Smith & Wesson Model 19-4
Courtesy Chris Whisler
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Smith & Wesson Model 19-4
Courtesy Chris Whisler

[This post is part of our new series, What I’m Carrying Now. If you’d like to submit a photo and description of the gun, holster and gear you’re carrying in the new world in which we live, send it to us at [email protected] with WICN in the subject field.]

Chris Whisler writes . . .

I recently switched from carrying a 9mm Colt LW 1911 Commander to a 4″ Smith & Wesson Model 19-4 .357 Magnum in a Galco Combat Master holster on a quality, heavy 1/2″ leather belt.

The K-frame S&W carries surprisingly well in a quality, high ride holster. The reason I switched to the S&W revolver is accuracy. For me, the Model 19 is very accurate at longer shooting distances.

Yes, reloads are slower than with a semi-auto, but with practice and using quality speedloaders, a respectable reload time can be achieved.

FBI stats show us that a law-abiding citizen, probably isn’t going to fire more than three rounds in a gunfight. I’ve always figured that, as a law-abiding citizen, if I need more than six rounds of .357 Magnum, then my skills aren’t what they should be or I’m someplace I shouldn’t have been to begin with.

My thinking would be different if I was a law enforcement officer. In that case, I would want a double stack semi-auto and as many spare magazines as I could possibly carry.

No matter what gun you carry, practicing and using the common sense that God gave us is the key to being the victor. I usually practice at the range at least once a week. However, because of the coronavirus, I haven’t been to the range in over two weeks and currently I’m doing dry fire practice drills at home.

I also carry a Spyderco tactical knife, Swiss Army knife, small rechargeable Fenix flashlight and an IFAK in an ankle cuff. IFAKs and first aid for gunshot wounds are, in my opinion, too often overlooked by law-abiding citizens that carry.


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    • I agree.

      1911 and a Model 19

      I’m pretty sure this dude is over 65. Those are both pretty “old school” choices.

      On the other hand, I’m in my 40s and still like revolvers quite a lot.

      Shamefully, I have no significant experience with the 1911 platform. Gun guy credibility just dropped a notch

        • Since I said “over 65”, and I’m off by 5, you must be 60. If you were 70, then my “over 65” would still be right. 😀
          Hopefully, God gives you many more decades with us. We need some classy gun guys.

      • Personally, I prefer something like the S&W Mod.28. I have shot .357 in a lighter frame similar to the “K” frame, but I like the heavier “N” frame. Recoil is a bit better. (not quite as sharp, and a faster recovery)
        However, “tomayto – tomahto.”

        • I’m partial to the Ruger Security Six when it comes to .357 revolvers. It is the one I have. It just seems like about the right size and weight for that cartridge. For a carry revolver, I like the AirWeight 642, again what I have.

          Since I’m in my 40s, I also like striker fired polymer autoloaders.

    • I took the photo of the IFAK when I was still carrying the 1911. I have a Kahr CM9 for a backup when I think one might be needed. It’s a little smaller that the Colt Commander. 🙂

      • Your reason for limiting your ammo capacity, makes you lucky that you don’t have a realistic expectation of violence occurring on you. Your logic is the same as saying that since stats would say that most dgus are stopped by the criminal quiting from shock after the first shot, then We only need a single shot.
        The junkies, reservation indians, and the bipartisan imports out here travel in packs, and if they are armed I would prefer to win a gunfight, which are won with superior fire power and violence. I would hope they are dumb enough to have a revolver, as I would fire half of magazine to keep them reacting while I advance. I have 61 rounds to win, compared to their 5-10.

        You are prepared for one unarmed, or one armed and unskiled threat, and that is all with a six shooter. It could take all six shots to drop one threat, if they are fighting back and you don’t get a cns or skeletal structure hit.

        • When I am out and about, I’m really not planing on taking on an army. That’s why I made the comment about what I would carry if I saw a law enforcement officer. A 357 is going to do more damage than a 9mm. Not saying it will stop an attacker with one shot, but it would inflect more damage. I trust skill learned from training and practice over the spray and pray tactic.

