November 16, 2018
Joel Hutchcroft, editor of Shooting Times, owns a superb example of Dan Wesson’s Model 15-2. This was a barrel-convertible revolver that was designed by Karl R. Lewis and first reviewed by Col. Jeff Cooper in Guns & Ammo’s October 1971 issue. It’s worth noting that Lewis had also designed the M79 40mm single-shot grenade launcher as well as the Colt Trooper in .357 Mag.
Daniel B. Wesson II worked at Smith & Wesson from 1938 to 1963. There, he had a reputation for strict quality control management before his family sold controlling interest of S&W to Bangor Punta in 1965. Less than three years later, in 1968, Wesson incorporated his own manufacturing business and started producing Lewis’ unique revolver that not only accepted barrels ranging from 21/2 inches to 6 inches in length, but also located the cylinder release latch forward of the cylinder.
Initially, Dan Wesson revolvers were made in a former school building in Monson, Massachusetts. Introduced in 1975, the Model 15-2 became the most popular model. Hutchcroft’s is rare in that it’s chambered in .32-20 Winchester. (The Model 15-2 was also chambered in .32 H&R.). His kit features four interchangeable barrels, each fitted in a fiberglass case resembling a brief case, as well as tools, gauges and a patch. Such kits were marketed as the “Pistol Pac,” which included four or more barrels that ranged up to 15 inches and could be had with interchangeable sight options. In 1980, Dan Wesson introduced a large-frame revolver to handle cartridges such as the .44 Magnum. Fitted with a so-called “Power Control” compensator, the Model 44 was widely considered to be the lightest-recoiling .44 Magnum revolver made.
Unfortunately, Dan Wesson died in 1978 and production costs with out-of-spec tooling hurt profits. The company lingered until bankruptcy in 1990, and then continued as Dan Wesson Firearms until a second bankruptcy in 1995. Ten years later, CZ-USA acquired the brand and established its headquarters in Kansas City. However, Dan Wesson handguns made today are built in Norwich, New York. Though the majority of Dan Wesson firearms produced are high-end Model 1911s, the company faithfully reintroduced convertible revolvers in 2015.
Dan Wesson commemorates its 50th Anniversary with a limited number of engraved, blued-steel Model 1911s. They are highly polished and complete with G10 grips that simulate ivory. Benefiting from modern features, these are made to be enjoyed.
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