Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless
The Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless (nicknamed the Lemon Squeezer) is a double action revolver that was produced in the late 1880s by Smith & Wesson. The revolver was chambered in .32 S&W and .38 S&W calibers; these calibers were discontinued just before World War 2. The gun in its original top-break incarnation went through a few changes until 1952, when the safety hammerless concept was applied to Smith & Wesson's J-frame. The finished product became the Model 40 and 42 chambered in .38 Special and is alternately known as the Centennial as it was produced in the 100th anniversary of the founding of Smith & Wesson.
32 and 38 Safety Hammerless models
The Smith & Wesson 38 Safety Hammerless models were produced from 1887 (1888 for the 32) to just before World War 2. They were chambered in either .32 S&W or .38 S&W with a five-shot cylinder. They were produced with a 2-inch, 3-inch, and 3.5-inch barrels. They were top-break revolvers designed for fast reloading and were named "The New Departure". Minor design changes were made to these revolvers over the years, resulting in several different design models, as termed by collectors. The first model was manufactured between 1887-1902. The 38 was based on S&W's medium "Number 2" frame, while the 32 was based on the small "1½" frame.
Models 40 and 42
The Model 40 originally debuted in 1952 as the Centennial and was changed to the Model 40 in 1957. The Model 40 is chambered in .38 special and has a five-round capacity. It is a snub-nose revolver with a 1 7/8-inch barrel. Unlike the Safety Hammerless model it is built on Smith & Wesson's J-frame, has a swing-out cylinder and weighs 21 oz. empty. The revolver was made with a grip safety as some shooters could not get used to the idea of firing a revolver without cocking the hammer.
The Model 42 debuted in 1952 as the Airweight Centennial but was changed in 1957 to the Model 42. It was the same design as the Model 40 except that its frame was made of an aluminum alloy, resulting in a lower weight than the Model 40. The Model 42 was discontinued in 1974.
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