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?