Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson came from old New England families. Horace learned the firearms trade while working at the National Armory in Springfield, Massachusetts. Daniel’s experience came from apprenticing with his brother Edwin Wesson, the leading maker of target rifles and pistols in the 1840s.
The two men formed their first partnership in 1852 in Norwich, Connecticut, with the aim of marketing a lever action repeating pistol that could use a fully self-contained cartridge. Smith & Wesson’s contribution to the history of handgun and cartridge development continued through the 20th Century. The first Magnum revolver, the .357 Magnum, was introduced by the company in 1935. In 1955 the first American made double action auto-loading pistol, the Model 39, was introduced.
The accomplishments of Smith & Wesson are so numerous that it is impossible to understand the history of modern handguns without first understanding the history of Smith & Wesson. Smith & Wesson was an industry leader in 1852 when it was first founded and continues to lead the world today with innovations into the 21st century.