A Saturday Night Special, also known as an SNS, Suicide Special or Junk Gun, is a term used to refer to inexpensive pistols or revolvers. Saturday Night Specials are often defined as a small pocket pistols with a low perceived quality. Such guns, while affordable, are typically of dubious reliability and may be potentially hazardous to operate.
The term "Saturday Night Specials" came about around the mid-20th century, originating from the United States. However, the production of cheap, affordable, low-quality pistols has been constant since the late 19th century, with some of the first notable examples being the countless pocket revolvers patterned after the Webley British Bulldog revolver, particularly in France and Belgium. In the early 20th century, when automatic pistols became increasingly commonplace, thousands of cheap pocket pistols - usually based on the Ruby pistol - were produced by various gunsmiths in the Spanish town of Eibar, and were distributed across Europe. After World War II, especially during the 1960s and 70s, inexpensive handguns became popular in the United States and Canada, marketed toward low-income customers as weapons of self-defence. They quickly gained press notoriety for their reportedly frequent use in criminal activities, including robbery and murder.
There are several prolific manufacturers of Saturday Night Special pistols; these companies are collectively categorized as the Ring of Fire by the BATF. These companies, either active or folded, include:
- Arcadia Machine & Tool
- Davis Industries
- Jimenez Arms
- Lorcin Engineering Company
- Phoenix Arms
- Raven Arms
- Röhm Gesellschaft
- Sundance Industries
- Pistols of the World, Hogg & Weeks, 1978