        • I said “I’m not planning on taking on an army”. I should probably expand on that a bit. Of course, we never know what is going to happen or what is around the next corner. However, I live in the country. There are no gangs here and crime is low. If I lived in a city that had a high crime rate with violent gangs, then yes, my carry choice would be different than a revolver.

        • Revolvers like Chris’s Model 19 and semi-autos like the Glock 19 each have their own advantages when it comes to carry. A good double action revolver is a great combination of a simple instinctive manual of arms and safety ( you don’t ever hear of “K-Frame leg” ). Also .a single round of 357 Magnum does a lot more damage than a single round of 9mm or .45acp. As a result something like that Model 19 or an SP101 in .357 make an ideal hand gun to have in case of a sudden emergency with one or two assailants. A high capacity semi-auto is better in dealing with a pitched battle. I have two .357 SP101s for carry as well as an M&P 2.0 9 with a 4″ barrel for carry.

  1. I carry a first aid/trauma kit in my vehicle, but I am under zero obligation to use it if I just shot someone to protect my family or myself. If I shot them, it’s not gonna save them anyways.
    And I don’t quite get the accuracy thing. That revolver is in no way significantly more inherently accurate than any quality polymer framed auto on the market.

    • The only reason I might consider rendering aid to someone I had to shoot, would be so I could interrogate them using their wound as leverage, to find out who sent them.

      • Ron, sounds like you’ve been quarantined with Corona and watching way too many movies.

        Thanks for the laugh.

      • One could argue that trying to save someone you just shot would put credence to “your honor, I was just trying to stop the threat to myself and my family. I had no intention to kill”.

        Here in California, where you are guilty until proven innocent, that is supremely helpful.

        • I could see a prosecutor using that against you actually…..
          They would claim that by attempting to save the person you shot, you must’ve thought that your shooting was a mistake…. OR…
          They would say you obviously weren’t THAT afraid for your life if after shooting the person you immediately get closer to him/her….
          You gotta think of EVERY scenario….
          Best thing is to keep those cases CLEAN AS WHISTLES 😉
          OR USE A REVOLVER…

      • F that, I’m not killing someone unless it’s absolutely necessary. Which means I’m going to render aid as soon as the situation is secure.

        • Not touching any bleeding MF. I don’t know REAL Good. If I know them that well. Most likely. No reason to shoot them. To much disease out there. Even if gloved up. At best they will get New York CPR. ” MF if you don’t breath…You gonna Die”. Be Safe Maintain OP SEC and as always Keep Your Powder Dry.

        • @ drewN Get real dude. If someone kicks in your door and wants your food or money or women, what are you gonna do, shoot them in the leg? You put 3-4 in their face and you won’t have to worry about administering trauma care.

    • Accuracy comes from rounds down range not necessarily amount spent on a gun. I have a cheap POS beat up old high standard double mine, my daughter can stack rounds at 50 yards with it. The accuracy comes from the fact that she shoots it daily.

    • James. The accuracy inherent in either design is really not that big a deal at normal distances involved in a self defense situation. But open that 0-7 yard range to 30-50 yards and the ability to single action fire that k frame does give the shooter an advantage.

      How often will that 30+ yard shot present itself in a self defense moment?

      • How about a head shot at 10 yards?

        Or if someone decides to open up in a parking lot at 25-30 yards.

        My point is – we often make choices based on convenience.

        I hope I dont need to make a 50 yard shot in a gunfight. My Glock 48 is adequate but takes more work than my 92.

        The 92 is harder to conceal but the 48 is easy. Trade-off.

        The bad guys set the scenario…we just have try to keep up and make hits.

        • @Specialist38:
          “I hope I dont need to make a 50 yard shot in a gunfight.”

          I hope I don’t need to get into a gunfight!

          There! I fixed it!

      • Jwm, I certainly agree with you in that the single action trigger on my model 19 is really superior, well to just about any other handgun I’ve ever shot, and I’ve shot a lot of them! Buuuuit, for me it’s still not a piece that I would carry instead of my Glock. Although I do wear it on my property when I’m mowing the lawn on my riding mower! Lol

        • However, I’m not sure about running a steady diet of full house .357 magnum through the model 19. I think it’s better suited for .38+P. If I were to carry a revolver it would most likely be a 4” ruger GP100. Yeah the Smith has a way better trigger, but I wouldn’t worry at all about shooting full house magnum loads through it on the regular.

