Model 19 vs Model 66: Can You Save Cash On A K-Frame?

Some folks might have noticed that Smith & Wesson has revived the Model 19, the storied revolver that gunwriter, peace officer and Marine Corps veteran Bill Jordan personally talked S&W into making. The idea, of course, was that it would be a better gun for police officers as the Model 27 (which began life as the Registered Magnum) was an N-frame and people got tired of carrying around a brick all the time.

Yes, 1911 guys, that’s why so many people love their GLOCKs. Sorry, but it’s just true.

Anyhow, apparently there’s enough demand for the 19 that S&W is bringing it back. A few eagle-eyed consumers might have noticed something, though. Hold on, they say, it’s just the Model 66 with wood grips and blued steel instead of rubber and stainless!

And you’d be right. They are (basically) the same gun and all models also wear the name Combat Magnum. The Model 66 was launched as a stainless steel variant of the Model 19. Like the 19, it was adopted by law enforcement and among pistol-packing civilians. The Model 66 was a little more cheaply made, with a bit less attention paid to the trigger mechanism and later a two-piece barrel (among other minor differences) but the song basically remained the same.

The Model 19 was discontinued in 1999, and the Model 66 was sent to the bench from 2005 to 2014. However, both have now returned and both are among the best medium-frame revolvers you can buy.

But which one to get?

Well, that sort of depends.

Today’s versions both sport a 4.25-inch barrel in the full-size versions. Both are available in compact models as well. The 19 is given the Performance Center treatment, with a 3-inch barrel, a rounded butt for easier concealment, a Trijicon front sight and a ported barrel. The 66, however, has a 2.75-inch barrel and rounded rubber butt. Both have a full-length ejector, something some shooters bemoan about snubbies.

The base models retail for close to the same price; $826 for the Model 19 and $849 for the Model 66. Both wear the same red insert blade front sight and rear target sights, but the 19 sports classic checkered wood grips rather than grippier rubber.

If you’re looking at the 4.25-inch models, the 66 is going to weather the elements a bit better by virtue of its stainless steel, but the Model 19 is a true classic. It looks beautiful in blue and the wood stocks give it the kind of class that so, so, so many plastic guns lack these days. You’ll also spend a little less (assuming you pay MSRP). Initially, you’ll probably pay less for the 66 in-store because they’ve been around a while. The 66 is a classic too, but the 19 just has the look.

If you wanted to really dial up the authenticity, Jordan’s Model 19s wore custom stocks by Herett’s Stocks. Herett still make his signature model called the Trooper. A Threepersons holster or Jordan rig (he designed his own fightin’ leather too) would be a nice touch as well. He also dehorned his hammers and clipped part of a turn from the trigger spring to lighten it up and smooth it out, but that’s up to you.

As for the carry models, the 19 Carry Comp has all the bells and whistles, but that comes at a cost. Namely, $1092. The Model 66 Combat Magnum model (the 2.75-inch barrel one, though “Combat Magnum” is still on the 4.25-inch model’s barrel) is a relative bargain at $849. Whether that extra $250 is worth it…well, that’s going to be up to the individual. Ported barrels tend to be louder and produce more flash. Whether it curbs much muzzle flip…opinions differ and YMMV.

What do you think? If you were in the market for a magnum wheel gun, which one would you go for?

comments

  1. avatar Marty says:

    I heard they would be 7 shooters. That’s not the case?

    1. avatar New Continental Army says:

      That’s the 686.

      1. avatar Marty says:

        Thanks. I thought a 7 shot K frame would make it even weaker than it already was. Love the 686, wish mine was a 7 shooter, although it’s been decades since I carried a revolver, but it’s still got a place in my vault.

        1. avatar Anonymoose says:

          You could probably make a 7-shooter .327 Magnum on a K-frame. Ruger just brought out a 7-shot GP100 in .327. 7-shooters and 5-shooters are stronger than 6-shooters because they have the cylinder stop cut between chambers instead of on top of them, but people have greatly differing experiences with .357 K-frames. Some people say they wear out at the forcing cone and topstrap with frequent heavy magnum usage, and some say they’ve never had an issue over decades of shooting.

