Inside Scoop on the Smith & Wesson Family of Firearms & Gear

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The author recently had a chance to visit Smith & Wesson and get some hands-on time with a bunch of new products from the company’s family of manufacturers.

Earlier this month, I had a chance to go to the Smith and Wesson Headquarters in Massachusetts for a writers event and unveiling. The biggest story of the trip was the M&P 2.0, which I have written a review of here. That wasn’t the only surprise in store though, so here is the best of the rest.

S&W Performance Center

The Performance Center has some hotness in its lineup as well, and I got a chance to shoot most of it. One notable gun is the 986 revolver in 9mm. I haven’t seen a lot of wheel guns in this chambering, but it makes sense. 9mm is prolific and easily controllable in a revolver-sized gun. At the other end of the spectrum, they have also introduced a .500 S&W with a 2.5-inch barrel, if you want a CCW gun that really says “Wrong car friend, I suggest you move along.” This gun comes with a five shot cylinder, but that is plenty in this chambering. I am no stranger to powerful handguns, but I put this one down after two shots. It packs so much heat I was actually afraid I might drop it if I continued firing. If you’re a .500 fan though, this one has your name on it. For the handgun hunting market, the 460 XVR (chambered in .460 S&W) with a 7.5-inch barrel and a muzzle brake, is also available.

The handy Model 986 in 9mm with a 2.5-inch barrel really impressed the author.

The author also got to see the new 2.5-inch-barreled Model 500 revolver in .500 S&W Magnum.

Among the items coming to me soon for T&E after the event is the Performance Center M&P9L with a ported barrel. I haven’t shot a whole lot of ported barrel guns, but this thing absolutely runs like a top. There is almost no muzzle rise with this platform, you can absolutely sling some lead. A ported barrel has some trade-offs, but I am really looking forward to a review on this model.

The Performance Center is offering a variant of the M&P10 rifle in the popular 6.5 Creedmoor round.

Handguns are neat, but rifles get the job done. Also new from the Performance Center, the M&P10 chambered in 6.5 Creedmoor. This is one of the first large-size ARs I have seen in this caliber, and it is sure to make waves. I am guessing we will see a lot of 6.5 this year, but Smith and Wesson has shown they will be an early adopter. Priced just over $2,000, this one is sure to be a hit.

Thompson/Center

Thompson/Center was purchased by Smith and Wesson some years ago, and in 2010 they started the move to produce all the T/C firearms in Massachusetts. We haven’t heard a lot from Thompson/Center in that time, but that will be corrected shortly. The Thompson/Center brand is coming back with a vengeance, with a huge market push this year. All the old T/C products are still supported, but new is happening as well. I fired my first shot from a muzzleloader ever on this trip, the T/C Strike. They have pushed into the bolt-action market quite strong as well. The new Compass line of rifles retails for $399, and has a guaranteed MOA at 100 yard backing. Already available in wide variety of calibers, standby for a big announcement about it at SHOT Show.

Battenfeld Technologies

If you do the math, Smith and Wesson spent close to a billion dollars over the last couple of years acquiring a number of outdoor and accessory brands. Obviously, they are poised to become a complete outdoor company. There are so many new brands under the roof that I can’t even remember them all. The new products we saw show a reflection that S&W is spending some serious coins on innovation and engineering, not just acquiring brands and maintaining the status quo. One such example is Battenfeld Technology’s Caldwell and the lead sled. We shot almost all the rifles in S&W’s line up out of these, then had a discussion about the new model changes. The Caldwell VP of sales showed up, with an engineer in tow.

The author got a sneak peek at the new Tipton Ultra Gun Vise from Battenfeld Technologies.

True to what we have seen from the other products, there are a large variety of changes in the new model, all based on customer feedback. The Tipton line has also been acquired, and they are releasing a new “Ultra Gun Vise” I will be in line to buy on day one. Keep watching to learn more.

All M&P accessories, to include flashlights and knives, will now be built in-house as well. The flashlight division seems poised to take the fight to the big players in the market, at about half the price. I guess it turns out aluminum isn’t quite as expensive as gold, which you wouldn’t know from today’s flashlight market. I am pretty stoked to see what comes out of Battenfeld over the next couple of years.

Crimson Trace

Probably the biggest acquisition of the year for S&W was Crimson Trace. There are a lot of moving parts to this one, and not a lot of big changes. I guess it’s hard to come up with that much new when you already dominate the laser market by 3:1 over the nearest competitor. The biggest news here is that a large percentage of the Crimson Trace line will be available with a green laser option this year, if that is your color of choice. Crimson Trace will also continue to work with and support other firearms brands. It will be interesting to see what the Smith & Wesson/Crimson Trace relationship may deliver, though.

