Dan Wesson Revolvers - A Blast From The Past

I bought my first revolver as a young man around 38 years ago. After a considerable amount of research, I settled on a gun with a mixed reputation for quality. But the good looking Dan Wesson revolver in .357 magnum was more than I could pass up.

That was particularly for the price at that time. While I was in pursuit of a Smith and Wesson Model 29, instead I bought the DW model with an 8" barrel. It looked enough like a Model 29 to satiate my desire for a Dirty Harry gun. It enabled me to begin my venture into magnum handgun shooting.

My next revolver was a single action, Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 magnum. With those two I was set.

Dan Wesson carried a good number of both pros and cons.

The reason I didn't buy a .44 magnum was its reputation for questionable quality. I have learned since then that Dan Wesson revolvers were quality built from the beginning with some problems with a series of guns built in a new plant at one time.

But the design and manufacture of the gun was generally solid as time would prove.

Dan Wesson, whose name the company bore, was considered one of the all time greats in the firearms production and design industry. Under his direction the Dan Wesson company developed its line of quality revolvers from 1969 to 1982. They produced guns from .357 magnum to the later SuperMag series of guns that were introduced in 1982.

The Company Break Down

Between the introduction of the SuperMag series of Dan Wesson revolvers and 1996 in which the company was purchased by Robert Serva, production of the revolvers had ceased. Financial and production problems plagued the company.

Serva's intent was to reestablish the line of revolvers but from 1998 to 2000 only a small number of Dan Wesson revolvers were manufactured. Small manufacturing runs of SuperMags ensued in 2000 but required new manufacturing equipment, tooling and other production factors.

That slowed the further development of the revolver lines. The production of Dan Wesson revolvers came to a near standstill.

Dan Wesson Revolver

Somehow the company produced a popular 1911

To add to the shadowing of the revolvers that had been the company's claim to fame, Dan Wesson company began working on the development of a 1911 style pistol. As with the revolver, the Dan Wesson 1911 was intended to be a highly accurate production pistol.

Today, one of DW's most popular guns is the commander size 1911 that bears the original company's name.

Dan Wesson Company looked promising under CZ but ......

In 2005, CZ, the world's largest firearms producer purchased Dan Wesson. For the first time it provided the company with every component necessary for progressing with the quality firearms that had made it famous.

For a short time, it looked like the revolvers would be fully revived but to many revolver enthusiasts it was a disappointment. The new revolver lines never got fully off the ground and CZ owned Dan Wesson stopped regular production of revolvers in 2008.

At this point the company began to concentrate primarily on it's high quality 1911 line of pistols bearing the Wesson name.

Special production runs have been promised by the company but new Dan Wesson guns are virtually non existent now. Finding a good pre-CZ model in gun shops is pretty unusual.

Dan Wesson Remains Popular

Still today, the Dan Wesson line of revolvers remains popular among enthusiasts. For those like me who remember the endless shooting of the beautiful and accurate revolvers they are still an attractive mental picture.

The most unusual and innovative feature of the Dan Wesson revolvers was of course it's interchangeable barrel system. DW revolvers, at the height of their popularity, were commonly sold in sets with as many as 3-4 barrels coming with one gun frame.

The guns' very light trigger/hammer action made them a favorite among target shooters and hunters who, if they owned a set, could hunt in the morning with an 8" barrel and carry the revolver concealed with a 2.5" barrel in the evening.

Today, the semi auto pistol has taken a significant lead in both popularity and overall use. But there will always be a place and use for the ever dependable and simple wheel gun. And I expect that Dan Wesson revolvers will continue to be much desired and used wherever available for target shooting and hunting.

I was going to try to get more specific information on these revolvers and specific info on the .357 and .44 magnums, but found more questions than answers. With guns that have been out of production for some time and in limited production before that, finding extensive information is challenging.

The best information comes from individuals who currently own them and have significant experience with them.

One thing is certain.

For those who own them, they seem to love them across the board. Wish I had kept my Dan Wesson revolvers from three decades ago.