Gun Review: S&W Model 19 – The Police Officer’s Perfect Revolver

NOTE: This product review was made possible by  To get up-to-date information on where to find S&W revolvers for sale, please visit

If there was ever a perfect revolver it was the S&W model 19. A revolver in medium weight that has excellent handling, fires a powerful cartridge with wonderful accuracy. You just can’t ask for more in a revolver.

Smith & Wesson model 19

The .357 cartridge was created by Winchester for S&W in the 1930’s and used in the “N” frame S&W. In the early 1950’s there was a perceived need for a new .357 by Bill Jordan. Jordan was a famed Border Patrol agent and a genuine gunfighter down on the Mexican border. Armed confrontations were commonplace back in those days so if any one knew what type of revolver was needed for police officers it was Bill Jordan.

Jordan was retired by this time and spent a year with S&W developing the revolver that was to become the most popular revolver in police officers holsters until the trend toward the “wonder nines” of the 1980’s. Sure there was the model 10 and the newer 686 but the 19 was the preferred revolver of the bunch.

Smith & Wesson model 19

As it turns out the model 19 was scaled down to a medium “K” frame with all the features and overall shape of it’s “N” frame big brother. The development wasn’t without challenges since existing steels of the time wouldn’t handle the pressures of the 357 in the “K” frame. After much experimenting with various steels a blend capable of handling the pressures involved was created. Both S&W and Bill Jordan were very pleased with this new medium weight revolver. In fact S&W presented Jordan with the first “Combat Magnum” in 1955.

Bill Jordans book autographed for me in the 70’s. He has a model 19 in the cover picture.

Smith & Wesson model 19

The initial name of this new revolver was the “357 Combat Magnum”. S&W tooled up and began turning out Combat Magnums in blue and nickel finishes. The first were sold in 1957 and renamed the model 19. The standard models were 4 inch barreled with 2-½ inch barreled models coming out a bit later.

With the exception of a few very large police departments most officers of the time had to purchase their own duty revolvers. If they could afford it they bought model 19’s. Many Detectives purchased these with the 2-½ inch barrel when they became available. The Border Patrol was one agency that provided duty weapons and the model 19 was standard issue for many years.

S&W 19 Revolver

As it turns out there were a few problems with the model 19 when digesting lots of full power 357’s. Small cracks began to appear at the six o’clock position of the forcing cone along with some cutting of the top strap. These problems weren’t considered a big deal with owners at the time. Not that many people shot 357’s all the time anyway. 38 special ammunition was cheaper and most departments had plenty on hand. Officers adapted and practiced with 38’s with the occasional practice and qualification with 357-magnum ammo. 357 rounds were the obvious carry round on duty. This adaptation solved the problem with the forcing cone and top strap issues.

S&W 19 Revolver

The model 19 in these photos is my personal gun. I’ve owned it since the mid 1970’s and carried it on duty a good number of years before switching to a semi auto. Even today I wouldn’t feel out gunned carrying it for protection. Using Federal 125 grain JHP it’s a formidable gun. This load is rated at a 97% one-shot stop if you do your part.

This particular example is a 19-2 that dates it between 1961 and 1967. This was also during the time S&W made a beautiful deep blue finish unlike those finishes we see these days. Even after all these years of use and carry the finish still looks good.

S&W 19 Revolver

There is an interesting story behind my model 19. I happened to arrest an individual and relieved him of this revolver. I placed it in the property room and went through all the usual court proceedings checking it out and back in each time for my court appearances. What most people aren’t aware of is back in the mid 1970’s if an officer arrested someone for a felony offense, which included a weapons charge in this case, once all the appeals are exhausted and the suspect is a resident of the state for some years the officer making the arrest could ask the judge to release the gun from the property room and give it to them if the original owner could not be located. No I’m not kidding☺ Not a chance of that these days but it was a different time. Anyway, the judge would write an order releasing the gun to the officer who then presented it to the property officer who logged it out. It was now the officer’s property. You would be surprised at how many officers got new duty guns in this way. The only stipulation was the officer could never trade or sell the gun. It had to remain the officers’ property forever. Of course all of this could take a year or more but in this case it was worth the wait. This gun had seen very little use. I qualified with it and into my duty holster it went. My issued model 10 stayed at home. I’ll grant you this has nothing to do with the review but I thought it would be interesting for most of you.

S&W 19 Revolver

If you check local gun shops and find older S&W revolvers with pinned barrels and a counter sunk cylinder that encloses the case head you’ll spend at a minimum of just under $500. Less common models can be close to $1000. Not that many years ago a used model 19 could be purchased for $250. Since the changes in S&W’s with frame mounted locks etc. the older guns are more desirable. There are also fewer of these old guns out there.

