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Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless
File:S&W Lemon Squeezer.JPG
Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless Revolver
Type Revolver
Place of origin USA
Production history
Manufacturer Smith & Wesson
Produced 1887-1940
Caliber .38 S&W Blackpowder

.32 S&W

Action Double Action
Feed system 5-round cylinder
Sights Fixed

The Smith & Wesson Safety Hammerless or Smith & Wesson New Departure (nicknamed by collectors as the Lemon Squeezer) is a double-action revolver that was produced from 1887 to 1940 by Smith & Wesson. The revolver incorporated an internal hammer and an external grip safety on its backstrap. It was chambered in .32 S&W and .38 S&W calibers; these calibers were discontinued prior to World War 2, along with the Safety Hammerless Models.

The grip safety made a brief return to Smith & Wesson's revolvers in 1952 with the release of the Models 40 and 42.

.32 and .38 Safety Hammerless models[]

The Smith & Wesson .38 Safety Hammerless models were produced from 1887 (1888 for the 32) to just before World War II. They were chambered in either .32 S&W or .38 S&W with a five-shot cylinder. They were most often produced with a 2-inch, 3-inch, or 3.5-inch barrels; but some 6" barrelled versions are known to exist.[1]

These top-break revolvers were designed for fast reloading and concealed carry as the hammer was internal and would not snag on drawing the revolver from a pocket. They were known as "The New Departure" to reflect the company's new approach to designing revolvers.[1]

Minor design changes were made to these revolvers over the years, resulting in several different design models, as termed by collectors. The first model was manufactured between 1887-1902. The 38 was based on S&W's medium frame, while the 32 was based on the smaller sized "1½" frame.[2][3]

Smith & Wesson New Departure .32 S&W fired one-handed from 15 yards.

Return of the grip safety[]

In 1952 the safety hammerless concept was applied to Smith & Wesson's J-frame. The finished product became the Model 40 and 42 chambered in .38 Special and is alternately known as the Centennial as it was produced in the 100th anniversary of the founding of Smith & Wesson.[1][4]


Ad from 1899

While few competitors replicated the grip safety, the internal hammer or "hammerless" design proved popular with other manufacturers such as Iver Johnson and Harrington & Richardson. The concept is still maintained by numerous modern double-action revolver manufacturers.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Supica, Jim; Richard Nahas (2007). Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson (3 ed.). Iola, Wisconsin: F+W Media, Inc. pp. 78–79, 151. ISBN 978-0-89689-293-4. 
  2. Shideler, Dan (2011). The Gun Digest Book of Guns & Prices 2011 Official Gun Digest Book of Guns and Prices (6 ed.). Gun Digest Books. p. 874. ISBN 978-1-4402-1435-6. 
  3. Flayderman, Norm (2007). Flayderman's Guide to Antique American Firearms and Their Values (9 ed.). F+W Media, Inc. p. 282. ISBN 978-0-89689-455-6. 
  4. Boorman, Dean K. (2002). The History of Smith & Wesson Firearms. Globe Pequot. p. 39. ISBN 978-1-58574-721-4. 

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