Smith & Wesson Model 52

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Smith & Wesson Model 52
S&W M52-2 with bbl weight
Type Semi-automatic Pistol
Place of origin  United States
Weight 40 oz.
Length 8.55” (192 mm)
Barrel length 5” (102 mm)

Cartridge .38 Special
Action Short recoil, SA
Rate of fire Semi-automatic
Feed system 5-round single column, detachable box magazine

The Smith & Wesson Model 52 was a semi-automatic pistol developed by Smith & Wesson for Bullseye shooting. It was one of the first semiautomatic pistols chambered in .38 Special with flush-seated, full wadcutter bullets. The shape of the rimmed cartridge limited the magazine capacity to five rounds. A variant, known as the Model 952, in 9 mm Parabellum, is still produced in limited quantities by Smith & Wesson's Performance Center. The Model 52 was discontinued in 1992 when the machinery to manufacture the pistol broke down and it was deemed too costly to replace.[1]


The Smith & Wesson Model 52 was introduced in 1961 as a match weapon derived from the Smith & Wesson Model 39. The first version known simply as the Model 52 retained the basic trigger mechanism of the Model 39, with the Double-Action function selectable via a simple frame-mounted setscrew, allowing the pistol to be fired in either Single action or Double-Action mode depending on the setscrew's adjustment.[2]

In 1963 the Model 52-1 was introduced with a separately developed single-action trigger system and was manufactured until 1970, when it was succeeded by the Model 52-2. Changes to the 52-2 included an improved extractor.[2]

In 1992, the 30 year-old machinery used to make the Model 52 broke down and Smith & Wesson decided against replacing it, so the handgun was discontinued. The last model 52-2 bore serial number “TZW9149” and was completed on July 23, 1993 and delivered to the S&W gun vault.[2][3]

Model 952[edit]

The Smith & Wesson Model 952 was introduced in 2004 as a Performance Center pistol based on the Model 52 and chambered in 9mm. Enhancements included a 5” match-grade barrel, titanium-coated spherical barrel bushing, 9-round magazine, loaded chamber indicator and a slide-mounted decocking lever.[4]

An enhanced version was produced in 2004 and a long slide variant with a 6" barrel debuted in 2006.[5]


  1. ^ Jinks, Roy G.; Krein, Sandra C. (2006). Smith & Wesson (MA) (Images of America). Boston: Arcadia Publishing. p. 128. ISBN 978-0-7385-4510-3. 
  2. ^ a b c Supica, Jim; Richard Nahas (2007). Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (3 ed.). F+W Media, Inc. p. 267. ISBN 978-0-89689-293-4. 
  3. ^ Hartink, A.E. (2002). The Complete Encyclopedia of Pistols and Revolvers. Edison, New Jersey: Chartwell Books, Inc. pp. 278–279. ISBN 978-0-7858-1519-8. 
  4. ^ Ayoob, Massad (15 March 2010). Massad Ayoob's Greatest Handguns of the World. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 285. ISBN 1-4402-1503-0. 
  5. ^ Ramage, Ken (2 November 2006). Handguns 2007 - 19th Edition. Iola, Wisconsin: Gun Digest Books. p. 26. ISBN 1-4402-2676-8.