Smith & Wesson HQ (courtesy juliegolob.com)

“We’ve faced tyranny on the battlefield together; helped tame the Wild West; kept the streets safe; and shared in successful days afield and fun trips to the range. America celebrates its 237th birthday this week and its relationship with Smith & Wesson remains a close and longstanding one, as evidenced by a recent survey that listed the iconic firearms manufacturer as one of the country’s most patriotic brands.” So sayeth Smith’s press release. Brand Keys conducted the survey in question, based on some kind of interaction with 4500 consumers. The press release fails to mention that BK asked respondents about 35 pre-selected brands. Which kinda throws a wet blanket on the following statement . . .

The survey results indicated that the Smith & Wesson brand is one of the 25 most patriotic brands in America, a result the company credits to its 161-year commitment to consumers, law enforcement and military customers, as well as its tireless support of Second Amendment freedoms. Founded in 1852, Smith & Wesson is the third-oldest brand on the list and the only firearms manufacturer to be named. The list also included a host of other industry-leading brands and top market performers across multiple product categories.

OK, so they kinda did mention the pre-selection bit. Ish. In fact, Smith & Wesson didn’t make the top ten. Or the top 16. And then there’s a question about Smith’s “tireless support of the Second Amendment.” If I recall correctly, S&W (British-owned at the time)  got a little fatigued on that whole 2A thing at the turn of the century. Wikipedia:

In 2000 the Clinton administration reached an agreement with Smith & Wesson, to end federal and state lawsuits, in exchange for marketing and design changes by the company. Some of the items Smith & Wesson agreed to were; to sell guns with locks, to build the locks in the weapons within two years, implement smart gun technology, and take ballistic fingerprints of its guns. Clinton called the deal a “major victory for America’s families.” The NRA and other gun rights groups heavily criticized the settlement calling Smith & Wesson’s actions “a sell-out”, with the NRA calling the agreement “”tantamount to back door blackmail”. Smith & Wesson’s ownership changed in 2001 and the agreement fell apart after George W. Bush came to office and supported lawsuit protection for gun manufactures. However, Smith & Wesson continues to sell guns with internal locks.

I reckon Smith & Wesson learned their lesson. A massive consumer boycott tends to focus the mind. But who knows? When a company whitewashes its history they risk proving George Santayana right about memory failure leading to unconscious repetition. Just sayin’.

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51 Responses to Smith & Wesson Forgets to Remember (or Remembers to Forget)

  1. British ownership of my beloved Smith & Wesson made me very sad.

    The wikipedia article notes that S&W is still making guns with internal locks. Well, the company that bought S&W from the Brits was Saf-T-Hammer, which makes internal gun locks. They bought S&W so they’d have a market for their silly locks.

    S&W will be lock-free in a year, and until then the locks are more easily removed from the guns than Magpul is from Colorado.

    • The whole “lock” thing is ‘progressivism’ in microcosm: good intentions.

      Efficacy, cost, functionality, personal responsibility, and consequences be damned. Nothing else matters, so long as “good intentions” were the motivation.

    • My wife bought a 686 last year, had no idea it had an internal lock. Gonna have to take care of that.

  2. I’m not going to continue beating on a company that changed ownership after it’s transgression. Smith and Wesson makes the smoothest bone stock factory revolver out there. And if you’re a revolver man, as I am, Smith and wesson has a place in your safe.

    • + 1 on the stock revolver quality.

      I have a 686 Plus and a 642, and I love them both dearly. The 686 is more accurate than I’ll ever be.

    • There are a couple of very nice Smith and Wessons in my safe, a 6″ model 28 Highway Patrolman made in 1974 and a model 58 M&P 41 magnum made in 1970 And in addition to those I have a WWII victory model M&P and a model 38 Airweight Bodyguard also made in the seventies that I carry on a regular basis and know that it will never fail because I or my spouse might have locked it and forgotten to unlock it. What CAN for wrong, WILL, and at the worst possible moment. .

      But I wlll never buy a current production Smith and Wesson firearm of any kind as long as they hold their customer base in contempt and force something on us we don’t want without offering any freedom of choice. Basically they’re telling long time fans of their revolvers to get screwed and my response is to tell THEM to get screwed.

