The Smith & Wesson Model 65 was manufactured from 1972 until 2004. The one pictured here was made in 1992. it is a six shot revolver that is chambered for the .357 Magnum cartridge, but it can also easily accept the .38 special round. The Model 65 is built on S&W's medium "K" frame platform which is smaller and lighter than the "N" frame. The Model 65 is constructed of stainless steel and has a satin stainless finish. It is a double action revolver with a barrel length of 3 inches and an unloaded weight of 31 ounces. This revolver utilizes a serrated ramp front sight and a notch rear sight that is cut into the frame. Both front and rear sights are not adjustable. The Smith & Wesson company first began assigning model numbers in 1957. The version shown here is the Model 65-5. The number 5 at the end of the model number indicates the fifth round of engineering changes that were built into this revolver when compared with the original Model 65 design. This system was also used to indicate special configurations of a particular model. Even though the Model 65 proved to be one of the most popular duty sidearms with uniformed law enforcement officers, it has now been replaced by the seven shot Model 619. This new seven shot cylinder of the Model 619 has been designed so that the cylinder bolt cuts are located between the chambers instead of directly over them, which reduced the amount of steel in this critical stress area on the Model 65.
The Smith & Wesson Model 13 is mechanically the same revolver with the difference being the blued finish on the Model 13. The Smith & Wesson Model 19 is essentially the same firearm except the Model 19 has adjustable sights.
The .357 Magnum round is the worlds oldest handgun "magnum" cartridge. Smith & Wesson played a major part in the development and success of the .357 magnum cartridge. it is Philip Sharpe, whom at the time was a firearms author and experimenter who is credited for the development of the round in the 1930s. In his book "Complete Guide to Handloading", Phillip Sharpe summarizes his extensive testing in the development of the .357 Magnum. Elmer Keith also played a large role in the development of the .357 magnum due in part to his testing of the .38 Special cartridge and loading it to far beyond normally accepted limits. Many police agencies at this time were using such cartridges as the .32 or .38 special and were asking for a more powerful round. S&W's Vice President Major Douglas B. Wesson agreed to design a new revolver that would handle "high-intensity" .38 Special loads if Winchester would develop a new cartridge for it. Winchester went to work and a short while later introduced the .357 Magnum, which is dimensionally identical to the .38 Special except for having a .125 inch longer case then that of the .38 special. On April 8, 1935 the first revolvers known as the .357 Magnum Models were then introduced by S&W. The classic Model 19 which is essentially the same firearm as the Model 65 that is pictured on this page, is one of the original S&W .357's.
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.