        • James. That’s why I’ve never bought a used 19. Always heard they were to be shot with .38s for practice and carried with magnums for serious business. Since I don’t know the diet fed to a used gun I just make it a habit not to buy that certain make used.

          I knew a man, back in the late 60s, that fed his a diet of nothing but magnum loads. We were at the range one day and mid cylinder the gun locked up tight. Took a gunsmith to get it open and fix it.

        • Did that to my brothers python more than once back in the late 70’s.
          Thinking we were cool, we only shot hot magnums thru it. We abused that poor thing. I keep seeing if he’ll sell it to me so I can baby it….

    • Then you haven’t ever shot a K frame Smith. It isn’t even close.

      Hell…a Beretta 92 is more accurate than most poly-guns.

      Now whether the K is more accurate than a 1911 depends on the 1911.

        • With a 1911, I actually shoot faster and accurately with a short trigger and lower sights.

          Easier to stay on top the sights in rapid shooting for me. Spent a lot of money on “upgrades” figuring that out.

      • Try “a comparably priced 1911” and the discussion makes more sense. 1911s range is seriously extreme, probably down to 300-400 and up above 5000.

      • I actually own a 4” model 19. And I shoot it well. But for its size and weight my Glock 17 gives me literally triple the capacity and I can shoot 2” all day long at 25 yards offhand with it. Ok so the 19 might, might shoot an inch and a half at 25 yards. Is a half inch in accuracy worth triple the capacity? In my book, no.

        • I would dearly love to see a video of you shooting 2 inch groups, offhand at 25 yards with a Glock.

          Not saying it cant be done…..but I have never seen it.

        • @specialist38 Then you don’t shoot much or hang with anyone that can shoot. Perhaps you should get out from behind your keyboard more frequently and practice.

        • James…..i don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone shoot a 2 inch group at 25 yards with a Glock from a rest. Dont know that they’re capable.

          I’ve got several Revolvers that I can wrangle into 2 inch groups at 25 yards. My prewar K-22 is the easiest. But I sure do it with my 48 or 43.

          You may be da man…….or you may need a new ruler.😁

    • The life you save with the first aid kit might be your own or your loved one. As for accuracy, every person is different. Also the S&W 19 has an adjustable rear sight, my Commander does not. For me, single action head shots at 15 yards are much easier with the S&W. But again, that’s me. I know guys that can do wonderful things with Glocks, but I’m not one of those people.

    • You are a good American. Why risk some junkies infectious disease being transmitted to you by touching them, that is why We Citizens call 911 to get a societal janitor on scene. Bending down and trying to render aid could get you shot, stabbed, or spit on.
      I will show the evil thug the same level of mercy he was going to show my family, when it kicked in the door, and that is none. I would make sure they are no longer a threat and drag them out of my house, as they wouldn’t be worth the clean up costs on my wife’s wood floor.

  2. Yep, model 19 is fine weapon.

    Many years ago I had a 2 1/2 inch, nickel model 19 original with pinned barrel and recessed chambers. It was so old it was pink from the copper plate showing through the nickel.

    Sadly, it was just too high value to carry so I sold it and bought three other guns with the proceeds.

    Now I have a 340PD, light enough to just stick in your pocket.

  3. Keeping it simple, excellent decision.

    As for the holster, many other higher quality models exist in the same price point or just slightly higher especially if you intend to make this an everyday carry for years.

  4. S&W Model 19…
    Makes me proud to be an American.

    Damn fine revolver; quintessential firearm in American manufacturing.

    • Just, well said. I have two N frames, three K frames and two J frames. If I had to give up every other handgun I own (Yeah, right) I could do everything I need to do and not feel disadvantaged.

  5. I’m hoping that the writer meant an 1.5″ belt not a 0.5″ belt as written. The weight of a M19 would definitely drag a 0.5″ belt down.

