S&W Model 19 Carry Comp Rides Again!

The Model 19 Carry Comp is a way of paying homage to a classic, with all the new treats from the Performance Center.

It’s a predictable cycle. A popular product starts to lose its position in the marketplace and is eventually discontinued. Years later, renewed interest or nostalgia – or simple business research brings it back. This ‘rising from the ashes’ phenomenon has brought back a beautifully feathered Phoenix this time – the Smith & Wesson Model 19 .357 Magnum! Originally developed in the mid 1950’s as the “if I could make me one, it would be like this” brainchild of Bill Jordan – and dubbed the Combat Magnum (before Smith started assigning model numbers), it was an instant success and was soon on the hip of many serious peace officers across the United States. In the classic version, the K-Frame platform fit more people’s hands better than the larger L-Frame models and provided better trigger control. Better trigger control means better accuracy, and that means officers’ lives saved. That classic model ceased production some 20 years ago in the blued variety – but as if 19 was an abbreviation for 2019, Smith is re-issuing the M19 in the Classic Series.

S&W also provides this synthetic grip, which completely transforms the personality of the gun.

But what I’m here to tell you about is even nicer news than that (in my ever-so-humble opinion)! Along with the reproduction of the Model 19 Classic comes the Performance Centers interpretation of the gun, dubbed the Model 19 Carry Comp. “Carry” because the barrel has been shortened to 3” and the pistol has been fitted with a nicely curved custom wood boot grip. It’s amazing how versatile the K-Frame can be, growing or shrinking in size depending on the barrel and the stocks. The “Comp” comes from the compensated barrel design – which vents hot gasses directly upward when fired, helping to keep the muzzle rise to a minimum and reduce felt recoil. Smith & Wesson has dubbed it the “PowerPort”, though try as I may I was unable to charge my phone with it. It is this single feature of the gun, I am convinced, that is the secret sauce to making this the best .357 Magnum I’ve ever shot.

Bevels and rounded corners are not only pleasing to the eye, but make the gun more snag-free for carry.

The Performance Center at Smith and Wesson is well known for taking a basic model firearm and re-imagining it in terms of not just giving it a better trigger and a PC emblem, but really thinking about what can make the gun a better gun to use. In the case of the Model 19, this manifests as a ‘less is more’ type of package that includes the aforementioned PowerPort, a Tritium® Night Sight set into the generous and nicely serrated front sight blade, a trigger overtravel stop, and of course – the very nicely PC tuned action. The attention was paid to improving the performance of the revolver and not just at adding bling. In fact, aside from the gorgeous wood stocks and the Performance Center roll mark on the barrel and medallion on the frame, the gun is very ordinary looking at first glance.

The front sight is tall with anti-glare serrations and a Tritium dot.

But, as you look closer, you see that the folks at Smith have sculptured an elegant and highly functional revolver. All the edges and joints are soft. The cylinder has been beveled for a ‘de-horned’ look and feel, something that is very practical for a carry gun. The wood stocks fit the butt of the gun so well that at first, you will think it is one single piece of wood. But it is indeed two – fitted together with seamless perfection and held by a couple of internal guide pins and the traditional Smith single screw.

The custom wood boot stocks on the M19 Carry Comp are not only beautiful but provide a very nice grasp on the handgun.

But wait – there’s more! The PC also includes a set of synthetic grips with the Carry Comp, should you prefer those. And, remember what I said about the stocks transforming a revolver? The black synthetic grips make this blued 3” revolver look instantly more tactical and serious. It looks like an entirely different gun, and to some extent feels much different too. Another element that escapes most visual inspections is the barrel design. Smith and Wesson chose to use a two-piece barrel for the Model 19, with a stainless-steel barrel inserted into a carbon steel sleeve. They say this not only adds to the life of the barrel, and greatly reduces manufacturing complexity, but also adds to the accuracy of the gun.

The author found himself drawn to the M19 Carry Comp like a moth to a … well you know.