  3. Baring another sellout, if I ever get a revolver it will be an S&W. S&W is the classic modern American wheel gun.

  4. My H&K has an internal lock, just need the little locking took and twist a quarter turn. That doesn’t mean it’s ever been locked, but the option’s there so I can list that as a safety feature. Tons of modern handguns have internal locks. I don’t see the big deal with the internal locks, they’re usually literally just a lever, and no one can lock me out easily. “Smart guns” and ballistic fingerprints are an issue when you consider the nature of firearm theft and use in crime, unless we jump ahead 50 years in tech to the point where we can make anything “smart” reliable, and even then that would damage gun culture because you can’t just go to a range and share guns (if they have individual users, otherwise the system is pointless to begin with), or easily trade guns (one of the main points behind smart guns).

    • The locks seize up and disable the guns. This always happens at the wrong time, and you’ll need a gunsmith to open the lock.

      It happened to RF’s 686 and I was at the range with him when it did. I believe he posted it here, too. The lock jammed the cylinder closed. It could not be opened and the ammo could not be fired or removed. So he had to transport and deliver a loaded revolver to the ‘smith.

      Lock failures are well documented. You do not want one on any of your guns.

        • But if it ‘saves’ just one douchebag…

          The road to hell is paved with ‘what’ again?

      • Even if the locks never fail mechanically, they open a HUGE window for HUMAN ERROR. And why in the hell do they insist that revolvers have to have the locks, when the semi-auto pistols do not???

        I’ll tell you why. Because semi-autos are a bigger market share and the company knows that the public doesn’t want these “safety” locks that could very easily get someone killed.

        Any company that ignores and doesn’t want to respond to buyer dissatisfaction about something like this is one company that I refuse to do business with and will only buy used Smith and Wesson products of any kind until this policy is changed.

  5. I’ll give them a pass.

    The United States of America doesn’t like to remember or talk about the time it was owned by the British, either.

  6. Does anyone else remember when Smith & Wesson executed a media smear campaign against Glock, suggesting they were unsafe and unreliable, and insisting S&W would ‘never build a plastic gun’?

    I do.

    Just double checked.

    Nope. Still no S&W’s in my possession, now, or ever.

    • It’s just “business”, RKBA.
      Penthouse says Hustler uses skanky diseased ho’s.
      Madonna thinks lady Ga Ga is over-rated.
      Barack Obama says Mitt Romney didn’t ‘earn’ his wealth.

      Meh.

    • Any gun maker who once hired a former armed bank robber as its CEO deserves a second chance. How many gun makers can say they taught Wall Street how to run their HR departments?

  7. While not a manufacturer of firearms, I think the associated parts manufacturer at the top of my list is Magpul. I don’t even have anything of theirs except a couple 308 mags, but the way the flooded the colorado market and responded to the legislation was excellent.

  8. Grew up with S&W revolvers and love my M&P, but I have no reservations that theyre not a really “upstanding” company.

  9. I own several Smiths, all bought in the last 2 years, and they’ve all been fantastic and NONE of them have the internal lock. Barring another sellout, I’ll keep buying them. They learned their lesson, no need to keep punishing them (until they do something stupid again).

  10. So they made a product that complies with laws so they can make a sale in certain states while helping create a new field of forensics that can be defeated by even the most slow witted of criminals. Well how dare they do that in the face of the second…oh wait…

  11. I think this is one of those cases of people getting history (i.e. pre-1990’s S&W) mixed up with the present state of the company. Make no mistake, I LOVE old Smith and Wesson revolvers. I’ve certainly put more rounds through the Model 17 than any other pistol. But their recent history has soured me on purchasing one of their newer guns.

  12. My safe is full of Smiths; revolvers and semi-autos from most generations. They have never failed to impress me. Their new stuff (especially M&Ps) are awesome, some of the best made guns available by any manufacturer. People who are still caught up in the politics (and mistakes) of the former owners need to take a deep breath and move on with their lives. I suppose they are some of the same people who walk around all angry that Coca-Cola came out with New Coke. How dare they! Don’t even get me started on Crystal Pepsi! Yawn.

  13. My first center fire pistol was an S&W 64 .38spl. I still love it and it still shoots . . . very well. Of course it’s been worked over a couple of times, and it is a pre lock gun. That particular revolver, now sporting wrap around rubber grips, power added with Hornady critical defense loads and accompanied by a speed loader and flashlight are my girls personal nightstand/HD kit. I can’t argue with the utility and even the precision of the piece, but I wouldn’t buy a new one with a lock on it. Locks and guns don’t mix. Guns are what you use when the locks have failed to keep the goblins out.

  14. I was too young to remember their transgression during the Clinton yeard but their customer support and quality 1911’s are second to none. I own several S&W and only one has had issues. And that one they are replacing for free.