    Mr. Gumb, I’m guessing that you have never fired a well tuned M19 or 586…they are capable of very fine accuracy at 50 yds and beyond. YMMV!

  6. I carried a mod.19 for 25 years and still use it for target is the most reliable gun I have still puts them all in the X most evert shot. I have many auto from 45 to 22 and a least once each has hang fired, missed fired etc, some more then once. My 19 with 1000 and 1000’s of rounds not once a problem. Also 48 years ago I had it armaloid which makes it look stainless steel. As many times that in and out of the holster and fired it looks almost ad goo as the day I had it done. Well that is all folks, any questions just ask.

  7. K-frame crew checking in. Can’t complain about a model 19. You get a bit of extra .357 mag punch and the ability to go SA as well. Not to mention ammo is probably a bit easier to come by than 9mm of any sort at the moment.

    • There must be a lot of .357’s out there. I just checked TargetSportsUSA and they are wiped out of most .357. They do have some high-dollar 9 mm JHP’s available. 45ACP in-stock is not too bad and lots of .357 Sig and 40 S&W.

      Their page shows lots of .22 lr in-stock.

      Currently advertising a 15 day backlog on shipping.

  8. My first gun crush was on the k frame magnums. Any k frame really. They were all you needed in a fighting handgun and nothing you did not need. Or so the legend goes. Closer to the truth than most legends, at any rate.

    Bone stock factory guns with no mods were capable of more than good enough accuracy for nearly any shooting situation. And they just look good.

    Modern semi autos are good for what they are. I have a couple. But they just miss the mark in so many ways. Who cares if I scuff my g19 up? Can you even notice? Who cares if it gets taken in evidence? They are cheap and easy to replace.

    The modern pistol is a tool. The classic K frame is a tool and a work of art.

    • I’ve been lusting after a double action revolver in 45 colt for a while. Downside is the 45 Red hawks seem to have been discontinued and Smith’s reproduction model 25s seem to be hit or on quality.

  9. Old Skool, love it. It is hard to beat a good K frame Smith & Wesson. I’ve had two, my kid sister currently loves the Model 65 I lent her (bet I never get that one back). Both were accurate and reliable. The triggers were smoothed out by a friend who was a smith and they were great. But I switched to a 1911, mostly because they reload quicker.

    • Are you sure you aren’t fantasizing? It’s okay to have a thing for mustaches and leather. You just be you;-)

      • What’s wrong with a mustache????? Are you making mustache insinuations???? 9 outa 10 times a “loadout” like this yields a mustache.

        Now about your use of a semicolon as a wink. 50% chance you have a mustache or 50% chance geriatric that does not have modern emoji capability. Its a coin flip……

        • Indeed I identify as geriatric and don’t particularly like mustaches, however, it was just friendly banter. I have no inkling of anything about you but took a chance that you were good humored. I also have no idea or concern if mustaches do correlate with revolvers and leather holsters.

  10. I recently purchased a Ruger gp100 seven shot .357. Right before things went to shit.

    Any suggestions on gun belt and holsters? Leather I prefer.

    • I’ve had good luck through the years with Aker Leather in San Diego for auto and revolver holsters. A number of holsters from El Paso Saddlery – plain, stamped and carved. A couple of old Don Hume’s (Ruger Security-6 fitment).

      Take a look at the Aker B21 Concealed Carry gunbelt. I have two (black and brown) they help a heavy firearm feel much lighter on your hip.

    • I have had good experiences with Andrew’s Custom Leather. I anticipated it taking longer than he projected so that part didn’t bother me much. Wait time was many months if I remember correctly. I put a 40oz 5.25″ .357 in his standard leather Monarch with a few speed loader pouches for balance on the other side and it is nice and I use it for comfortable EDC. I have a “Spring Break” as well that carries the gun vertically but ended up liking the Monarch better. I have brown bears for neighbors on the edge of a national forest in WY if you wonder why I carry a heavier gun.

      • Leather Production and available right now? Galco Concealable or Mitch Rosen. Got some $$$ and time to wait? Andrews Custom Leather. I’ve known Sam for 30 years and own many of his rigs. Thirty years in and they’re all still prime.

