Smith & Wesson Model 586
Courtesy Smith & Wesson
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Everyone has their favorite Smith & Wesson pistols…or at least, people who have shot many of them do…and these three are mine.

Smith makes many, many pistols, including about a thousand iterations of pretty much every gun they make. Entire books have been written about their catalog over the years.

With that said, here are my picks:

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ

Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield EZ
Jeremy S. for TTAG

It’s not just because it’s new(ish). I genuinely think the S&W M&P9 Shield EZ is one of the best subcompact pistols to have hit the market in some time.

The slide is ridiculously easy to rack. Takedown is simple. The trigger, since the EZ series has an internal hammer-fired single-action system instead of a striker mechanism, is better than the standard Shield; smoother, with less wall at the end of the trigger stroke.

And hits are easy, too. I don’t pretend to be a great shooter, but I shot this group COLD when I reviewed the gun for my day job at Alien Gear Holsters . . .

M&P9 Shield EZ target
Sam Hoober for TTAG

Seriously. I picked up the gun, loaded it, and shot that from 7 yards. Granted, that’s not uber-impressive; anyone who slow-fires from 7 yards should get those kind of groups…or close to it. But I don’t remember a compact/subcompact pistol that didn’t make me work a lot harder for it.

I don’t remember a pistol that was as easy to operate, as pleasant and easy to shoot and shoot well with.

You can’t have a list of Smith & Wessons and not include a big wheel gun, and my favorite Smith & Wesson revolver is . . .

Smith & Wesson Model 586

Smith & Wesson Model 586
Courtesy Smith & Wesson

While it may not have the storied lineage as the Model 19 (Bill Jordan and so on) a good number of people believe the Model 586 is actually better.

The 586 is built on the Smith L frame, which slightly larger and a little more substantial than the K frame architecture. It typically adds an ounce or two in the frame and an ounce or two in the full underlug ejector shroud.

Aside from that, the 586 has 6 cylinders for .357 Magnum/.38 Special, beautiful blued steel and walnut grips, and adjustable rear sights. Everything a classic Smith & Wesson revolver should have.

Last but not least, and certain to be the most controversial . . .

Smith & Wesson Model 915

Smith & Wesson Model 915
By Dark Gravity at en.wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, Link


This is my pick partially for sentimental reasons, because it’s the first 9mm pistol I ever shot. I’m just old enough to remember a time when S&W didn’t only make striker-fired pistols.

I’ve had occasion to handle and shoot some of Smith’s other DA/SA semi-autos subsequently and — while they aren’t perfect — there’s a lot to like about them.

For those who never had the pleasure, the Smith & Wesson Model 59 series (of which the 915 and later 910 are derivatives) had outstanding ergonomics, and a slide-mounted de-cocking safety, a la Walther and Beretta pistols.

The double-stack magazine held 15 rounds (the Clinton assault weapon ban years model held 10) and the pistol had a very decent trigger. It was a solid gun from the time before the Polymer Spring, and they were quite popular with both law enforcement and civilian shooters alike.

The 915 was the budget model (the flagship model of the day was the Model 5906) with left side-only controls and rather dinky sights. But it still has/had all the hallmarks of what made those guns great, in that they are rugged, reliable, accurate, and ergonomically excellent.

And it turns out they’re pretty cheap on the used market, too.

So those are my favorites. What are YOUR favorite Smith & Wesson guns? Sound off in the comments.

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      • Yeah- mine would include:

        My 8 3/8″ nickel pre 27 5 screw (.357 Mag)

        My 29-2 8 3/8 nickel (.44 Mag)

        My Bruce Meek engraved/inlayed 38/44 (.38 Spl)

        And add to that any of the 5 screw K 38s or K 22 Masterpiece models.

        Back when those were made they came off of the shelf as nice to work and shoot as most of the Performance Center handguns of today. It used to be that craftsmanship was appreciated, expected and demanded of the top gun makers. Most ordinary Gomers weren’t shelling out the $250 to buy an S&W when they could pick up H&R, Iver Johnson, early Rugers or the High Standard Revolvers for half the price or less. Don;t get me wrong- these were also very reliable firearms but not close to the class of the 5 screw S & Ws or the higher end Colt revolvers.

