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Smith and Wesson Model 40 Centennial

Posted by Jason Brumett     

  • Smith and Wesson Model 40 Centennial Photo 1

The Model 40 came on the scene in 1953 and was discontinued in 1974. It is chambered for the .38 Special and features a two-inch barrel, fully concealed hammer, grip safety and smooth wood grips. It was available in blue or nickel finish (by far, most are blued steel). With an MSRP of $6,500.00 this may be the most expensive handgun in our database.

Several factors made the Model 40 Centennial such a preferred revolver for concealed carry. First, it doesn't weigh much (even being made all of steel). And because the cylinder holds five rather than six rounds, as do many revolvers, the cylinder is a slim 1.3 inches wide (the widest part of the entire gun). That's pretty skinny and not a whole lot wider than some of the more modern, boxy autos.

The Centennial does have sights, although they are the most basic available on a revolver. The front sight is a rather substantial blade, while the rear sight is the typical squared cut in the top of the rear of the top strap.

The Centennial picked up a nickname along the way. It is variously referred to as the "lemon squeezer," because of the grip safety. But the grip safety on the Centennial doesn't get in the way; when you hold the Centennial in firing mode, the grip safety is automatically depressed and becomes a non-factor.

Combine the size and geometry of the Centennial and you have a package that can be pointed and shot with adequate accuracy. For example, if the shot is to be quickly, the revolver clears clothing without a snag--no exposed hammer spur or anything else to catch. As it is being brought to bear on target, the long trigger pull can begin so it goes "bang" at the precise instant the arm is extended properly.

Or, if there's a chance to aim the shot, there are two really distinctive stages to the smooth double-action trigger. The long trigger take-up can be done and the trigger held in place at a spot in the pull where there is not much spring pressure back onto the trigger finger; just a bit more pressure and slight trigger movement will set it off.

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