Smith & Wesson
Learn more about Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson NASDAQ: SWHC is the largest manufacturer of handguns in the United States. Its corporate headquarters are in Springfield, Massachusetts. Smith & Wesson has a reputation for the many types of ammunition it has introduced over the years and for its revolver know-how.
 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 became known as the "Volcanic Repeating Arms Company", and due to financial difficulties came into the majority ownership of investor Oliver Winchester.
In 1856 the partners left the Volcanic Company to begin a new company and to manufacture a newly-designed revolver-and-cartridge combination. The timing of the founding of this new company proved quite opportune for the partners, as the onset of the American Civil War five years later produced a great demand for Smith & Wesson's products.
In 1964 the company passed from Wesson family control, and subsequently a number of conglomerates took control of it.
 The Agreement of 2000
In March 2000 Smith & Wesson signed an agreement with the Clinton administration in order to avoid lawsuits. The company agreed to a number of safety and design standards, as well as limits on the sale and distribution of their products. Gun clubs and gun rights groups responded to this agreement almost instantly by initiating large-scale boycotts of Smith & Wesson by refusing to buy their new products and flooding the firearms market with used S&W guns to cut into their market share. <ref name="sw1">Gun Owners call for boycott</ref><ref name="sw2">Action America News Story</ref><ref name="sw3">VCDL.org News Story</ref>
 Acquisition by Saf-T-Hammer
On May 11, 2001, Saf-T-Hammer Corporation acquired Smith & Wesson Corp. from Tomkins PLC for $15US million, a fraction of the $112US million originally paid by Tomkins. Saf-T-Hammer also assumed $30US million in debt bringing the total purchase price to $45US million. <ref name="swsold"> Article on Sale of Smith & Wesson</ref> <ref name="bizj">Phoenix Business Journals on Smith & Wesson Sale</ref> Saf-T-Hammer, a manufacturer of gun locks and other firearms safety products, purchased S&W with the idea of incorporating its line of security products into all Smith & Wesson firearms in compliance with the 2000 Clinton administration agreement.
The acquisition of Smith & Wesson was chiefly brokered by Saf-T-Hammer President Bob Scott, who left S&W back in 1999 due to problems he had with Tomkins’ policies. After the purchase Scott became the President of Smith & Wesson to guide the 157-year old company back to its former glory.
On February 15, 2002 the name of the newly formed entity was changed to Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.
 Corporate governance
As of 2005 Smith & Wesson has the following members on its board of directors: Jeffrey Buchanan, John Furman, Michael F. Golden, Colton Melby, James Minder, Barry Monheit, Mitchell Saltz, Robert L. Scott, and Marie Wadecki.
 Ammunition types introduced by S&W
- .22 Short (the popular .22 Long Rifle, based on the .22 Short - actually developed by the J.Stevens Arms & Tool Co.)
- .32 S&W (sometimes called .32 Short)
- .32 S&W Gallery
- .32 S&W Long (sometimes called .32 New Colt Police, or 32-44 Target)
- .35 S&W Automatic
- .38 S&W (Sometimes called .38 Colt New Police)
- .38 S&W Special
- .357 S&W Magnum
- .40 S&W
- .41 Remington Magnum (while Remington developed the ammunition, S&W made the first revolvers to chamber this cartridge)
- .44 S&W American
- .44 S&W Russian
- .44 S&W Special
- .44 Remington Magnum (see note at .41 Remington Magnum)
- .45 S&W Schofield
- .460 S&W Magnum
- .500 S&W Magnum
 Famous S&W revolvers
- S&W Model 3 (First automatic ejection of used ammunition)
- J-Frame (small) Models
- S&W Model 60 (First stainless made .38 Special)
- S&W 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)
- S&W Ladysmith
- K-Frame (medium) Models
- S&W Model 10 (First .38 Special; evolved from the famous Smith & Wesson M&P)
- S&W Model 12
- S&W Model 13
- S&W Model 14
- S&W Model 15
- S&W Model 16
- S&W Model 17
- S&W Model 18
- S&W Model 19 (First light weight .357 Magnum; built at the request of Bill Jordan.)
- L-Frame (medium-large) Models
- N-Frame (large) Models
- S&W Model 21
- S&W Model 22
- S&W Model 24
- S&W Model 25 (Both .45 ACP and .45 LC)
- S&W Model 28 "highway patrolman" Less frills than the m27, same performance. marketed to police due to its reduced price and equal performance. .357
- Model 27 (First .357 Magnum) a beautiful usually custom or limited run revolver, sporting a deep lustrous blue.
- Model 29 (First .44 Magnum, made famous by its appearance in the film Dirty Harry)
- Model 1917 (First revolver chambered for .45 ACP)
- S&W Model 624
- Model 625 (used by Jerry Miculek to set the world record for 12 rounds (with one reload) on target in 2.99 seconds)
- S&W Model 627 (replacement for Model 27)
- S&W Model 629
 Famous S&W semi-automatic pistols
 Classic semi-automatic pistols
- S&W Model 59 (First high-capacity double-action pistol in 9 mm Luger/Parabellum).
 Sigma series
Smith & Wesson introduced the Sigma series of recoil-operated, locked-breech semi-auto pistols in 1994 with the Sigma 40, followed by the Sigma 9. Sigma pistols bore so much similarity to GLOCKs that users could reportedly interchange many parts between GLOCK and Sigma models. The similarities were so great that many pundits referred to the Sigma series as 'Swocks', a playful contraction of S&W and Glock. As a result, GLOCK initiated a lawsuit against Smith & Wesson, which paid an undisclosed sum (some millions of dollars has been theorized) to GLOCK for infringement of their patents. S&W thereupon received the rights to continue the production of Sigma line but they were forced to redesign the pistol's trigger mechanism so that it did not infringe upon GLOCK's patents.
