Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
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Thread: Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

  1. #1
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    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    Review: Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    Richard Nance - June 12, 2019

    To call the Model 19 a classic .357 Magnum revolver is a bit of an understatement. Introduced in the late 1950s, the Model 19 was the result of a collaborative effort between famed Border Patrol agent, gunfighter and author Bill Jordan and Smith & Wesson.

    At the time, .357 Magnum revolvers were built on the N frame. Jordanís goal was for Smith & Wesson to develop a magnum revolver built on the lighter, more compact K frame, which had been chambered in .38 Special. Cops werenít fond of wearing bulky .357 Magnum-chambered sidearms, yet they didnít want to be relegated to carrying a .38 Special. The challenge was to design a smaller-framed revolver that was wieldier than the N frame yet could stand up to the considerable pressure associated with .357 Magnum loads.

    Originally termed the Combat Magnum, the Model 19 quickly earned a reputation as a reliable defensive handgun and police duty sidearm. Its four-inch barrel and adjustable rear sights made it a favorite among cops, who often had the action tuned for a smoother trigger pull. It was undoubtedly more comfortable to carry than the bulkier N-frame revolvers it was intended to replace.

    Cops were so enamored with the Model 19 that Smith & Wesson produced an extended barreled variant for patrolmen and a snubnosed version for plainclothes or off-duty officers. The Model 19 was the sidearm of choice for the American cop from the late 1950s until the early 1980s, when higher-capacity and faster-to-load, semiautomatic pistols changed the game.

    Smith & Wesson stopped manufacturing the Model 19 in 1999, and while youíre not likely to find a six-shooter like the Model 19 on an officerís hip these days, it remains relevant as a home-defense and concealed-carry gun.

    Nostalgia aside, revolvers are an underrated option for personal defense. While they donít have the ammunition capacity of most semiautomatic pistols, they are still around for a reason: They are easy to operate and are the gold standard in reliability.

    With a revolver, there are no ďfailure to feedĒ or ďfailures to ejectĒ malfunctions you need to worry about clearing. If the revolver doesnít go bang when you pull the trigger, just pull the trigger again. Also, revolvers like the Model 19 donít require the user to manipulate a safety, which if engaged or disengaged inappropriately could have catastrophic consequences. Simplicity breeds reliability, and with a revolver you can trust your life on its point-and-shoot operability.

    Recently, the Smith & Wesson Performance Center revamped the tried-and-true Model 19. The Performance Center updated the design, resulting in a custom revolver right out of the box. Dubbed the Carry Comp, this ďnewĒ revolver retains all the familiar features that made the Model 19 a classic. But the Carry Comp isnít a mere reproduction. Itís an improvement.

    Like its predecessors, the Carry Comp is constructed of a blued carbon-steel frame and cylinder, but the Carry Compís finish is bead-blasted rather than polished as the original Model 19 was.

    The Carry Comp also features a stainless steel barrel. However, the barrel on the Carry Comp veers significantly from the original. For starters, the Carry Compís barrel is just three inches long, making it easy to conceal, and yet it still provides a sufficient sight radius for accuracy.

    The PowerPort barrel significantly reduces muzzle flip, making the Carry Comp controllable even with .357 Magnum loads. The front sight incorporates a tritium lamp.

    The PowerPort vented barrel aids in recoil management, which is always a concern when shooting .357 Magnum rounds. Controlling your revolver in recoil doesnít just mean a more comfortable shooting experience. In a self-defense scenario, this is what enables you to fire potentially lifesaving rapid and accurate follow-up shots.

    The Carry Compís rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation. Unlike the original Model 19, the Carry Compís Trijicon front sight blade features a tritium insert, which provides todayís shooter the ability to see the front sight even in darkened environments.

    The front of the cylinder on the Carry Comp is slightly beveled for easy holstering, and you wonít find a rough edge anywhere on it. Its contours make the gun comfortable to handle and, more importantly, easy to draw from concealment.

    The original Model 19 with a 2.5-inch barrel featured a boot grip, and the four- and six-inch versions had a square grip. The Carry Comp sports a beautiful, checkered custom wood boot grip, which is rounded and smooth to keep the revolver from snagging on a garment when drawn but has just enough texturing to keep it from sliding around in your hand when firing. The boot grip also minimizes printing when carrying concealed.

    The boot grip is checkered for a sure grip and easy concealability, and if you want even more control, plus a bit of recoil mitigation, the gun also comes with a synthetic grip.

    The Carry Comp also comes with a rubberized boot grip option. The rubber grip dampens felt recoil and also makes the gun even more stable in the hand than the smooth wood grips. You get both grip options with the gun, so you can experiment to see which you prefer. As an aftermarket option, you can buy a Crimson Trace grip that would afford you the benefits of an aiming laser.

    Itís hard to argue with six shots of .357 or even .38, and the Carry Comp delivers them accurately, thanks in part to a finely tuned trigger.

    As you would expect from a Performance Center gun, the Carry Compís action has been fine-tuned. The trigger features an overtravel stop, which I didnít touch because there was no overtravel. The trigger is quite smooth in double action. According to my trigger pull gauge, it broke at 11 pounds, five ounces. In single action, the trigger broke at four pounds, 11 ounces. Thatís an excellent revolver trigger. The relatively flat and wide trigger face provides solid purchase for a smooth and efficient trigger pull.