Most model 19’s as well as other older S&W revolvers are very accurate. I hit a home run with this particular revolver. It’s the most accurate revolver I’ve ever owned with groups of ½ inch standing unsupported at 15 yards being about average. From a rest at 25 yards the groups are about the same as the 15 yard standing groups. The load used were handloads in 38 special firing a 148 grain semi-wadcutter. Every now and then you find a S&W that just comes out from the factory better than most.

S&W 19 Revolver

I know that many shooters believe that revolvers are obsolete and only have a place in hunting and revolver competition. While there is some truth to this my personal belief is they are still a viable option for defense. I’ll go out on a limb here and say if I had a one on one defensive situation I would probably choose my model 19 even over my 1911’s. The problem in the current world is there are more situations that arise where there are multiple attackers in say a home invasion scenario. This calls for a weapon with more ammunition capacity.

S&W 19 Revolver


If any readers ever have a chance to shoot one of these fine old revolvers I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised and will enjoy the experience. Defense aside they are just fun to shoot. There’s not much sweeter than a nice trigger job on a fine handling revolver.

As far as a home defense gun a revolver can be a very good choice for a novice shooter or a person who practices very little. Let’s face it when your awakened in the middle of the night you can be pretty groggy. A revolver is so simple to operate with no safeties and a long trigger pull. It just makes it safer during those seconds when you retrieve your gun and begin to get your wits about you.

Whichever gun you chose go out and practice. Meet some of the nicest people around in your fellow shooters and enjoy the experience.

S&W 19 Revolver

Phil White

Retired police officer with 30 years of service. Firearms instructor and SRU team member. I still instruct with local agencies. My daily carry pistol is the tried and true 1911. I’m the Associate Editor and moderator at TFB. I really enjoy answering readers questions and comments. We can all learn from each other about our favorite hobby!


  • Sean

    I have 6 of them. 2 1/2, 4, and 6 inch in blue and nickel. I used to have yet another 2 1/2 nickel, but sold it to my stepfather. He also has 4 and 6 inch blued models.

    I also have about 10 other K-Frame Smiths in the safe. I just seem to keep buying them.

    • Phil White


      Nothing wrong with buying more. Keeps the others company.

  • SpudGun

    Had a Model 66 for years and absolutely love it. Whilst it wouldn’t be my first choice for a HD scenario (that’s what boomsticks are for), it’s all purpose applications, accuracy and ergonomics make it a fantastic choice for any shooter from beginner to expert.

    I really can’t recommend this revolver enough.

  • Funny. I posted about this very model revolver on my blog earlier today.
    great minds think alike?
    You’re lucky to still have yours.

    • Phil White


      It sounds like it George-LOL! I’ll never let this one go except to my son down the road.

  • Working around the failures of the S&W M19 with .357 Magnum ammo by reserving it for carry on duty and occasional practice and qualification, while practicing with .38 Specials, does nothing to prepare the shooter for its deafening report and wrist-twisting recoil in a life-or-death defensive scenario. The true answer to the issues Smith & Wesson had in cramming .357 Magnum into its K frame is the dimensionally similar Manurhin MR73. I have seen these revolvers surplused after hard constabulary use, showing no significant wear of action parts or structural damage to major components.

    To consider one telling trait, every S&W revolver I ever saw suffer a high round count has had its cylinder notches thoroughly peened by the action of the cylinder stop. Nothing of the sort is evident even in hard worn GIGN MR73 revolvers. The only kind of wear I find in them is forcing cone erosion, with none of the barrel fractures, frame flame cuts, and cylinder misalignments that plague K-frames with high Magnum round counts.

    The MR73 was designed and built for an administrative market that formally required extreme precision and durability orders of magnitude greater than that expected from and built into contemporaneous U.S. police sidearms. By contrast, Smith & Wesson throughout its history specialized in sporting goods and service sidearms meant to be surplused after firing several thousand rounds. Although the latter is no longer the case owing to the worldwide decline of revolvers in constabulary use, S&W never had an economic incentive to forge its gun parts out of tool steel. It’s far more cost effective to sinter and machine softer materials, replacing the products under warranty in the rare instances of their being put to hard use. That was not an option for Manurhin in making deliveries to the French police agencies. If you want a medium-frame .357 Magnum revolver built to last, get an MR73.

    • Phil White


      MT73’s are rare birds. It’s been many years since I’ve seen one. GSG9 still uses the model 19.

  • armed_partisan

    Great Article. The Model 19 is not the first revolver I owned, but it is the first revolver I LOVED and the one that made me love revolvers over autos. Because of this model, I read Bill Jordan’s “No Second Place Winner”, Elmer Keith’s “Sixguns”, and Ed McGivern’s “Fast and Fancy Revolver Shooting”.

