Recently, after a long absence, Smith & Wesson announced the return of the Smith & Wesson Model 19 to its lineup, one from the company's Performance Center and another in its collection of classic guns. In light of that, I thought I might share with you about my favorite double-action revolver. In fact, it's one of my most favorite guns of any kind: the Smith & Wesson Model 19, specifically with a 2.5-inch barrel.
When I started my career as a Texas peace officer, my department required that we carry a revolver capable of chambering the .38 Spl. cartridge. Back in those days, that meant you carried either a Colt or a Smith & Wesson. I tried several Colts and they were fine guns, but I finally settled on the S&W Model 19 as the best gun for me. It fit my hand and was a rugged, reliable, and accurate fighting tool. Also, I will admit that the fact that I was a great admirer of Bill Jordan, the Border Patrol fast-draw whiz, had something to do with that selection, too. You see, Bill had a hand in helping Smith & Wesson design that particular revolver.
My duty Model 19 was a 4-inch gun but I soon bought one of the new 2 1/2-inch versions for off-duty wear, as did several of my fellow officers. We soon found that this short-barreled magnum was surprisingly accurate and even got our chief, after a trip to the shooting range, to allow us to carry them in uniform. A sort time later, I was promoted to detective and the 2 1/2-inch Model 19 became my regular carry gun. Since those long-ago days, I've never been without one.
The particular shorty Model 19s that I have are from the era (up into the 1970s) when Smith & Wesson pinned the barrels into the frame and recessed the chamber heads on the cylinder. In my view, these were the glory days of the Smith & Wesson revolver. To me, they have simply never made a better revolver than the Model 19 in those days.
Today, I have two of those short 19s and also a 3-inch Model 66 from the same era. Since I don't expect to have to battle the Chinese army or a crazed motorcycle gang anytime soon, these guns are often on my belt for personal defense. And–I certainly hope that this doesn't put my toughness in question–they are nearly always loaded with 125-grain, .38 Spl. +P hollowpoints.
Buckling on one of my 2.5-inch Model 19 revolvers is like hooking up with an old friend. We've had some adventures together and, so far, have managed to come out on top. Without boring you with a bunch of war stories, I will say that I sure wish I had a dollar for every West Texas diamondback that these guns have turned into good snakes.
I would not pretend to tell you that everyone ought to carry a double-action revolver. Nor do I believe that the S&W Model 19 is what everyone ought to carry. But I will strongly suggest that these are fine old sixguns that will get the job done if you take care of your part of that job.
As Bill Jordan once said, “If you can shoot, the S&W Model 19 will do just fine. If you can shoot!”