The Smith & Wesson Model 10, previously known as the Smith & Wesson Military & Police or the Smith & Wesson Victory Model, is a .38-caliber revolver developed from the Smith & Wesson .38 Hand Ejector Model of 1889. In production since 1899, it is a fixed-sight, six-shot handgun with a fluted cylinder. Over its long production run it has been available with barrel lengths of 2 in (51 mm), 3 in (76 mm), 4 in (100 mm), 5 in (130 mm), and 6 in (150 mm). Barrels of 2.5 inches (64 mm) are also known to have been made for special contracts. Some 6,000,000 of the type have been produced over the years, making it the most popular centerfire revolver of the 20th century.
In 1899, the Army and Navy placed orders with Smith and Wesson for two to three thousand Model 1889 Hand Ejector revolvers chambered for the M1892 .38 U.S. Service Cartridge (aka .38 Long Colt). With this order, the Hand Ejector Model 1889 became known as the .38 Military and Police model of 1899. That same year, in response to reports from military sources serving in the Philippines on the relative ineffectiveness of the .38 (Long Colt) cartridge, Smith & Wesson began offering the Military & Police in a new chambering, the .38 S&W Special (aka .38 Special) — a slightly elongated version of the .38 Long Colt cartridge with increased bullet weight (158 grains) and increase in powder charge from eighteen to twenty-one grains of gun powder.
In 1902 the .38 Military & Police (2nd Model) was introduced, featuring substantial changes. These included major modification and simplification of the internal lockwork and the addition of a locking underlug on the barrel to engage the previously free-standing ejector rod. Barrel lengths were 4, 5, 6, and 6.5 inches with a rounded butt. Serial numbers for the Military & Police ranged from number 1 in the series to 20,975. Most of the early M&P revolvers chambered in .38 Special appear to have been sold to the civilian market. By 1904, S&W was offering the .38 M&P with rounded or square butt, and 4, 5, and 6.5-inch barrels.
The .38 S&W Military & Police Model of 1905 4th Change (introduced 1915), incorporated a passive hammer block and enlarged service sights that quickly became a standard across the service revolver segment of the industry. Heat treatment of cylinders began in 1919.
The S&W Model 10 military revolvers produced from 1942 to 1944 had serial numbers with a “V” prefix, and were known as the Smith & Wesson Victory Model. It is noteworthy that early Victory Models did not always have the V prefix. During World War II over 570,000 of these pistols were supplied to theUnited Kingdom, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, and South Africa under theLend-Lease program, chambered in the British .38/200 caliber already in use in the Enfield No 2 Mk I Revolver and the Webley Mk IV Revolver. Most Victory Models sent to Britain were fitted with 4″ (102 mm) or 5″ (127 mm) barrels, although a few early versions had 6″ (150 mm) barrels. In general, most British and Commonwealth forces expressed a preference for the .38/200 Smith & Wesson over their standard Enfield revolver.
The Victory Model was also used by United States forces during World War II, being chambered in the well-known and popular .38 Special cartridge. The Victory Model was a standard-issue sidearm for US Navy and Marine aircrews, and was also used by security guards at factories and defense installations throughout the United States during the war. Some of these revolvers remained in service well into the 1990s with units of the US Armed Forces, including the Coast Guard. Some Lend-Lease Victory Model revolvers originally chambered for the British .38/200 were returned to the U.S. and rechambered to fire the more popular and more powerful .38 Special ammunition, and such revolvers are usually so marked on their barrels. Rechambering of .38-200 cylinders to .38 Special results in oversized chambers which may cause problems.
The finish on Victory Models was typically a sandblasted and parkerized finish, which is noticeably different from the higher-quality blue or nickel/chrome finishes usually found on commercial M&P/Model 10 revolvers. Other distinguishing features of the Victory Model revolver are the lanyard loop at the bottom of the grip frame, and the use of smooth (rather than checkered) walnut grip panels. However some early models did use a checkered grip, most notably the pre-1942 manufacture.
Post-World War II models
After World War II, Smith and Wesson returned to manufacturing the M&P series. Along with cosmetic changes and replacement of the frame fitting grip with the Magna stocks, the spring-loaded hammer block safety gave way to a cam-actuated hammer block that rode in a channel in the side plate (Smith 1968). In 1957, Smith and Wesson adopted the convention of using numeric designations to distinguish their various models of handguns, and the M&P was renamed the Model 10.
The M&P/Model 10 has been available in both blued steel finish and nickel finish for most of its production run. The model has also been offered throughout the years with both the round butt and square butt (i.e. grip patterns). Beginning with the Model 10-5 series in the late 1960s, the tapered barrel and its trademark ‘half moon’ front sight (as shown in the illustrations on this page) were replaced by a straight bull barrel and a sloped milled ramp front sight. Late model Model 10s are capable of handling any .38 Special cartridge produced today up to and including +P+ rounds. You can identify this late model by the implementation of a five screw assembly, four screws along the side and one in front of the trigger guard.
As of 2007 the Model 10 was available only in a 4″ (102mm) barrel model. The Model 10′s stainless steel (Inox) counterpart, the Smith & Wesson Model 64, is available in either a 4″ (102 mm) or a 3″ (76 mm) barrel.
.357 Magnum variations
After a small prototype run of Model 10-6 revolvers in .357 Magnum caliber, Smith and Wesson introduced the Model 13 heavy barrel in carbon steel and then the Model 65 instainless steel. Both revolvers featured varying barrel weights and lengths—generally three and four inches with and without underlugs (shrouds). Production dates begin in 1974 for the Model 13 and end upon discontinuation in 1999. The Model 65 was in production from 1972-1999. Both the blued and stainless models were popular with police and FBI and a variation of the Model 65 was marketed in the Lady Smith line from 1992-1999.
As of 2005, Smith & Wesson produces a polymer-framed semi-automatic handgun in 9 mm, .40 S&W, and .357 SIG under the M&P name. In 2007, a .45 ACP version of the semi-automatic M&P was introduced.