The following information about records set with Smith & Wesson revolvers comes from Burning Powder by Lt. Col. Douglas B. Wesson. Burning Powder is also available to purchase in print.
While pistols and revolvers have been in existence for a great number of years, it is, comparatively speaking, a matter of only a very short time since accurate shooting has been done. The single shot hand gun has been known in some form for many years; in the Dresden Museum we find the early 16th Century “Monks gun,” a short hand piece with a hook, or “haaken” for hanging on the belt. Even the revolver, which we frequently find referred to as a development of comparatively recent date, is found in the Alte Deulscher Drehling Der Ruckladungs Gewehre, shown in ancient form of lock revolver said to belong to the period of 1450 to 1500!
The first record that we can find of a shooting match with hand-arms was in 1860 between a Captain John Travers of Missouri and another gentleman, as described briefly in the Introduction of this booklet.
It is extremely interesting to note that from approximately 1500 to 1860 this is the only record that we can find that permits us to estimate the possibilities of accuracy with hand-arms, and yet in a lapse of but twenty-eight years we find Sergeant W. C. Johnston, Jr., in 1888 scoring a 10-shot possible on the present Standard American 50 yard target at 50 yards, and then following it with six additional 10’s. This record has yet to be equalled. It is, of course, a great pleasure to us to again mention the fact that Sergeant Johnston was using the famous .44 S&W Russian Model and was using the full service .44 S&W Russian ammunition.
The most recent revolver shooting of note was by E. S. Winn in establishing the present 20 and 50 yard fifty shot “Any Revolver” records with 488×500 and 483×500 respectively, raising the previous mark at 20 yards 1 point and the 50 yard 9 points. Mr. Winn accomplished this most excellent work with the S&W K-.22 revolver. From 1888 to 1938—fifty years of record making and breaking by shooters of Smith & Wesson revolvers!
Smith & Wesson Arms That Have Made History
1854—The S&W Repeating Pistol. A repeating pistol with tubular magazine. This was finally acquired by the Winchester Repeating Arms Co., remodeled to take modern metallic ammunition and became the original Winchester lever action repeating rifle.
1856—The Model No. 1 .22 Cal. rim fire 7 shot revolver. The first breech loading revolver using metallic ammunition as it is known today. Smith & Wesson owning the patents and manufacturing both the revolver and ammunition.
1870—The .44 S&W Single Action Russian Model, the first revolver actually demonstrated to have accuracy beyond the ability of the shooter to hold. This arm established hundreds of records in the hands of experts throughout the world, one of which, at least, remains unequalled to this day.
1888—The .32 and .38 Cal. Hammerless Safety. Here was the first hand-arm designed with a positive safeguard against accidental discharge as a prime feature. This model is still manufactured in practically its original form, and, as with many of our other models, has been widely copied throughout the world.
1891—The .22 Cal. 10 inch Single Shot. For many years every pistol record established in this country was made by men shooting this model.
1902—The .38 Cal. Military and Police. No other model of revolver with the exception of the .44 Russian has made as many records in the hands of the shooters as this. A wonderful target arm and a standard in Police Departments throughout the country. More of this model have been manufactured and sold than of any other model of any make.
1917—The .45 Cal. Government Model. This revolver with the clip designed and patented by Smith & Wesson permits the use of the .45 Government Auto cartridge in it, thereby doubling the possible production of side arms for the U.S. Army during the late war. This model chambered for the .455 Mark II cartridge was also supplied to the English and Canadian forces.
1931—The K-.22. This model is actually the .38 Military and Police rifled and chambered for the .22 Long Rifle cartridge. It is in this arm that was introduced the “Recessed Headspace” in the cylinder that was so promptly and widely copied by other manufacturers of revolvers. This model is making history in target shooting and is the one used by Mr. Ed Winn in establishing the present 20 and 50 yard 50 shot “Any Revolver” records.
1931—The .38/44 Smith & Wesson Heavy Duty and Outdoorsman’s. This arm in itself does not mark a great advance in the art, but is interesting due to the fact that it was for this model that the Remington Company, working closely with us produced the .38/44 S&W Special cartridge; this cartridge represents the first attempt on the part of the ammunition companies to improve the ballistic qualities of revolver ammunition to any marked extent since the advent of the .38 S&W Special cartridge in 1902.
1935—The S&W “.357” Magnum. The greatest advance in hand-arms and hand-arm ballistics since the original Smith & Wesson revolver in 1856. Not only does this revolver show far greater range, velocity, impact value, and accuracy combined than any other hand-arm on the market, but it also carried a guarantee that, by the best information obtainable, is unique in the history of arms manufacturers; the S&W “.357” Magnum is guaranteed against loss of accuracy or malfunctioning of any kind, when used with proper ammunition and given reasonable care, for the lifetime of the owner!