The gun frame is manufactured from polymer, while the slide and barrel use either stainless steel or carbon steel. Improvements to the Sigma series 1999 included shortening the barrel and slide, adding an accessory rail under the barrel, incorporating more comfortable grip checkering, and enlarging the ejection port.
In 1999 S&W updated the Sigma by shortening the barrel (from 4-1/2 to 4 inches) and adding an integral accessory rail for lights/lasers.
- Sigma 9: Uses the 9 mm Luger/Parabellum ammunition.
- Sigma 40: Uses the .40 S&W ammunition.
- Sigma 380: Uses the .380 ACP ammunition.
 SW99 Series
S&W also reached an agreement with Walther to produce variations of the P99 line of pistols. Branded as the SW99, the pistol is available in several calibers, including 9mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, and in both full size and compact variations. Under the terms of the agreement, Walther produced the receivers, and Smith and Wesson produced the slide and barrel. The pistol has several cosmetic differences from the original Walther design, and strongly resembles a hybrid between the P99 and the Sigma series mentioned above finale.
 M&P Series
In 2005, Smith & Wesson debuted a new polymer-frame pistol intended for the law enforcement market. Dubbed the M&P (standing for Military and Police), its name was meant to evoke S&W's history as the firearm of choice for law enforcement agencies through its previous lineup of M&P revolvers. Though similar in appearance to the still-produced Sigma lineup, the M&P is a new design. Many of the ergonomic study elements that had been incorporated into the Sigma and the SW99 were brought over to the M&P. The improved trigger weight and feel, and unique takedown method (not requiring a dry pull of the trigger) were meant to set the M&P apart from both the Sigma and the popular GLOCK pistols.
It is available in 9x19, .40 S&W, and will later be available in.357 SIG. There are rumors of a .45 ACP model in the future. A compact version is also in development for at least the 9x19, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG.
In January 2006 Smith & Wesson entered into the AR-15 market with its M&P15 series of rifles. Unveiled at SHOT Show 2006, the rifle debuted in two varieties; the M&P15 and the M&P15T. Both are basically the same rifle, chambered in 5.56 NATO, with the T model featuring folding sights and a four-sided accessories rail. At it's debut, the M&P15's suggested retail price was $1,200, while the M&P15T retailed for $1,700. <ref name="ir1"> S&W press release on new M&P15 Rifles</ref>
 Shot Guns
Smith & Wesson produced the Model 916,916T,916A 12 gauge shotguns which where unfortunatley plagued by poor quality control and had cascading minor issues in the field, prompting them to move on to the model 1000 and 3000 shotguns. Smith & Wesson exited the shotgun market in the early 70's to return to their "core" market of hand guns.
In November 2006 S&W announced that it would re-enter the shotgun market with two new lines of shotguns, the Elite series and the 1000 series, to be unveiled at the 2007 SHOT Show. Along with the new shotguns S&W debuted the Heirloom Warranty program, a first of its kind in the firearms industry. The warranty provides both the original buyer and the buyer's chosen heir with a lifetime warranty on all Elite Series shotguns. <ref name="ir2">S&W press release on new line of shotguns</ref>
 SW1911 Series
In 2003, Smith & Wesson introduced their variation of the classic M1911 .45 ACP semi-automatic handgun, the SW1911. This firearm retains the M1911's well known dimensions, operation, and feel, while adding a variety of modern touches. Updates to the design include serrations at the front of the slide for easier operation and disassembly, a high "beaver-tail" grip safety, external extractor, lighter weight hammer, and trigger, as well as updated internal safeties to prevent misfires if dropped. S&W 1911s are available with black finished carbon steel slides and frames or bead blasted stainless slides and frames. They are also available with aluminum frames alloyed with Scandium in either natural or black finishes. These updates have resulted in a firearm that is true to the M1911 design, with additions that would normally be considered "custom", with a price similar to entry-level M1911 designs from other manufacturers.
 Internal Locking Mechanism
All Smith & Wesson firearms have been equipped with an internal locking mechanism since the acquisition by Saf-T-Hammer. The mechanism itself is a relatively unobtrusive lock which, when activated with a special key, renders the firearm inoperable. While the lock can simply not be used at all, some gun owners refuse to buy "post-lock" guns, fearing the extra part might fail when they need it most. Smith & Wesson has repeatedly stated that the locking mechanism does not affect reliability. More however, dislike it as it reeks of government interference, and is symbolic one of the country's oldest firearms makers "giving in". 
 Police bicycles
In addition to firearms, Smith & Wesson also produces a line of bicycles designed by and for police. These bikes have features such as higher handle bars and silent hubs. <ref name="ir3">S&W press release on new line of bicycles</ref> <ref name="ir4>S&W press release on Police Bicycles</ref>
Smith & Wesson Flashlights are also now available to the general public. They are designed and produced by a company called PowerTech, Inc. in Collierville, TN with Smith & Wesson's approval on every product.
In November 2006, Smith & Wesson announced that it would begin manufacture of shotguns for the 2007 model season, a market it has not been a part of since the 1970s <ref name="nasdaq2>Nasdaq News Story</ref>
 External links
- Smith & Wesson Firearms - American-made firearms and handguns
- Powertech Inc. Corporate Website
- Freepatriot - Detailed list of Smith and Wesson Revolvers
- The Snubnose Files, Dedicated to the Snubnose Revolverde:Smith & Wesson