Tag Archives: smith and wesson

The Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum

18 Sep

S&W M19

The Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum was introduced in 1955. Its introduction ushered in a wave of enthusiasm surrounding this new creation and the .357 magnum cartridge it fired. Law enforcement agencies accepted the new revolver with open arms, given its roots from the fertile mind of none other than Bill Jordan, who was a border patrolman and revolver shooting legend. (1) What the Combat Magnum offered was the power of the .357 Magnum cartridge in the smaller, and lighter K-frame (or medium/.38 frame). Previously, the .357 Magnum was only offered by S&W in the much larger Registered Magnum, and the Highway Patrolman ( http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/S%26W_Highway_Patrolman ). This was a huge boost in ammunition performance over the .38 Special K -frame S&W revolvers. Almost overnight, Smith and Wesson became the 800 pound gorilla of revolver sales.
The Smith and Wesson Combat Magnum became the model 19 in 1957, and was offered in 2 1/2″,4″,and 6″ barrel lengths throughout its production. Manufacturing finishes for the model 19 consisted of bright blue steel and nickel. The model 19 went through 9 variations (19 through 19-8) until its discontinuation in 1999. (2)
My first introduction to the model 19 was my father’s 2 1/2″ 19-3. This revolver was extremely compact for its time (in the mid-1960’s), and had a round butt frame with “peanut” grips. I got a chance to shoot this revolver in 1986. I started out with .38 Special ammo (since, like all .357 magnums, the model 19 can also shoot the .38 Special loads). The .38 Special loads were pleasant to shoot and almost forgettable. The .357 Magnum rounds were another story. I can remember to this day, the .357 loads my Father owned were CCI 158 gr. JHP. CCI had a grey aluminum case, sort of a “budget” load for shooters. I am guessing that these loads were the industry standard for that time: roughly 1300 feet per second at the muzzle. Firing these loads produced “the nasty” recoil and an ear-splitting crack that I was sure, slowed down time and caused temporary dementia. I soon learned the proper way to shoot this revolver (modified Chapman Hold), and to wear eye and ear protection. I now personally own 2 model 19 S&W’s; both are 4″ Model 19-3’s. One of the two is featured above, flanked by a Bianchi X-15 holster, Safariland Comp 2 speedloader, and a Bianchi Speed-strip. The grips are Pachmayer’s excellent Professional Gripper, one piece grips. I consider these revolvers among the best for carry, home defense, and competition; they are generally “all-around” revolvers, designed to be carried a whole lot and enjoyed. If you are interested in finding a used model 19 S&W, find an FFL dealer, and see if you can locate (with your dealer’s help) this fine revolver on one of the online sites, like http://www.gunbroker.com . Millions of K-frame S&W revolvers were made, so the model 19 can still be found.

1) Standard Catolog of Smith and Wesson- Second Edition, Supica, Jim and Nahas, Richard, Krause Publications, 2001, p.98

2) Ibid, pp.138-139