GUN OF THE WEEK
by Bob Walsh
The Gun of the Week this time around is a Smith and Wesson Model 19 revolver. This particular example is a snubnose 2.5” barrel 19-4. The later series did not have recessed cylinder bores and pinned barrels. Smith asserts that they are not necessary and that is why they have been eliminated from later guns. I still like them. In addition this weapon, which I bought used, has had the trigger and hammer polished and jeweled. That along with the very nice blue finish makes for a very attractive gun. (The photo does not do it justice. The lighting was poorly set up. My bad.)
This weapon has the excellent S&W Micrometer sights and gives a very nice sight picture and is easily adjustable for different loads.
The Model 19 is a .357 magnum six-shot revolver with adjustable sights built on the K-frame. Bill Jordan, a late 20th century pistolero of some repute really loved these things and was in large part responsible for the development of this weapon. He worked for the Border Patrol when that was the place to be if you liked trading lead with the bad guys. He received the first one made, called at the time the Combat Magnum, in 1955. It stayed in production until 1999 and a stainless steel version the model 66, went into production from 2000 thru 2005. It was reintroduced about nine years later.
Unfortunately it was found that the guns would simply not hold up to a steady diet of high-speed .357 rounds, especially the ones with light weight jacketed bullets. When the use of target loads for qualifying went by the wayside the guns started loosening up pretty badly and Smith came out with the slightly heavier L-frame gun. This happened at about the time much of law enforcement started the shift to high-capacity semi-automatic pistols so the L-frame gun did not make the inroads into police service it might otherwise have.
This is a steel frame gun so it is somewhat heavy for the size. The snubbie weighs 30.5 ounces empty. That makes it harder to carry but easier to shoot than its smaller or alloy frame compatriots. These are very nice, good handling weapons. I am no longer a huge fan of revolvers for most police work and the instance of dealing with multiple bad guys is much higher than it was back in the day. That being said, for a private person in search of a good carry weapon a pistol like this could serve the need very nicely.
Editors Note: I carried the Model 66 in 1982 while working plain clothes for the state. One of the toughest pistols ever made. The hammer was a pain because it would rip the inside of a jacket over time. I had to have suede patches sewn inside my sport coats to prevent the damage.