Ever seen an XM-10?

Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson is one of the oldest American gunmakers, only narrowly bested by Remington who claims a circa 1816 origin. While best known for their revolvers, Smith is also one of the oldest makers of semi-auto pistols in the world, having placed Belgian engineer Charles Philibert Clement’s interesting .35 S&W blowback autoloader into production in 1913. This later morphed into the Model 35, for obvious reasons.

After selling the U.S. and British military somewhere on the order of 900,000 “Victory Model” .38-caliber revolvers during World War II, Smith took an interest in a series of pistol trials conducted by the U.S. Army between 1948 and 1954 to produce a lightweight handgun that would replace not only the service’s stocks of .38 wheelguns but also the millions of M1911 .45ACP pistols.

The resulting X100 program saw Smith & Wesson’s Chief Designer, Joe Norman, develop a 7+1 single-stack 9mm pistol with a double-action trigger like the Walther P-38 and a Browning-style unlocking system. It was lighter and more compact than the M1911, as well as being more modern by far.

In the end, the bean counters decided that the Army could make do with what they had rather than buy more handguns and stuck with the status quo until 1986. 

January 1955: U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Colonel John Rentsch visited Smith & Wesson President Carl R. Hellstrom to examine the brand new Model 39. Developed over six years and through 30 prototype changes during the Army’s XM100 program, the Model 39 became the first double-action, auto-loading pistol made in the U.S. (Photo: S&W)

However, not to let six years of R&D go to waste, Smith introduced the definitive version of the T4/X100 to the commercial market in 1955 as the Model 39, and it was the first American-made 9mm available.

Model 39 ad

With that being said, there are a few XM-100s and the later XM-10 floating around. The XM-10, of course, was Smith’s 1980s attempt at again winning the same contract to replace the Army’s .38s and .45s with a new 9mm pistol, this time a modification of the company’s Second Generation Model 459, itself an evolution of the old XM-100/Model 39.

A lesson in what could have been.

One of the few S&W XM-10 trials guns floating around, complete with its factory 20-round mag. Via Jeff Zimba (BigShooterist), Poulin Auctions

Via Poulin Auctions:

TRIALS PISTOL. Cal. 9mm Parabellum. S# A883390. Bbl. 4″. An extremely rare S&W pistol to find in public hands. This is one of only 40 total mfg. w/ a minute number finding their way to the open market. Equally as rare if not more unusual is the inclusion of the original 20 rd. mag. that accompanies it.

The alloy frame is a traditional dark black while the slide, bbl. & hammer is parkerized. The serrated slide includes all of the unique features of the XM-10 project consisting of the oversized extractor, the barrel, and the bushing plus special dedicated rear sight. The hammer spur is serrated as well as the ambidextrous safety / decocker, the slide release, and both front and backstraps. Lanyard loop below pistol grip. It is interesting to note that the traditional long-time safety mechanism that disables their pistols when no magazine is inserted is not present in this example. Checkered trigger guard. Black plastic checkered grips with S&W insignia.

A letter signed by S&W Performance Center Co-Founder & former Chief Design Engineer, Paul S. Liebenberg states that: “this particular handgun was definitely involved in the military test and the condition reflects that fact, even though in actuality, the weapon is in excellent mechanical and aesthetic condition and totally original. It was never abused or used in an endurance or destruction test”.

MAGS: 1 extremely rare 20 rd. as submitted for test trials.

UNATTACHED ACCESSORIES: signed declaration of authenticity. A blue plastic S&W foam-lined shipping case w/ partially removed side label.

CONDITION: original finish on the frame is remarkably unblemished aside from a few minute handling marks. The slide finish, upon close inspection, demonstrates a little thinning in areas of mechanical intervention which occurs almost immediately and on some high spots. Some thinning on slide release is typically associated w/ holstering. Shiny bore w/ sharp rifling. The fire control mechanism appears to function correctly when cycled by hand.

PROVENANCE: Estate collection of Fred Inganamort. (22-1639/JZ). MODERN. $5,000-7,000.

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