The Smith & Wesson Model 19 Combat Magnum
In 1963, a six inch barreled version with a partridge front sight was added to the line up. In 1965, 150 Model 19-2's were ordered by the US Navy SEALs with four inch barrels and round butts. In 1966, a snubby two and a half inch barreled round butt version was placed into production. Three and five inch barreled Model 19s were produced, but they are exceedingly rare.
Because the Model 19 was built on a K frame, it has one compromise in it's design. It was beefed up in the yoke area and designed to shoot 158 grain lead .357 magnum ammunition. To clear the cylinder and ejector rod, the forcing cone on .357 magnum K frames has a flat area at 6:00. This area is prone to cracking when 125 grain .357 magnum ammunition is used. For specifics, click here or here for some of the best research. Of course, others disagree. The regrettable thing is no more Model 19 barrels are available, anywhere. If the forcing cone cracks, the revolver is basically a parts gun.
Last summer, I paid $279 for my four inch Model 19-4. It was absolutely pristine, a pinned and recessed masterpiece with a nickel finish. I admit I do not shoot a lot of magnum rounds through it. To me, it is a very nice, accurate .38 special revolver with a recessed cylinder and the ability to occasionally shoot 158 grain magnums.
Earlier this week, I found a six inch Model 19-4 for $239. I purchased it immediately. The rubber grips were well worn, so I swapped them for walnut magnas. I took it to the range, and with 130 grain .38 specials it shot cloverleafs in the center of my targets.
I've always wished the .38 special Smith & Wesson revolver cylinders were recessed, but the fellows at Springfield never saw the need. The Model 19 is accurate, damned accurate, with .38 special. With it's additional weight from the ejector rod shroud, and the slightly longer cylinder, it is easily one of the best handling revolvers I own. If I find a two and a half inch nickel Model 19, I'll make it mine as well!
Labels: Smith and Wesson