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Some History on Dan Wesson Arms

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Swamp Yankee, Feb 13, 2005.

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  1. Swamp Yankee

    Swamp Yankee Member

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    This thread came about as an answer to a question from another member in another thread concerning Dan Wesson Arms.

    A long disertation on Dan Wesson follows, if you're interested read on.

    Daniel B Wesson started Dan Wesson Arms in an old school house on Main St. in Monson Mass. During the time he owned and ran the company he had very strict requirements for the fit and and function of any gun that left his factory bearing his name. Every revolver had to meet specification on trigger pull weight, cylinder runouts, bore diameters, side plate gaps, and overall finish before packaging. He routinely would take a representative sample and personnally shoot it. He had a very hands on approach in the manufacturing of the product.

    During the time he owned the company the design of his revolver evolved and took shape. This design evolution was one of the driving factors of his starting his own company, you see he left S&W, where he learned revolvers, what worked and what didn't, and most importantly what happens to a revolver barrel when a bullet is sent through. The current DW small frame, large frame, and Supermag are the end results of this process.

    If you look at the old advertising and packaging the company slogan was The Innovator." DBW had a degree in Material Science and Metallurgy which explains why his designs used net shape processes where they made sense and were perfectly acceptable. In short he knew how the parts were stressed and where the fatigue points were. The other concept he pioneered was the interchangeable barrel. This was actually a fallout of the design to stabilize the barrel. By holding the barrel in tension between at both ends it was possible to not only reduce movement but make it more consistant and predictable from shot to shot. Was he successful? Look at the top finishers in IHMSA matches. DW revolvers almost always took the top five places. If you can find one, a Monson, Mass Supermag is as close to a hand built and fitted revolver as you'll find.

    A lot is made of the fact DW Arms spent a lot of time in the financial dumpster. As I have no direct knowledge, I cannot address this topic after Dan Wesson sold the company to family members. I can tell you that like most of us Dan Wesson hated the IRS. He found that if he operated his business on the financial edge the IRS left him alone and didn't probe to deep. Things may have changed, but at that time the IRS really did not wish to be the reason people were laid off and a legitimate business went under. He learned how to beat them using their own rule book.

    Dan Wesson sold the business to family members and moved away. It was not long after the business left the school house in Monson, and moved up the road to Palmer, Mass.

    By now those that are still awake and reading this are wondering where I got all this information. I was extremely fortunate to have known Daniel B. Wesson. He and I started out as business associates in the mid seventies when he was operating an injection molding company named Mountain Molding in Bethel Vermont. By the time we had completed working on a few projects together we were very close friends. We hunted, cut wood, and went shooting whenever we could. Unfortunately those occasions proved to be far to few. It was quite a surprise to him when he found out that I owned 3 of the revolvers that came out of his factory. He took my Model 715 and personally tuned it for me. He returned it to me about two weeks before he died of a heart attack. Dan was going to teach me how to tune my Model 44, unfortunately his untimely death prevented that. To those that say the DW revolver can't be tuned to the same level as a Smith or Colt, how I wish you could shoot my 715.

    Well that's it. I hope some of you found some of this interesting. I enjoyed putting it out there. If I ever get a chance and there's any interest I'll post some of Dan Wesson's thoughts on gun design and some of my favorite hunting stories involving Dan.

    Take Care
     
  2. Peter M. Eick

    Peter M. Eick Member

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    Very nice history and post.

    THANK YOU!
     
  3. Old Fuff

    Old Fuff Member

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    It was my pleasure to know Danny too. One time we were in Chicago in January for the NSGA (National Sporting Goods Association) Convention. A snow storm was blowing and it was colder then a banker's heart. A good number of people were waiting for taxi cabs and freezing at the same time. Danny was among the group, and considering who and what he was could have had an early shot at a cab. He would have none of that. He waited his turn, and even let some ladies proceed him even though he had been waiting longer. He was a lot more then a gun designer and manufacturer ...

    He was a gentleman.
     
  4. Standing Wolf

    Standing Wolf Member in memoriam

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    Idahohoho, the jolliest state
    Thanks, eh?

    When the founder leaves...
     
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