Smith & Wesson handguns As gun-obsessed as much of America has been of late, it may be a great time to point out the modern handgun got its start on these shores. Smith & Wesson ( SWHC) founders Horace Smith and Daniel B. Wesson first made their lever-action pistol for Volcanic Repeating Arms Co. In 1856, they left the cash-strapped company and created a cartridge-based model for their own firearms business. With the Civil War just around the corner and America's westward expansion yielding even more gunplay, business picked up in a hurry. By 1867 their revolvers were being sold around the world. Today, Smith and Wesson is the largest handgun maker on the planet, but is still based in Massachusetts. Much of its business is still conducted there and at its facilities in Maine and Tennessee. -- Written by Jason Notte in Portland, Ore. >To contact the writer of this article, click here: Jason Notte. >To follow the writer on Twitter, go to http://twitter.com/notteham. >To submit a news tip, send an email to: email@example.com.