    • Word of advice. Don’t ever buy one of those vintage S&W Sigmas (Glock clone) from the ’90s. I was given one long ago, and it – being a Gen 1 polymer frame model – eventually warped from the barrel’s heat during training courses. It was also very picky about ammo and would only feed reliably with certain types due to the feed ramp angle.

  1. As a gilt-edged, dyed-in-the-wool, over the top Smith & Wesson weenie, my M586 with a six inch barrel is my favorite gun, period, point, full stop.

    Or it’s my Model 10 with the 4″ barrel.

    Or maybe my M17 Masterpiece, despite it’s dinky 6-shot capacity, which is a small payload for a 40 oz. handgun.

    Ah, what’s the use. If it says Smith & Wesson on the barrel, it’s my favorite. I own and enjoy other brands, but there’s just something about Smith & Wesson.

    • If I could only have one brand of guns, it’d 100% be S&W without hesitation. They make everything from a small carry gun for grandma to AR-10s for hogs.

      No Garands though . . .

        • Yeah that’d be sad. Fortunately we don’t have to actually go through with this scenario. =D

        • AR15, AR10, Howa made some decent bolt guns manufactured under the S&W name. There were even pump action shotguns. Now they own TC. Some excellent single shots and muzzleloading rifles.

    • Hi Tom! I too am addicted, it has been 29 days since I last bought a Smith & Wesson revolver (model 25-2). The same gun shop has a pre-model 17 that is trying to go home with me. Also a 1930,s vintage Colt Officer’s model, but that’s a different meeting…

    • Hi Tom! I too am addicted, it has been 29 days since I last bought a Smith & Wesson revolver (model 25-2). The same gun shop has a pre-model 17 that is trying to go home with me. Also a 1930’s vintage Colt Officer’s model, but that’s a different meeting…

      • Hi Tom I was clean and sober for 50Yrs and I threw It all away for a 6906 police trade In I’m so ashamed (SOB) (sound of uncontrollable weeping).

    • @Bloving:
      My local FFL had a 1-1/2 on display a few months back. Made no later than 1868, if I recall correctly. I asked him the let me handle it (which he did). But I could not justify buying it for reasons of practicality. However, if I had unlimited funds…

  2. My favorite is my model 59, the first S&W I bought for myself and my first semi automatic. After that it would have to be my 108284 1911, first year they came out and still an awesome tight and accurate pistol. Then my M&P 15T it is also a first model with all Troy furniture and sights

  3. Isn’t this like trying to pick your favorite kid?
    How’s this for a hard curve: S&W Eastfield 916 riot gun – rode in my squad car back in the day when the under sheriff wouldn’t allow rifles………………….

    • I have one of these. Bought it at an estate sale for a great price. (A hundy if memory serves).

      It’s a great shooter. Even has an extended mag tube. Huh. Forgot about that one.
      Maybe it’s time to empty the safe and give everything a good cleaning.

  4. Model 19, W/ 4″ barrel; I carried on duty for years Model 29 W/4″ barrel Engraved, Beauty. Model 629 W/ 6″ Barrel, My Deer Hunting buddy.

    • I’d love to see the engraved one. Any idea who engraved it?
      Sadly, I don’t own any engraved pieces. I need to change that.

  5. I’ll just say this: 642, 64, 66-2, 10-6 .357 (not a mistake), pre-model 10, 3913, 6906, 5906, 5904, 915, 4006CHP, 4026, 457, and 4516. Also… uh, um… SW40VE. Yeah, first semiauto, got a deal from a friend. Shut up, it runs great. Yes, the trigger sucks. But if you have a 59 (or several) series, get a Camp 9! Too much fun.

  6. My 3
    My 1st gun Model 66 2.5 inch Magna Ported DAO only.
    2nd is my 7 inch with muzzle break Model 41 most accurate gun I own hands down.
    3rd I hate with a passion.
    9mm 4 inch M&P 2.0 what a POS. I cant understand how anyone can like this abomination.

