In the upcoming 2014 issue of Complete Book of Handguns, author Massad Ayoob writes, “Introduced in 1899 as the Hand Ejector in calibers .32-20 and .38 Long Colt, Smith & Wesson’s Military & Police would soon be the first revolver chambered for the .38 Special cartridge. That would be its primary caliber from then on, and the M&P would be largely responsible for the huge and enduring popularity of the .38 Special round.”
He continues, “By 1942, Smith & Wesson would produce its millionth M&P revolver. Throughout World War II, the company manufactured a huge number of them in .38 Special. (George H.W. Bush, later to become President of the United States, would be carrying one when he was shot down in the Pacific during that conflict.) Before WWII was over, S&W would also manufacture more than a half-million M&Ps for the British chambered in .38/200. All of those WWII guns were known as Victory Models, made quickly with smooth walnut stocks instead of S&W’s usual fine checkering, and with gray Parkerized finishes instead of the lustrous commercial blue that characterized an American cop’s or citizen’s S&W M&P.”
Ayoob goes on to relate the M&P revolvers decades of transformation, including new tidbits about the Smith & Wesson’s M&P semi-autos. To learn more, check out the Complete Book of Handguns 2014, available on newsstands and digitally December 31, 2013. To subscribe, go to https://www.personaldefenseworld.com/subscribe.