    I, for one, abhor shooting .38 in a .357, since I bought so many used ones where a ring was cut into the chambers just forward of where a .38 special’s case mouth sits, and no, it will not scrub out. Even low pressure .38’s will eventually make your .357 chamber a .38 chamber, but for the model 19, that’s okay, because they really don’t like a diet of .357 Magnum factory ammo. I feed mine “Maglites”, which are reloads that I make which are loaded to .38 +P or .38 +P+ pressure to extend their lives as much as possible. S&W doesn’t make K-Frame Magnum barrels anymore so if you crack your forcing cone, that’s it. Gun is done. Evidence for the round count that this happens at is purely anecdotal, but I’m sure S&W has some internal engineering reports on this that will either assuage fears or amplify them. Either way, they ain’t talkin’.

    It’s a real shame they never found a good solution to this problem, because it really is quite possibly the perfect handgun.

    • Phil White


      I wish S&W still offered barrels but that will never happen. You read the same books I have and read them many times:-)

  • Raoul O’Shaughnessy

    I dunno..I think the 581/681 series had more to offer in terms of Police Officer’s Perfect Revolver. Fixed sights that wouldnt catch on objects or get damaged, full underlug for more weight up front, larger L-frame for a steady diet of .357, stainless finish for low maintenance, etc, etc.

    • Phil White


      The only thing I didn’t like when I tried carrying the 686 for a few weeks was the weight over an 8 or twelve hour shift.

  • Squidpuppy

    Beautiful. Thanks for the great review. I’d love to get one of these classics.

    I regularly shoot a 327PD 2″ bbl, and a 627 V-Comp 6″ bbl; both have 8 round capacity. 8 rounds rivals standard capacity 1911s. The 327 & the 627 have the same N frame.

    I put a lot of .38 Special through both those wheelies for volume practice, but also shoot a lot of .38 +P 110gr., and .357 in 110gr & 158gr.

    The 110gr .357s are decidedly tamer than the full load. 38 Special +P defensive rounds strike me as a good choice too.

    The 2″ snubbie N-frame 327PD is a hoot to shoot with 158gr .357, but once you get used to it, the thing is surprisingly controllable and accurate.

  • WPZ

    Speaking as a lifelong 1911 guy- my first gun was a Combat Commander on my 21st birthday- but who shoots revos in action pistol kind of a lot, and who carries (where legal) a Detective Special, and most of whose handguns sport ponies on the sides and not ampersands…
    The author here is absolutely correct. Though it pains me to say as a lover of a Colt .357, the 19 is indeed the best carry revo ever.
    What a terrific gun. Versatile, reliable, fast, perfectly- I mean perfectly- balanced, and gorgeous to boot. Just the best ever.

    • Phil White


      I sure couldn’t agree more.

  • D

    Very good post; an interesting and informative read. I think I need to show my Colt Python more love after reading this

    • Phil White


      There ya go. I’m glad you enjoyed it!

  • jim

    The S&W M19 is a great revolver.

    Bill Jordan of the US Border Patrol was also known as their first officer to have a accidental discharge with the Model 19. It took place in his office and the round went into through a wall and into the filing cabinet of his supervisor.

    His supervisor was impressed by the bullets performance but not by the files shredded or the cabinet that was ruined.

    Bill was then ordered to keep his weapon holstered at all times while in the office.

    • Phil White


      ouch–it happens to the best

  • “gunner”

    great article about a fine gun, i’ve owned a couple of smiths, one an N frame m1917 .45 someone had cut down to a 4 inch barrel and soldered on a ventilated rib. not pretty but serviceable, that one eventually got sold. the other is a model 10 bequeathed by a friend who has passed on. that one will not be sold, i sent it down to springfield for a factory refinish and it came back looking like brand new, and i carried it as a duty gun when i went to work driving an armoured truck, until i bought a SIG p220 .45, the model 10 and i are both retired now but we still go out to the range every so often and burn a few rounds.

    • Phil White


      Even retired an old duty gun can still provide a good afternoon of shooting.

  • Burst

    SW makes perfect revolvers… for a world where Ruger and Colt don’t exist.

    For anyone who absolutely HAS TO have an M19, do yourself and other enthusiasts a favor, and get a vintage one without a frame lock.

    • Phil White


      Very true the pinned barrel models are better guns and have better fit and finish all around.

  • fw226

    That’s a heckuva story about getting your 19. I can’t imagine being able to grab any of the weapons I’ve seized these days. Thanks for sharing!

    • Phil White


      I thought some officers these days would get a kick out of that story. Can you even imagine asking these days?


    Very excellent write up. I thoroughly enjoyed it, as I really have been longing for one of these old beauties for a while now. Very cool back story on your specific weapon too!

    • Phil White


      Thanks—glad you enjoyed it!

  • Arifonzie

    I’m sure it’s a great pistol and all but the idea of adopting a criminals gun which could have a few notches(bodies) on it is just too distastful for me. “But to each his own”

    • Phil White


      Yea but he took it from someone else I just gave it a job on the good side:-)

  • Stu C.