        2. avatar Marty says:

          Moose, I did a lot of shooting of magnum rounds with both my 19 and 66. I never had any top strap, or forcing cone issues. Though most of my shooting was with reloads and not with commercial ammo, but they were still magnum reloads. Since I havan’t shot my revolvers much since I got into pistols, the only revolvers I need now are the older 66 and I’d love to get a 2 1/2 ” round butt. That’s the one I miss the most.

  2. avatar Jackass Jim says:

    Aside from the facts that the barrel is of different design, the trigger mechanism is different, the front sight is different, the rear sight is different, the barrel is a different length, it has an ugly and dangerous trigger lock, and several other defects, yes – at first glance it sorta looks like a Model 19.

    Similarly, at first glance Hoober sorta looks like a gun writer.

  3. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

    GP 100.

    1. avatar PeterK says:

      Same.

  4. avatar Bloving says:

    Love classic revolvers, but I gotta stay loyal to my team – still holding out for a Ruger Security Six, preferably in 4″ stainless… too many car repairs to do this year so maybe next.
    Stupid financial responsibilities keeping from happiness… adulthood sux…
    🤠

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      They’re never going to bring back the Security Six in anything but name alone. They’re not going back to a weaker locking mechanism and there’s no disadvantage to the GP’s peg grip. What most people like about the Six is the half underlug, which S,R&Co currently produces in the Match Champion. They also have some Lipseys exclusives with 5″ ba rrels and a half lug. I don’t see them bringing anything close than these to the old six.

      1. avatar Art out West says:

        I love my Security Six 4″ stainless.
        It meets my .357 needs. I guess a 7 shot 686 would be nice.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          Not saying if I had a Security Six I’d feel compelled to upgrade to the GP, it was so good it forced S&W to come out with the L frames. And also of note, the GP now comes in a 7 chamber version, although they kind of ruined the look by plastering ‘7 shot’ on the under-lug.

    2. avatar Ed Schrade says:

      Security Six in 6 in. barrel , 357 mag. Shoots like a rifle.

  5. avatar Defens says:

    If I was to choose a magnum revolver, I’d probably select the S&W 329PD, in a 4-inch barrel. With a scandium/titanium frame, it’s ultra light. A four inch barrel gets decent velocity from .44 Mag, without getting in the way while hiking. Ditch the iron sights (at least the rear) and stick a Leupold Delta Point on top, then stuff it in a fully custom holster hand-crafted by Dave Workman. Perfect gun for working/playing out in the woods.

    Which is why I have one.

    1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      Just curious, how many ma gnum loads can you go through at the range before pulling out the .44 specials?

      1. avatar Defens says:

        I’ll fire off a couple of cylinders at the range. Hard-cast bear loads do have a snappy recoil – but I got this revolver to carry a lot and shoot a little.

        If I want to practice for awhile, I’ll take along the M29 with the 8 3/8 barrel. 🙂 Or its M27 twin.

        1. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

          If you can get a dozen rounds off without significant pain it’s better than it looks. I’ve got a Ru ger Blackhawk and a Vaquero birdshead in .44 mag and probably will never go through more than 4 or 5 cylinders. The birdshead is only 39 ounces and I was surprised how comfortable it is to shoot, but it’s still over 50% heavier than that 329. Picked one up at a shop once and just thought, this has got to hurt.

    2. avatar Armed Partisan says:

      My frend bought a 329PD as a hiking gun, even though we both had read about the frames cracking because he expected to carry it alot, and shoot it only a little. Despite both of us being seasoned revolver shooters in IDPA and ICORE, we both found the recoil unmanageable (but not as painful as I expected, to be honest).

      However, the gun DOUBLES, as in it recoils so hard that it will RECOCK THE HAMMER under recoil, and if you don’t have good recoil management, you will inadvertently fire a second shot while the gun is off target. This happened with multiple shooters. Shooting light reloads and specials out of it defeats the point; might as well carry a J-fame while hiking then. He traded it off for some other guns he liked.