SHOOTING THE CARRY COMP

It may be a cardinal sin for a gun writer to say this, but I am not a big fan of the recoil from the .357 magnum round. In fact, in small guns I find it to be about as pleasant as having the palm of my hand struck with the thin end of a baseball bat. So, when I picked up this K-Frame with a 3-inch barrel for the first time and dropped six rounds of SIG Sauer’s Elite Performance .357 Mag V-Crown into the cylinder, I prepared myself to endure what one must endure when testing such a handgun. After the first pull of the trigger, my senses were a bit confused. After the second pull, I must have looked like the RCA Victor dog with his head cocked to one side. And after the third, the lip that I was expecting to start quivering was actually stretching into a smile. That smile stayed on my face the entire time I shot the Carry Comp – each and every time.

The PowerPort pushes out hot gasses to help keep the muzzle down and bleeds recoil energy. It’s no gimmick – it makes a world of difference.

Yes, I knew that the Performance Center had ported the barrel in an effort to compensate the recoil, but I have to admit that I had no idea they’d done such a great job! Shooting full power .357 magnum loads such as SIG, Federal, and Hornady felt like – at most – .38 Special +P. I was also expecting the beautiful but quite firm and unyielding wood stocks to be uncomfortable to shoot, but here again, I was taught a lesson. The ergonomics of the custom boot grips are very good and combined with the round butt and gentle finger curves at the front, there is no slipping or jumping in the hand. They give one a confident grasp on the gun and provide excellent trigger reach.

Unlike most smaller .357’s, the Carry Comp remains polite to the shooter even with full power loads.

And speaking of the trigger, that is the heart and soul of a Performance Center revolver. The double action rolls smoothly and evenly without stacking. There are no hesitation points in the action, and while you can learn to predict the travel and break, there is no discernable stage point that I could feel. The hammer just continues to move smoothly rearward until it falls. This buttery smooth double action is what Smith and Wesson built its name on. The single action is, as one would expect, very light and very crisp, with absolutely no take-up or overtravel. The latter is ensured by the addition of an overtravel stop that is non-adjustable.

The trigger stop is not adjustable. It is a roll pin set by the Performance Center. On this copy, it is within just a few thousandths of an inch of contact.

The hammer spur is perhaps the one feature I might wish to change on the M19 Carry Comp. The PC version of the Model 19 has the more pointed spur that tends to hit me right in the inner part of my thumb’s first joint and digs in. I generally prefer the more spade-style hammer spur that I believe is used on the Model 19 Classic version of the gun. That said, the hammer spur is nicely sized and very well knurled. The trigger face is smooth and the trigger shoe itself is decently radiused to provide a comfortable, smooth pull. My digital gauge concluded that the double action pulls at just under 11 lbs., and the single action at just shy of 6 lbs. I had a tough time buying those results and re-tested several times because those numbers belie the smooth and lighter feel.

As the business end of the Carry Comp attests, this baby is strictly business.

The rear sight is fully adjustable, and my copy of the Carry Comp was printing about a foot low inside 20 yards. The sight was set all the way down, so after some adjusting, I got the groups where I wanted them. This caused me to wonder if the sight is not deliberately set low to prevent damage to it in transit and handling. The front sight is high and the ramp is nicely serrated, like the steps of a Mayan temple. Inlaid at the altar of that temple is a small vile of Tritium® that provides a nice pinpoint sight in daylight or in total darkness.

The fit and finish of the M19 Carry Comp is everything you’d expect from the Performance Center.

I find the Model 19 Carry Comp easy to shoot well. It’s a natural pointer, has very nice sights and excellent ergonomics. This, combined with the ported barrel that not only tames recoil but reduces muzzle lift, allows you to get off several shots quickly while keeping the sights on target. Something nearly impossible to do with a traditional small .357 Mag. Of course, if you want to practice or just plink with lighter loads, you can shoot .38 Special too.

Six SIG V-Crowns, reporting for duty!

