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In 1852 partners, and formed a company to produce a lever-action nicknamed the "". The company became known as the "Volcanic Repeating Arms Company"; financial difficulties caused it to come into the majority ownership of investor . Previously, in the late 1840's, Daniel Wesson's brother Edwin, of Hartford, Massachusetts, had manufactured revolvers under the name of Wesson & Leavitt. After Edwin Wesson's death, that firm continued under the supervision of Thomas Warner. In 1856 the partners left the Volcanic Company to begin a new company and to manufacture a newly-designed revolver-and-cartridge combination. The timing of the founding of this new company proved quite opportune for the partners, since the onset of the five years later produced a great demand for Smith & Wesson's products. In 1964 the company passed from Wesson family control, and subsequently several conglomerates took control of it. Between 1987 and 2001 Smith & Wesson was owned by the British engineering company . Today, Smith & Wesson is the largest manufacturer of in the . The corporate headquarters is in .

The Model 10, previously known as the Smith & Wesson Military & Police is a .38-caliber, six-shot handgun initially developed in 1899 as the Smith & Wesson .38 Hand Ejector model. This model in all its incarnations has been in production since 1899. The Model 10 is a fixed-sight revolver with a fluted cylinder. Over its long production run it has been available with barrel lengths of 2, 3, 4, 5 and 6 inch barrel.  At present the Model 10 is still one of the most used handguns in law enforcement and security and is still in use by the Victorian Police.

The Model 13 (Military & Police Magnum) is a designed for and enforcement use. This is a revolver with a capacity of six rounds and barrel length of 3 and 4 inches has fixed sights. The Model 13 was manufactured from 1973 to 1999. The was issued the Model 13 with a 3" barrel shortly before switching to

The S&W Model 65 was manufactured from 1972 to 2004 as a stainless steel version of the model 13 and was issued by police agencies and federal law enforcement agencies in the . The Model 65 was requested by the in order to have a .357 Magnum revolver to replace their .38cal Model 10. The Model 65 was produced in stainless steel at the request of the .

The .357 Magnum is the oldest handgun "magnum" cartridge. Smith & Wesson played a major part in the development and success of the cartridge and revolver that went with it.  The Model 66 was produced from 1970 until 2005. The Model 66 differed from the Model 19 and was produced in and included a smooth target-type trigger.