  15. i am not going to bash S&W. they make some of the finest revolvers and have pretty reasonable prices (especially on j-frames). as for their internal locks…who cares. if you don’t like it, be like the 99.5% of S&W owners and just ignore it. i don’t see why people hate certain safety devices like internal locks and loaded chamber indicators. they are not inconvenient, just ignore them.

      • interesting article. thanks for the link. ok i would rather have them without the lock. however this was the only incident i have heard of like this.

    • Well I’ll field this one. A. The parts are unnecessary to the guns function. Fewer parts means fewer things to break. B. more importantly things like internal locks are influence from gun grabbers and banners trying to make guns “less deadly” or “safer”, remember if it saves just one child’s life. It’s no different than legislating that all handguns or rifles be sold with external locks when purchased initially. It’s a silly notion. Do you keep your cutlery locked up at home, because I bet most people dont and that is just as dangerous if not more because its so common in most homes. If you want your kids to be safe around guns teach them about guns familiarize them with safe firearm handling or just lock them in a safe. Loaded chamber indicators and gun locks mean nothing next to safe gun handling. Remember it’s all a political game where people with guns = bad except for cops and military-scary-and people without guns good. Anything they can do to demonize and control gun owners and guns they will.

  16. I just picked up my first AR today, a Smith and Wesson M&P 15 Optics Ready. I’ve read tons and tons of reviews of it being a great intro prepper rifle.

  17. Many smiths and many thousands of rounds and no lock trouble. Also let me know if anyone makes a 340 pd type that will take the same level of abuse and keep going as mine.

  18. Smith made some mistakes, as has Ruger and several other companies. My Smith 460 XVR has a pretty darn nice pull, and the .500 Smith is a cool product as well. While S&W isn’t the most patriotic or pro-2A company, it certainly isn’t the worst (perhaps HK?).

    Heck, I initially supported the MT universal background check bill when the SAF supported it and implied that it came with concealed carry reciprocity. Then, I realized my mistake and opposed the bill.

    • A lot of people made the mistake of supporting MT….
      Im one and I would have realized my error too late, had it passed. Never again, though.
      As for smith, I would consider (CONSIDER) trading my pinky for a 686. I hear legendary stuff about their revolvers.

  19. When an American made Smith & Wesson in the hands of a British citizen saves a British soldier in London, then I’ll cheer.

    But until then, as the Brits say: ‘Bugger off’.

  20. “However, Smith & Wesson continues to sell guns with internal locks.”

    Typical Wikipedia “error through omission”.

    The reason S&W sells guns with internal locks is that the AMERICAN company that bought S&W was a small American company (Saf-T-Hammer Corp.) that made those internal gun locks. If my memory serves, they paid the British company (Tompkins PLC) about 30% of what the Brits had paid to acquire S&W, and as soon as the deal was completed the new American owners voided the agreement that Thompkins PLC had made with Clinton and the state of Massachusetts.

    Saf-T-Hammer made the locks, why wouldn’t they install them in their S&W revolvers?

    • Why shouldn’t the parent company that makes locks put them on their guns? Because they are a GUN company now and they are selling firarms for self defense that need to be relied on as literally a matter of life and death.

      If The Swing-a-way: can opener company had bought Smith and Wesson would that mean that we’d have to have can openers mounted on the guns even if they interfered with the gun’s primary function ?

      And WHY doe their revolvers have to have these locks when the semi-autos do not? Don’t they CARE about “Safety” or “The Children” when it comes to their semi-autos?

      It must be a bunch of soft-headed no-nothing, arrogant Liberals running the company.

      The former Smith and Wesson would actually save production costs by eliminating the locks now that they are a gun company and not a lock company anymore.

  21. OK, one last time. First, S&W at the time of the Clinton agreement, was owned by a British conglomerate. The Clinton administration threatened this foreign owned company with close to 100 lawsuits from various cities and towns. The company attorneys advised management that it would cost the company, at a minimum, 3 to 5 million dollars just to prepare each case for defense. This figure did not include the costs of actually going to court and litigating the cases, just the pre trial prep. Tompkins looked at this number and the then market value of the company (approx 60 million) and felt that it would be ridiculous to spend 100’s of millions of dollars to defend a company worth 60 million, so directed the powers in Springfield to sign the Clinton agreement. The alternative would have been to close the doors and put 100’s of workers in Springfield, Massachusetts and Houlton, Maine out of work.

    If you wish to blame someone, blame Bill Clinton and the rest of the demoncraps that don’t believe in the second amendment. As an aside, the founding fathers didn’t make the right to bear arms the 3rd or 4th or the 10th amendment, they felt that it was so important that it is only preceeded by Freedom of Speech. I have just exercised my first amendment rights. Thank you.

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