A Nurse with a Gun

Tuesday, February 21, 2006

Smith & Wesson Model 15-9 Range Report

In the Spring of 2001, right at the height of the S&W boycott by many gun owners, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center and Lew Horton collaborated to produce a series of revolvers that would elicit memories of days gone by. The revolvers were even shipped in period style boxes, wrapped in wax paper. These guns may have been the right revolver released at the wrong time. They were scorned by the revolver buying public. Their case colors were laughed at. The tiny round butts became the butt of jokes. Eventhough one gun rag named the case color Heritage Model 25 in .45 Colt "Handgun of the Year" other gun magazines gave the series no ink at all. The special run of Heritage wheelguns was virtually ignored by collectors. With Performance Center prices and retro looks, they were destined to become poor sellers. Many Heritage guns were eventually consigned to firearm liquidators at greatly reduced prices. That is how I came upon my Smith & Wesson Model 15-9 from CDNN. In 2004, I paid $599 for it, roughly half the MSRP for a NIB Performance Center .38 special revolver.

It was easy to see why this revolver was either scorned or praised. There were things that I, myself, loved about it, and other things that were a curse. The fact that S&W put in a overtravel screw on a smooth trigger was a huge plus. The upper sideplate screw was a nice retro touch, as was the period tapered barrel. The rear sight had a rounded front, which was very nicely fitted to the topstrap. The teardrop hammer was slick. Thank God this revolver had no zit lock on the side. It was, however, difficult to overlook the nickel plated billboard heralding Ed McGivern's world records that was riveted to the sideplate. Alternatives are not available for that folly. The case colors were done by Doug Turnbull. While beautiful, and fiery, they are alien to the history of the Model 15, and indeed any S&W Hand Ejector. The front sight is a huge affair, derided as a gut hook by many shooters. It has a brass Call bead mounted on it. There is no period pin to secure the barrel in place. The firing pin is frame mounted. Then there were the itty bitty round butt grips. Sure, they are nice figured walnut, but they are not sufficient for this revolver.

It felt odd, I had purchased a new Smith & Wesson, and a PC gun at that.
That was a strange move for a fellow who eschews the new stuff S&W produces. One of the first things I did after initially shooting the Model 15-9 was acquire a Hogue Monogrip for it. I considered a cocobolo Monogrip, but settled on a gun show special rubber Monogrip instead. I was pleased and surprised to discover the Model 15-9 actually looked better in the rubber grip! I suppose with the case colors, the eye needed a rest which the matte rubber provides. Sadly, the rubber does not totally obscure the nickel billboard on the right side. The Monogrip does feel 100% better though.

From day one, this revolver has been a shooter. It is fitted better or at least as well as any revolver I own. I took it to the range today and ran the targets out to ten yards. The revolver showed that it was capable of hitting only the ten ring, if I was up to the challenge. I was not, but I did manage to stay in the black. I shot Winchester White Box ammo from Wal-Mart.

There are a lot of things to like about this revolver, not the least of which is it's inherent accuracy. The "gut hook" sight is a pleasure to use, so much so that I plan to get a Call bead on other guns. It is exceptionally quick to acquire. It actually looks pretty sporty in it's case colors and rubber grip. If I could find one that would totally cover that silly nickel plate on the side, I would be a very satisfied shooter. Until then I will just enjoy this revolver for what it is, a damned accurate six gun.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

That's a smoking deal on a PC revolver.

10:42 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I own one...only in nickel...And bought it NEW in May,2006...For $550.00
I LOVE it!!

10:14 PM  

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