Dan Wesson Firearms, founded by Daniel Baird Wesson II (great-grandson of Daniel B. Wesson, co-founder of Smith & Wesson) in 1968, is a firearm manufacturer and a part of CZ-USA. Dan Wesson's production previously focused on revolvers (for which they are renowned) as well as several types of ammunition, although in recent years their flagship model has become the Dan Wesson M1911.
The firm Dan Wesson Firearms began after Daniel B. Wesson II teamed up with Karl R. Lewis (a renowned gun designer at the time) in the aftermath of Smith & Wesson being sold earlier that year (for whom Wesson had been working for since 1938). In the spirit of wanting to produce all-American firearms of high quality for both military and competition use, Daniel Wesson promptly began an advertising campaign while Karl Lewis began designing a producing prototypes for various gun shows. The base of their operations was in a former school building in Monson, Massachusets and from there Dan Wesson Arms Inc. entered the gun market.
Their first product, the Dan Wesson Model 12, was largely influenced by Lewis' expertise in modular designs (for which he had made his name at Browning), with an interchangeable barrel. This design (which shot the .357 Magnum cartridge) evolved into the Model 15 then Model 15-2 while the appeal of Dan Wesson's designs exploded, prompting them to introduce various calibre and cartridge size options for their firearms (eg .44 Magnum or .32 H&R).
Yet despite the sucess of their early designs, which had resulted in the development of a cult-like following, Dan Wesson flirted on the edge of going out of business almost daily. With thier equipment rapidly becoming out-of-date and in the wake of a bankruptcy, the Dan Wesson company and its assets were sold to Bob Serva in 1995. Intially he continued production in Palmer, Massachusettes (which had served as the base of the company since 1983) but this was soon moved to Norwich, New York the following year.For 10 years Bob Serva operated Dan Wesson Firearms in New York, shifting production from largely revolvers to developing and producing their own M1911 pistol (although Serva would later begin reintroducing older models as their sales took a whack without them). Yet this change was not enough to keep Dan Wesson safely above the financial flood line and in 2005 the outfit was sold to Czech based CZ-USA (specifically the American arm of the Czech company). CZ have further reduced the production of revolvers, although they have reinstated production of parts for older designs.
Over the years Dan Wesson have designed several notable firearms, each of which have been known for their high quality and have each developed almost a cult-like following. Although in recent years the production of Dan Wesson Revolvers has been largely silenced, their best known models remain, perhaps, those.
Their most recognisable (and indeed popular) products are:
- Dan Wesson Model 12
- Dan Wesson Model 15/15-2
- Dan Wesson M1911 Pistol
- Dan Wesson Pistol-Pac
- Dan Wesson Revolver
Dan Wesson hold no fewer than seventeen US patents for various designs, although at least ten of these were held by Karl Lewis while he worked for Browning (prior to the formation of Dan Wesson Firearms). The majority of these patents are for their early revolver designs, with unique aspects applied to the hammer, cylinder and even a modified double action mechanism.
Dan Wesson also produced several unique (put non-patented) aspects to their designs, with the most renowned having been the Pistol-Pac (which sold four barrels of various lengths with the gun). Other sales innovations include the Supermag (a line of products which had a modified magazine).