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SMITH & amp; WESSON Company unveils biggest handgun

Published: Sun, February 16, 2003 @ 12:00 a.m.

The new handgun is powerful enough to stop a charging bear.

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (AP) -- Dirty Harry is outgunned: Smith & amp; Wesson has introduced its biggest handgun ever, a .50-caliber Magnum.

The five-shot revolver with an 81/2-inch barrel weighs about 41/2 pounds -- roughly a pound more than the big black .44 Magnum wielded by Clint Eastwood in the Dirty Harry movies. It fires a new .50-caliber cartridge that the company said produces nearly three times the muzzle energy of the .44 -- or enough stopping power to bring down a charging bear.

The gun, which sells for $989, is one of nine new models Smith & amp; Wesson introduced this week at a trade show in Orlando, Fla.

Decrease in sales

Handgun sales have long been on the decline in the United States, and Smith & amp; Wesson has struggled along with other gunmakers.

But Smith & amp; Wesson, long the industry leader, also lost business in recent years after striking a deal with the government in 2000 to install safety locks on all its guns.

Other gunmakers decided not to follow Smith & amp; Wesson's lead, and gun advocates accused the company of selling out. In 2001, the gunmaker was sold to an Arizona company that all but abandoned the agreement with the government.


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