    • The Fletch from Galco.

      I second EPSaddlery. They have pancakes with and without thumbsnap to hold that chunk o steel close.

      Ted Blocker makes a nice high ride thumbsnap as well.

  11. Wow! The guy just told you that he is more accurate with his K frame than with his 1911. How in the world can you tell this guy that he’s wrong. What he feels is right for him is his business, especially when he had dedicated himself to shooting that gun well. All the rest of your comments are personal opinions based upon your own experiences right or wrong. I have been teaching pistol craft as a martial art for over 30 years. Individual differences play a large part in shooting, from grip & weapon selection to training in the necessary situational awareness and skill sets learned and used to solve a dangerous problem.

    • I have a 19-3 and I am definitely a better shot with it than I am with a government 1911. There’s just something about that gun.

    • I think you answered your own question toward the end of your comment, “Individual differences play a large part in shooting”. That is true. What works for me, isn’t necessarily going to work for someone else. I was not telling anyone that they should do as I do. As for accuracy, Yes, the 1911 platform is a very accurate firearm. I have been shooting 1911s for nearly 40 years and enjoy shooting them. The 19 has and adjustable rear sight, my Commander doesn’t. Personally, I am more accurate with the 19 than the 1911 for longer shots. Surely you would agree that that doesn’t make me wrong. That’s just me.

  12. My very first handgun purchase was a M19 with four inch barrel and Target Goncalvo grips in 1978 as a junior at the University of Alabama. I carried that both as an armed guard and in a ccw role for a long time. Probably the worst mistake I ever made was to alter the grip shape and mount different grip. Ruined the balance totally and I traded it off at a gun show. I’ve always regretted that move. I may get another .357, maybe even a new Model 19. But I also like the Ruger SP101 and the Ruger GP100.

    • I just bought the Ruger right before the virus shut everything down. Got in 1 range trip. Myself and 2 of my sons. We really liked it. A little heavier than a K frame. But works a charm.

      • On the Ruger SP101. I had the very first iteration of the gun. The one where it specified that only loads be fired with a 125 gr bullet. It even said 125 grains on the barrel. I had a problem with the backplate snagging the cylinder and locking the gun closed at a certain place on the cylinder rotation. I wrote Ruger and sent the gun back for repairs after reminding them I had the gun for my defense and the safety of my family. The second generation of the SP101 just came out and Ruger sent me one! Brand new in the box. THAT’S customer service! I wound up giving the gun to my daughter when she graduated college. Later when she moved into NYC I got it back and sold it. She’s still in NYC.

  13. I have no expectation of ever needing a single round to defend myself with. In fact, I have twice used a gun to stop an attack on myself, and the simple display of the gun in my hand and pointing at them made them turn tail and run.

    No way in hell I am going to count on that ever happening again.

    When all I can carry is a pocket .380, there’s a spare mag along too. When I can carry my full size 9mm, it is with two spare magazines on my belt. When I am in my vehicle, there is a carbine and a bag of magazines for it. If I am at home, there’s a heck of a lot more “Sheltering In Place” with me that can do rude and permanent damage to home invaders … zombies … you know.

    So okay, a Smithy wheel gun is fine if that’s your thing but with the two reloads shown plus the 9m backup piece, it’s not as if he’s only able to shoot six zombies before the game is up.

  14. I’ve a model 66 (the stainless brother of the 19) that was my first pistol purchase in 1981, close to 40 years later, it’s still one of the most accurate guns in my small collection. I CC with a SIG P365 in town but camping or hiking, that 66 goes with me. I carry a tourniquet and pressure dressing whenever I leave the house. Not for the prep I might shoot, but in case the prep wings me or an innocent bystander. Trauma kits in my vehicles 24/7.

    • I’m partial to 1911s, but have a lot of respect for S&W revolvers as well.
      My favorite J frame is the .357 640. The 4″ 686 is sweet but it’s pretty big and heavy.
      The M65 is just about right. With a 3″ heavy barrel, fixed sights and round butt I find it solid, dependable and accurate.
      I’m more likely to carry a semiauto, but the 640 is always within reach.