    Love the story about this revolver found a goodhome. I also couldnt agree more about revolverd being more then viable tools for slef defense. I was raised on semi-autos and have a nice burgeoning collection of them, but i love my wheelguns. For the record, there is nothing finer than a nice revoler with a smooth trigger.

    • Phil White


      There’s just nothing better than a tuned trigger on a S&W—

  • ROger.45

    The first pistol that I owned was a model 19-2 purchased in 1974. It was one that a police officer ordered and never returned to the gun shop to claim.

    The owner told me that if it wasn’t claimed in two more days I could buy the piece. I went back, two days later, and bought the 19 for $124.95. I still have it and the box it came in along with a 2 1/2 inch and 6 inch model 19 purchased a few years later.

    While the price seems low in today’s dollars, I was making about $5.00 an hour at that time. I couldn’t pass it up.

    • Phil White


      Nice collection there!

  • Russ

    An old shooting buddy of mine had one. It truly was a pleasure to shoot. He later asked if I wanted to buy it, I declined not needing a revolver. I still kick myself for that.

    • Phil White


      Ouch well hindsight is 20/20 isn’t it. I’ve done the same thing.

  • I have a Smith TRR8 revolver and I find that I keep coming back to it despite having SIG, H&K, Springfield, Walther handguns. It has lots of bullets, lots of power and the balance & trigger are perfect!

    • Phil White


      You can sure tune them like a Swiss watch as well!

  • David

    *sigh* I love .30 special revolvers.

    • Phil White

      David, Just plain fun aren’t they?

  • Lance

    Got one that can beat a 19 fast….. Colt Python!

    Python was the best .357 magnum revolver ever made had best trigger pull and accuracy. Dont get me wrong a S&W is a great weapon but the Pyhon was just such a hard sweet shooter.

    • Phil White


      I owned more than a few Pythons and always enjoyed them. I sure couldn’t afford one now!

    • Phil White


      They are nice no doubt. I just never cared for the two stage trigger pull for a duty gun.

  • M.G. Halvorsen

    Very nice…But I’ll stick with my old Ruger GP-100. It cost about $100 less IIRC, and it shoots like a dream. I can get half-inch groups at 15 yards too…and my wife is downright scary with her accuracy. I think I’ll keep both of ’em.

    • Phil White

      M.G., We all have our favorites huh:-)

  • Lance

    Im lucky Phil but I know what you mean.

  • Beauty — I think the .357 is the perfect caliber. I especially like that it also makes a fine caliber for a lever gun. Combine this with the Model 19 and you’ve got both hand and long gun and only stock one caliber.

  • Zac

    Excellent post. I’ve been wanting to add a classic revolver to my collection but I haven’t been able to choose one but now I think I might try to find one of these.

    • Phil White


      Good deal Zac! A good place to start is and Guns America.

  • carter

    I picked up a minty 19-2 owned by a friend who passed away. It had a few quirks so I sent it to Hamilton Bowen who tuned it with wonderful results. It doesn’t get shot, just picked up from time to time. I’ve never regretted the purchase and like the Author I’m glad to have it.

    • Phil White


      You know I look at mine as a family heirloom which will go to my son at some point. I saw a 2/12 inch blued model like I carried on duty but at the time I didn’t have the $495 for it. The thing looked brand new. Maybe one box of shells through it! Ah well I’ll find another!

  • Josh

    My 66 takes the top shelf in my gunvault, over my FNH .45. I just think when the chips are down I’ll end up grabbing the wheelgun instead of the auto….

    • Phil White


      I think a good number of people feel the same way Josh!

  • @Phil White: There is no shortage of Manurhin revolvers in Old Europe. Getting them exported out of France is like pulling teeth with a wet noodle, so I buy mine in Germany via The only S&W revolvers I have are prewar Kit Guns and Registered Magnums, a late production Bekeart, and a Triple Lock target in .44 Special. Nothing else comes close to the MR73 for fast double action shooting, not even an early Python or a Korth. With all due respect for Bill Jordan, by the time S&W collaborated with him in making the Combat Magnum, most of his shooting was done with wax bullets. Slinging lead with Magnum ballistics out of a K-frame is a swiftly self-limiting endeavor.

    • Phil White

      I fired a Manurhin one time many years ago and it was indeed a fine revolver.

  • Phil, the next time you come to Hollywood, drop by to shoot nearly every MR73 and Korth .357 Magnum variant ever made. Regrettably, my old school SIG P210-5 must remain in pieces until our “assault weapon” ban gets overturned on Constitutional grounds. But the SAN P210-5LS can stand proxy for that classic Swiss target gun.