To test accuracy – let me rephrase that, to test my ability to shoot this gun accurately – I used three loads of .357 Magnum self-defense rated ammo and one load of Fiocchi .38 Special for comparison. I fired six rounds of each from 15 yards on a sandbag rest – all shots single action. Results were consistent among all four groups, with the best three shots from each being well under one inch.

Shooting results at 15 yards from sandbag rest. All loads were .357 mag except the Fiocchi, which was 38 Special.

JUST MY OPINION

Wheel guns seem to be making a resurgence in popularity. Not long ago scoffed at as “ancient technology”, it seems that many shooters – and refreshingly many young shooters – are finding out that a good revolver is not just fun and reliable to shoot, but also a work of art in many cases. There is something to be enjoyed about an all steel handgun that’s only motion is caused by the manipulation of the shooter. Revolvers can inherently handle more pressure than most semi-autos as well, which might be appealing to the new surge of popularity for heavy-hitting handgun calibers, with which .357 magnum still holds its head high. Whatever the reason, it is good to see fine revolvers in vogue – and they don’t come much finer than from the Smith & Wesson Performance Center.

Unlike the polished and blued M19 Classic, the Carry Comp is first bead blasted to a satin surface and then blued, giving it a matte black finish.

The Model 19 Carry Comp is just small enough that it could realistically be considered for daily concealed carry, yet it’s added weight and most of all, its ported barrel makes it a tame shooter, even when loaded for bear. That makes it a gun you’ll enjoy shooting and practicing with. Many folks I know prefer to carry a bottom-fed semi-auto outside the home but rely on a stout revolver to protect home and hearth. This gun would be ideal for home defense duty. With the manageable recoil and smaller K-Frame, most members of the household who might need to, could handle it and deliver maximum stopping power to an immediate threat. One of the common drawbacks to a ported barrel, particularly for home defense, is the inherent muzzle flash. I watch closely for signs of excessive flash from this gun and saw none. Having a 3” barrel rather than a 2” or 1 ½” barrel means that most of the powder is ignited before the bullet escapes the barrel, so the fire trail of burning powder that we see as ‘muzzle flash’ is much less. The other thing I love about the 3” barrel is the balance of the handgun. I find the Model 19 Carry Comp to be zero percent gimmick or fluff, and 100 percent serious business.

Although the PowerPort greatly reduces recoil and muzzle lift, it does not produce any vertical flash to impair the shooter’s vision.
One element the new productions don’t get is counter-bored cylinders. Most likely for the same reason the practice was discontinued in the past – it’s expensive to do.

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{ 33 comments… add one }
  • Ray February 5, 2021, 6:39 am

    Information on gun that was on your opening page. Looked like silver S&W mod. 10

  • Todd December 23, 2019, 12:19 pm

    I’m continually at a loss to understand why they will market a pistol as being for carry, conceal, practicality…. whatever, and still put those standard, snaggy and ultimately overly adjustable rear sights on.

    Too, that trigger roll pin should be a constant and unforgettable corporate embarrassment to S&W. “Performance Center”? That roll pin is more like “Bubba Center”,

    Todd.

  • Wally December 23, 2019, 8:17 am

    Once again Justin has done an excellent job describing and putting this Smith & Wesson through its paces. I have one of these and agree with almost everything he has described in the video. Why Smith & Wesson didn’t produce more 3 inch model 19s and 66s over the years is beyond me. The balance and full length ejector rod make it ideal for any kind of carry. I carry mine in a Milt Sparks HSR, made for the 3 inch K frame and have no complaints. It is hard to believe any 3 inch medium frame revolver would behave like this one with full house .357 magnum loads, but it does.

    Now for a few minor issues I have with the S & W Carry-Comp 19. For these old eyes, the sights have a lot to be desired. The rear sight blade is very short and the front too wide for fast daylight or low light target acquisition. I have installed a gold bead that is much easier to see A florescent insert in red or yellow would improve this combination. If anyone has noticed, S & W cylinders and yokes no longer disassemble as they have in the past. The ejector rod disassembly tool I have no longer works with the new Smith and Wessons. Apparently Smith & Wesson is having the same problem with assembly as there are tool marks (pliers) on the knurled end of the ejector rod. I only mention this as it makes cleaning powder fowling in this area difficult.