    The hammer has been rounded to mitigate snagging, and itís knurled for optimal purchase to cock and decock the revolver. While itís not necessarily an option in a rapidly evolving defensive scenario, having the ability to cock the hammer for a short, crisp single-action trigger pull could save the day when accuracy is paramount.

    The rear sight is fully adjustable, which is important for a gun that can shoot a wide variety of loads. The topstrap is grooved to prevent glare.

    For accuracy testing, I braced the Carry Comp on a sandbag and shot several single-action groups at 15 yards with six loads: three .357 Magnum loads and three .38 Special +P loads. Despite the additional velocity and associated increased recoil, the Carry Comp proved equally accurate with the. 357 loads and the .38 Special +P loads. Itís worth noting that at 25 yards my rounds were hitting a foot low and eight inches left, but this was easily corrected by turning the rear sightís adjustment screws.

    Being far more accustomed to the comparatively short and light trigger pull of a semiautomatic pistol, I wasnít sure what type of accuracy to expect from the finely tuned Carry Comp. As you can see in the accompanying chart, the Carry Comp produced predictably accurate results, averaging two inches for the .38 Special loads and roughly the same for the .357 loads. The Hornady .357 load in particular printed tight groups, even better than the .38s

    Between the weight and the PowerPort, the Carry Comp is surprisingly soft-shooting for a .357 Magnum-chambered revolver.

    Thanks to its bullet weight, the ARX .357 load felt like shooting a .38 Special, and that made it easy to shoot well. While fun to shoot and definitely an interesting concept, I think Iíd stick to more traditionally weighted .357 loads for personal or home defense.

    With the accuracy testing complete, I shot various loads at seven yards double action, which is the most likely way youíd fire it in a defensive, concealed-carry scenario. When slow-firing, I was able to keep tight groups, reminiscent of the rested single-action groups. Of course, when I picked up the pace, the groups widened. Still, even when I shot as quickly as I could pull the trigger, I was able to shoot fist-size groups, which is more than sufficient for personal defense.

    The Carry Comp is an excellent revolver for personal or home defense. It strikes the right balance of concealability and shootability. It carries better than a full-size revolver but is much easier to shoot than a snubbieĖespecially when loaded in .357 Magnum.

    At 34 ounces, the Carry Comp is not light, but it is compact and comfortable to wear, and the rounded edges and boot grip make it a cinch to conceal. Best of all, it is comfortingly reliable and accurate. The PowerPort vented barrel reduces muzzle flip, allowing for more control, and the tritium front sight enables you to aim even in total darkness.

    If youíre a fan of the Model 19, youíre going to love the new and improved Carry Comp. Itís the rare sequel that is better than the original. Whether for concealed carry or home defense, the Carry Comp is the last revolver youíll ever need.

    Notes: Accuracy results are averages of four five-shot groups at 15 yards from a sandbag rest. Velocities are averages of 10 shots measured with an Oehler 35P 12 feet from the muzzle. Abbreviations: JHP, jacketed hollowpoint; JSP, jacketed softpoint

    TYPE: double-action/single-action revolver
    CALIBER: .357 Magnum
    BARREL: 3 in.
    OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH: 8/5/1.5 in.
    WEIGHT: 34 oz.
    CONSTRUCTION: carbon steel cylinder and frame; stainless steel barrel
    GRIPS: custom wood and synthetic, supplied
    SIGHTS: black adjustable rear, tritium front blade
    TRIGGER: single action, 4 lb., 11 oz. pull; double action, 11 lb., 5 oz. pull
    PRICE: $1,092
    MANUFACTURER: Smith & Wesson,

    wreagan, M700, Ret_Eng and 4 others like this.
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  2. #2
    Marlin Marksman
    Join Date
    Nov 2013
    36.01 N 84.05 W East Tenn
    Member #
    3886 times
    That is a good looking gun. I just wish S&W could see fit to quick putting that stupid hole in the side of the frame.
    WLR in E TN

    Proud to be called "Papaw, Redneck, Hillbilly, Infidel, Fanatic, Patriot, Southern"
    Benefactor Member

  3. #3
    Contributing Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2004
    Washington State
    Member #
    22228 times
    I sure like my old Model 19, and the new one looks good too!

    The finish on mine was pitted and worn. I was told it was too bad for a traditional re-blue, so I had Cerakote applied a couple of years ago. Looks good now!


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  5. #4
    Join Date
    Dec 2008
    Western North Dakota
    Member #
    1098 times
    I notice that the breech end of the barrel is not cut flat on the bottom for yoke clearance.
    For me, the "safety" lock on this gun removes it from use as a defensive weapon. The device can and does malfunction, locking up the revolver.
    My wife and I each have 1965 vintage 2 1/2 inch M19s which are wonderful revolvers. When Smith brings those guns back with out improvements, they will have a winner.
    To paraphrase Ronald Reagan, the trouble with many shooting experts is not that they're ignorant; its just that they know so much that isn't so.

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