    American handgun designs peaked in the late Thirties. Since the end of WWII, we’ve made nothing to equal the SIG P210, the Manurhin MR73, or the Korth revolver — or, for that matter, the Beretta 92 or the Glock 17.

    • Phil White


      Now that would be fun. I seldom get that far west but I may just have to the next time I go to Arizona:-)

  • My wife, Mary, carried the 19-2 for many years as a reserve deputy sheriff in New Mexico. She consistently shot expert with the gun and will not part with it. Today she shoots a Springfield XD9-SC for fun, but loves her Model 19, having turned down almost $1K for it…. no sale. Our daughter or son will inherit that gun someday in the distant future. GREAT ARTICLE – The most definitive that I have ever read on the Model 19.

    BTW, Mary is the Woman’s Editor for Guns and Shooting Online in the US and is leaving for an alligator hunt in two weeks in Florida.

    • Phil White


      Dr.Clary–Thank you very much for your kind words on my article. Mary sounds like my kinda lady:-) Tell her to stay safe in Florida!


  • abprosper

    Very good article.

    The Model 19 is a all around great gun with the caveat that others have pointed out here, its not great with a steady diet of full house .357 magnum rounds, especially the hot 125 grain loads.

    If you need a gun for that, one is better off with the MR73 as mentioned or a Ruger Security 6 which is a meager amount heavier and much more robust if a bit less refined.

    However given the immense muzzle blast and report of the .357 magnum, most shooters are better off with hot .38 specials anyway. This model gun will happily shoot those without issue.

    • Phil White


      I surely agree with firing to many full house 125 grain 357’s. I used that load on duty but always practiced with my hot handloads in 38 special.

  • My emotional attachment to the historical, versatile, and venerable
    Smith and Wesson (K-Frame) Model 19 .357 Combat Magnum revolver
    commenced in 1975-76 while an explorer scout with the Klamath Falls,
    Oregon Police Department. There were several S&W (N-Frame) Model
    28 .357 Highway Patrolman revolvers too, as were Several Colt Python
    .357 Magnums. Yet, the majority of the officers carried Model 19’s in
    their belt holsters. Today going on age 55 I own three classic Smith
    and Wesson .357’s: both a Model 19 (19-4) and 66 (66-1) “stainless”
    with 4″ barrel, and an original 6″ S&W Model 28 Highway Patrolman of
    1965 vintage, with diamond walnut target grips.

    I agree that the S&W Model 19 was the perfect police revolver of
    American law enforcement. Like the S&W Model 10 (K-Frame) .38
    Special Military and Police revolver via the New York Police Dept. or
    NYPD until 1983, Model 19’s were the quintessential .357 Magnum of
    the lawman. However, not only for law enforcement. Also, for the
    honest voting age free thinking American citizen. Self defense/house
    protection is only half the reason to own a .38/.357. For the outdoors
    person no handgun remains more versatile. As a companion sidearm for
    fishing, camping, hiking, hunting: (to supplement a rifle during deer/elk
    season), gathering wild berries, wild plums, etc. an S&W Model 19 or
    66 4″ barrel is mighty convenient life insurance and protection in the
    great outdoors.

    Finally a .38 Special 148 grain lead target wadcutter (next to a .22
    or .32) is highly practical, formidable, and effective against small game:
    rabbit and squirrel, or for dispatching vermin: skunk, raccoon, possum,
    etc. CCI’s classic shot or “snake” load in .38 Special is highly useful in
    killing rattlesnakes up close with a head shot. I don’t feel under gunned
    at all with a double action revolver with 5 or 6 shot swing out cylinder.

  • James A. “Jim” Farmer

    Correction: I originally meant to state the year 1993, not 1983, was
    the final year the S&W Model 10 (K-Frame) .38 Special Military and
    Police revolver was standard issue to the New York Police Department
    (NYPD). The Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) likewise retained
    the S&W Model 10 as standard issue until 1996. But this article is
    about the Model 19. Yet, if the original S&W K-Frame Hand Ejector
    and .38 Special weren’t developed concurrently in 1899, the Model
    19 and 66 “stainless” both wouldn’t exist today. Neither would the
    Models 15 (Combat Masterpiece), K-38 Masterpiece (Model 14), K-22
    Masterpiece (Model 17) or the stainless .38/.357 versions of the
    Model 10: the Models 64, 65, and 67, respectively.

    I place all these classic, venerable, and historical revolvers within the
    same class as the Winchester Model 97 “hammer” pump shotgun (1897-
    1957) as designed by John M. Browning, the .300 Savage (Model 99 lever
    action rifle), and other firearms of a bygone America. Despite the advent
    of Glocks, Berettas, Sig-Sauer, etc. these historical firearms will work
    and perform just as well today, as they did during the 20th century.

  • Larry Davis

    I married in July of 1970 and went to work for the local PD in December. The following July, I talked my wife into getting me a model 19 for an anniversary present and the issued model 10 went into a drawer.

