By Lars Dalseide | April 19 2013 09:12

Smith & Wesson's attempt to capture the semi-auto market began with a thud

Fairfax, Virginia - At the turn of the 20th Century, firearm manufacturers such as Colt, Savage and Remington were prospering in the pocket semi-auto pistol market. That's when Smith & Wesson decided to go for a piece of the pie. What they came up with was the Model 1913. Unfortunately for Smith, the reception was less than positive, as seen in one of American Rifleman's latest "I have this Old Gun ..." videos.

"It was guns like this that Smith learned lessons, basically, we want to keep making revolvers for a while," said American Rifleman Editor Mark Keefe.

Jumping into a new market is always tricky. When Apple released the iPad, for example, it became the gold standard for what a tablet computer should be. So when Microsoft and Samsung came out with a version of their own, they had to do something different. An innovation. New features to catch the consumer's eye. Exactly what Smith & Wesson thought at the time.

Problem was that innovations aren't necessarily well received by the consumer market.

"It had a number of unusual features," said American Rifleman Shooting Editor Glenn Gilbert. "The ... mechanical safety was a thumb wheel mounted on the backstrap. In order to engage or disengage the safety, you're going to have to take the gun out of your hand so you can reach it.

"In addition, the grip safety, instead of being on the backstrap, where it would be automatically disengaged when the firer took hold of the gun, instead is was mounted on the front strap."

But the innovations didn't stop there. Smith also offered a solid frame as well as a .35 cartridge with a jacketed nose and an unjacketed bearing surface ... all of which led to what most experts now call a commercial disaster.

For a closer look at this semi-auto pocket pistol debacle, check out American Rifleman's "I have this Old Gun ... " look of the Smith & Wesson Model 1913.


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