Smith & Wesson

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Smith & Wesson (S&W) is a manufacturer of firearms in the United States. The corporate headquarters are based in Springfield, Massachusetts. Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson’s pistols and revolvers have become standard issue to police and armed forces throughout the world, in addition to their popularity among sport shooters.

Apart from firearms, Smith & Wesson has been known for the many types of ammunition it has introduced over the years, and many cartridges bear the company’s name.

Early history

Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson founded the Smith & Wesson Company in Norwich, Connecticut in 1852 to develop the Volcanic rifle. Smith developed a new Volcanic Cartridge, which he patented in 1854. The Smith & Wesson Company was renamed Volcanic Repeating Arms in 1855, and was purchased by Oliver Winchester. Smith left the company and returned to his native Springfield, Massachusetts, Wesson stayed on as plant manager with Volcanic Repeating Arms.

As Samuel Colt’s patent on the revolver was set to expire in 1856, Wesson began developing a prototype for a cartridge revolver. His research pointed out that a former Colt employee named Rollin White held the patent for a “Bored-through” cylinder, a component he would need for his invention. Wesson reconnected with Smith and the two partners approached White to manufacture a newly designed revolver-and-cartridge combination.

Rather than make White a partner in their company, Smith and Wesson paid him a royalty of $0.25 on every revolver that they made. It would become White’s responsibility to defend his patent in any court cases which eventually led to his financial ruin, but was very advantageous for the new Smith & Wesson Company.

The Civil War

Smith & Wesson’s revolvers came into popular demand with the outbreak of the American Civil War as soldiers from all ranks on both sides of the conflict made private purchases of the revolvers for self-defense.

The orders for the Smith & Wesson Model 1 revolver outpaced the factory’s production capabilities. In 1860 demand was so great that Smith & Wesson expanded into a new facility and began experimenting with a new cartridge design more suitable than the .22 Short that it had been using.

At the same time, the company’s design was being infringed upon by other manufacturers which led to numerous lawsuits filed by Rollin White. In many of these instances part of the restitution came in the form of the offender being forced to stamp “Manufactured for Smith & Wesson” on the revolvers in question

White’s vigorous defense of his patent caused a problem for armsmakers in the United States at the time as they could not manufacture cartridge revolvers. At the end of the war the US Government charged White with causing the retardation of arms development in America.

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Revolvers

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With the development of the revolver in the 19th century, gunsmiths had finally achieved the goal of a practical capability for delivering multiple loads to one pistol barrel in quick succession. Revolvers feed ammunition via the rotation of a cartridge-filled cylinder, in which each cartridge is contained in its own ignition chamber, and is sequentially brought into alignment with the firearms barrel by an indexing mechanism linked to the firearms trigger (double-action) or its hammer (single-action). These nominally cylindrical chambers, usually numbering between five and ten depending on the size of the revolver and the size of the cartridge being fired, are bored through the cylinder so that their axes are parallel to the cylinder’s axis of rotation; thus, as the cylinder rotates, the chambers revolve about the cylinder’s axis.

Single-shot pistols

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Single-shot pistols are the simplest possible form of pistols and are known to have existed in AD 1365

The earliest handguns were single-shot, muzzle-loading guns with ignition provided by inserting a smoldering match cord into a touch hole. As such, they were essentially nothing more than miniature cannon, small enough to be handheld.

Improvements followed in subsequent centuries, as various types of locks (ignition devices) were invented. In the matchlock, the separate match cord was affixed to a spring-loaded pivot which could be tripped by a trigger. In the wheellock, a mechanism analogous to that used in today’s cigarette lighters replaced the smoldering match cord. In the 17th century, the flintlock, which strikes a flint against steel, appeared. The flintlock remained the standard method of small arms ignition around two hundred years. In the 19th century, percussion caps were developed, followed shortly by modern integrated-primer cartridges, and hammers therefore traded their flint for firing pins.

An example of a single-shot pistol is the flare gun. Although not intended to be a weapon, many variants have been made (See Flare gun). One example is the Kampfpistole, or Sturmpistole in its final form, which was designed to function as an anti-tank weapon.

Handgun

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A handgun is a firearm designed to be handheld, in either one or both hands. This characteristic differentiates handguns as a general class of firearms from long guns such as rifles and shotguns (which usually can be braced against the shoulder).

