A Tribute to the 2.5-inch S&W Model 19

One of the slickest, sexiest irons of all-time

Call it nostalgia, but when my hand reaches around the checkered walnut grip of my Smith & Wesson Model 19 revolver chambered for the potent .357 Magnum, I think back a few decades to the time this double-action sixgun, with its 2.5-inch barrel, adjustable rear sight and handsome blue finish was the Cadillac of snub nose wheelguns.

Featuring the classic firing pin on the hammer with the checkered spur, smooth trigger, and no hole on the left side of the frame for a safety lock, the short-barrel Model 19 was — and remains — a genuine stud.

The Model 19 made its debut in 1957, but it wasn’t until 1963 that the first snub gun was built and took three more years to find its way into standard production. Alas, the 2.5-incher made its exit in 1999, but over its 33-year life, it had a hell of a run.

The 2.5-inch Model 19 became a production gun in 1963 and stuck around for 33 years.

For the first few years, and up through the 19-4 version, the M19 snub nose had recessed cylinder chambers. That changed with my model. The barrel pin also went away.

Mine is a “19-5” and a rather accurate handful of nastiness when stoked with my personal favorite handload that pushes a 125-grain JHP propelled by a healthy dose of 2400 out the muzzle at just under 1,400 fps. (Out of a longer barrel, that load is even zippier.) The muzzle flash is enough to temporarily blind someone in a dark room, and while the short barrel sacrifices muzzle velocity, the bullet is going to make an impression on whatever it hits. Not to mention the deafening muzzle blast will scare hell out of anyone or anything within 50 yards.

Years ago, Workman snagged an upside-down Safariland shoulder rig that is a great match for the M19 shorty.

Back Alleys to the Backwoods

For street carry, I might opt for a .38 Special +P round, again topped by a 125-grain JHP. I also cook up a load using a 158-grain JHP ahead of a potent charge of H110 with a magnum primer.

Some years ago, a game cop pal of mine dropped an injured cow elk with his Model 19 snubby and that was with a factory round. My gun has become my trail companion of choice, but it has also seen duty in an old Safariland upside-down shoulder rig, a Bianchi or DeSantis belt holster and even in a little holster of my own construction.

Workman never leaves the pavement without a handgun. Here he is cutting
firewood in cougar country with the Model 19 on his hip.

A couple of years back, I was photographed cutting firewood with the Model 19 on my hip about a week after a guy was killed and partly eaten by a mountain lion a few miles away. A couple of wildlife agents bagged that cat, but where I was running a chainsaw, that cougar had company.

It’s one of the most recognized handguns around, ranking right up there with the Colt Python and the Model 29 S&W in .44 Magnum. Weighing just over 30 ounces, my shorty is comfortable to carry all day no matter which holster I select.

In the winter months, and for extended trail work in the backcountry,
Workman swaps out his wood grips for a Pachmayr.

Getting a Grip

The small round-butt factory grips didn’t last long, and I swapped them out for a set of Pachmayr grips, which soaked up a fair amount of felt recoil.

During the winter months, I still haul out the Pachmayrs, though they’ve been semi-retired by a set of Herrett’s Detective stocks. I’ve seen some of these guns with faux ivory grips, nicely polished giraffe bone or Sambar stag and a friend of mine has a pair of these snub nose guns with matching smooth black grips made of some unknown material — he loves ‘em.

The original factory grips didn’t fit my hand and were brutal during recoil. After 50 rounds of full house magnums, I wanted no more to do with them. For my money, Pachmayr, Herrett, Eagle and Altamont produce top-notch aftermarket grips.

True Blue

Back in the day, Smith & Wesson cloned the M19 as the stainless-steel Model 66, a revolver that certainly had lots of fans, but this correspondent wasn’t one of them.

It was every bit as sturdy and dependable as the M19, but the blue original stole my heart and never gave it back. It’s subdued yet has something of a visual authority. One look at the business end of the Model 19 with that 2.5-inch tube is enough to convince some thugs to enter the priesthood.

My beautiful little snubby shows a bit of holster wear on both sides near the muzzle and the lower front of the frame below the crane. It has digested a fair amount of ammunition over the years but isn’t loose. It has a ferocious bark, but the bite is even worse!

An HKS speedloader makes reloading the snubby Model 19 quick.

I carry at least two, and sometimes three, speed loaders and can kick the empties and reload in fairly short order. A fair amount of practice doing this over the years makes this possible and selecting the right ammunition (stay away from wadcutters and even semi-wads and stick with jacketed bullets for the best performance) helps.

Lock it Up?

Recently, two members of Congress — Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-WA) and Eliot Engel (D-NY) — introduced federal legislation that would require gun owners to lock up their firearms.

While I keep my trusty Model 19-5 in a keyless gun safe, I don’t care to have a pair of anti-gun-rights politicians trying to mandate it.

Jayapal represents Washington’s 7th Congressional District, which encompasses the cities of Edmonds and most of Seattle and stretches into both King and Snohomish counties. Last year, Seattle and Edmonds adopted local safe storage regulations in a direct challenge of Washington’s 35-year-old preemption statute. This law gave the state legislature sole authority over gun regulation.

The Second Amendment Foundation and National Rifle Association challenged both ordinances. In liberal King County Superior Court, a judge dismissed the Seattle lawsuit. But just days after unveiling her troublesome legislation, Jayapal was one-upped when a Snohomish County judge upheld provisions of the lawsuit, declaring the Edmonds safe storage ordinance to be in violation of the state preemption law.

Lock up the Model 19 S&W? The hell you say! This round gun isn’t a dust magnet; it’s a workhorse and a show horse all wrapped up in one. It’s been a movie and TV star, seen duty on the mean streets, and no doubt saved a life here and there.

If you own one, keep it. If you can find one, buy it. Take care of it, and it will take care of you.




Why They Call it ‘Dope’

There is stupid, and then there’s this guy in Seattle who evidently didn’t think through his moves during what should have been a routine traffic stop.

Whatever else this Seattle man may be guilty of, he’s a lousy caretaker of handguns.
This poor Smith & Wesson has seen better days. (Photo courtesy Seattle Police)

The unidentified 42-year-old apparently never heard of remaining in your car until the nice officer strolls up. According to KIRO News and the Seattle Police Blotter, our model citizen gets out of the car and…oops…suddenly dropping to the pavement is a “gumball-sized baggie” that contained black tar heroin.

Where there’s smoke, there’s usually fire and sure enough, when the officers took this motorist into custody one of them spotted a handgun, a bunch of cash and a safe on the floor of his vehicle. This called for a search warrant and they struck paydirt.

The vehicle search produced two handguns, a pump shotgun with pistol grip, 2.2 grams of cocaine, 8.5 grams of meth and $831 in cash.

At least now we know why they call it “dope.”