Smith & Wesson’s origins can be traced to 1850, when Horace Smith and D B. Wesson first became acquainted while working as subcontractors supervising the manufacturing of different firearms at the Robbins and Lawrence Company in Windsor, Vermont. It is speculated that it is here where the two men first had the opportunity to discuss their dream of producing a firearm that was a “repeater” and would use a full self-contained cartridge. Now, after more than 160 years in existence, the company created by their eventual partnership is one of the most well-respected of its kind. As you might imagine, a lot can happen—and be forgotten—during such an expansive history. With that in mind, here are 10 things you probably didn’t know about Smith & Wesson.
The facts below were put together with help from Smith & Wesson and the company’s historian, Roy Jinks. For additional information, interested readers might consider picking up “History of Smith & Wesson,” which he authored, or “Images of Smith & Wesson” by Jinks and Sandra C. Krein.
1. Smith & Wesson failed in their first venture.
By 1852, the two men had a prototype lever action-repeating pistol and had formed a partnership to produce the new style firearm in Norwich, Connecticut. Although the design would later be recognized as an invaluable step forward, the firm failed, and by 1854, Horace Smith & D B. Wesson were forced to sell the company to Oliver Winchester, a shirt manufacturer from New Haven, Connecticut. The original design by Smith & Wesson reached its full potential in 1866 when it emerged as the basic design for the famous Winchester Repeating Rifle.
2. D.B. Wesson worked for Winchester.
After their original firm had failed, Wesson agreed to stay on and work as a plant superintendent to help Oliver Winchester get his new plant operating. While in his employment, Wesson designed a small revolver that fired a rimfire cartridge that he and Smith would later patent. After discussing the design with Horace, the two decided to reform Smith & Wesson in Springfield, Massachusetts.