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.