In this edition of TFB’s Wheelgun Wednesday, we’ll be reviewing the Smith & Wesson 625 JM in .45 ACP. Some may question why, in the year 2019, would someone want to shoot .45 ACP through a “six-gun” when you could shoot 7 to 13 of them through a semi-auto? Well, it’s kind of like how people use bicycles even though motorcycles exist… because it’s good for you. Okay, so it may not be the subject of a Men’s Health magazine article, but from a historical, entertaining, or perhaps even a defensive sense, it’s good for you. I’ve been wanting to get my hands on the S&W 625 JM for a while, so I was holding back some giddiness when I picked it up from Mr. Guns gun shop and shooting range for the transfer. The S&W 625 JM revolver has its ups and downs, and I’m happy to be able to share my experience with you.
HISTORY OF THE S&W 625 JM
Smith & Wesson’s 625 JM is named in part from the collaboration between S&W and the world famous, Jerry Miculek. The “JM” version is based on the previous 625, which was based on the old model 25, also chambered in .45 ACP. The “6” in the name denotes the stainless steel finish. Jerry Miculek’s iteration of the .45 revolver was quite popular in shooting competitions. However, I’d read that an IDPA rule change put a damper on its use. Shooting competitions are scarce in my area, so I can’t speak too much about the competitive use of the S&W 625 JM. I know TFB has plenty of readers that participate in competitive shooting, so feel free to fill us in in the comment section.
FEATURES OF THE S&W 625 JM
As previously alluded to, the 40.5-ounce 625 JM is a six-shot revolver. It comes with a bead-blasted stainless steel finish, and a rounded, smooth wooden grip. The barrel length is a handy 4.13 inches that made for easy balance and maneuverability. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation and the front sight has a gold bead insert that aims (pun intended) to help you focus on while aligning your sight picture during firing. The back of the cylinder is spaced for full moon clips, of which, S&W provided five clips to hold 30 rounds of the rimless .45 ACP cartridge.
The double action/single action trigger in the sample I tested was satisfyingly smooth and consistent. The serrations on the trigger helped keep my finger planted right where I wanted and helped to provide a more consistent pull.
MOON CLIPS FOR THE S&W 625 JM
The use of moon clips in the S&W 625 JM is pretty much a necessity. I’ve read of people being able to fire .45 ACP without using a moon clip, but the empty casing has to be tapped out with a rod or pencil. This was my first experience using moon clips, and quite frankly, I love it. The technology dates back more than 100 years, even before sliced bread was a thing to compare it to. However, it’s a time tested technology that saves some time on the extraction and reloading, though it can add some complexity to how you carry that reload.
I filmed the videos below to show how smooth reloads are with moon clips. In the first video, I simply reloaded from a simulated open-top ammo carrier. I didn’t have one, so I set the reload on the camera tripod. In the second video, I was reloading from my pocket, which added a few more seconds to charge the empty 625. My apologies for the low quality video.
I was able to load each moon clip by hand, but when it came to adding the last round, there was less space for the clips to flex to allow the last round without a little help, so I used the pliers to gently seat the last round. This process took some time at the range, so if I were going to own a revolver that required them, I would buy a lot of moon clips and get a tool to help speed up the process.
RANGE TIME WITH THE S&W 625 JM
I took the S&W 625 JM out to the range several times. One early observation was that the smooth wooden grips were a bit too smooth. The size and shape felt great, but I wondered if some extra checkering would’ve helped stabilize the grip in my hand more through the recoil. There are numerous grips available for the S&W “N Frame,” so if you’re interested in the 625 JM, you don’t have to be married to the grip if you find you don’t like the grip either. When I’d almost finished with my second range trip, I noticed a big chunk of skin out of thumb from where the frame was rubbing. At the time, I wasn’t completely sure it was from the gun, but after shooting it again for my third trip, I’m certain it was from the gun. There are lots of different hand sizes, so this won’t be an issue for everyone.
The 625 JM’s trigger was really nice. The gold bead insert on the front sight worked well to keep my focus on while the targets down range trembled in fear, or from the wind, I’m not sure. About 99 percent of my shooting with the 625 JM was with double action only. I’ve never shot in a formal competition, as this was built more in mind for, but I like to keep my defensive revolver skills honed. Even though the trigger broke clean and consistently, my accuracy was a bit interesting. Most of the time I was able to hit where I wanted to with nice groupings, but then I’d have another little grouping close by, but distinctly separate. This was only my issue though and I still had a blast shooting the 625 JM.
As I’d mentioned about the moon clips, I cherished every reload. It probably sounds weird to geek out on every reload, but after having spent the last twenty years reloading with speed strips, speed loaders, and individual cartridges, it was refreshing to drop all six rounds into the cylinder all at once without discarding a five to eleven dollar loading device. Having the complete reload encompassed in one flat unit that also fits in the gun was fun. It was also nice to have all six empty cases drop free from the cylinder with only one punch of the ejection rod.
THE PROS & CONS OF THE S&W 625 JM
The most common elephant in the room to discuss in regards to a Smith & Wesson revolver is the internal lock, or “Hillary hole” as it’s commonly referred to. I personally consider this “feature” as a negative. There are documented cases of the lock engaging during firing, but they seem to be rare. I’m in the camp that would probably just delete the lock if I owned this revolver for self defense. I would probably opt to change the grip as well for something less smooth. The aftermarket grip options are plenty, but I also saw that there’s a checkered version of the same grip that you saw in this review.
As for the high notes, the model I tested was solidly built and a blast to shoot (and reload, if I haven’t mentioned that twice already). The .45 ACP chambering won’t appeal to everyone, but for those that already stock it for other .45 guns, being able to practice on a revolver without increasing your “caliber footprint” can be a plus.
Smith & Wesson’s 625 JM is a versatile revolver that can do plenty of things between plinking and competition, with ventures into self protection rolls in the woods, home defense or perhaps even concealed carry (for some). The 625 JM sits in the middle of the road as far as S&W revolver prices with an MSRP of $979.00, but S&W notes that the dealer sets the pricing.
What do you think about the S&W 625 JM? Have you tried one? What has your experience been and how do you use it most? Competitors, feel free to chime in on your experience with this revolver as well!