Smith & Wesson are a U.S.-based, global provider of products and services for safety, security, protection, and sport. S&W are one of the world’s leading manufacturers of firearms, producing a wide array of handguns, modern sporting rifles, hunting rifles, black powder firearms, handcuffs, and firearm-related products and accessories for sale to a wide variety of customers.

Background[edit | edit source]

A Smith & Wesson military rifle.

Smith & Wesson is one of the largest manufacturers of hand guns and handcuffs in the United States, the largest U.S. exporter of handguns, and an active participant in the modern sporting and hunting rifle markets. They are also a leading turnkey provider of perimeter security solutions to protect and control access to key military, government, and corporate facilities. Their perimeter security solutions include technology-rich proprietary products developed and produced by us and supplemented by industry-leading third-party products produced to their specifications, as well as facility analysis, solution design,system engineering and installation, construction management, customer training, and system maintenance.

Smith & Wesson manufactures firearm products at their facilities in Springfield, Massachusetts; Houlton, Maine; and Rochester, New Hampshire. They produce and assemble their perimeter security products at their facilities in Franklin, Tennessee. In addition, they pursue opportunities to license their name and trademarks to third parties for use in association with their products and services. They plan to increase their product offerings to lever the nearly 160 year old “Smith & Wesson” brand by capitalizing on the goodwill developed through their historic American tradition, as well as expand consumer awareness of products they produce or license.

Objective[edit | edit source]

Their objective is to be a global leader in the safety, security, protection, and sport markets as they relate to their business. Key elements of their strategy to achieve this objective are as follows:

  • enhancing existing products and introducing innovative new products;
  • entering new markets and expanding their presence in existing markets;
  • enhancing their manufacturing productivity, flexibility, and capacity;
  • capitalizing on their brand name;
  • increasing customer satisfaction and building customer loyalty; and
  • pursuing strategic relationships and acquisitions.

Statistics[edit | edit source]

In 2013, they estimate that the domestic non-military firearm market is approximately $235 million for revolvers and $986 million for pistols, with their market share being approximately 37%and 13%,respectively,and approximately $564 million for hunting rifles, $360 million for modern sporting rifles, and $50 million for black powder rifles, with their market share being approximately 7%, 11%, and 35%, respectively.

According to 2009 reports by the U.S. Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (“ATF”), the U.S. firearm manufacturing industry has grown at a compound annual growth rate in units of 12.4% from 2004 through 2009.

History[edit | edit source]

Beginning[edit | edit source]

A Smith & Wesson Model 320 Revolving rifle, one of the rarest products from Smith & Wesson, produced in the late 1870s.

In 1852, partners Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson formed a company to produce a series of lever action pistols and carbines, a design known as the Volcanic Repeater, using the Volcanic Ball, a pre-primed version of the older caplock Rocket Ball and immediate ancestor of the metallic cartridge. The company became known as the "Volcanic Repeating Arms Company"; financial difficulties caused it to come into the majority ownership of investor Oliver Winchester.

In 1856, the partners left the Volcanic Company, working on perfecting the Volcanic Ball and patenting a copper-cased rimfire cartridge on August 8th 1954 (US Patent 11,496). With the expiry of Samuel Colt's patent for the hammer-linked advancement of a revolver cylinder in 1856, the two acquired a patent for bored-through revolver cylinders from a man named Rollin White and with this designed the first cartridge revolver. The timing of the founding of this new company proved quite opportune for the partners, since 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 several conglomerates took control of it.

From 1987 to 2001 Tomkins PLC, a British company, owned Smith & Wesson.

Agreement of 2000[edit | edit source]

In March 2000, Smith & Wesson signed an agreement with the Clinton Administration in order to avoid lawsuits. The company agreed to numerous 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, cutting into their market share.