      1. avatar Defens says:

        Bump firing a revolver!? How cool is that? Add to the ban list immediately!

  6. avatar Tom in Oregon says:

    I’ll keep my 4” model 19 that I bought used around 1987.
    And yeah. The 27’s and 28’s awe heavy suckers, but take all sorts of abuse.

  7. avatar Michael in AK says:

    I will stick with my used 19s and 66s thank you very much.

  8. avatar Ralph says:

    “If you were in the market for a magnum wheel gun, which one would you go for?”

    I was in the market for a magnum revolver (not “wheel gun;” I hate that lazy phrase), so I just bought an L-Frame Smith & Wesson M586. It’s a blued beauty, fully underlugged, accurate as hell and eats up full magnum loads for breakfast.

    A couple of days ago I took my new, unfired gun to the range, shooting 150 .357Mags at a head-and-torso target at 25 yards. I really wanted to wring out the gun and get in my reps (since I haven’t been to the range for a while), so I shot single and double action, two-handed, one-handed, left-handed, slow fire, rapid fire, and every combination thereof.

    Every shot was a kill shot, even though the gun isn’t even broken in yet. At closer distances working carefully, two or three shots in the same hole was commonplace. It’s just a nice gun, but at slightly under 4000 pounds (or so it seems), it’s not an EDC.

    1. avatar Vic Nighthorse says:

      Oh for crying out loud;-) I got 4 months EDCing (concealed) a 5.25″ 40.5 oz gun. I do this at a work place that I am not even sure of their carry policy. My girlfriend took two weeks to notice the gun and as far as I know, no one at work has. The shoulder rig is comfortable enough that I occasionally forget I am wearing it. That 586 could definitely be EDC’d, it is 2.25″ shorter and 3oz lighter. People sure have gotten soft, and I say that as a pretty soft guy myself.

      1. avatar Ralph says:

        Uh, no. It has a 6″ barrel and weighs 46.3 oz unloaded. Although I’m sure you could conceal it by shoving up your culo.

  9. avatar New Continental Army says:

    “Yes, 1911 guys, that’s why so many people love their GLOCKs. Sorry, but it’s just true.“

    I think you got glocks and 1911s confused there.

    1. avatar Marty says:

      Great reply. Love it.

    2. avatar Art out West says:

      Glocks are blocky, but they are light weight

      1. avatar Toni says:

        yes lighter weight which means more recoil which means more time to back on target. i have shot several 1911’s and a couple different plastic fantastics (though not a glock itself) and i hate the feel of the plastic ones and i am slower shooting with them.

        each to their own.

  10. avatar John Boch says:

    I l-o-v-e my S&W k-frame revolvers. I acquired them when I first started teaching for the princely sum of $129 each. The nationally-known pistolsmith (or revolver smith) Tom Kilhoffer tuned each of them for free as he knows me and that I intended to use them (and still do) for classes as loaner guns.

    I’ve carried them and shot thousands of rounds through them myself and students over the past twenty-plus years have done the same. Yes, one hole shooter is right if you know how to stage a trigger.

    My retired G-man friend Frank Wright calls them “God’s chosen weapons system”. I’m not sure about that, but I know for most novices, they are the ultimate point and click interface for repelling unlawful boarders.

    Looking at S&W’s prices for the new wheelguns ($600 to 1100? Are they mad? – and sorry Ralph), I think I’ll take a hard pass. The good news is that AIM Surplus, I believe, has some quality police or corrections trade-ins for a pretty decent price… $300 or $400. That’s probably money well spent for a solid gun with probably minimal use.

    Besides, why the excitement over “magnum”? Most of mine are .357s, but I doubt I’ve shot more than a couple hundred magnums over the past twenty years. Firing them indoors or in a car (for self-defense, with unprotected hearing) sorta removes any appreciation you might have had for classical music and there’s not a lot a .357 can do that a good .38+P won’t. Unless you’re making impressive fireballs at dusk.

