This Smith & Wesson Model 34 revolver was manufactured some time in late 1971 or early 1972 according to the company records. it is a six shot revolver that is chambered for the .22 long rifle cartridge, but it will easily accept .22 short and .22 long cartridges as well as a variety of different projectiles including shot cartridges. The Model 34 is built on S&W's "J" frame platform which is smaller and lighter than the "K" frame. The Model 34 is constructed of steel and has a beautiful blued finish. It is a double action revolver with a barrel length of 2 inches and an unloaded weight of 22 ounces. The revolver utilizes a 0.10 inch thick serrated ramp front sight and a square notch rear sight that is adjustable for both windage and elevation. While nearly mechanically identical with its larger frame brothers, the Model 34 uses a coil spring rather then a leaf mainspring. The revolver is also pinned and recessed. In handgun terminology, pinned usually indicates that there is a cross pin installed through the frame and barrel while recessed, which is also known as counterbore, would indicate that the cylinder is recessed around the case head so that the rimmed cartridges fit flush with the cylinder.
The Smith & Wesson company first began assigning model numbers in 1957. The S&W model 34 was introduced in 1935 and was known back then as the 22/32 kit gun because it utilized the small I frame of the 32 Hand Ejector model. The revolver was changed to a J frame and given the Model 34 name designation in 1953. Seen here with a 2 inch barrel which first became an option in 1957, this revolver model was also offered in a 4 inch barrel version. Other options included a round or square butt and a nickel or blue finish. Between 1955 and 1974, a version of this revolver was offered with an aluminum frame and cylinder that had a 3 1/2 inch barrel and weighed 14 1/2 ounces. Sadly, the Model 34 was officially discontinued in 1994.
The Model 34 is about as close as you can get to rimfire revolver perfection. This model was called the kit gun not because it came as parts to be assembled, but rather it was meant to be included with in the fishing, camping, hiking, hunting and general outdoor kit. These small frame revolvers have gone many a mile with with the outdoor adventurers.
The history of the Smith & Wesson company began in 1852 when Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson formed the Volcanic Repeating Arms Company. to manufacture a lever action pistol called the Volcanic pistol. A short while later the company came under financial difficulties and was sold to Oliver Winchester who at the time was a shirt manufacturer. In 1866, using the original lever action design created by Smith & Wesson, Winchester’s company emerged as the famous Winchester Repeating Arms Company.
In 1856 Smith & Wesson formed a second partnership to produce a small revolver designed to fire the rimfire cartridge that they had patented in August of 1854. This revolver became the first successful fully self-contained cartridge revolver available in the world. Smith & Wesson secured the patents for the revolver which legally prevented other manufacturers from copying it. That patent along with the Civil war gave the young company a very lucrative business. The partners realized that the patent rights would not last forever so they went back to the drawing board and designed the Model 3 American in 1869. The Model 3 revolver was the first large caliber cartridge revolver and the success of this firearm established S&W as a leader in handgun manufacturing. The two most important customers for the new revolver were the United States Cavalry, which purchased 1,000 units for use on the Western Frontier, and the Russian Imperial Government that purchased 20,000 revolvers and paid S&W in advance with gold.
Horace Smith retired from the company at the age of 65 and sold all of his shares to Douglas B. Wesson in 1875. The company went on to introduced a number of hammerless revolvers in the late 1800's that are still being manufactured today. S&W then introduced the Model 10 or as it was know then, the .38 Military & Police revolver which has been in continued production ever since. The Model 10 has been used by just about every police agency or military force in the world. In 1935 they came out with the worlds first magnum revolver. In 1955 the Model 39 was introduced which was the first American made double action auto-loading pistol. In 1955, the Model 29 which was chambered in .44 magnum was introduced. You might recall this revolver from the movie "Dirty Harry" with the actor Clint Eastwood. In 1965 the Model 60 was introduced that was the world’s first stainless steel revolver.
In 1964, the company passed from the Wesson family control, and subsequently several conglomerates took control of it. Then from 1987 to 2001 a British company, Tomkins PLC, purchased Smith & Wesson for 112 million U.S. dollars.
In March of 2000, Smith & Wesson signed an agreement with the Clinton Administration. The company agreed to numerous safety and design standards, as well as limits on the sale and distribution of their firearms. Numerous gun rights groups and individuals whom were already angry with such things as the assault weapons ban, responded to this agreement by initiating large scale boycotts of Smith & Wesson products.
On May 11, 2001, Saf-T-Hammer Corporation acquired Smith & Wesson from Tomkins PLC for $15 million U.S. dollars, plus took on the $30 million dollar debt that had accumulated for a total purchase price of $45 million U.S. dollars. This was a fraction when compared to the $112 million originally paid by Tomkins PLC.
Saf-T-Hammer purchased the company with the intention of incorporating its line of security products into all Smith & Wesson firearms in compliance with the 2000 agreement. The acquisition of Smith & Wesson was chiefly brokered by Saf-T-Hammer President Bob Scott, who had left Smith & Wesson in 1999 because of a disagreement with Tomkins’ policies. After the purchase, Scott became the president of Smith & Wesson to guide the 157-year-old company back to its former standing in the market. On February 15, 2002, the name of the newly formed entity between S&W and Saf-T-Hammer was called Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation.
I have very briefly just touched on the many accomplishments and history of the Smith & Wesson company. These accomplishments which are so numerous that it would be literally impossible to understand the history of modern handguns without first understanding the history of Smith & Wesson. The description above really does not give S&W the pat on the back that the company so rightfully deserves. I do hope that it will give the reader some idea of what Smith & Wesson has done since becoming an industry leader back in 1852. Today, the company continues to lead the world with innovations that will take it, and the more then 1400 employees, solidly into the 21st century.