Wednesday, August 8, 2018
Featured Gun: Smith & Wesson Model 61 Escort
The S&W Model 61 Escort was first conceived in the early 60's by the engineers in Springfield, but the design predates Smith & Wesson's endeavors.
S&W engineers were a little bit more than inspired by the design from the 1908 Pieper Bayard.
The Pieper Bayard was designed and patented in 1907 by Belgian gunsmith Bernard Clarus.
the 1908 Pieper Bayard (top) & S&W 61 Escort (bottom):
In the early 1960's Smith & Wesson was looking to produce a small pocket pistol for sport and defense. They began tweaking the Pieper Bayard's design.
The most noticeable was the frame material. S&W switched to aluminum frames, their intended cartridge was a .22 LR instead of the .32 or 380 ACP.
By 1965 they had what they thought was a marketable product. They announced their pistol late in 1968, although they it wasn't actually available until more than a year later. Orders began shipping in Spring of 1970.
The "Escort" name was fitting of the gun, the nickname was chosen due to the target audience of Women, perhaps even as back-up gun for Law Enforcement Officers.
"Escort" was not a reference to prostitution, in this case it referred to a man "escorting" a women in public, acting as her protector.
Smith & Wesson produced the Model 61 for almost exactly 3 years with four variants being made: 61 no dash, 61-1, 61-2, & 61-3. Production ended in March of 1973, apparently due to slow sales.
The design sat unused for fourteen years before being resurrected by Smith & Wesson for the Model 422 in 1987.
The safety was engaged by the shooters right thumb (if right handed) and was just behind the trigger guard. The magazine release was a European style, mounted on the heal of the grip frame.
The original frames were machined from aluminum die castings, in July of 1971 S&W switched to forged aluminum. The aluminum was anodized in black or nickel plated. The slides were blued or nickel plated
Caliber: .22 Long Rifle
Action: Semi-Auto, blow back, single action trigger
Capacity: 5 rounds
Weight: 14 ounces
Length: 4.81 inches
Barrel Length: 2.13 inches
Total production was 64,938 units of which a little moe than 10% (6600) were nickel plated. The plastic grips were simulated wood on the blued models or simulated pearl/ivory (not sure which) on the nickel plated ones.
They came with a typical for the era S&W blue cardboard box, along the the instruction manual, aluminum bore cleaning rod, a swab and bore brush
A couple of pictures from the 1976 movie Taxi Driver starring Robert De Niro and a nickel plated model 61 Escort
Normally I would place pictures and a brief story about the gun I own or have had contact with that inspired the post. Unfortunately I have not yet added an Escort to my collection, despite it being on my wish list for quite a while now.
Instead I will show you some additional pictures of the featured gun:
The Unblinking Eye
The Arms Room