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Questions on a S&W Model 19-4

Discussion in 'Firearms Research' started by MarineTech, Sep 26, 2003.

  1. MarineTech

    MarineTech Well-Known Member

    Recently came across a S&W 19-4 at the local gunshop. Since I occasionally carry a J frame 638, I thought that the 19 would be a good gun for practicing with a short sight radius instead of beating my hand to death with the J frame. Since I've cleaned this gun up, it's really worked its way into my esteem. Had it out to the range, and even with full house .357 Magnum loads recoil was very light due in part to the Pachmayr grips that had been added sometime in the past. Finish is nearly perfect with the exception of the expected circular drag mark on the cylinder. Lockup and timing are perfect. This gun has really got me wanting a 4" Model 19.

    So, my questions are:

    The S/N for this gun is 752XX, when was it built?


    Were there any particular issues with these models that I should be aware of?

    Thanks for the help and I've attached a pic for all to enjoy.
  2. stans

    stans Well-Known Member

    The "K" frame 357 Smiths do not always last when fired with a steady diet of magnum ammo. The worst offenders are the 110 and 125 grain loads.
  3. Mike Irwin

    Mike Irwin Well-Known Member

    What you've posted as a serial number is not a serial number.

    I don't have my books with me, as I'm at the office, but I believe that all Model 19s, and pre-Model 19s, had a letter prefix to the serial number.

    I think you may be reading the "assmebly number."

    The serial number will most likely be found on the bottom of the grip frame.

    BADSBSNF81 Well-Known Member

    That particular engineering change (-4 - gas ring changed from yoke to cylinder) took place in 1977. The SN is located on the butt. It should be between 10K0001 and 24K9999
  5. MarineTech

    MarineTech Well-Known Member

    My mistake, I'm used to revolvers having the serial numbers on the side of the frame, so I grabbed the number off the crane.

    Serial number off the butt is 28K31XX.

    Interestingly enough, that puts it outside the range that you gave BAD. I rechecked the model number under the crane and it very plainly says Mod. 19-4.

    Thanks for the comments so far.
  6. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    I show that ser # falling into 1978-1979 range.
    That also meshes with dash 4.

  7. MarineTech

    MarineTech Well-Known Member

    Thanks Sam. I appreciate it.

    I have to say that this revolver has really gotten under my skin. So much so that I just picked up a 4" model off Gunbroker.

    Haven't had "the bug" like this for a gun in quite a while. Really looking forward to getting my hands on it.
  8. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    Stans is correct in cautioning about a steady diet of .357 factory or hot loads in that Model 19, but understand that the gun is not weak. It will take a lot of shooting to affect it. With a Model 19, I usually fire .38 Special in practice, with just enough .357 to stay used to it. I did get a 686 but don't like it as well as the Model 19.

    If I wanted to shoot a LOT of .357 (I don't), I would haul out the Model 28, which will take anything.

  9. Johnny Guest

    Johnny Guest Moderator Emeritus

    The M19s are nice revolvers - - -

    I believe some of the reputation they got for "not standing up" to full ower loads is a bit undeserved.

    The 19 was conceived when practically ALL police firearms qualifications was done with .38 Special ammo, frequently with the 148 gr. wadcutter target loads. Most agencies which furnished sidearms issued .38s but allowed carry of privately purchased magnums, and some even allowed magnum loads on duty. A K-frame was a lot lighter to carry than an N-frame . . . .

    Agencies gradually issuing magnum revolvers, and frequently required qualifications with duty ammo. Suddenly, some revolvers which didn't shoot a couple of dozen magnum rounds per year began seeing a hundred or more per month. (Some cops DO practice regularly, I promise.)

    During this same period, the 125 gr. magnum loads became popular - - More velocity, more gas, more flame cutting. Some guns DID develop problems, leading to the idea that the K-frame didn't hold up well with full magnum loads. The Colt Troopers and Pythons and Ruger magnums began cutting into S&W sales. S&W did a big merchandising program and brought out the L-frame series. Clever, huh? Nothing wrong with trying to keep the HUGE market share they had, though, and the L-frame is indeed a more comfortable revolver in which to shoot magnum loads.

    Anyhow, there are a lot of shooters who run a lot of magnum loads, factory and handloads, through M19s, for years on end, with no apparent ill effects. It stands to reason the K-frame and the lockwork won't handle as MANY barn burning, rhino-rolling super mags as the heavier revolvers, but it takes a lot of standard-level magnum loads to mess up a good ol' model 19.

  10. MarineTech

    MarineTech Well-Known Member

    Thanks for the vote of confidence Johnny. Especially where I decided to pick up a second 19-4.

    This one's a 4" square butt model that looks almost unshot. The finish is a bit worn here and there, but the barrel is almost pristine and the lockup is like a bank vault on all 6 cylinders. Previous owner stated he had fired less than 100 rounds through it, and I can well believe it. It's the first used gun I ever bought that the patches came out unsoiled when I took it home and cleaned it.

    Can't wait to get it out to the range.

    Guess I'll ask the original question again for the new one. The serial number is 70K85XX. Any idea when it was built?
  11. C.R.Sam

    C.R.Sam Moderator Emeritus

    Looks like 1980

    4" 19 arguably one of the handiest all round handguns.

    I like all the 19s :)

  12. Sleuth

    Sleuth Well-Known Member

    The flame cutting mentioned was on the top strap, just above the rear of the barrel. It would cut to a point, and just stop.
    I carried a 2 1/2" M19 for years, still have it. They are fine revolvers, I just prefer to carry semi-autos.
    Everyone should have a 4" M19 (or 66), the most versitile handgun I know of.
  13. Jim K

    Jim K Well-Known Member

    FWIW, the "man behind" the Model 19 was Bill Jordan. He had used a .38 Combat Masterpiece, which later became the Model 15, and wanted the same size and weight gun in .357. S&W had a bit of a time coming up with steel and heat treatment that would allow the light K frame and small cylinder to take the heavy loads, but they did so and called it the Combat Magnum. It later became the Model 19.

    S&W always considered the gun as primarily a police gun, meaning to be carried more than shot (though Jordan sure shot his, and reportedly wore out several). While S&W never went around saying the Model 19 would not hold up, they always recommended the N frame guns (Models 27 and 28) for long term .357 use or use with heavy handloads.

    As to flame cutting, S&W told me the same thing as Sleuth says about it stopping. They used to machine an oval "hollow" into the topstrap in that area, but stopped doing that as a cost cutting measure.

    BTW, if you can get hold of a .38 Combat Masterpiece in good shape, grab it. They are a tiny bit lighter than the Model 19 (shorter cylinder), but AFAIK are good for .38 Special +P, so are not exactly popguns. And they are sometimes seen in police surplus sales for a relative pittance, since the Model 19 gets all the glory.


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