Guns of the US Military: History of the DA Revolver with Colonel Smoothbore
By OutdoorAly

Posted: November 24, 2013

1st model M&P

Last time we looked at the invention and early production of DA revolvers; let’s move on in time. By the 1890s, the US military had decided a more modern handgun was needed. In 1892, the Army adopted the Colt M1982 chambered in .38 Long Colt. The gun needed several improvements over the years and 7 different models were produced between the 1892 introduction and the final 1905 Marine Corps model.


The Army and Navy, in 1899, ordered several thousand S&W M1899 Hand Ejector revolvers also chambered in .38 Long Colt. Thus was born the very famous Smith & Wesson .38 Military & Police (M&P). Later the same year, S&W lengthened the .38 Long Colt cartridge and introduced the .38 S&W Special, now commonly known as the .38 Special. This cartridge and the M&P revolver (later known as the Model 10) became a law enforcement staple for nearly a century.

Lend-lease M&P

One of the most famous of the M&P guns was the “Victory Model.” This gun was produced between 1942 and 1944 and over a half million of these guns were supplied to US allies during WWII. Most of the guns supplied to the British Commonwealth countries were chambered in .38/200, while US forces used guns of the .38 Special caliber.

Modern Model 10

During most of this time, Colt was competing with its New Service models. The Army, Navy, and Marine Corps all used the M1909 chambered in 45 Colt. In 1917, the gun was chambered in .45 ACP and loading was accomplished with 3 round half-moon clips. The guns were used to supplement production of the venerable M1911 Colt 45 semi auto pistol. Production of the M1917 was discontinued in 1941.


After WWII, both Colt and Smith & Wesson expanded their revolver offerings with new models that included both smaller and larger frames, a large assortment of caliber offerings and many different finishes, barrel lengths, and grips. This competition between these two great manufacturers created a wondrous assortment guns for hand gunners. In the end, it could be said that Smith & Wesson won the war as Colt foundered for years and finally left the commercial civilian market to concentrate on the military. In recent years Colt has reentered the civilian fray with a few new guns, but alas, the Python is still only a wish for most of us.

Beginning with the next post, we’ll look at some of the great revolvers of all time, both SA and DA.

Be safe and good shooting.

Colonel Smoothbore

New Podcast!