The Smith & Wesson company was formed in 1852, in Norwich, Connecticut. The company's first offering was a lever-action repeating pistol. Moving forward from those beginnings, Smith & Wesson shaped innovations in the manufacturing of modern handguns. As of March 2011, Smith & Wesson offers approximately 110 different pistols of varied designs and features.
Examine the barrel of the Smith & Wesson pistol. Locate either "Smith & Wesson, Springfield, Massachusetts" or "Smith & Wesson; Houlton, ME" stamped on the barrel. This identification proves that the handgun is an authentic Smith & Wesson pistol.
Locate the serial number on the left side of the pistol's frame. The standard location for the serial number is above the trigger guard. Some serial numbers are located underneath the frame in front of the trigger guard. Others are on the rear of the frame, above the gun's grip.
Look up the pistol's full serial number -- including all letters and numbers -- in the back section of the "Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson" book. These listings inform you of the pistol's date of manufacture, based on the serial number.