Smith & Wesson Came Of Age During Revolutionary Changes in Markets And Industry.

There are many American-made products that have become household names. From Coke to Levi’s, these brands have been around for decades and have an impact on our culture. One of the most iconic firearms manufacturers is Smith and Wesson. This company has been around since 1852, creating some of the most well-known guns in America’s history. Today, Smith and Wesson are still making guns. But the history as a company reads like an episode of Game of Thrones. What came to be known as Smith and Wesson was created in a time of revolutionary changes in manufacturing and the markets they served.  The telegraph, the railroads, machine tools, and improvements in printing and mail delivery all served to expand the reach of goods and services to towns and cities across this vast but relatively sparsely populated country of just thirty-four million people.  Now, advertisements of a new product made in a small town in Connecticut could reach far-flung California in days and a product ordered by mail could arrive in as little as a week by rail. It was in this environment of expanding markets that Smith & Wesson was born.

Here are some key facts about this brand worth knowing.

Photo; SOFREP file

The History of Smith and Wesson

In 1848, Walter Hunt was a prolific inventor and mechanic from New York. He had invented a new kind of internal mechanism for a rifle.  Rather than load each shot by hand, Hunt had devised a method whereby bullets stored in a tube magazine would be loaded by means of a lever which would move the round from the magazine to the barrel and then after it was fired, extract the spent cartridge when the lever was pulled down and then insert a new one when it was pulled back up.  It was a pretty revolutionary way to load a rifle in a time when most firearms were muzzleloaders and a shooter had to pour powder and shot into the barrel and then affix a percussion cap by hand  This new lever-action design could get off nine shots in the time it would take to load just one in a musket. Hunt had sold the patents for both the mechanism and a new bullet and casing design to the Robbins & Lawrence Co who’s own gunsmith, Lewis Jennings was able to improve it and develop it into a fully-realized firearm, the Volcanic Rifle.  Supervising production was a man named Ben Henry who was very particular about quality control and making a rifle that was perfect in every way known at that time.

Walter Hunt would take the money for his patent and move on to other inventions like the closed stitch sewing machine and the safety pin.