Smith & Wesson’s K-frame series is, without question, the most prolific series of revolvers ever produced.
If my count is correct, there were no less than 14 Smith & Wesson models based on the K-frame. Calibers included .22 LR, .38 Special, .357 Magnum. However, the queen of the K-frames is, and will always be, the Model 19 Combat Magnum.
The Model 19 is a result of legendary U.S. Border Patrol shooter Bill Jordan, who convinced Smith & Wesson to chamber the Model 15 Combat Masterpiece in the more powerful caliber of .357 Magnum.
It is noteworthy that, at that time, the “powerful” Magnum had been reserved to the larger N-frame Smiths.
During the 60s and 70s, the Model 19s were works of art. They featured pinned barrels, recessed cylinders, and a deep luster blued or brilliant nickel. Walnut “magna” stocks were hand fitted and the action was velvet smooth. Options were limited to a target trigger, red ramp front sight and a white outline rear sight blade.
As time progressed, Smith & Wesson looked for ways to reduce the manufacturing cost of the 19/66. Soon the pinned barrel and recessed cylinder were dropped while a number of improvements increased the service life. Sadly,
Smith & Wesson discontinued production of the Model 19 in 1999.
The loss of the Model 19 was mourned by many who agreed with Jordan. However, at the 2018 NRA Annual Meeting, Smith & Wesson reintroduced the Model 19 in two models: the Classic and the Carry Comp.
The New Model 19 Classic
Let me start by saying the new Classic model, while very similar in appearance to the original Model 19s, is a different pistol from yesteryear.
Smith & Wesson finished the Model 19 Classic in a nice blue that is close to the original guns. It features a 4-inch barrel, with checkered stocks that are very similar to the original Magna stocks.
Weighing just more than 37 ounces, the Model 19 Classic feels and balances just like it did 63 years ago. However, it does look different.
First, the arched profile of the frame, at the hammer, is different than the older guns.
The second significant difference is that the diameter of the barrel is thicker than the older guns; this is due to the new Classic model having a sleeved barrel. Interestingly, even though this is a 4-inch pistol with square butt stocks, the frame is actually a round butt contour.
Smith & Wesson also installed a ball/detent crane lock, and of course, the new 19 has the obligatory key lock.
The trigger on our test pistol was surprisingly smooth with a small amount of grit just before the brake. The double action pull exceeded the limit of my electronic trigger pull gauge, but the single action broke cleanly at 5 pounds, 4 ounces.
The front ramp on the Model 19 Classic features a retro red ramp insert, but lacks the white outline rear sight.
On the Range
On the range, the Model 19 Classic handled and shot as the older Model 19 I have in my collection. The balance of 4-inch K-frame is close to perfect.
We shot a combination of full magnum loads, as well as lighter .38 Special loads during two different range trips.
The two stoutest magnum loads were Speer’s Gold Dot 125 gr. GDHP and Agulia’s 158 gr. JSP. The Gold Dot averaged 1,372 fps while the Agulia load averaged 1,178 fps. The 4-inch barrel and Magna stocks made these loads manageable.
The Speer .38 Special +P 125 gr. Gold Dot was much more controllable and averaged 888 fps; this is a far better load for many shooters. Groups averaged 2 inches or so, as long as I did my part.
The Model 19 Classic is a great addition to the Smith & Wesson line and will hopefully renew the interest in wheelguns for new shooters. It is a sleek, good looking, pistol with great lines and a blue finish.
For more information, please visit Smith-Wesson.com.
S&W Model 19 Classic Specifications
- Caliber: 357 Magnum, .38 Special
- Capacity: 6
- Barrel Length: 4.25 inches
- Overall Length: 9.9 inches
- Front Sight: Red Ramp
- Rear Sight: Black Blade Adjustable
- Action: Single/Double Action
- Grip: Custom Wood
- Weight: 37.2 ounces
- Cylinder Material: Carbon Steel
- Barrel Material: Stainless Steel
- Frame Material: Carbon Steel
- MSRP: $826