    1. avatar Marty says:

      Thanks for the heads up on Aim. Just checked and the only revolvers they have at this time are Model 10’s in +p 4″ bull bbl @ 399. I’ll keep checking. I’d love to get another 19 or 66 round butt.

  11. avatar Kendahl says:

    I’ve had a 6″ model 19 for nearly 40 years. There’s enough recoil with magnum cartridges that shooting them isn’t fun. Therefore, I’m thinking about replacing it with something heavier. The question is which one? Pythons are too expensive. Maybe, a GP100. S&W’s Peformance Center offers 586s, 686s and 27s or I could look for an old, but well-cared-for 27.

    1. avatar Marty says:

      If I was to go back to cayyring a revolver, I like my 681. No target sights to get caught up in clothing and yet as an L frame will digest all the magnums you want. Much easier to carry than the N frames. Just a thought.

    2. avatar Michael in AK says:

      Recoil is in the hand of the beholder. I routinely shoot magnums through my snubs and long barrels. No big deal.

    3. avatar uncommon_sense says:

      Kendahl,

      I like the Ruger GP100s — especially with the Hogue Recoil Tamer grips if you are sensitive to magnum recoil.

      The up side: Ruger GP100s are built like tanks and should last forever on a steady diet of full-power magnum loads.

      The down side: while their triggers are very good, they are not excellent and you might want to invest in a trigger upgrade of some sort.

  12. avatar Red says:

    Insane pricing! What justifies that kind of price?

    1. The amount of work that goes into making a quality revolver.

      1. avatar Rad Man says:

        Agreed, DZ. My PC 657 in .41 wasn’t cheap but worth every penny.

      2. avatar John in AK says:

        I’m not so sure about that.
        S&W revolvers USED to require a great deal of hand fitting, as the forged and machined parts from Days of Yore were CLOSE to uniform, but not quite.
        Each old-style S&W revolver has parts that required more-or-less work: The front face of the bolt, the single-action notch, the toe of the sear, the pad of the cylinder stop, the strain screw, the angle of the hand, fit of the yoke, the yoke fastening screw, the cylinder center pin length, the fit of the ejector-rod locking bolt. Some components USED to come without any pins or components attached, requiring installation of hand pins, stirrup pins, sear pins. . . An S&W armorer’s kit used to cost about as much as a whole revolver did.
        MIM parts are more accurately made; They also have to fit together without filing, as their hardness is VERY shallow. Design changes in THIS ‘Model 19’ eliminate many of the formerly-required steps of assembly. A two-piece barrel must also be a cost-saving feature, as intricate forging is no longer necessary.
        As with most modern firearms, the largest expenses aren’t in the metal, or the work, or the infrastructure; It’s in the liability attorneys and insurance coverage.
        Those Hillary Holes aren’t ‘free,’ either. Trust me, you’re paying for those extra parts, the extra hole and mill cuts, and the little arrow.

      3. avatar Armed Partisan says:

        A quality revolver, yes, but a modern S&W with a Hillary Hole, two-piece/self-launching barrels, hideous wood grips vaguely styled after classics, and MIM’d parts, no? Why is S&W corp charging that much?

    2. avatar Gov. William J Le Petomane says:

      The Pittman-Robertson Act.

  13. avatar ActionPhysicalMan says:

    Only pansies EDC Glocks because 1911s are too heavy. Jeez, Sam put on your big boy pants and stop celebrating your choice of a gun because it is a few ounces lighter than some others. Why not just get an NAA and be even less burdened? Oh and that way you can keep your He-Man jammy pants on too;-)

    1. avatar David says:

      Me? I carried a Government Model over 30 years, with two or three spare magazines, EDC knife, flashlight, Swiss Army pocketknife, ballpoint pen with glassbreaker tip, and I think all revolvers besides 2″ snub .38s are too bulky for IWB EDC.

      And I’m not a big guy.

  14. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

    I guess I’ll keep my Trooper. It’s the only wheel gun I have.