Acquisition by Saf-T-Hammer[edit | edit source]

On May 11, 2001, Saf-T-Hammer Corporation acquired Smith & Wesson Corp. from Tomkins PLC for 15 million USD, a fraction of the 112 million USD originally paid by Tomkins. Saf-T-Hammer also assumed US$30 million in debt, bringing the total purchase price to US$45 million. Saf-T-Hammer, a manufacturer of gun locks and other firearms safety products, purchased the company with the intention of incorporating its line of security products into all Smith & Wesson firearms in compliance with the 2000 agreement.

The acquisition of Smith & Wesson was chiefly brokered by Saf-T-Hammer President Bob Scott, who had left Smith & Wesson in 1999 because of a disagreement with Tomkins’ policies. After the purchase, Scott became the president of Smith & Wesson to guide the 157-year-old company back to its former standing in the market.

On February 15, 2002, the name of the newly formed entity was changed to Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.

Ammunition types introduced by Smith & Wesson[edit | edit source]

Notable revolvers[edit | edit source]

Smith & Wesson has produced revolvers over the years in several standard frame sizes. "M refers to the small early Ladysmith frame, I to the small .32 frame, J to the small .38 frame, K to the medium .38 frame, L to medium large, and N to the largest .44 Magnum type frame. In 2003, the even larger X frame was introduced for the .500 S&W Magnum.

J-Frame (small) Models[edit | edit source]

K-Frame (medium) Models[edit | edit source]

L-Frame (medium-large) Models[edit | edit source]

M-Frame (extra small old) Models[edit | edit source]

N-Frame (large) Models[edit | edit source]

X-Frame (extra large) models[edit | edit source]

Notable semi-automatic pistols[edit | edit source]

Semi-automatic pistols[edit | edit source]

In 1953 the US Army was looking for a pistol to replace the Colt 1911A1. To obtain a bid from the US Government, Smith & Wesson began working on a design similar to the German Walther P-38. A year later the Army dropped its search and Smith & Wesson introduced its pistol to the civilian shooting market as the Model 39.

The Model 39 would come to be known as a first generation pistol. Since the Model 39 debuted, Smith & Wesson has continuously developed this design into its third generation pistols now on the market. The first generation models use a 2 digit model number, the second generation use 3 digits, and third generation models use 4 digits.

Sigma series[edit | edit source]

SW99 Series[edit | edit source]

M&P Series[edit | edit source]

SW1911 Series[edit | edit source]

Rifles[edit | edit source]

Shotguns[edit | edit source]

Smith & Wesson produced the Model 916, 916T, and 916A 12 gauge shotguns which were 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. However, Smith & Wesson exited the shotgun market in the early 1980s to return to their "core" market of handguns.

In November 2006, S&W announced that it would reenter the shotgun market with two new lines of shotguns, the Elite series and the 1000 series, 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.

Internal locking mechanism[edit | edit source]

All Smith & Wesson revolvers have been equipped with an internal locking mechanism since the acquisition by Saf-T-Hammer. The mechanism itself is relatively unobtrusive, is activated with a special key, and renders the firearm inoperable. While the lock can simply not be 'used', some gun enthusiasts refuse to buy "post-lock" guns, fearing the lock might cause the gun to fail ( i.e., malfunction ) when they need it most such as in a crisis. Also if the lock breaks, the gun will not work without being repaired. Smith & Wesson has repeatedly stated that the locking mechanism does not affect reliability.

Other products[edit | edit source]

Smith & Wesson markets gun accessories, handcuffs, safes, apparel, collectibles, knives, tools, toys, and myriad other products under its brand name, including cologne and handbags.

In October 2002, Smith & Wesson announced it had entered into a licensing agreement with Cycle Source Group to produce a line of bicycles designed by and for law enforcement. These bicycles feature custom configurations and silent hubs ( for 'stealth' cycling ), and are available for purchase by 'civilians'. [1][2]

Smith & Wesson flashlights are available to the general public. They are designed and produced by PowerTech, Inc. in Collierville, Tennessee.

Smith & Wesson also has a line of wood pellet grills. They are named after various pistol cartridges, such as .22 Mag, .38 Special, .44 Mag, .357 Mag, and .500 Mag.

Gallery[edit | edit source]

References[edit | edit source] - Image origin (Model 320)

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