The Wesson name became an indelible part of firearm history when Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson established Smith & Wesson back in 1852. His great grandson, Dan Wesson II, worked at that company from 1938 to 1963. Then his family sold their interest in the firm to Bangor Punta in 1965, but his love for firearm design didn’t retire.
In 1968, he established Dan Wesson Firearms in Monson, Mass. The first revolver to come out of the factory was the Model 12, a double-action/single-action chambered in .357 Mag. The Model 15 followed. It was available in .357 Mag. or .22 LR.
It was the Model 715 that bolstered sales significantly and, more importantly, established Dan Wesson Firearms as a top innovator in the marketplace. Owners of the revolver could change barrels easily, from the comfort of home. It quickly became a popular choice among enthusiasts, and they were accurateؙ right out of the box—a virtue that saw them take top honors at a variety of competitions.
Wesson’s reputation for quality control was part of the reason they performed so well. Of course, there was also the fact that the frames were investment-cast, heat-treated 4140 chrome-moly steel. Shrouds and barrels were chrome moly steel. As a result, it’s rare to find a used model today that isn’t in great shape.
In 1977, the company released a Large Frame .44 Mag. Wesson died in 1978, although the company carried on, partially under family ownership. In 1982, it introduced a SuperMagnum frame, but by the late 1980s, the company was struggling financially. It filed for bankruptcy in 1990, reorganized and reopened in Palmer, Mass.
Despite the effort, the company entered bankruptcy again and was purchased by Bob Serva in 1996. Operations this time were moved to Norwich, N.Y., where Dan Wesson Firearms began manufacturing M1911s and a modest number of its popular revolvers.
Sales were good, but bringing machinery up to modern standards took a financial toll. In 2005, it became part of CZ Group. Since then, it has produced some of the finest M1911s to hit the market, including the Pointman, Specialist, Commander and many more.
It is now under the Colt-CZ Group corporate umbrella, which includes firearm legends Colt, Brno, CZ-USA and others. Dan Wesson Firearms is still based in Norwich, N.Y.