Smith & Wesson
Smith & Wesson (S&W) is an American firearms manufacturing company. Their headquarters are in Springfield, Massachusetts. The company was founded in 1852. Smith & Wesson's pistols and revolvers have become standard issue to police and military forces. Smith & Wesson firearms are very popular among sport shooters.
|Part of public company American Outdoor Brands Corporation|
Daniel B. Wesson
|P. James Debney (CEO), Jeffrey D. Buchanan (CFO), Leland A. Nichols (COO),|
|Products||Firearms and ammunition|
|Revenue||US$903 million (2016)|
|US$199.94 million (2016)|
|US$191.31 million (2016)|
|Owner||American Outdoor Brands Corporation|
Number of employees
|Parent||American Outdoor Brands Corporation|
Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson founded the Smith & Wesson Company in 1852. The purpose was to develop a lever action pistol. But by 1854 the company was failing. They sold the company to a shirt manufacturer named Oliver Winchester. In 1866, Winchester renamed the company Winchester Repeating Arms Company. That same year Smith and Wesson formed the second company called Smith & Wesson. Their timing was right. Not long after they built their new factory in Springfield, the American Civil War started.
The Civil WarEdit
One of the most popular pistols during the war was the Smith & Wesson Model 2. Many Civil War soldiers purchased the No 2 revolver privately. Between 1861 and 1874, over 77,000 were produced. Smith & Wesson became so profitable that the two partners were the wealthiest men in Springfield by 1865.
One of the most popular calibers during the Civil War was the .44 caliber. The partners realized they needed to produce a pistol in this caliber. By 1870 S&W introduced the .44 metallic cartridge which was a major improvement over the .44 percussion cap models used in the war. To use this new cartridge, the company introduced a larger pistol known as the Smith & Wesson Model 3. It featured rapid loading and reloading. The gun was a personal favorite of Wyatt Earp. In 1875, at age 65, Smith sold his share of the company to Wesson. He still advised his former partner in business matters.
In 1880 S&W introduced the first double-action revolver. It was designed to use the .32 S&W caliber cartridge. By this time Wesson's three sons, Walter H., Frank L., and Joseph H., were active in the company. In 1887, Frank L. Wesson died but his brothers continued as partners in the company.
In 1887 a new concealed hammer design for police was made. Variations of this design are still being made. In 1899, S&W brought out its most famous design, the Military & Police pistol. It was a double-action which set a standard for modern revolvers. It also introduced what has become a very popular caliber, the .38 S&W Special. It is still one of the most popular revolver cartridges ever produced. Large numbers of S&W .38 special handguns were sold to police and military worldwide. They were used in both World War I and World War II. They remained popular until they were finally replaced by many police and military organizations by Semi-automatic pistols.
Early 20th centuryEdit
In 1904, Daniel B. Wesson died. But without his guidance the two sons could not agree on the future direction of the company. This period of weak leadership continued for some time. In 1908 the company introduced a new line of .44 caliber pistols called the .44 New Century, but was soon renamed the Smith & Wesson Triple Lock. It used a new cartridge developed by S&W, the .44 Special.
Smith & Wesson received large government contracts for military revolvers from the American government. The company expanded to produce the firearms. But management problems, labor disputes and a new workforce all caused problems for production. As a result, the US government stepped in to manage S&W until the end of the war.
After the war a surplus of military arms and imports of low cost guns caused sales to drop. Under Harold Wesson, the company manufactured other items to try to keep up profits. They made sewing machines, handcuffs, washing machines and toilet parts. But none of these items made the company profitable.
About this time, bullet-proof vests came into use. Gangsters quickly adopted them so that bullets traveling at under 1,000 fps would not penetrate them. S&W immediately began experimenting with improved bullets. They also used the famous firearms expert Bill Jordan as a consultant to help develop a new much more powerful handgun. What resulted was the first magnum cartridge, the S&W .357 Magnum. In 1935 they released the Smith & Wesson Model 19. Using a 125 grain bullet traveling at 1600 fps, it could easily defeat the body armor of the time.
World War II and afterEdit
By the start of the war S&W was nearly bankrupt. The company was now run by Carl R. Hellstrom. Under his management the company concentrated its efforts on handguns and the company began to expand. In 1965 the Wesson family sold the company to the Bangor Punta corporation. The company began producing firearms accessories as well as firearms. In 1884, S&W was sold to Lear Siegler who, in 1986, was acquired by Forstmann Little & Company. Forstmann & Little was mainly interested in Siegler's aerospace and automotive lines. So they sold Smith & Wesson to Tomkins plc, a British holding company. Under Tomkins, S&W developed a number of semiautomatic pistols. This included several using the new .40 S&W cartridge. During this time handgun sales declined. Because of anti-gun lawsuits, operating costs began to rise.
On March 17, 2000, Smith & Wesson made an agreement with US President Bill Clinton. It agreed to make changes in the design and distribution of its firearms. This was in return for "preferred buying program" to offset the loss of revenue as a result of anticipated boycott. All authorized S&W dealers and distributors had to follow a “code of conduct” to eliminate the sale of firearms to prohibited persons. Dealers had to agree to not allow children under 18 access to gun shops or sections of stores that contained firearms.
Acquisition by Saf-T-HammerEdit
On 11 May 2001, Saf-T-Hammer Corporation acquired Smith & Wesson from Tomkins plc for $15 million USD. This was a fraction of the $112 million originally paid by Tomkins. The Smith & Wesson purchase was chiefly brokered by Saf-T-Hammer President Bob Scott. He had left Smith & Wesson in 1999 because of a disagreement with Tomkins’ policies. After the purchase, Scott became the president of Smith & Wesson. He guided the 157-year-old company back to its former standing in the market.
On 15 February 2002, the name was changed to Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.
In December 2014, Smith & Wesson Holding announced it was paying $130.5 million for Battenfeld Technologies. This is a Columbia, Missouri-based designer and distributor of hunting and shooting accessories. This was part of a plan to merge all its existing Smith & Wesson, M&P and Thompson Center Arms accessories into a single division.
In August 2016 the company bought Crimson Trace, a laser-sight manufacturer, for $95 million. They bought Taylor Brands, a tool and knife maker, for $85 million. In November 2016 the company bought UST Brands, a survival equipment maker, for $32.3 million. On November 7, 2016, Smith & Wesson announced that it would be changing the name of its holding company to American Outdoor Brands Corporation.
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- Handley, Lucy (December 13, 2016). "Gun maker Smith & Wesson to change name to American Outdoor Brands Corp". CNBC. Retrieved January 28, 2017.