    Like some, I was not fond of the grips that were included with the gun. I now use old standard K-frame round butt magna grips or an old set of rubber Uncle Mikes SPEGEL BOOT GRIPS. The Uncle Mikes SPEGEL’S are no longer made and in my opinion were the best after-market rubber grip ever made for the round butt J and K frame S&Ws. Smith and Wesson has also changed the dimensions of their frames enough where none of my old SPEGEL wood grips will fit without modification.

    All of these issues are minor and I would buy this gun again without hesitation. Now we need a blue 3 inch Carry-Comp, L-frame, 5 shot, .44 mag/.44spec.. As for Paul J’s comment, S&W has not machined off the bottom of the barrel of this gun. Not positive, but don’t believe any of their new guns have this modification.

  • Tim December 23, 2019, 7:00 am

    I have an old model 19 round butt with a 2-1/2″ barrel. I also have a model 13 with a 4″ barrel. I can shoot either out to 50 yds, (our old qualification distance) without dropping a round. They are fantastic little revolvers. I don’t know why Smith ported the barrels on these. I have never felt the recoil was harsh or unmanageable on my old guns. Certainly not enough to put up with the additional muzzle report that a ported barrel makes. I also can’t warm up to the two piece barrel. Why reinvent the wheel? I am glad Smith is still producing revolvers. I just wished they were a little more traditional and had a bit more refinement like they once had.

  • Mark October 14, 2019, 11:00 pm

    I love my new M-19 Carry Comp. No complaints or concerns at all.
    Everything that I have loaded it it preforms great. No problems with muzzle flash.
    Now if I could find a LEFT HANDED holster, I would carry it everyday.

  • Rich Dotero June 25, 2019, 7:23 pm

    HI, Great article and good “Hands on” this current M19, I probably will buy my own. But some facts askew. I think you meant to refer to the N frame in your first paragraph, since the K frame came before the L. ( S & W could not choose the “L” first) Also K & L frames have same trigger reach–the N has a bigger frame feel and longer trigger reach. As mentioned above, Bill Jordan not Jeff Cooper was the inspiration behind the Combat Magnum. Were you too young at that time or not a huge Smith & Wesson fan?

  • Damon Bryant June 13, 2019, 7:56 am

    Very well said. Especially the “spray and pray” practice with 9mm.

  • Suddenimpact June 10, 2019, 10:25 pm

    Well, starting off, the weapon remake is very nice looking. I have the S&W 65-2 stainless steel, 4 in., .357 Magnum, heavy barrel model which is a remake of the original K frame Model 19. It was a great model the (M 19). I will agree with Clarence about the price though, expensive for a revolver, and only 6 rounds. I love my 65-2 though but it\’s not my EDC gun because too many semi-auto weapons out there with large capacity magazines. A revolver does make a great backup gun but then again it\’s heavy too. My 65-2 is extremely accurate, it had to be rebuilt by S&W after I bought it because it was manufactured in Mexico and they messed it up down there. So when I got it back it was excellent. It does concern me about the shooting test results that I saw in the shooting test pictures on here. Those groups were not really that good. I am hoping it was the ammunition or the shooter that was having a problem and not the weapon. Oh, I paid $312 for my S&W 65-2 in 1980 and that was expensive in those days.

  • Suddenimpact June 10, 2019, 10:24 pm

    Well, starting off, the weapon remake is very nice looking. I have the S&W 65-2 stainless steel, 4 in., .357 Magnum, heavy barrel model which is a remake of the original K frame Model 19. It was a great model the (M 19). I will agree with Clarence about the price though, expensive for a revolver, and only 6 rounds. I love my 65-2 though but it’s not my EDC gun because too many semi-auto weapons out there with large capacity magazines. A revolver does make a great backup gun but then again it’s heavy too. My 65-2 is extremely accurate, it had to be rebuilt by S&W after I bought it because it was manufactured in Mexico and they messed it up down there. So when I got it back it was excellent. It does concern me about the shooting test results that I saw in the shooting test pictures on here. Those groups were not really that good. I am hoping it was the ammunition or the shooter that was having a problem and not the weapon. Oh, I paid $312 for my S&W 65-2 in 1980 and that was expensive in those days.

