Dan Wesson
Model W12 Revolver

From GUNS Magazine, June 1969

Editor's Note

Reintroduced in 2018 to celebrate the company’s 50th anniversary, the Dan Wesson switch-barrel revolver was first introduced in 1970. Back in 1969, our Mason Williams got a first look at the original design.

Read his first report of the new revolver in the June 1969 issue of GUNS Magazine.

New Dan Wesson Revolver

Even the most jaded handgunner will perk up a bit when he gets his hands on the new Dan Wesson revolver that embodies some radically new and yet sound design features. First of all, the side plates are both clean giving a fresh look to the handgun. Gone is the finger-splitting cylinder lock that has been moved forward to the front of the cylinder becoming an integral part of the crane. This serrated catch moves up and down under spring tension to engage a cut in the frame, thereby locking the cylinder at the front. At the rear, a simple spring-loaded ball bearing has been set into the frame and snaps into a recess in the rear of the ejector sod head, eliminating all of the customary complicated ejector rod assembly. This handgun has been so simply constructed and has so few parts that the first time the shooter takes it apart he will not believe that this small number of part can possibly function the entire handgun. But it’s true.

The next eye-catching detail is the barrel nut that fits onto the muzzle end of the barrel. Unscrew this with the wrench furnished heel with the revolver, pull off the barrel shroud, then the barrel unscrews and you are ready to screw one of three other barrels. At the start, this revolver will be sold with either a 2.5″ barrel or a 4″ barrel. Later on, there will be 5” and 6″ barrel. In order to correctly locate the rear of the barrel, Dan Wesson furnishes a gauge so that when you are crewing in a new barrel — or for that matter, replacing the original barrel — you insert the gauge between the front of the cylinder and the rear of the barrel, bring up the barrel finger tight, lip on the barrel shroud, lock the barrel nut securely, pull out the gauge and the barrel is in place, with the precise barrel/cylinder gap. Simple?

Once you have done this a couple of times, it only takes a minute at the most to remove and install a barrel. This flexibility enables the shooter to pot varmints with the long barrel and then switch over to the 2.5″ barrel for carrying. It appears to be an ideal arrangement for the sportsman, trapper, hunter and law enforcement officer.

I have purposely avoided mentioning the target shooter because the action of this revolver must be tried to be believed and today match target shooters are so intent upon using automatic pistols that I am afraid it will take a bit of doing to get them to stampede dealers for these new revolvers. The double action is so short, so clean, and so smooth that there is nothing like it on the market. The single action is so short that target shooters may injure their thumbs attempting to pull back the hammer the conventional distance. But I predict that once the target shooter gets his hands on this revolver, he will be hooked.

Continue reading “New Dan Wesson Revolver” (Pg. 18), and the entire GUNS Magazine June 1969 issue, digitally available as a free PDF download.

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