A Classic Sixgun

It is no secret that I am a huge fan of the Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolver (mfg. 1957-1999). But one of my all-time favorite DA revolvers happens to be the 2 1/2-inch version of the Model 19. I first bought one, about 1969, to serve as my off-duty piece. When I made detective, in the early 1970’s, the 2 1/2-inch version became my standard carry gun and many of life’s little adventures occurred when I had that gun on my hip.

In 1963, Smith & Wesson did a special run of Model 19’s with the 2 1/2-inch barrel. So far as I can tell, these guns were not special-ordered by anyone, they were just sort of a test run to see if this short-barreled concept would sell. It must have met with some success because, in 1966, Smith & Wesson officially announced the 2 1/2-inch barreled Model 19. This revolver was identical to the Model 19 in that it had an adjustable rear sight and a barrel shroud protecting the ejector rod. However, it also had a round butt, sporting the slim magna stocks, for better concealment. At the time of introduction, this particular 2 1/2-inch Model 19 was designated the Model 19-2.

Just a year later, in 1967, the designation was changed to Mod. 19-3, due to some very minor parts changes. As with the earlier Model 19’s, the 19-3 had recessed cylinder chambers and a barrel that was not only screwed in to the frame but also was pinned into place. The 19-3 was manufactured from 1967 to 1977, when Smith & Wesson began to make manufacturing changes that were designed to save money. Unfortunately, these changes also began a downward spiral in the quality of their revolvers. I’m sad to say that it is a trend that continues to this day. We regard 1957 to 1977 as the golden years of the Model 19.

Some years ago, in a very weak moment, I traded off my original 2 1/2-inch Model 19. And, though I have, and in some cases have had, quite a number of Model 19 and Model 66 (the stainless version) revolvers, I never really had gotten my hands on a clean 2 1/2-inch Mod. 19-3. That all changed this past week, when I got in a little old gun trade with my Border Patrol buddy Shane Jahn. I got the 19-3 and he left with… … well, never mind what I had to give him. Let’s just say that we are both happy with the trade.

The 2 1/2-inch Model 19 is one of those short-barreled guns that just happens to balance very well in my hand. And, I’m not sure I can explain why, but the little guns are way more accurate than any snub-nose has a right to be. This little sixgun is sort of a reminder of my youth, but I assure you that I’m having a ball shooting it and packing it.

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20 Responses to A Classic Sixgun

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  2. J. Moyer says:

    Do you feed it full house .357 or .38?

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  4. Casey says:

    I was a Deputy Sheriff for 25 years in Dallas,Texas. I was awarded a mdl 19 w/4 inch barrel in the academy. I had already purchased a mdl 686 for uniform, So I traded the model 19, w/4 inch barrel, for a 2 1/2 inch. That gun was better than any semi auto I subsequently would be be issued by the department. I worked suite and tie serving warrants and that 2 1/2 in. .357 w/pachmeir (sp?) grips was perfect for concealment and fire power. Yes I loaded with .357 magnum silver tip hollow points, while most of my comrads used 38 spc or 38 + p’s in thier .357 ‘s. And I managed to carry 2 speed loaders most of the time. Figured if I couldn’t get em’ w/18 rounds, I was in the wrong line of work!

  5. Dick Britzman says:

    I packed several different .357 revolvers in my first 10 years in law enforcement.. In the early 80’s the Valley County Montana Sheriff’s Reserve presented me a 19-4 2 1/2 inch revolver as recognition for my work with them as Reserve Coordinator. As I was doing a lot of plain clothes work as the Investigator that became my everyday carry- on thru when I became Sheriff and until I retired in 1998.. But it is still my go to gun when I want something I trust..

  6. J. Moyer says:

    I have a question for you professional fellows. Did you find it difficult to transition from revolvers to auto loaders for your work as they became more popular, or did you continue to use both as circumstances allowed? Thanks.

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  9. Howdy – I know it’s been a few years since you published this article, but I was wondering if you could tell me what make/model of grips you have on the pictured 19?

    Thank you Sir

  10. Ross says:

    Regarding accuracy from a 2.5″ Model 19…

    A few years back, I attended a pumpkin shoot. 60-70 people, happily massacring pumpkins on the weekend after Halloween… anyway, one gentleman had a “Can Cannon”, and proceeded to launch a full soda can onto the berm some 80 yards downrange. It happened that I was on the line at the time (there were so many people at the shoot that the RSOs had us all taking turns on the line) with my 2.5″ nickle plated Model 19. I looked downrange at the can just sitting there, looked at My Precious (as I named the 19), and thought “Why not?”.

    I hit the soda can on my third shot. Took me a couple of rounds to get dialed in. Kinda surprised folks that I was hitting it with a snubby at 80 yards.

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