Going Behind the Scenes at S&W

In the Select Fire series over at Guns.com that I host, I really dig factory tours of gunmakers as each will have a different way to run a shop. Speaking to this, I recently got to visit Smith & Wesson’s historic Springfield, Massachusetts factory to see what goes into making some of the finest revolvers in the world.

Celebrating 170 years in the firearms industry, the company gets its name from the 1852 partnership between Horace Smith and D.B. Wesson. Just two years later, the company debuted the .41 Magazine Pistol, best known as “The Volcanic” — the first repeating American firearm capable of successfully using a fully self-contained cartridge. By 1857, S&W was producing the Model 1 and Model 3 revolver, guns that soon marched off to war and one that Mark Twain carried in his early travels in the West, writing in his 1872 book, “Roughing It,” that, “I thought it was grand.”

Fast forward to the present and Smith is still rocking and rolling. While they have made moves to shift black rifle construction and headquarters to a new factory in Tennessee, the company’s legacy plant in Springfield is still working around the clock and will continue to house its traditional revolver line.

With that, I got the rundown on the process from beginning to end and cover it in detail in the above 18-minute factory tour.

One thing I noticed during our time in Springfield was that, especially when it comes to revolver work, the more things change the more they stay the same.

Check out these images of S&W workers from 1956 compared to ones on the line today. While the machines and safety equipment have been upgraded, the invaluable human factors of attention to detail and quality endure, despite the generational change.

Anyway, the 18-minute tour is here:

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