In today’s news section, you’ll see Smith & Wesson’s formal announcement of the unexpected death of former Smith & Wesson CEO and longtime Vice Co-Chair of their Board Michael F. Golden. He passed away on June 5th, 2023. Golden, the former CEO of Smith & Wesson (2004 to 2011), was an “outsider” coming to S&W from Stanley Works Company, and a prior stint at Black and Decker.
He also came to Smith & Wesson at a time when the iconic gun company was, in the words of one longtime acquaintance, “a helluva mess from the former British owners.” Consequently, some industry observers thought Golden would be a “three-and-out” leader…if he managed to hang in there for three years.
Golden proved them all wrong, and breathed life into S&W at a time when their product line consisted of “a bunch of old revolvers from 75 years ago and some not-so-good clunky semiautos that no one wanted.”
They were also virtual pariahs in the industry, as the previous owners had cut a deal with the Clinton administration, alienating all but the most faithful S&W fans.
Mutual friend Buz Mills of Gunsite Academy broke the news of Golden’s passing, reminding me that Golden had “reinvented S&W - everything from manufacturing to marketing- with a Midas touch.”
He also reminded me the Golden era at S&W was the time when the “American Glock”-the Smith & Wesson M&P pistol - was introduced, the stock climbed to record levels, and stodgy old S&W even rolled out their own line of AR-style rifles.
“He,” Mills told me, “Wasn’t just a great businessman, he was a true friend to me, a mentor to many, and was blessed with a great family.”
Can’t think of a better way to be remembered.
Services for Michael Golden will be held at St. Clare of Assisi Catholic Church, 225 Seven Farms Drive, Daniel Island, South Carolina, on Friday, June 9 at 1:00 p.m.
-- Jim Shepherd