  7. My first S&W was a Model 19, 2.5″ barrel. For years my on-duty piece was a 4″ Model 66 with amazing Goncalo Alves grips and a silky smooth DA trigger. And for a short time I had a Model 13 with beautiful combat grips. I parted with them years ago, not realizing how valuable they would become or what fine firearms they really were.

  8. 3954 = compact with BirdSong BlackT refinish. Wore the “blacking” off carrying it. Performance center tuneed 58 – 41 Rem Mag,

    • I’m looking to get ahold of a 3954 at the moment as well. IIRC the stats from S&W allege only 1000 were produced.
      Maybe I’m just weird but I have an obsession with S&W 3rd gens. Nothing wrong with combat Tupperware, but there is something special about these guns.

  9. My first S&W was the 29, then the 629, then the 629 Mountain Gun. Had to switch to the beefier framed Ruger to shoot the bear loads I carry. The Smiths always felt better in the hand than the Ruger… I may have to look into that S&W 500…

  10. My favorites that come to mind are my model 19, 2.5″ that I have put come nice Pachmeyer grips on. My model 39, my first 9mm auto that I truly love and have a nice shoulder rig I carry occasionally with. My model 669, stainless 9mm is a top notch carry also. S&W only made for 2 years I believe. Love the way they fit my hands. Oh almost forgot my 629, ported, it’s a go to deer handgun. I don’t think there’s a S&W I don’t like. I love them! Still looking for a deal on a 686!

    • Earlier this year, I picked up a 4” 686. (Great price!). There were a bunch of OSP honor guard show pieces that got traded in. Man, she’s a beauty! Not sure who made the grips, but they’re quite pretty as well.

  11. The only gun that I regret selling was my Model 19 4″ barrel. Purchased used in the late 70s, it was formerly state issued to the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

  12. Gee, I wish I could get groups like that with my M&P 9 EZ. I have tried three different brands of target ammo and have even bench rested the pistol and can’t made a decent group of shots at 25 feet on a pie plate. One of the worst pistols I have ever bought. Will be selling it ASAP.

  13. Among my sea of Glocks and Rugers, I own and like the S&W:
    642 J Frame
    686+, L frame, 3 inch
    Shield 9mm (orig. 1.0, with manual safety)

    All are excellent!

    Cheers – Happy New Year

  14. I got one of the CHP4006TSW in .40 and its just such a cool gun. I dont shoot it much but when i go to the safe each day to grab my CCW P229 i just love looking at it and fondling it as well. Such a superbly made machine let alone fire arm. Worth every penny.

  15. Tough to pick only three. 686+ 7 shot 357 mag. 681 PC 7 shot 357 mag finished in birdsong green/black. 1006 10mm with hooded adjustable rear sight. Honorable mention lol are M&P9 2.0 FDE 5″. 645 45acp. 625-10 PC 45acp. I also inherited a 442 J Frame with a Clarks trigger job that shoots extremely well for a snub nose 38. Used to carry it regularly. Is that 7? Oh well I did leave a few out.

  16. I have a fondness for the old metal framed auto pistols, especially the 39 series. I have a 39, a 39-2, a 439, and a 3904. Wouldn’t mind having more.

  17. I love my 5″ 627, enjoy my .460 XVR, sold a 340 PD, my 4006s are decent, and I’d like to upgrade my M&P but can’t (duty gun). Smith makes some righteous handguns.

      • It’s the 8 3/8″ and is quite accurate – for the 1st 5 rounds or so. The muzzle blast is enough to singe your knuckles, and a few shots without hearing protection with full power loads can cause permanent hearing damage. I have a shoulder holster from Smith for mine. My original front sight is in a deteriorating orbit (from Buffalo Bore ammo).

        Typical high quality trigger pull from the box. Not sure what else there is to say (don’t have much time during the holidays).

        The recoil is enough that few people can shoot it well – if in doubt, go with a .357 or .44. I like to wear Mechanix gloves when I shoot mine.

        • Accur81, how’re you doing, buddy?

