Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 19 Carry-Comp .357 Magnum Revolver


Before making sight adjustments, the first groups shot were
more than acceptable from 10 and 15 yards.

While the S&W K-Frame Model 19 first made its debut back in the late 1950s, my appreciation for this fine revolver found its beginning in the early ’70s. Studying for a bachelor’s degree in Criminal Justice, I frequently shot the revolver during my college years. Of course, that was a period in time when the law enforcement community carried revolvers for duty work. I had every intention of preparing for the police academy regarding firearms training and the Model 19 helped pave the way. While running a pile of ammo through the Model 19, I noticed it was always a reliable handgun.

Mark tested a variety of .38 Special and .357 Mag. ammo through Model 19.

Modern Take On A Classic

Today, Smith & Wesson has introduced a newer version of this classic revolver from their Performance Shop — the Model 19 Carry Comp. Considering my affection for the sixgun from years ago, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. When the hard plastic gun case arrived from S&W, inside was a blued, 3″ Model 19. The six-shot revolver tipped the scales at 34.2 oz. There is a 2.5″ version available, but I elected the slightly longer model. The Model 19 Carry Comp wore a beautiful set of custom wood grips, finely checkered with subtle finger grooves. In addition to the eye-pleasing wood grips, a utilitarian-type rubberized grip was also included.

The front sight consists of a Trijicon Tritium night sight that is most welcome in poor lighting conditions. The proverbial black square notch of the rear sight is fully adjustable. Target acquisition is quick and effortless with this sighting system, while the tritium sight reveals itself nicely in dim light.

The front sight features a tritium dot, making target acquisition quick in low light conditions.

Located directly in front of the sight, the vented ported barrel helps reduce muzzle rise.


One can expect several welcome modifications from the Performance Center, including a tuned action. According to my Lyman digital trigger gauge, the test gun had a single-action trigger pull a little over 4.5 lbs. This custom version features a trigger stop. The double-action pull was clean and smooth, breaking at 11 lbs. Another feature I found most practical was the rounded and knurled hammer. The revolver was easy to draw from the holster and the checkered hammer made for positive cocking.

Located directly in front of the sight is the vented Power Port that enhances recoil management. This wide vented slot helps tame recoil from those heavy .357 Magnum rounds and does not appear obnoxious.

The Carry Comp comes with a beautiful set of wood grips.

The Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp features a trigger stop.

Modern Applications

The K-Frame wheelgun may not be utilized in the law enforcement community today, but this doesn’t mean the revolver doesn’t have a useful purpose for civilians. My wife is already making noise about keeping this handgun for home protection. We both went to the range with a variety of .38 Special and .357 Mag. ammo. At first, we shot the Carry Comp with the wooden grips. They felt very comfortable, but my little pinky finger could not fit on the grip. That’s not necessarily a bad thing. The grip is relatively short and compact, making it more compatible with EDC. I just couldn’t leave well enough alone, so we switched grips to the synthetic boot grip. While lacking in aesthetics, the rubberized grips were extremely comfortable and allowed my little finger to wrap around completely. The grips feature subtle finger grooves and are lightly textured.

Karen and I engaged targets from 10 to 15 yards. She leaned toward Hornady’s Critical Defense Lite, 90-grain FTX .38 Special load. I ran through several different brands of .357 Magnum, including Federal’s Fusion 158-grain Bonded Soft Point, Hornady’s 158-grain XTP and HSM 158-grain Sierra JHC. The vented ported barrel effectively reduces muzzle jump and those .38 Special rounds are most pleasant. Groups with all brands of ammo were more than acceptable.

Single-action groups were consistent with a variety of ammo tested.

S&W Model 19 Carry Comp makes for an ideal personal protection revolver at home or EDC.

Still Relevant!

In today’s world, black, plastic, high-capacity semi-autos have saturated the shooting world for personal and home protection. So why would anyone want to carry a revolver? Well, for one, I like revolvers — and that may be just good enough without further justification. But wait, there’s more. All through the years, I’ve shot a shipload of rounds through the Model 19; not once have I encountered a jam or problem of any kind. The capability to launch six rounds of .357 Magnum ammo without concern of a jam or other mishap gives me peace of mind. The Model 19 Carry Comp makes a solid choice for home or personal defense. Karen already has plans of keeping this revolver on her nightstand, along with a set of electronic earmuffs.

My EDC varies on the time of year — and weather. In the cooler months, I usually wear a vest or coat and pack the Model 19 in a Sourdough Pancake, a high-ride leather concealment holster from Simply Rugged. This well-designed holster is a good option; it can be worn on the strong side or crossdraw with a 45-degree cant. This holster completely encompasses the revolver with the trigger covered and does not require a thumb snap for retention.

Karen and I were hiking around our rural farm grounds the other day, and I packed the Model 19 Carry Comp all over the property in the Sourdough holster. The Carry Comp was an ideal companion for such outings. I sure wasn’t expecting trouble, but nevertheless, the Model 19 made for a comforting hike.

Originally referred to as the Combat Magnum, the Model 19 made its appearance in 1957 and was widely accepted by the law enforcement fraternity and sportsmen alike. It was a great revolver back then and remains so today. For me, the Carry Comp checks more than one box. It’s a fine revolver, dependable and reliable. At the end of the day, that’s all I ask.

Subscribe To American Handgunner

Purchase A PDF Download Of The American Handgunner July/August 2022 Issue Now!