    1. avatar Armed Partisan says:

      Any old Colt, or old S&W for that matter, is superior to their current products; I’d take a Trooper MKIII in good shape over a new one of these any day (plus, I already have two 60’s production Model 19’s, 2.5″ and 4″, neither of which cost me more than $350).

      1. avatar bontai joe says:

        I was thinking the same thing. I bought a pre-war S&W K frame in .38 special about a year ago. The bluing is so rich and deep, it looks like you could reach into it. And the action is smooth and perfect in every way. And it cost me at an auction, about 1/4 the list price of this “new” revolver. I won’t buy a revolver with a unreliable safety mechanism.

  15. avatar DixieBiker says:

    I’ll keep my 1969 Model 19-3 with it’s short barrel forever! I did change the grip to a Hogue for comfort’s sake, but have kept the wood grips. Yes it’s a tad heavy, but in a shoulder holster it’s not bad! I also carry 2 speedloaders for a total of 18 rounds.

  16. avatar strych9 says:

    Considering the price point and what I can go pick up right now at my local Sportsman’s Warehouse for the same, or significantly less, I’d prolly go with a Redhawk or Super Redhawk.

    In .41 Rem Mag. Just to be obtuse.

    1. avatar Gun Free School Zones are a crime against humanity says:

      We expect nothing less from you.

    2. avatar Michael in AK says:

      Yes on the 41 mag, not so much on a ruger, they are uglier than glocks and that’s saying a lot…..although they do share marginal triggers…

      1. avatar strych9 says:

        Triggers don’t bother me. I don’t get the discussions on them and generally think they’re totally overblown by people looking to an excuse for their poor shooting. This is why I don’t comment on trigger articles.

        Example: I’ve never even found a Mosin Nagant trigger I would comment on, never mind actually change in some way.

        I’ve never found any handgun trigger I would do this with either. The only guns, IMHO, that need a trigger job are the ones where the trigger is missing.

        1. avatar Toni says:

          i did a trigger job on my M95 styer but the trigger pull on that was about 13 lbs when i got it. it is now about 8 lbs. i have a bruno model 2 i did a trigger job on that is about 16 oz and my partner who i taught to shoot puts all including any fliers within 1-1/2″ at 50 yards. the american eagle which it seems to like is $70 for a 400 round brick here and it is one of the cheaper brands.
          trigger jobs are a preferential thing for the most part….. the styer needed it

  17. avatar Gregolas says:

    They LOOK good, until you see the “Hillary Hole”. Farago himself testified in these pages as to the danger of that misbegotten child of S&W’s Munich Agreement jamming your revolver just when you REALLY need it. I’ll keep my Smith revolvers from before they went Neville Chamberlain, and add only those that predate these ignominious “safeties”.

    1. avatar David says:

      “Peace in our time.”

      Great response, Gregolas. Authors often say something sarcastically confrontational to dismiss another’s choice. One wonders why.

    2. avatar Ralph says:

      C’mon, Gregolas. It took me all of five minutes to remove the lock, and it does not leave a hole in the frame. The lock is really just a small leaf of metal inside the frame, and it takes more time to clean the gun than it does to remove the metal leaf.

      There are lots of youtube viddies to guide you.

  18. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    Of all my carry guns. My 1st gun and the only carry revolver I have left.
    My 2.5 inch Magna Ported, DAO and dehorned Model 66. Bought for the back then princely sum of $349.
    Less the porting. Making it DAO and dehorning.
    Recently as I couldn’t find the OEM trigger and hammer. I bought a used one on Ebay and put it in.
    I also shot it recently using full power 357mag 125gr HPs. For the 1st time in almost 20 years. Still a fun gun but at 32-34ozs. Pretty heavy a carry gun for what it is. Wish I could remember why I had it magna ported for?? Should never had done that.

  19. avatar Don from CT says:

    I was able to pick up a police turn in 66 that had a lot of holster wear. I sent it off to a prominent revolversmith and had it tuned then bead blasted. I would bet anyone it shoots circles around a new 66 or 19.

    Don’t waste your money. There are enough of these guns on the used market to keep you happy.

