Few things in American history are more iconic than Smith and Wesson and its legendary revolvers. One might even make the case that revolvers represent the rugged simplicity of the American spirit. For well over 100 years, Smith and Wesson has built some of the most noteworthy handguns in America.
Smith and Wesson's .38 Special Cartridge
Near the end of the 19th century, America found itself involved in the Spanish-American War. As American forces fought in the Philippines, US troops made an unfortunate discovery about the performance of their standard-issue revolvers chambered in .38 Long Colt. During combat with guerrillas, American forces found the .38 Long Colt cartridge woefully underpowered.
Word got back to Smith and Wesson about the deficiencies of .38 Long Colt, and they decided to improve the cartridge. Engineers lengthened the case to increase the gun powder capacity, which in turn boosted muzzle velocity. Faster muzzle velocity meant more power for the new round. This new caliber became known as .38 Special. The new .38 Special round was an immediate hit with military and law enforcement. In fact, American law enforcement continued to carry revolvers chambered in the adequately powerful and mild recoiling .38 Special round until the 1990s.
The Smith and Wesson Model 10 Revolver
Smith and Wesson introduced the Model 1899 Hand Ejector model in 1899 and while the handgun lasted decades, the original name was shortlived. The manufacturer quickly renamed the Model 1899 the Military and Police Model indicating their ideal customer. This .38 Special caliber revolver featured a solid steel frame, double-action, and a hand-operated ejector rod for removing empty cases. Early models featured an exposed hand ejector rod. By 1902, the revolvers featured an under-barrel lug to lock the ejector rod in place. While previous iterations without the ejector rod lock certainly were not unsafe, the under-barrel ejector lock models featured a third locking point for the cylinder.
Smith and Wesson continued to produce the Military and Police revolver throughout WWI and WWII. During that time, the US Military issued it as an alternative sidearm to the then-standard 1911 in .45 ACP. By the mid-1950s, Smith and Wesson once again changed the name of the revolver to the much simpler Model 10.
Most forward-thinking companies develop ways to simplify manufacturing while lowering costs. Brilliant companies figure out ways to do this while raising the quality of the product at the same time. Smith and Wesson continued to improve production efficiency without hurting build quality throughout the production Model 10 revolvers. Remarkably, Smith and Wesson still offers the Model 10 to this day which means versions of the 1899 Hand Ejector Model have been in production for 120 years.
Model 10-6 and 10-8 Iterations
A foreign law enforcement agency recently decided to upgrade their sidearms. What does that have to do with me and you? We now have access to the Model 10-6 and 10-8 revolvers they used. These iterations of the Model 10 represent the 6th and 8th changes in Smith and Wesson’s production methods. The Model 10-6 features a heavy 4” barrel that eliminates the trigger guard screw. Anytime manufactures replace a screw on a firearm with something more secure it is an improvement since screws can back out under recoil. In the Model 10-8, Smith and Wesson moved the gas ring location from the crane (the swinging arm that holds the cylinder) to the cylinder itself. Most folks will never notice these changes, and they are improvements in the manufacturing process that had no adverse effect on the quality of either the Model 10-6 or 10-8.
The Smith and Wesson Model 10 harkens to a simpler time in America when a .38 Special wheel gun was plenty enough for anyone's needs. After these Model 10s served in a foreign police force, we are happy to bring them back home to America for our customers to enjoy and pass down for generations. Shop our Smith and Wesson Model 10-6 and Model 10-8 revolvers today!