Smith & Wesson Revolvers: A Classic or Overrated? It’s difficult to beat a revolver for reliability.
They usually don’t malfunction or jam because they have fewer moving parts compared to semi-automatics.
They are effective in home defense situations.
Many are chambered in many different calibers including beefy .44 or .357 Magnum for heavy-duty stopping power. They are easy to maintain – just use a bore brush for the barrel and cylinders and then wipe down the piece.
But revolvers tend to be heavier and slower to load if you are not used to them.
Is Smith & Wesson Keeping Up With the Competition?
You can’t discuss revolvers without mentioning the Smith & Wesson brand. Since Horace Smith and Daniel Baird Wesson made their first repeating pistol in 1852, Smith & Wesson have been perfecting their firearms. But is S&W resting on its laurels and letting the competition eclipse them? Colt and Ruger make commendable revolvers too.
History of Smith & Wesson Revolvers
For Smith & Wesson, it was the Model 3 American that put them on the map in 1869. This gun, like the Peacemaker, proliferated around the Old West and was especially prized during the Civil War. The gun maker is also widely known for its Model 10 .38 caliber Military and Police revolver. By 1935, Smith & Wesson had a .357 Magnum version. In 1956, S&W pioneered the Model 29 .44 caliber made famous in popular culture by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. Then in 1966, S&W unveiled the first stainless steel revolver. In the 1980s profits went down because police departments in the United States were switching to lighter semi-automatics made by Glock and SIG Sauer.
Uh Oh, Quality May Be Taking a Hit
But lately, according to some reviewers, the Smith & Wesson brand has taken a dive. Gun blogger Chuck Hawks gives examples of why the S&W revolvers are having trouble accomplishing their basic mission.
First, two .22 Masterpiece target revolvers he inspected for a sporting goods store were so out of the ordinary that the cylinders could not be rotated fully. Upon another inspection for a gun shop, Hawks found the “cylinder ratchet notches were so poorly machined that no two were identical.” After a day at the range with a new Chief’s Special .38 Special revolver, he noticed that all the chambers on the cylinder had a small bulge.
These types of issues are likely the cause of poor quality control at the manufacturer. Hawks thinks the revolvers are not being tested correctly.
“Such examples are far too numerous and widespread. Design, quality, and quality control problems have been endemic to Smith & Wesson firearms for decades,” he wrote.
Some Reviewers Still Sing Praises for the S&W Revolver
S&W revolvers are still popular with other reviewers. Some like the heavy trigger pull that will keep the gun from firing unexpectedly. There are numerous types of holsters that offer ample concealment. You can usually find quality ammunition for the pistol.
The Model 500 Is One of the Most Powerful S&W Revolvers
The S&W Model 500 gets good reviews. You can mount optics on the Model 500. The front sight is interchangeable, and the rear sight is adjustable. 1945’s own Richard Douglas sings its praises.
“For one, Smith & Wesson recently developed the innovative ‘x-frame’ to give you a better grip and help to handle the recoil that comes along with the immense power of this handgun. This makes the 500 very comfortable to handle, and even features a recoil-absorbing rubberized grip complete with finger grooves to let you hold the gun at an angle that allows for optimal control and accuracy,” according to Douglas.
Smith & Wesson: Enviable Sales and Profits
Smith & Wesson has a legion of fans. You can tell from their record sales and profits. Sales went up 100 percent year over year in July 2021. The company made over $250 million in profit during that period. S&W paid off its corporate debt and even gave full-time workers $1,200 bonuses.
All told Smith & Wesson revolvers get mixed reviews. It seems there are problems when models are produced in high numbers. Like all new guns, keep a close eye on your pistol when it comes out of the box and inspect it carefully after your first day on the range.
If there are problems with your Smith & Wesson revolver, the company has a limited one-year warranty. When you find a defect, put it in writing and the company promises that it will fix the problem free of charge.
Now serving as 1945’s Defense and National Security Editor, Brent M. Eastwood, PhD, is the author of Humans, Machines, and Data: Future Trends in Warfare. He is an Emerging Threats expert and former U.S. Army Infantry officer. You can follow him on Twitter @BMEastwood.