    One thign about the 66 is that if someone does work on it, they don’t have to re-blue the area where they did the work.

  20. avatar Paul Mcmichael says:

    My favorite K frame is a 3″ round butt #65 wearing Pachmayer Professional grips. Also own a #19. All early revolvers. Pinned barrels, countrersunk cylinders. Reference to an earlier remard about the Security Six. When I was in the army I bought a 4″ stainless heavy barrel with target grips. Foolishly sold it a few years later. N frame? Had a 3 1/2″ 27. Heavy? Yeah, but what a revolver! Traded it against a Berretta BM-62. Wish I had them both back.

    1. avatar =BCE56= says:

      My M60 is too small. My 686 is a too big.
      My M65 is Just Right.

      It’s nice to have a bunch of old Smiths.

  21. avatar MyName says:

    I have a 19-3 made in 1976 and it is hard to imagine a better revolver. (don’t have/can’t afford a Python so my opinion might be incompletely informed.)

    That revolver is the first handgun I ever purchased and would be the last with which I would part. I know all about the forcing cone issues but, I’ve fired a truckload of magnums through it and, aside from a bit of finish wear, it’s as solid as the day I bought it – many years ago.

    1. avatar Paul Mcmichael says:

      My name, I do have a Python and have owned three others over the years. They shoot a little better than my Smiths single action, but I prefer my Smiths double action. Still a Python is a super cool revolver.

  22. avatar James says:

    Police officers are civilians.

  23. avatar Paul Mcmichael says:

    That said; wouldn’t have a new Smith on a bet.

  24. avatar Wayne Clark says:

    I have a 1972 66 with the original combat grips. I had some Houge grips on it but sold them. Wish I hadn’t so I’m getting some more. The combats seem to rub my bird finger against the trigger guard & it kind of hurts after a few hours of shooting.
    I’ve had no problem with magnum loads, although I don’t go under 158gr. because I’ve heard it was the hotter, lighter grain bullets that caused the forcing cone issues. Still, I have no problem using .38 +p for defensive rounds either, so there’s that. I like having choices.

  25. avatar Old Guy in Montana says:

    Ahhh, Mr. Hoober, tone down your man crush on the wondrous, critically acclaimed, super shooter Bill Jordan…the same careless schmuck who shot his Border Patrol partner to death while dry-firing in the office…ooops!

    1. avatar Ralph says:

      That rumor has been floating around for over 60 years. We know that Patrol Agent John A. Rector was accidentally shot and killed by “a fellow agent” on October 16, 1956 — but I could find no published information identifying the fellow agent.

      Nobody was charged, nobody was sued, so who knows?

      1. avatar Klaus Von Schmitto says:

        Well according to someone purporting to be Rectors daughter, Bill Jordan did kill him.

        http://smith-wessonforum.com/lounge/336570-bill-jordans.html

        But, it’s the internet.

  26. “It looks beautiful in blue and the wood stocks give it the kind of class that so, so, so many plastic guns lack these days. ”
    Yes, GLOCK guys, that’s just ONE of the reasons why so many people love their 1911s. Sorry, but it’s just true.

  27. avatar Kenneth G Maiden says:

    Sadly, NOT a real 19. Although cool and glad to see it. It’s got that new safe for the serfs BS. Not pined and recessed. Bill Jordan and Skeeter would not be happy. I’ll pass.

  28. avatar Don says:

    I’ve owned a Mod. 19 2 1/2” for 35 years. The action was worked by Paul Jaeger. It is easily concealed and comfortable to carry. Extremely accurate, as well.

  29. avatar bryan1980 says:

    No thanks; already have my pre-Hillary hole 66.

  30. avatar DaveW says:

    Make mine a 19 like the one I have had since 1975. It was beautiful in it’s S&W bluing, checkered wood grips and target sighting. Great with .38 cal for targets and .357 for hunting and duty. (I carried a Firearms International Model D .380 as my backup.)

  31. avatar Mort says:

    1. Colt Python
    2. S&W 686
    3. Ruger GP 100
    ( save up your lunch money)

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