    You are 100% correct in your assessment of the model 19. My only regret is that somewhere along the line, I let it get away in a trade. The PD later issued model 586’s and then 686’s through a Federal grant. Nice, but I just did not like them as well as the model 19.

    The only other Smith I thought as much of, other than my model 29 with 6 1/2″ bbl. is my model 13, 3″ heavy bbl. with round butt. I got it shortly after the FBI went to them. I bobbed the hammer, as I only shoot double action and installed a combat rebound spring. At 15 yards offhand, with a 200 gr. lead round nose hand load, it exceeded the accuracy of the model 19. I still have it, and intend to pass it on to my son in my will.

    The model 19 and 13 will not hold up to extended firing of magnums without shaking loose a bit, but they will shoot .38 loads forever.

    I got to meet Bill Jordan a couple of times at some matches while I was shooting on the pistol team. He was a great man and very friendly. Nice article. Wish I had another 19.

  • I think this is a real great blog article.Much thanks again. Fantastic.

  • Justin

    My uncle Was california highway patrol for many years. when he first started he couldnt afford the colt python he wanted so he bought a 6″ ruger security six. as years went by he managed to procure himself a 6″ model 19, then my aunt as a birthday present bought him a python which according to him he carried for almost a whole week before going back to his trusty k frame. when I was a teenager we would go shoot his numereous handguns and I have many a fond memory of being blasted with hot lead and powdwer from his k frame. he would handload hardcast 158gr. lead semi wad cutters with gas checks to maximum potential. Report and recoil were obscene. one of the saddest days of my life was the day he passed. shortly after, I recieved the three service revolvers, all except the python were very holster worn with nicks out of the grips. I carry the old k frame in the woods to this day. god knows how many rounds i’ve shot through the old k. I know I just got done loading 500 170gr. keiths and they will most likely last a month and a half. I guess nobody told the K it was time to wear out. with a clean bill of health from the gunsmith I contiue to shoot the old k every weekend almost. I just wish old uncle doug was with me to do it.

  • Rob

    Just wondering about a comment above; has anyone here who fired a revolver in a combat situation been bothered by the recoil or muzzle blast? Do you even remember the recoil and muzzle blast?

    The first handgun I ever fired was a Ruger 22 auto. The first one I fell in love with was Granddaddy’s nickle model 10 38. He was a sheriff’s deputy in rural Virginia. If notching was appropriate it would have them. I do not how many rounds he or all of his sons put through it, but me and my kids and brothers have literally put thousands through it. It is still tight. I have k frame 22 and 38. I’d love to have a model 19. I have fired many rounds through many firearms. A 4″ k frame is simply the best. The 1911 a close 2nd.

    • Another interesting “Police” story re: the Mod-19… In my day (1977-2002), you were the envy of the other officers if you could afford a 2 1/2″ Mod-19,especially if it was nickel. So, when I graduated the academy in ’77, my dad located a nickel 2 1/2″ for $200 and gave it to me as a grad present.I carried it as an off-duty gun for several years until my wife expressed an interest and glomed on to it…many years later, after most of us had graduated to Glocks, my best friend conned it out of me with the express understanding that he would contact me if he ever thought of letting it go…well, as luck would have it, I have bought it back for $450 and it is in the same shape as when I sold it to my friend…now that I am much older and hopefully wiser, I will NOT let it escape again!

      • Absolutely correct Donn. My bride of 25 years, Mary Clary carried a S&W Model 19 for the six yesars that she served as a deputy sheriff in New Mexico. Even though she has a Springfield XD9 and a Colt 1911, she still prefers her Smith and wouldn’t part with it for the world. I imagine that when the day comes, she will pass it down to one of our kids…. probably Susannah, who is an NRA Pistol & Rifle Instructor…. now, she will truly appreciate that fine piece.

    • Big Dawg

      In answer to your question everyone is going to be somewhat different. For me personally. Never heard the noise, never really recognized the recoil, instantly back on target. In the focus of the moment you wonder if it really fired or fired full power. 3 seconds feel just like 3 minutes.

      The mind is a phenominal thing.

  • Cain

    Well I just purchased my first model 19-4 this week. It’s in great shape I would rate it in the 85% to 90 % range it does have slight hoster ware… Can’t wait to get this baby out to the range…

    • When I was a Deputy Sheriff in Broward County , Florida starting in 1982 I found the S&W Model 19 ” Wheel Gun ” as we called them in the day the most accurate handgun I have ever fired. I wish I would have kept it !
      When we switched over to semi-auto handguns I chose a S&W .45 caliber I think model 646 stainless when other guys were using the Beretta .9mm.
      The range of armed confrontations were basically 3-5 feet away so I figured 1st round stopping power even if you hit the perp in the shoulder you would knock him down !
      Your not going to crank off rounds at a bad guy 25-30 yards away because if you missed that bullet still had to stop !

