The rest of the world may have a lead in high-tech products, but Americans can always stick to their guns.
Based in Massachusetts, with additional facilities in Maine and Tennessee, Smith & Wesson (SWHC) is the largest maker of handguns in the U.S.
Founders Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson entered the firearm market by making a lever-action pistol that was sold by their Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. In 1856, after financial difficulties led them to lose ownership of the company, they struck out on their own with a new, cartridge-based model.
The timing of the company proved fortunate. The Civil War proved a boon for business. By 1867 the revolvers were being sold internationally, their image bolstered from use by legendary lawman Wyatt Earp and the U.S. Army.
More recently, its Magnum gained silver screen notoriety as the weapon of choice for Clint Eastwood's shoot-first-ask-questions-later Dirty Harry.