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Smith & Wesson Rimfire Handguns

In 1852, Horace Smith, who honed his skills in the firearms trade while working at the National Armory, and Daniel B. Wesson, a former apprentice to his brother, Edwin Wesson, the leading maker of target pistols and rifles in the 1840s, formed a partnership to market a lever action repeating pistol. Together, they formed Smith & Wesson. The legendary arms maker dominated the handgun business in the consumer, law enforcement, and military markets for almost a century.

A large part of that dominance is due to Smith & Wesson's groundbreaking development of rim-fired cartridges, which replaced loose powder, musket balls, and percussion caps. After obtaining a patent in 1854, the company went on to produce the Smith & Wesson Model 1, the world’s first completely self-contained rimfire cartridge revolver. The weapon was so popular that demand for the rimfire .22 outstripped production during the U.S. Civil War.

Smith & Wesson’s rimfire technology became the standard for ammunition before being largely replaced by reloadable centerfire cartridges. The hard-to-find well-balanced Model 63 is considered a classic in the world of rimfire handguns. The sleek and stable S&W 22A Rimfire pistol is one of the most relied upon small-caliber handguns for recreational and competitive target shooting.

With a legacy of quality American-made handguns dating back to the pre-Civil War era, Smith & Wesson rimfire handguns remain some of the world's most coveted weapons.

Quick Facts

  • In 2011, a rare Smith & Wesson .44 rimfire single-action Henry Army revolver, the finest example known, sold at a James D Julia auction for $201,250
  • In 2013 at Bonhams, the .32-caliber rimfire Smith & Wesson carried by Wild Bill Hickok at the time of his death reached $220,00 in bidding, but failed to meet its reserve. It was estimated to sell for $300,000 to $500,000
  • A Smith & Wesson six-shot pocket revolver with a lanyard ring sold at a Bonhams auction in August 2010 for only £384

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