Major handgun subtypes are the revolver and pistol (including single-shot pistols, semi-automatic pistols, and machine pistols); other subtypes include derringers and pepperboxes.

The words “pistol” and “handgun” have overlapping variations, in meaning.

Although handgun use often includes bracing with a second hand, the essential distinguishing characteristic of a handgun is its facility for one-handed operation.

Magnum Research

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Magnum Research Inc. (MRI) is an American privately held corporation based in Fridley, Minnesota which manufactures and distributes firearms. The majority owners, Jim Skildum (President and CEO) and John Risdall (Chairman, COO), have been with the company since its founding in 1979.

In June 2010, Kahr Arms, an American-based producer of compact pistols, announced its purchase of the Minnesota-based firearms manufacturer.

Products

MRI was responsible for the design and development of the Desert Eagle pistol. For some time the pistols were also manufactured by Israel Military Industries until 1995, when MRI shifted the manufacturing contract and license to Saco Defense in Saco, Maine. In 2000 MRI shifted manufacturing back to IMI, which later reorganized under the name Israel Weapon Industries. Since 2009 the Desert Eagle Pistol has been exclusively produced in the USA only, at MRI’s Pillager, Minnesota facility. Both Saco and IMI/IWI were strictly just manufacturing contractors: all of the intellectual property, including patents, copyrights and trademarks of the Desert Eagle since its creation have been the property of Magnum Research Incorporated.Magnum Research imported the IMI/IWI Jericho 941 series of pistols under the Baby Eagle name until the end of 2008 and resumed importation of this model in 2011 under the name Baby Eagle II. Currently, the Baby Eagle name is used on a new series of striker-fired polymer-framed pistols. For a time they also imported the Barak SP-21 pistol, but it is no longer offered. Other products include the BFR series of single-action magnum revolvers, the Mountain Eagle rifle, Magnum Lite rifle, and Micro Desert Eagle.

MRI offers custom gunsmithing services and has a line of guns that are coated with titanium nitride in artful patterns and designs.

Beretta

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Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta [ˈfabbrika ˈdarmi ˈpjɛtro beˈretta] (literally, “Pietro Beretta Arms Factory”) is a privately held Italian firearms manufacturing company operating in several countries. Its firearms are used worldwide for a variety of civilian, criminal,law enforcement, and military purposes. Sporting arms account for three-quarters of sales; Beretta is also known for marketing shooting clothes and accessories. Founded in the 16th century, Beretta is the oldest active manufacturer of firearm components in the world. In 1526 its inaugural product was arquebus barrels; by all accounts Beretta-made barrels equipped the Venetian fleet at the Battle of Lepanto in 1571. In 1650 the company invented the breech-loading cannon, and Beretta has supplied weapons for every major European war since.

Beretta’s sister company, Beretta USA Corp., located in the United States, manufactured and delivered over 600,000 M9 pistols to the United States Armed Forces starting in 1985. It lost the contract in 2017.

Overview

Today, Fabbrica d’Armi Pietro Beretta (Beretta S.p.A) is run by Franco Gussalli Beretta, President and CEO.

The traditional father-to-son Beretta dynasty was interrupted when Ugo Gussalli Beretta assumed the firm’s control; uncles Carlo and Giuseppe Beretta were childless; Ugo married into the Beretta family and adopted the last name Beretta. His sons are now direct descendants through their mother’s side of the family.

Beretta is known for its broad range of firearms: side-by-side shotguns, over-and-under shotguns, hunting rifles, express rifles, assault rifles, submachine guns, lever- and bolt-action rifles, single- and double-action revolvers and semi-automatic pistols. The parent company, Beretta Holding, also owns Beretta USA, Benelli, Franchi, SAKO, Stoeger, Tikka, Uberti, and the Burris Optics company.

The model Beretta 92FS is the primary side arm of the United States Army, Marine Corps and Air Force, designated the M9 pistol.In 1985, Beretta was chosen after a controversial competition to produce the M9, winning a contract for 500,000 pistols. A condition of the original agreement was domestic fabrication of the M9. After complaints from servicemen, the Beretta M9 lost the U.S. Army sidearm contract on January 19, 2017 to the 9mm version of the Sig Sauer P320.