Update: Smith & Wesson has apologized, saying it “did not fully understand” the Brownells Dream Gun Project.

This one-off display gun is at the center of a tempest in a teacup of epic proportions. Image Via Apex Tactical.
This one-off “Dream Gun” is at the center of a “tempest in a teacup” of epic proportions. Image Via Apex Tactical.

As long as there have been mass-market commercial firearms, there have been companies and gunsmiths that have build niche markets improving the factory guns to higher levels of performance.

These aftermarket experts make otherwise “vanilla” firearms palatable to discerning buyers who might otherwise opt for a different firearm that has higher performance out of the box. It has always been a “win-win” arrangement that smart companies in the industry have enjoyed.

Smith & Wesson—or perhaps we should say Sith & Wesson—is apparently not one of those “smart companies.”

S&W—which is just finally earning the forgiveness of many in the industry for their “smart guns” collusion with the Clinton White House in 2000—has instead sent a bullying cease and desist letter to the four companies that built the 2016 Brownell’s “Dream Gun” to be proudly displayed at SHOT Show in Las Vegas next month.

Show guns are nothing new. They are flashy, typically custom-made firearms showing off products or services.

A competent firearms industry legal team would know of show guns, and the role they’ve long played in helping promote products and services in the sort of “win-win” way we’re described.

But Smiths legal team of Ballard Spahr aren’t apparently a “competent firearms industry legal team,” and are demanding that the four companies receiving the letter:

 1. Confirm in writing that neither you nor any third party will display the Infringing Product, or any similar product, at the 2016 SHOT Show or make any other commercial display or promotion of such Infringing Product;

2. Cease the sale of any firearm modified by you or any other third party that bears any Smith & Wesson trademark, including, but not limited to the S&W® Marks or the M&P® Marks;
and

3. Turn over to Smith & Wesson your inventory of the Infringing Product, or any Smith & Wesson product modified by you in the first instance that bears any mark owned by Smith & Wesson.

If we do not hear from you by January 5, 2015, Smith & Wesson will pursue its rights and remedies to the fullest extent permitted by law without further notice to you.

The four companies attacked in this letter have done a lot to help make the M&P line of pistols a product that serious shooters might consider buying and using. Building the “Dream Gun” off of an M&P was a honor that Smith & Wesson should have bragged about.

Instead, they offer…. this.

10 2 3 4

I only see one way out of this for Smith & Wesson, and it involves the rhetorical defenestration and termination of Ballard Spahr, effective immediately.

The firearms industry and shooters have long memories for those who betray them. Smith & Wesson had better rectify this situation quickly, or they’re going to find themselves the pariahs of the industry once again.