Smith & Wesson

From Academic Kids

Smith & Wesson is America's largest manufacturer of handguns, located in Springfield, Massachusetts.

Contents

History of Smith & Wesson

In 1852 partners Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson formed a company to produce a lever action pistol nicknamed "The Volcanic". The company formed by the partners came to be known as the ""Volcanic Repeating Arms Company", and due to financial difficulties this company came into the majority ownership of investor Oliver Winchester.

In 1856 the partners left the Volcanic Company to begin a new company and manufacture a newly designed revolver and cartridge combination. The timing of the founding of this new company was quite fortunate, as the arrival of the Civil War five years later produced a great demand for Smith & Wesson's products.

In 1964 the company passed from Wesson family control, and was subsequently controlled by a number of conglomerates.

From 1996 to 2001 Smith & Wesson was owned by Tomkins PLC, a British Company.

In 2001, American investors purchased the company.

Smith & Wesson is famous for the many types of ammunition it has introduced over the years, for its first double action high capacity pistol and for its revolver know-how.

The Agreement

In March of 2000, Smith & Wesson signed an agreement with the Clinton administration in order to avoid a lawsuit. The company agreed to a number of safety and design standards, as well as limits on the sale and distribution of their products. Large-scale boycotts of Smith & Wesson occurred due to the agreement. In 2001, when the company changed hands, most customers returned, as the agreement was the responsibility of Tomkins rather than Smith & Wesson. However, many continue the boycott today.

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SW-629.jpg
A Modern Smith & Wesson Revolver (Model 629)

Ammunition types introduced by S&W

Famous S&W revolvers

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S&W_60_3in.jpg
Smith & Wesson Model 60, 3 inch barrel
  • Model 3 (First automatic ejection of used ammunition)
  • Model 10 (First .38 Special; evolved from the famous M&P)
  • Model 19 (First low weight .357 Magnum)
  • Model 27 (First .357 Magnum)
  • Model 60 (First stainless made .38 Special)
  • Model 29 (First .44 Magnum)
  • Model 1917 (First revolver that could fire .45 ACP pistol ammunition)
  • Model 586 (First heavy duty medium weight .357 Magnum)
  • Model 625 (Holds the world record for 2 x 6 shots with reload)
  • Model 500 (First .500 Magnum)
  • Model 340PD (First revolver made of Scandium alloy, very light, possibly the final evolution of the classic J-frame Chief's Special introduced over 60 years before)

Famous S&W pistols

Classic pistols

  • Model 59 (First high capacity double action pistol in 9mm Luger/Parabellum).

Sigma series

The Sigma series of recoil operated, locked breech semi-auto pistols was introduced in 1994, with the Sigma 40, followed by the Sigma 9. Sigma pistols bore so much similarity to GLOCKs, that a lawsuit was raised against S&W by GLOCK. Smith & Wesson paid an undisclosed sum (some millions of dollars) to GLOCK for infringement of their patents, and then S&W received the rights to continue the production of Sigma line.

The gun frame is manufactured from polymer, while the slide and barrel can be manufactured from either stainless steel or carbon steel. The Sigma series was improved in 1999, including shortening the barrel and slide, addition of an accessory rail under the barrel, incorporating more comfortable grip checkering and enlarging the ejection port.

  • Sigma 40: Uses the .40 S&W ammunition.
  • Sigma 380: Uses the .380 ACP ammunition.

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