          For those who don’t know him, A81 is one of the best TTAG commenters ever.

        • Pretty much covered it brother, many thanks! Happy New Year and Happy Holidays to you and yours. Also belated Merry Christmas.

        • My 8 3/8″ is hydro- ported on top 6holes. reloads, it pushs back , factory loads barrel goes down!

  18. My three favorite S&W Revolvers are:
    S&W M10-5, 5″bbl
    S&W M65-3, 3″bbl
    S&W M15-5, 4″bbl
    My three favorite S&W Pistols are:
    S&W 3913
    S&W 39
    S&W 745

  19. Model 629-5 Mountain Gun. It’s packable, the 4 inch barrel allows longer shots if you practice, it doesn’t have that stupid lock, it’s my most favorite! I need about 6 more Smith guns though, lol.

  20. The Smith 39 series were pure junk. Back in 1972 George Nonte ran an article in Shooting Times magazine that ran 5,500 rounds through a m39 and the junker disintegrated. The rear aluminum frame rails broke off and the cast iron safety broke in two. This junker was noted for breaking safties long before the 5,500 round mark. In contrast the post War P38 aluminum framed gun did show a lot of wear and loss in accuracy but it was still working after the test. Later in time the last model P38 guns had a steel hexagonal pin put through the receiver to help prevent cracking.

    I might add the Smith 39 also had frame cracking problems and rather than redesign the frame Smith took the hillbilly way out and simply started cutting out the section of the frame that always cracked. I have had more than one first time owner of a M39 ask me “Why is there a big cut out in the frame’? I tell them ” Because the gun is junk”.

    My 3 favorite Smiths was no. 1 a m57 .41 Magnum bought in 1973 in the blue velvet lined box with the 8 3/8 inch barrel. Why the Morons at Smith quit making such a popular hunting gun I will never know.

    NO. 2 was the original Smith M27 .357 mag. Not the two piece barrel and cast iron garbage Smith is making today.

    No. 3 The original Smith Body Guard M49 in .38 Special as well as its sister gun M38 with the aluminum frame.

  21. 4″ model 19, first handgun I ever shot. Fell in love instantly, I blame it for making me buy so many revolvers over the years!……but regret none of it.

  22. 66-3 with a 3″ barrel I bought new in 1990. Action is smooth as a baby’s… I have many others, but this is my favorite. What is more versatile than a good K/L 357 ?

  23. Model 41 with the original muzzle brake. It was my late uncles that he used to shoot target competition in the Air Force in the 1960’s.

  24. My favorite 3rd gen S&W is the 3913LS.

    Fantastic CCW 9mm.

    Shame they only used that frame on the Lady Smith. It looks cooler than the regular 3913.

  25. Model 35 – my first Smith and Wesson and 2nd gun.

    Pre-war K-22 Masterpiece. The most accurate gun I own…..period.

    Smith and Wesson model 60 – a real one in 38 special….the one i have was my mother’s.

    All are a hoot to shoot and hunt with. (I use the model 60 for armadillos).

  26. Model 13 3 inch round butt covered my 6 in many bad part of town watching my partner who taught special ed and did parent teacher conferences in part of town my LEO friends brought me patients from
    Model 681 no Hillary hole with fixed sights will hit anything in 8 inch circle at 50 yards
    Model 64 from Hartford PD shoots even better

  27. First, my Mod 19. The article describes the Mod 19, then says the 586 is better. Which is OK, however, in the last paragraph’s description he says, “Aside from that, the 586 has 6 cylinders for .357 Magnum/.38 Special, beautiful blued steel and walnut grips, and adjustable rear sights. Everything a classic Smith & Wesson revolver should have” which makes it sound as if the Mod 19 doesn’t have these features. I can testify that the Mod 19 carries 6 rounds of either .38 Spl or .357 Mag. It has a beautiful blue finish with 18 kt gold fill in all stampings, pristine walnut grips, and adjustable rear and red ramp front sights and target trigger. Purchased in 1975.