{ 11 comments… add one }
  • Tom Horn January 5, 2017, 11:21 am

    Have been reading many comments below trashing S&W, and felt the urge to defend her. I own four S&W M&P pistols, and a M&P 15 carbine. All have functioned flawlessly, have had zero feeding issues, unlike my buddy’s Bushmaster. I would put them up against any Glock in peformance. The one big complaint of M&P pistols has been the trigger pull. Design was for a military/police trigger, and that is what they produced. Since customers have complained about the trigger pull they have improved it, first on the Shied, then on P.C. M&P’s, and now a big upgrade with M&P M2.0. In all the years I worked in firearms retail, I never had a S&W M&P firearm come back to the shop with a problem, that I can recall.
    Cannot speak to the revolvers, as I have not purchased a S&W since my 681, many years ago. But that 681 is one of my favorite double action revolvers.

    As Thomas points out, S&W will never be Colt, and has not tried to be. S&W was in Massachusetts long before the gun grabbers. It would take enormous resources to move their factories down south to a gun friendlier state, and ultimately the consumer would pay for that move.

    Want to make America great again? Buy American!
    Glock = Austria
    Springfield XD = Croatia
    S&W = USA
    Ruger = USA
    Dan Wesson = USA

  • Thomas Golden January 4, 2017, 10:10 am

    Time has no mercy on production costs and marketing gurus.
    I own a PRE MODEL 27 357 with a 3.5in barrel.
    The workmanship and nickel finish on this piece is unsurpassed.
    Production date was late 1950-early 1951.
    Appearance is as if was hidden in a climate control safe and opened yesterday
    for the first time to see the light of day.
    Owning many Colt Pythons of both blue and nickel finish I can
    tell you that they do not have anything on this revolver.
    They do not and cannot make them like they use to.

  • Robert Weth January 3, 2017, 6:01 pm

    I always wanted a revolver from the performance shop….finally got one,breathtaking…until I cycled the action. I’ve owned a lot of S&W revolvers,over the years,got a few bad ones,in the banga-punta days.This one was worse….barely functioned at all with the worst trigger I’ve ever seen on a smith….and there in the box with my $1500 prize was an offer from the custom shop to put a decent trigger on it….IF I’s ship it back and pay them $200.Some of the older guns are still worth having,but they can keep the new ones.-Disappointed- Trail, Oregon

  • Rouge1 January 3, 2017, 1:33 pm

    Massachusetts is where you lost me. Commie craphole.

  • BuzGuy January 3, 2017, 12:46 pm

    I bought a new deluxe edition revolver and am very dissatisfies with the workmanship. I actually sent it back and they replaced the barrel because of poor quality lettering. However they did nothing to address lettering issues in other places on the gun. Ya know, I paid extra to get what I thought was a better brand but these people know nothing of the quality of workmanship that built the USA. Its no wonder our nation has faltered in manufacturing. If this is the new American work ethic then my buddy Donald Trump is really going to have his hands full making America great again… I’m not so sure he can do it!

  • Tommygun851 January 3, 2017, 11:41 am

    It always gives me a sick feeling in the pit of my stomach when I hear of another large company buying out a smaller one! Free market competition is GONE! People think that they’re buying something from a rival company but they’re not! These companies set their own market prices and the American people wonder why prices are going up faster than the inflation rate. S&W make great products but I would like to see a little more of “honesty” marketing, maybe when they package their product they can put all the different logos on it or something so people know who’s product they’re actually buying and where it came from.

  • Ward Hawley January 3, 2017, 11:26 am

    If they would remove the nanny safety hole, or at least make it an option, more folks would be purchasing their arms.

    • Tommygun851 January 3, 2017, 4:08 pm

      Ward, this is a company that has to survive in a very liberal state. I think of Star Trek and Massachusetts is the Borg and they say ” you must comply” !!! All the extra safeties are political compliances . In all fairness I must confess that I own two S&W. A model 1066 10 mm semi-auto and a model 340 SC scandium frame 11 ounce 357 mag revolver. Both of which I will never part with!

      • Steve January 4, 2017, 2:28 pm

        Such a small hole can be totally ignored. I don’t even know it’s there.

  • Billybob January 3, 2017, 8:27 am

    If the 500 doesn\’t hit them the FLAME will burn them ! Put on your face shield and hard hat the upward recoil ( even with the muzzle break ) is not for the faint of heart ! Shooting glove and leather to help prevent mussel & bone damage after repeated shoots ! With the 460 you can make several ammo choices ! 460-454-45 long colt

    • KBSacto January 4, 2017, 12:10 pm

      Billybob,
      In agreement here. I’ve shot the older model S&W 500 ES, and with factory loads, it was more than a handful. The muzzle flip and recoil was extensive. S&W stopped making the ES gun and kit, and maybe are bringing back the revolver based on demand. I own the S&W 460 in the 5″ barrel and it is very manageable with hand loads; factory rounds are punishing, but fun to shoot.

      It’s sad to hear that S&W manufacturing seems to be waning as of late, based on others comments on rough revolver operation. I own several revolvers and their triggers actions are almost perfection. They clearly stand well above all my others. Even though S&W uses a lot of MIM (metal injection molding) for internal parts, at least on my new guns, the seem to shoot well.

      I do have first generation matching 357 and 44 mags in nickel plating; just beautiful! I found them at an estate sale. They have recessed cylinders and are 3/4 lugged. As someone else said, they just can’t make them like they used to. Thanks.

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