  • Josang, Dag E. June 10, 2019, 4:23 pm

    Wish S&W had these Performance Center “stock” pieces when we still carried revolvers @CHP. We could not modify our wheelguns, they had to be factory stock, and were inspected annually—I even had to remove a set of after-market tritium night sights because of our policy-wonk range officer😡. We could provide our own weapons in lieu of state-issue piece (as long as it was Smith or Colts) as long as it was stock. I would have loved to have submitted for inspection a “stock” gun that had already been “loved on” by the factory—that would have made some teeth grind, but it was “factory stock.” Oh, well…

  • FirstStateMark June 10, 2019, 2:55 pm

    I have the original model 19-3 in all 3 barrel lengths. 2 1/2, 4 & 6″ barrels. I would like to have the this one in the 3″ barrel but the price is turning me away. Sorry S&W but I’ll have to pass on this one.

  • alex duschrre June 10, 2019, 2:23 pm

    had an early mode 19 used for hunting Found it excellent and performed very well and was either 5″ or 6″barrel. But for a backup gun for a killing shot ,I opted for a compact lite revolver caliber .22 WRM model
    51 Smith and Wesson. I eventually sold the model 19 which I am sorry for but I still have the 51.

  • Richie June 10, 2019, 1:42 pm

    Stocks are to short, not the same quality as the old 19…. but not bad, I’ll stick too my 27- 3in”

  • Leonard June 10, 2019, 1:23 pm

    My favorite S&W wheel gun, my carry choice, is a Model 13 with a 3″ bbl, and round butt. It was a special order run for the FBI in the 70s and was unique for years until it was reissued for the general public.
    My trigger was reworked, and I used a dab of bright yellow enamel on the front site. It always shot where it was pointed, and being a .357 magnum, was easily controlled with rubber grips.
    I see the trend these days is to go to 9mm pistols, but I see them as bullet sprayers, while my wheel gun seems to point naturally. I am big enough and practiced enough that this caliber is not a hardship. I like the 125 gr. H.P.

  • Pete Farris June 10, 2019, 12:07 pm

    I’m pleased to say I’ve never been called upon to fire a revolver or pistol in a distress situation. However, in my experience shooting a ported revolver in low light, I wouldn’t want to need a quick follow-up shot.

  • nate June 10, 2019, 12:01 pm

    I love me some 357 mag but it’s going to hurt to shoot. Yes it’s a 3 inch barrel but it’s ported too. I’m not sure how many people will use this as they carry unless their walking around with hearing protection.

  • Alvin J Reber Jr June 10, 2019, 11:46 am

    I, am not sure why the L-frame was even brought up … when I, was in high school… there was the J-frame, K-frame and N-frame… when cracking started appearing on the K-frame due to so much high-power .357 mag being shot thru it.. Smith & Wesson developed the L-frame… Ruger also upgraded to the slightly larger revolver. would I, like the new K-frame.. yes.. but at a 1,000. well.. I, would rather save my money.

  • Paul J June 10, 2019, 10:55 am

    My S&W Model 19, 6″ barrel is over 45 years old. I stopped using .357 Magnum 125gr JHP loads (MV: 1,450 fps & ME: 583 ft-lb) years ago. S&W machined off the bottom of the barrel inside the K frame, and it was stated this resulted in barrel cracking. Has this been remedied allowing the return to full power .357 Magnum loads?

  • Gary Baxter June 10, 2019, 10:28 am

    I will stick with my Ruger SP101 3″.

  • CHUCK MELLETTE June 10, 2019, 10:00 am

    MIM Parts?

