January 2003

Downrange: 01/03

TIME HEALS ALL WOUNDS? If you had wondered if Smith & Wesson could recover from its troubles and travails, perhaps an advance look at one of the companyís 2003 product introductions might suggest the company is returning to good health:

The SW99 line will be expanded with the addition of a full-size .45 ACP pistol and two compacts. The .45 ACP SW99 pistol will feature a 4.25-inch barrel, 9 + 1 capacity, and weigh 25.6 ounces. The compacts will be available in a 9mm and .40 S&W version. All these SW99s will feature interchangeable backstraps, interchangeable front sights and adjustable rear sights. From our perspective, the most interesting of these guns will be the SW1911, a 1911-style pistol with a 5-inch barrel. The stainless-steel pistol is slated to have three-dot sights, a drop safety that is not connected to the trigger assembly, an extended beavertail, and a Smith & Wesson-style external extractor.

On the revolver side, the company will introduce the Model 647, which will be chambered for the .17 Hornady. The 647 will be a six-shot stainless steel K-frame revolver with a 6-inch barrel.

The introduction of these two guns shows us that S&W isnít being timid about forging back into the gun-making and gun-selling business, and we applaud this.

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PILOTS LACK PLACES TO TRAIN. As airline pilots move one step closer to being allowed to carry firearms on flights with the passage of the Homeland Security Bill, many are looking to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) for training options. However, the TSA does not have enough facilities to train the estimated 30,000 pilots expected to volunteer for the firearms program, so pilots are looking to the FBI and private firearm schools for training. We see a big opportunity for the SIGarms and Smith & Wesson academies and places like Thunder Ranch as a result.

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WHERE TO SHOOT WEB SITE. The National Association of Shooting Rangesí (NASR) WhereToShoot.org Web site has a fresh new look. Itís the first place to look online for a shooting range near you and features complete descriptions of range offerings with information on handicap accessibility.

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BALLISTIC IMAGING DEBATER. Newtown (CT) High School sophomore Nick Paproski attended his first Northeastern State Fall Convention of the Junior State of America and came away with top honors in debate. Paproski, 15, won the debate arguing against the question of a national ballistic imaging database. He also took ďbest speakerĒ honors as well. However, Paproski had an unfair advantage. As a .22 smallbore rifle competitor for more than seven years, he knew a little more about firearms than his competition. It could be said he shot holes in the competitionís arguments.


-Todd Woodard