852 with the partnership of Horace Smith and Daniel Wesson. The combined genius of these two men and later their heirs created one of the most successful handgun manufacturers of all time. Although most famous for the variety of double action revolvers, Smith & Wesson also produces a fine line of semi-automatic pistols.
Beginning in May of 1853, Smith & Wesson began work on a new pistol. With the financial backing of Courtlandt Palmer, they produced a repeating pistol that cocked the hammer with the rearward motion of the bolt. The speed of loading and firing this pistol resulted in it being named the “Volcanic” pistol. During the 1860’s and 70’s, Smith & Wesson had established itself as a leading revolver manufacturer.
In 1870, S&W introduced one of their most famous revolvers, the Model 3. This single action, top break, .44 caliber was initially manufactured for a U.S. government contract for 1,000 guns. The Russians, however, were more interested and purchased 20,000 of these revolvers. After some modifications and a caliber change, it became known as the .44 S&W Russian.
Probably the most important gun produced by S&W was the Hand Ejector model. Having successfully manufactured double action, top break revolvers, the solid frame Hand Ejector was the logical next step. Although at first it didn’t seem to have an edge over the already established auto-ejecting top break designs, this solid frame construction allowed for the development of a revolver capable of handling more powerful cartridges.
In 1899, improvements to the Hand Ejector design and the development of the new .38 S&W Special caliber, resulted in the most famous of all Smith & Wessons, the Military & Police. It wasn’t long before S&W began production of their first large (“N” frame) double action revolver, the Triple lock. Subsequent changes and improvements in this model ended in the development of the Model 1917 revolver.
With the firearm market more competitive than ever, S&W has managed to not only survive, but flourish and diversify. Smith & Wesson has been an industry leader and pacesetter almost from the beginning. It would be almost impossible to discuss double action revolvers without mentioning the Smith & Wesson name. The improvements and high quality standards that S&W has brought to the handguns have helped shape the industry. After nearly 150 years in the business, it doesn’t look like Smith & Wesson will be slowing down any time soon.