  • George

    I saw my first Mod. 19 in the mid 60’s when I was a kid. I remember how serious the revolver looked and I especially liked the extremely rich bluing. The man who owned the Mod.19 had purchased it in the mid 50’s I believe. Anyway, as I was interested in guns as a kid, I knew that someday, I wold have my own Mod. 19.

    Fast forward 12 years and as a Deputy Sheriff, I received a LE discount at the gun store — I paid $135.00 for a Mod. 19 4 inch with target hammer and trigger. With the addition of Pachmyer grips and a bevy of speed loaders, I really had a nice set up.

    When working patrol on graveyards, I took some comfort in knowing that I was packing a very capable sidearm and BTW, I learned how to use it – quite well. Knowing that few assailants would have much fight left after being hit with .357 148 grain JHP, I felt well equipped. Eventually, I decided that due to the potential of instant night blindness with the immense cylinder and muzzle flash of a hot .357, I decided that the first round out of the tube would be a .38 125 grain SJHP +P. My thought was the the first round out the barrel would put the hurt to the bad guy, but would lessen the flash factor. The next round out of the tube would be the big .357.

    In a double tap scenario, I figured there would not only be less muzzle flash on the first shot, but I would maintain more gun control with the lighter recoil of the lighter plus P load — giving me a better chance of recovering from the recoil and hitting the target with the subsequent magnum round. By that time, the shooting would either be over, or I would have a chance to take cover and continue the encounter. In addition, the more likely penetration of car windows and doors would be another consideration for having 5 more rounds of .357.

    Now, 100 years later, I do a lot of hiking in bear country, and although I do not wish to kill an animal, I do find comfort when packing the Mod. 19 with heavy magnum rounds. The huge Ka-boom is enough to frighten off most critters.

    The S&W Mod. 19 is extremely versatile and a true classic. For most of us, it is probably the only handgun most anyone will ever need.

  • agobbler

    I used this revolver when I was awarded the Top Gun trophy while I was at the academy in 1990. The model 19 I had was extremely accurate and I always felt mine was “one in a million.” When the department I was with then went to 9MM’s I requested, and received, permission to continue to carry my S&W. I preferred the knock down power of the weapon to the additional rounds of the 9mm.

  • Doggone Slim

    The forcing cone issue is the result of using smaller, faster modern ammo. When the 19 was designed, factory loads were all 158 gr. bullets. Stay with that bigger bullet, and no forcing cone cracks will appear.

    • Guest

      i am new to guns so maybe you will help me i have a model 19-4 . what is this about the cone cracking and what and were is this cone at . sorry about being so dumb . thank you for your help

  • shane

    I have a 4 inch,blue.19-4,and a proud new owner of a 19-5 nickle 2.5 inch thats 99%. have alot of 9mm and 45’s. these and my ssa’s are still my favorites…

  • Johnson

    Contrary to reports the Model 19 was produced first in 1957, I bought mine (serial # 261867) in November 1956. Bill Jordan was presented with #260,000 by S&W, and this blue 4 inch barrel is only 1,867 removed from his.

  • I have had my Model 19 4″ since 1978 when I went on the
    job in Ohio. Recently when I was firing it, it has started to hang up on a certain
    cylinder. I have cleaned it after every shoot and I even put a new extractor rod
    as the other one appeared to be bent, but I am still meeting resistance in the
    cylinder. Any thoughts as to what the problem might be? Thanks

    • Brent Hofstra

      John Smith & Wesson has a Lifetime Warranty on all of their products. It doesn’t matter when you purchased your Firearm be it 1978 or 1878!
      Your best bet would be to Contact either Frank Smith at LSG Manufacturing in Texas or Smith and Wesson Directly for repair of your Model 19-4 Revolver.

      I have sent in several older models to both of these Warranty Facilities and they are wonderful about repairs. The good news is the repairs are at no cost to you either for shipping it in or shipping it back to you once the repair is completed.
      Basically they will email you a Pre Paid Shipping Label typically with Federal Express 2 day Shipping.

      Smith and Wessons Number is 1-800-331-0852

      Frank Smith and LSG Manufactrings Number is (325) 885-2700

      • rob

        just FYI, I own Model 19-2. I had timing issue and sent it to S and W. They kept the revolver for several weeks. I finally called to find out it had not been touched. He informed me that the warrantable guns are first and mine was not under warranty.