    Original Mod 60, double action 5 shot .38 Spl, Stainless steel, 1.875″ barrel, two hammers (one with & one without spur), fixed sights, walnut grips (replaced by Crimson Trace – Laser Grips). Bought in 2011.

  28. I think it was the early 90s and my duty weapon was an S&W model 10-6 when I went to an auto it was the S&W 915 I chose. I can’t say anything bad about the 915 it was a good reliable pistol, I just couldn’t get used to two trigger pulls and I shot the revolver much better.

  29. Classic story of how a company can let lawyers and persons without knowledge of core business lead them to near self destruction. The moronic deciosion to acquire and install the infamous Hillary hole in their wheel guns still resonates with gunowners 20 years later.

  30. 6” SandW 500. That’s my favorite. It is the equivalent of three, four, maybe even five guns. Not very user friendly, but it is one hell of a handgun.

  31. Late 70’s Model 66, Model 5906 and mid 70’s Model 36. I still have the last one, but I wish I hadn’t sold/traded the first and second. Kick myself everyday over the first two.

  32. The Smith & Wesson Model 10, previously known as the Smith & Wesson .38 Hand Ejector Model of 1899, the Smith & Wesson Military & Police or the Smith & Wesson Victory Model. Mil/LE/Civ World Wide use and over 6 million produced and the most popular handgun of the 20th Century and STILL IN PROODUCTION!

  33. When I started my L.E. career no one had a semi auto’s. Everyone had wheel guns. Mine was a S&W 586, what a great revolver. At about 6000 rounds fired, I sent it back to S&W and they rebuilt it free of charge. Great gun, can’t believe I sold it about 1990. Now I want a Ruger match champion in .357 mag.

  34. Off the top of my head:

    – Model 41, the canonical .22 match pistol of the US
    – Model 52, the bullseye pistol by which all centerfire match pistols should be judged
    – K-38 Combat Masterpiece
    – Model 17 Masterpiece (I agree with Ralph, above)

  35. Smith & Wesson Model 30, chambered in .32 S&W Long. My father bought in 1955 and it was either in his glove box or night stand for 60 years. He gave it to me with the original box of ammo. Only 12 rounds were missing.

  36. 5in 686-2 w/polished trigger.
    3in 624, super accurate despite the short barrel.
    Never really a fan of the semis for some reason, just the revolvers. I’ve always been a sucker for heavy stainless steel.

  37. History note: Chickenshit anti 2A company that sucked off the clinton POS. Went broke, sold off the company. I threw away all of their shit and will never lay a finger on whatever they produce. Yes it is a new company, so why would they keep the shitfest name? To keep selling to the fanbois?

  38. pre-WWII K-22 Outdoorsman
    K-38 Masterpiece
    627-5 Performance Center 5″ eight shooter

    These are my 3 favorites to shoot.

  39. 649, 10, Shield 380 EZ. Special mention as I don’t own one and never have: 629 in 41 magnum. A friend has a custom shop version and it is amazing.

  40. You can also get the 586 in a 7-shooter.

    But my personal fave is my 64, no dash, pencil barrel, that I use for ICORE. The gun handles so well and the trigger is oh so sweet.

  41. Just got a Performance Center 642-2 with enhanced action a few weeks back. Started carrying it immediately and only got to shoot it about 3 or 4 weeks later. May be the nicest DAO trigger I’ve ever experienced. Yeah, it’s got the infamous Hillary hole, but no problems yet. If that does prove to be a problem, I know where my bottle of Lock Tite is…

  42. It’s only right, since I’m the last of the old ones, that my favorite gun has been in continuous production since 1965 (55 years !). They sure have all the kinks worked out.

    It’s a S&W 357 Model 60, 2.12″ barrel.

    One word can describe this gun: SMOOTH.
    It is very easy to shoot accurately, the trigger is perfect, the sights work very well, and with the SMOOTH rosewood grips, even the 357 ammo is a joy to shoot.

    Very compact and easy to carry.
    My other handguns bask in it’s shadow…
    Ruger SP101
    Ruger GP100
    Taurus 85
    Ruger SR9c
    Ruger LC9s
    Hi-Point C9


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