  • Sky Buster June 10, 2019, 9:57 am

    For well over 100 plus years, S&W threaded their barrels directly onto the frame.
    Now, they seen to have lost the ability to do that, so they use a two piece barrel with
    a retaining nut. Not good! If the nut loosen’s, you could have have the barrel come off.
    S&W, you can do better!

  • Wayne June 10, 2019, 9:49 am

    Think Mr. Ryder above, had a 2 1/2 model 19 and not a 2 3/4 inch gun. There were a few made with 3 inch barrels, but they are rare and in my opinion were the perfect model 19. They had a full length ejector rod and were well balanced. Model 19s back then went for $145 retail and discounts were unheard of. If revolvers are for you, this gun should fill the bill. Smith and Wesson should have used this set-up on the short barreled model 69, .44 mag. Justin did an excellent job on the run-down of this gun……..

  • Vic June 10, 2019, 9:18 am

    That is the most ugly thing I have seen in a long time..

  • Griffendad June 10, 2019, 8:52 am

    I have the S&W L-586 comp. same gun, 7 shot, also came with two grips. $900 around 5 years ago. Shoots soft with the rubber grips, great piece.

  • Stephen M. Ryder June 10, 2019, 6:06 am

    I carried a Model 19 when I was a detective 50 years ago. Back then it had a 2.75 inch barrel. It was a work of art although expensive (at the time) @ $135. It had muzzle jump and a muzzle flash you had to see to believe. It had a report like a piece of field artillery and was accurate as hell with a phenomenal trigger pull. I used to say that you don’t have to hit anybody with your first shot, because the sound and the fury alone would scare the bejesus out of them – any maybe the wind of the bullet going by would knock them off their feet. Sadly, I had to get rid of it because even though it had a small round butt with tiny factory grips, it was in no way concealable on my [then] trim frame. The new one apparently has extended the barrel .25 inch to accommodate the port – a wise move and the extra weight was also needed. Too bad it doesn’t wear the magnificent bluing job the old one had.

  • Greg June 10, 2019, 6:02 am

    Don’t suppose there is a left handed model? Oh well

  • Tracy Paul Balthazor June 8, 2019, 8:02 pm

    Fantasic guns, kimbers 6s are ugly like all glocks, and guns are like cars to me , id rather have a great looking 9 second car than a 8 second ugly car

  • Mark N. June 8, 2019, 2:02 am

    Yes, those wood stocks are pretty, but on a short barreled .357 I would stick with the three fingered grip of the synthetic grips. Now truth be told, I have never shot a compensated revolver, but contrary to what the author said, several comments I have read over the years have been by people who have dumped them because the flash obscured the sights. I have to believe that the sights would completely disappear if you touched off a round at night, I would prefer to just add another inch to tame recoil.

    • Michael Wurn April 4, 2020, 5:09 pm

      Look at the picture in the article, see any flash from the port? I believe the author.

  • AndyH June 8, 2019, 12:44 am

    It was Bill Jordan, not Jeff Cooper, who consulted on the design of the original Combat Magnum.

  • AndyH June 7, 2019, 9:30 pm

    Bill Jordan, not Jeff Cooper, consulted on the development of the original Combat Magnum

  • Frank mcdonnell June 7, 2019, 2:50 pm

    Kimber pricing rarely dip far from MSRP since thry only sell through dealership agreements. S&W don’t restrict sales locations, so you’ll see Model 19 Performance Center Powerport models in the early $900’s, think the lowest I saw was $892. K6S is a nice gun, I have the 2″, but no fun to shoot 357magnum.

  • Clarence Trotter June 7, 2019, 11:50 am

    So far I liked what I saw on the video. The only thing that can concern me is the price. Kimber recently came out with a 357 sub compact with a elegant design, u mean some serious craftsmanship was put into that gun. The amenities on the gun mirror that of the Smith and Wesson model. The Kimber price is $900.00, this new Smith and Wesson is a little over a grand!!! That’s too much for a comp 6 shot.

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