        • Brent Hofstra

          Sorry to hear that you had such a negative experience with the Factory. Very sloppy and poor Customer Service! You might try contacting Mr. Frank Smith over at LSG Manufacturing in Commanche Texas. He has been an authorized Smith and Wesson repair station for well over 30 years and has personally worked on several of my Guns. (325) 885-2700

          Just explain to Him what happened (I presume you sent it into the Factory in Massachusetts?) and how you got the run around He should be able to get it taken care of for you. And even if you had to pay something to get the timing issue corrected those guns particularly the K Frames are ALWAYS appreciating in value every year. Sadly with Mimed parts and goofy internal locks etc. they don’t make them as well now.

          • Rob

            Thanks for the quick reply and info. I might call him just to clear the air.

    • ltcurry

      Did you fire an overpowered + charge in any given time?

      • leed34232

        John, Do you have a the inserts that came with the gun?

        Thanks Lee

  • Sgt.A

    Excellent review. I started in law enforcement in 1975 and was issued a Smith Model 10 4″ pencil barrel. I immediately went and purchased a S&W Model 19 Nickel 2 1/2″ for off duty. After all these years I still have it. My favorite weapon.

  • Capt Frank Polk

    what is the adjustment under the grip? figure something to do with trigger pull cause it flexes when the trigger is moved.

  • john4637

    Phil, cannot praise the Model 19 enough. Carried it for 11 years while assigned to the Stakeout Unit, Philly P.D., and would not be on this blog today if not for that fabulous, reliable firearm.

  • master gun

    i have Glock 17/9mm.also Glock 21/.45 and my Smith & Wesson 66-1 Magnum 357/ 6″ inch

  • Thom green

    I just received the 19-1 my mother bought for my dad in 1961 when he went thru the Seattle police academy. Have original receipt and box . Not a scratch on the old girl. I wont carry it, I have a 66-1 for the rare occasion I feel like carrying a wheel gun

  • Jim Kestner

    I’m still old school and believe I will fire 6 rounds without any doubts unlike semi autos which while in a fire fight three rounds fire and the forth jams your shit out of luck. As a police officer in the 70’s I carried the 19-3 4 inch. Later went to auto and didn’t like it so today I have a like new 19-4 6 inch..and would trust my life with it…

    • Glenn Eric Johnson

      modern day semi automatics will not jam

      • PacRat

        Oh yes they will – have no doubt.

  • fjpor

    S & W .357 2 1/2 in barrel purchased in 1972 with serial number beginning with 1K appears to have a build date of 1970. Can anyone tell me why the serial numbers changed from a 5 digit number beginning with 1K00001 to 1K39500 and 2K for models which finished out with serial number 2K39501 2k99999? And what was the difference?

  • Linda

    I have a model 19, 357 Magnum, with 2-1/2″ barrel, nickel with pachmeyer’s in excellent condition. This hits the target right on every time. Wouldn’t give this up for anything. I never thought about it much, but have owned it for over 24 years. The model No. on mine is 81177.


    i have a model 19-4 it has the pin in the barrel is that not good . and were the s.n is it has the s.n and the model number but it has 5 more number below the model what are they for and right under them 5 number it has A22 what are they for . i paid 450.00 for it was that good or bad it shoots great what ppl said to look for it all looks good to me thank you for your help

  • Guest

    I know this article is old but I wish the bullshit about 97% one shot stops would stop! You’re old enough to know better. Putting something like that in your article is embarrassing. Nearly as bad as the “shoulder thing that goes up” nonsense. Taints an otherwise good article bad reporting.

  • Rush

    Hi Phil! I feel lucky to own a heavy used 19-6 with a 3 inch barell. She´s not THE beauty (the blue-finshing is off from many times going in and out the holster) but i shoot for my abilities quit well with her. The lock goes very smooth, not like the much more expensive guns of my friends. My questions:

    In which periode was the 19-6 blue steel w 3 inch barell built? As far i found out production started somewhen after 1982.

    Back in the 80ies we “tuned ” our revolvers by polishing the parts w oil and graphith powder. Do u personly belive its worth the afford and how do u think about that?

    Do u recommand Wilson Custom Tuning springs?

    Is there any website i can check my guns production year by the frame number?

    Tks a lot!

  • Liberfairian

    I have a 6″ Model 19-2 that is in 90-95% shape. Being around 50 years old, how much is it worth relative to other Model 19s?

    The reason I ask is because I’m thinking about trading this for something else, am I better off holding onto it for its collector value or is 50 years not enough time to make it ‘collectable’?

  • ltcurry

    I have both .357 auto Sig, and a revolver, totally different guns, etc. The revolver never fails and has so much more impact velocity.

  • Randy Owens

    I have a 70’s six inch Model19 and love the heck out of it. The only other revolver I’m more accurate with happens to be (one of the first ever produced thanks to George at G and M) is a SW 67. Trouble is, living in CA it’s almost impossible to go to the range without violating one or more of CA’s insane gun laws.

  • Ron Darnell

    Great story! I am in the process of purchasing a Model 19-4 (unfired) “CHP commemorative” edition.