If you are a fan of firearms, you may have wondered if Dan Wesson, the founder of Dan Wesson Firearms, is related to Smith and Wesson, the legendary revolver company. The answer is yes, but not in a direct way. Dan Wesson was the great-grandson of Daniel B. Wesson, who co-founded Smith and Wesson with Horace Smith in 1856. However, Dan Wesson did not inherit or work for Smith and Wesson, but instead created his own company with a different vision and philosophy. Here is the story behind the names of these two iconic American firearm brands.
The Origins of Smith and Wesson
Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson were both gunsmiths who shared a passion for innovation and quality. They first partnered in 1852 in Norwich, Connecticut, to develop the Volcanic rifle, a lever-action firearm that used caseless self-consuming bullets. However, this venture failed due to technical and financial difficulties, and the company was sold to Oliver Winchester, who later renamed it as the Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
Smith and Wesson did not give up on their dream of creating a successful firearm business. They formed a second partnership in 1856 in Springfield, Massachusetts, to produce small revolvers that fired self-contained metallic cartridges. These revolvers featured bored-through cylinder chambers that allowed for easy loading and unloading. They also used a patented design by Rollin White, a former Colt employee, who granted Smith and Wesson an exclusive license for his invention.
Smith and Wesson’s revolvers became very popular during the American Civil War, as soldiers from both sides preferred them for their reliability and convenience. Smith and Wesson also introduced larger and more powerful revolvers in the 1870s, such as the Model 3, which was adopted by several armies around the world. The company also developed some of the most famous cartridges in history, such as the .38 Special, the .357 Magnum, and the .44 Magnum.
Smith and Wesson continued to dominate the revolver market until the late 20th century, when semi-automatic pistols became more prevalent. The company then diversified its product line to include various models of pistols, rifles, shotguns, and accessories. Smith and Wesson also faced several changes in ownership and management over the years, but remained one of the most respected and recognized firearm brands in the world.
The Rise of Dan Wesson Firearms
Daniel B. Wesson II was born in 1916 in Worcester, Massachusetts. He was the son of a toolmaker and grew up around machinery and metalworking. He also inherited his great-grandfather’s interest in firearms and began experimenting with guns at an early age. He worked for Smith and Wesson from 1938 to 1963, where he learned the trade and gained experience in production and quality control.
However, Dan Wesson was not satisfied with working for his family’s company. He had his own ideas and vision for creating innovative firearms that would challenge the status quo. He left Smith and Wesson in 1963 and started his own company in 1968 with Karl Lewis, a former engineer from Browning and Colt. They named their company Dan Wesson Arms Inc., which later became Dan Wesson Firearms.
Dan Wesson’s main product was a unique revolver that featured a modular design with interchangeable barrels, shrouds, grips, and sights. This allowed users to customize their revolvers according to their preferences and needs. The revolver also had a very strong frame and a precise barrel alignment that ensured accuracy and durability. The revolver came in various calibers, such as .22 LR, .357 Magnum, .44 Magnum, and .45 Colt.
Dan Wesson’s revolver was very well received by target shooters, hunters, collectors, and enthusiasts who appreciated its versatility and performance. It also won several awards and competitions for its accuracy and quality. However, Dan Wesson’s revolver did not achieve widespread popularity or success due to its unconventional appearance, high price tag, limited marketing, and competition from other brands.
Dan Wesson Firearms also faced several challenges over the years, such as financial difficulties, legal disputes, ownership changes, production issues, and market fluctuations. The company went through several reorganizations and relocations until it was acquired by CZ-USA in 2005. CZ-USA continued to produce Dan Wesson’s revolvers as well as other products such as semi-automatic pistols based on the 1911 design.
Dan Wesson was related to Smith and Wesson by blood but not by business. He was an independent entrepreneur who created his own company with his own vision and philosophy. He did not follow or imitate his great-grandfather’s legacy but instead forged his own path in the firearm industry. He produced some of the most innovative and distinctive revolvers ever made that earned him respect and admiration from many firearm enthusiasts.
Smith and Wesson was an established company that had a long and rich history of producing some of the most iconic and influential revolvers in the world. They also diversified their product line to include other types of firearms and accessories that catered to various markets and customers. They maintained their reputation and recognition as one of the leading firearm brands in the world.
Both Dan Wesson and Smith and Wesson contributed to the development and evolution of firearms in America and beyond. They both represented the spirit of innovation, quality, and excellence that characterized American firearm manufacturing. They both left a lasting mark on the firearm culture and history that will not be forgotten.