Pennsylvania Firearm Owners Association
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  1. #1
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    Default s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    So a few years ago a picked up a model 19-5 and I had probably on put 100 rounds threw it before I ran into a pinch and needed some quick cash (we've all been there right?) And ever since I had sold it I wanted another 357 double action. I had done some research on the model 19 and they just have such a great history behind em. My problem is I've read some stories about busted frames and forcing cones and throat erosion, all of which I'm not a fan of! Anyway on Friday I was picking up a gun at my local gun store that I had laid away and the guy asked if I needed anything else. Now the cash register is right beside the used case at this particular store and I told him uhh ya I need to see that model 19 right there. I've been lookin for another one ever since I'd sold my previous one. They're hard to come by at least they are down my way. Anyway the gun is a 19-3 and has a fair amount of holster wear and a few spots of rust from what looks like being handles then never wiped off. The gun locks up fairly tight still has the 4" barrel amd still has the wood combat grips on it. Needless to say it's awesome. I had to lay it away. I couldn't justify bringin home 2 handguns. My questions are for you smith aficionados out there. What are some things to look for on this particular model to tell if it's been abused? How can I identify throat erosion? And what would a decent price be for this said gun? I know there's no picture but like I said holster wear on barrel and very light pitting from handling (plans are to cerakote this firearm so I'm not too worried about the finish) also if any of you have one what's the deal with feeding it mag loads? I've heard that it's mainly only the light gran bullets you need to worry about. I'm not into beat in the cap out of my guns. I reload and I usually load middle of the road for everything I shoot. The gun will probably mostly see hot 158 grain 38 specials but every now and then you wanna shoot a few hopped up rounds, am I right? Any help would be awesome and thank you in advance!

  2. #2
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    I would have reccomended an L frame instead of the K but you put money on it. The L is beefed up in the places the K failed. The K is a 38sp all day no problem. The 110 grain 357 mag would crack the forcing cone. It has a flat on the bottom of the cone's outside for clearance and it's weaker because of it. It also flame cuts the top strap at the barrel cylinder gap. It can go pretty deep. They also beat the frame and yoke to make lock up sloppy. 581, 586, 686 will hold up much better. The 357 was developed in the N frame. Sticking it in the K frame made a nice carry gun, but still a gun made for 38sp. This year they put the 44mag in the L frame, the mod.69. Its a nice carry gun but I wonder if it's the mod19 all over again.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    Thanks gunsnwater I could pull the gun off lay away I really don't want to though I just love how the 19 feels. I'll check it over for flame cutting for sure when I go back

  4. #4
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    Good advice from this one article that has a specific note on the S&W K's to carefully check the lowest point at the back of the barrel. There is a thinner point for clearance of the ejector rod. Many cracks start there.
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B6Fh...hl=en_US&pli=1

    For those who haven't seen it before:
    http://thefiringline.com/Misc/librar...ver-check.html

    Have one from the early 70's that has been fed a diet of mainly mid cast loads and the occasional thumper. Hot loads with light bullets seem to be where the concern came from. 125 gr jacketed with Win 296 seem to come to mind. May want to search about it.
    Last edited by cephas; December 21st, 2014 at 07:23 AM.
    It ain't what they call you, it's what you answer to.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    Quote Originally Posted by cephas View Post
    For those who haven't seen it before:
    http://thefiringline.com/Misc/librar...ver-check.html
    ^
    This.

    Also, buggered up side plate screws are usually a dead giveaway that a "kitchen table gunsmith" may have been tinkering around with the lockwork.
    Tony
    412.310.7838
    http://www.fireinstitute.org

    "... there's trained and untrained" (Denzel Washington -- Man on Fire)

  6. #6
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    That's a hell of a write up there. Lots of good info! I checked the lock up already I didn't have a light to check the timing, I planned on it on my next trip. I'm mainly looking for spots to check for cracks. Seems pretty self explanatory though. Thanks for the help fellas

  7. #7
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    Spare barrels are made of unobtainium, in the event that yours or anyone's 19 does crack in the forcing cone. Pretty much left to scouring gun auction sites and paying asking prices. I've bought three 19 barrels for guns brought into two LGS over the past 5 years, and paid $365 for the last one, a 4". With labor to fit and tax, the 19's owner had a $489 bill for the replacement barrel, and no telling how many rounds down THAT pipe, or more importantly what kind.

    I once had seven K frame 357 revolvers, and I sold all but three Model 65LS's which get fired with medium loads using 158 gr bullets. I shoot my L and N frame 357s much more often.

    Noah
    I dream of an America where a chicken can cross the road without having its motives questioned.

  8. #8
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    Check out this video from Midway USA about inspecting a DA S&W
    http://youtu.be/95xjizDOrcc

  9. #9
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    Default Re: s&w model 19 what should I look for when buying one

    I caught the tail end of the revolver era. Carried one daily for a few years until the were replaced with the Beretta 9mm. Back then it was fairly well agreed upon that practicing with .38 specials and carrying .357's was the norm with the K frame .357's. Once in awhile running a few magnums through it for familiarity. So..... If you're looking for a revolver to pound magnums through there are better choices. The selling point to the K frames were a powerful, smallish, lite to carry package compared to other revolvers made at time.

    The barrel cracking was an issue usually attributed to shooting lite weight magnum loads as others have pointed out. You can see some pictures here and the area they tend to let go. https://www.google.com/search?q=s%26...g&ved=0CB0QsAQ

    The flame cutting of the top strap of the frame indicates a revolver that has seen some usage with usually warmer rounds. This is a normal process that is often blown out of proportion by many people IMHO. The flame cutting into the frame only extends so far then stops and the results are cosmetic. Our Air force M-15's had a half moon depression cut into the top strap to prevent this displacing far more metal than flame cutting ever would. If a revolver with evidence of flame cutting is otherwise sound it would be a nonissue to me.

    The process of checking the timing involves more than simply checking bore/cylinder alignment. The revolver should be checked to see that the cylinder stop and cylinder stop notch lock up the cylinder for each chamber/charge hole. This should be checked in both single and double action. In the DA mode the cylinder should lock before the hammer falls on a S&W. In single action it should be locked when the hammer is cocked. Some people do this check painfully slow, others do this check in a normal manner. Doing it slow is usually when a revolver fails this check and may tip you off to a revolver that is slow timed. Still safe to use under normal usage but an indication that a new hand may soon need to be installed.

    Looking for play in the cylinder is important too. One thing to keep in mind is a revolver is made of moving parts. There has to be some play for it to work. All revolvers will loosen up after time and usage. The fore and aft play can be fixed with yoke and/or endshake bearings. But this is usually an indication of a well used revolver.

    There are still plenty of low mileage model 19's, finding one without these issues would not be too hard. If your revolver develops these issues through use they are usually easy to fix.

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