  15. The amount of projects at work forced me into lurk mode for awhile. I had a model 13 at one time. It was a beast with full loads, I’m imagine this is similar.

  16. I carried a model 28 smith, a 686 and a Ruger security 6 on the job never felt under gunned.

    Also carried high capacity 9mms, 40S@W and 8 shot 1911’s never felt under gunned.

    I own a nickeled 19 and it is a fine hand gun.

    The user is far more important then the firearm carried

  17. “FBI stats show us that a law-abiding citizen, probably isn’t going to fire more than three rounds in a gunfight.”
    This seems to be a restatement of the “3 shots 3 seconds 3 feet” myth.
    There is no national data to support this.
    If you can find any, please post it.
    The oft quoted “FBI statistics” refer only to the distance and number of shots a law enforcement officer was killed with and at.

  18. A S&W model 66 ,.357 bull barrel, stainless was one of the first guns I bought new, back in the early 70’s. It’s had thousands of .357 loads through it; far more than .38 or .38+P, and it’s had lots of both. The gun shoots wonderfully in spite of fixed, pretty crude sights, and it’s always gone bang,. Trigger is a thing of beauty; it’s worn in, and worn down enough that you should be thinking REAL clearly thumbing back the hammer for SA. A couple pounds will trip it boy will get it when I don;t need it anymore

  19. The model 19 has one singular advantage in a close range gun fight – it can be pressed directly into the torso of your assailant and fired repeatedly. Not a tactic that works particularly well with semi-autos.

    Thanks for sharing.

  20. Though I often carry a plastic fantastic, I’m really partial to double action wheel guns. S&W Mod. 642 with enhanced action and .38 +P JHP ammo for safe in-pocket carry in a winter coat. Ruger GP100 Match Champion (which has an excellent trigger) for the range. Plastic fantastic for summer IWB concealed carry.

    • Yeah, the same Bill Jordan who shot and killed a brother Border Patrol Inspector through the office wall while he was “dry firing” at a spot on that wall.

      …What are the 4 Rules of Safety for $2,000 Alex.

      From the Border Patrol’s In Memoriam archives:

      John A. Rector
      Entered on Duty:
      End of Watch:

      Image of Patrol Inspector John A. RectorAt approximately 11:30 a.m., October 16, 1956, Patrol Inspector John A. Rector was accidentally shot by the firing of a .357 Magnum revolver by a fellow officer. The mishap occurred at the Chula Vista Sector Headquarters, where two officers were discussing various guns and their limitations and advantages. During the course of the conversation, the .357 Magnum was unloaded, examined, then reloaded, and placed in a desk drawer. The two officers then examined a .22 revolver and soon the discussion returned to the .357 Magnum. At this point, one of the officers reached into the desk drawer, picked up the pistol, and without realizing that it had been reloaded, pulled the trigger.

      The bullet passed through a partition wall into Patrol Inspector Rector’s office, where it struck him in the left jaw and ranged up through his head. Upon arrival of an ambulance and a doctor, Patrol Inspector Rector was removed to the Paradise Valley Hospital in National City. Two neurosurgeons from San Diego were called; however, nothing could be done for Inspector Rector. He died at approximately 2:00 p.m. the same day.

  21. Great gun but you want an L-frame if you want to really run magnums consistently.

    More importantly, only hits count – break out the timer. Bet you’re a full second or more faster and far more accurate with .38 Special +P vs. magnums out of that gun.

  22. It’s rare that people mention that they carry a first aid kit when they carry a gun. I do now but for slightly different reasons.

    I only carry a gun in the woods. I used to carry a regular more or less complete first aid kit, too. Then I realized that it was inadequate for what it was really need for and unnecessary for what it was good for (but still handy). So I switched to just carrying a regular army field dressing, plus a few band-aids (minor cuts are messy). My thinking was that the most serious thing I needed to be prepared for would be either a deep cut or piercing type wound. Based on my own experiences, though, I still believe that a bad fall would be even more serious and I don’t know what kind of first aid items you would carry for that. But I’ve only had bad falls at home, so it’s probably safer in the woods.


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