S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp: Belch Fire And Leave No Empties Behind

Authors Gun Reviews Handguns Revolvers Robert Sadowski
S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp with Pachmyr speed loader

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

The Smith & Wesson Model 19 is iconic. In the mid-20th century, wheel guns were standard issue to law enforcement. So S&W tapped a Border Patrol Agent who knew how to get things done. Bill Jordan was that Border Patrol Agent. With a double-action revolver, Jordan could draw, fire, and hit a target in .27 of a second. You could say he was the last of the fast-draw gunfighters.

Jordan had an idea back in the 1950s; S&W should adapt their medium-sized, K-frame double-action revolver to accommodate the 357 Magnum cartridge. Jordan referred to the idea as a “peace officer’s dream” because the revolver would be lightweight for all-day carry and have the punch of the 357 Magnum round. The K-frame was smaller and lighter than the N-frame used on S&W’s revolver chambered in 357 Magnum. The K-frame was given the Model 19 name and went on to become one of the most popular revolvers in S&W’s stable of double-action revolvers. Like I said, iconic.

barrel of S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp
The S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp was introduced in 1999.

Smith & Wesson manufactured the Model 19 from 1957 through 1999, but it didn’t go calmly into the night. The revolver was resurrected in 2018 as the Model 19 Classic in a deep blued finish and old-school magna-style checkered wood grips. In stainless steel, it is called the Model 66.

Performance Center Alchemy

In 2019 S&W Performance Center introduced the Model 19 Carry Comp specifically tweaked for EDC. There are two models, one with a 2.5-inch barrel and one with a 3-inch barrel. The feature you notice first is the gapping port on the top of the barrel between the front sight and the muzzle. S&W calls it a PowerPort and this vent is designed for better recoil management. Does it work? Yes, you will see a noticeable reduction in muzzle flip, but I’m getting ahead of the story.

The Carry Comp also features a tritium front night sight, trigger over travel stop, checkered wood and synthetic boot grips, and a tuned action that’s as smooth as butter. I know that’s a cliche but it is a nice trigger. 

Smith and Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
The wood grip on the S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp fills your hand yet is compact for easier concealed carry.

The cylinder is beveled making it easier to re-holster the Carry Comp and all the edges are smooth, not sharp. The finish is a matte blue. The trigger and hammer are case colored. My sample has a 2.5-inch barrel. The position of the port shortens the sight radius, but that is a fair trade-off for more control? The ejector rod is full length to toss empties with authority. The rear sight is a fully adjustable notch and the facing edge is serrated to reduce glare. The Trijicon front ramp sight is serrated for the same reason. The tritium tube on the front sight glows making the front east and easy to acquire.

Smith and Wesson Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp with Trijicon front sight.
The S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp features a Trijicon serrated ramp front sight.

Ported Recoil Control

The PowerPort or compensator pukes out burning gases and other nasty debris from the top of the barrel to drive down the muzzle during recoil. It literally spews fire to tame muzzle flip. The grip is another factor in taming recoil. The Carry Comp comes with a larger rubber grip that makes shooting a hot 357 Magnum very tolerable, but it also makes concealing the revolver a bit more difficult. I prefer the smallish checkered wood grips which are similar to the Eagle Grip Secret Service grip. There is a one-finger groove to anchor your grip.

The area behind the trigger is filled so no battered knuckles and the grip abruptly ends at the frame butt for easier concealment. If you have a large hand your small will curl under the butt. The grip also has a bit of palm swell to fill your hand, making it feel like a full-size grip. The left side of the grip is scooped out so you can use HKS and Pachmayr style speed loaders.

S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp ported barrel
The Model 19 Carry Comp incorporates a port to reduce muzzle flip.

Model 19 Has A Slicked Up Action

The trigger is smooth which is how a double-action trigger should be. Your finger can ride the smooth surface during the full stroke of the trigger and not get hung up. The rear of the trigger has an over-travel stop so the DA stroke precisely ends and you can continue with a follow-up shot. A flat spring is used in the Comp Carry in lieu of a coiled spring so there is no stacking when the trigger is pressed in double action.

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DA trigger pull measured 11.4 pounds but felt lighter. I would have guessed the SA trigger pull was 4 sounds but it measured an honest 6 pounds. Again this felt less than it actually measured. The hammer spur is tapered for a small footprint and it is plenty toothy for sure cocking.

S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp grips and mainispring
The Model 19 Carry Comp comes with two sets of grips; the flat mainspring means no stacking.

This new Model 19 has a design update. The lockup in the crane features a ball detent for enhanced reliability and better lock-up. The crane locks into the frame tight and there is no wiggle in the cylinder.

S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp: Belch Fire And Leave No Empties Behind
The lockup in the crane features a ball detent for better lock up.

Rounds Down Range

Carry Comp is an easy revolver to shoot well. I found recoil to be manageable at various distances with 357 Magnum loads and darn pleasant with 38 Special ammo. I tested for accuracy at 15 yards and my best group measured 1.66 inches with Aguila 357 Magnum ammo loaded with a 158-grain semi-jacketed soft point.

The best group with 38 Special ammo was with Blazer +P 125-grain Jacketed Hollow Points which measured 0.98 inches. Not bad for a 5-shot group. I also ran some old Speer Gold Dot 38 Special with a 180-grain Gold Dot Hollow Point and that had a best group that measured 1.81 inches. Across all brands of ammo, groups averaged 1.27 to 2.0 inches, which is nice accuracy out of a snub nose revolver.

S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp: Belch Fire And Leave No Empties Behind
S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp: Belch Fire And Leave No Empties Behind

Model 19 Performance

I wanted to see how the port performed in speed shooting and placed an NRA D-1 tombstone target at 7 yards. The scoring rings are difficult to see even at 7 yards so the “blank” target looks like a plain piece of cardboard. This target is great for practice since it trains you to aim and fire at the center of mass.

I loaded up my orphan rounds roulette, which was a mix of leftover 357 Mag and 38 Special ammo, loaded the chambers, and spun the cylinder. This way I had no idea if a hot 357 Mag round was coming or a soft shooting 38 Special. I fired as fast as I could in DA while still keeping the gun under control and found the ported barrel helped me to keep the front sight down and on target.

S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp: Belch Fire And Leave No Empties Behind
Ammo tested included Aguila 357 Magnum, Blazer 38 Special +P, and Gold Dot 38 Special.

The revolver weighs 34 ounces unloaded so that weight helps assist you in managing recoil. I use a high hold on the revolver to reduce the distance between the bore center axis and grip and that helps me to also keep the muzzle down and on target.

Ejecting shells from Model 19 Carry Comp
The ejector rod on the S&W Model 19 Carry Comp is a good length so empties fall free with a gravity assist.

Purpose Built For EDC

The Model 19 Carry Comp is designed to be carried and used in self-defense. It might be a new take on an old-school classic and in my opinion sometimes a new twist on old ways works just fine.

S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp review
The S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp is designed for everyday carry.

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  • RM April 1, 2024, 2:21 pm

    I bought a new model 19 Carry Comp a couple weeks ago. For a $1,200+ revolver, I am very disappointed with it. A Performance Center Tuned revolver is not what I received. The published 10 lbs DA trigger was more than 12 lbs. My Scale only goes to 12 lbs. The trigger was not at all smooth for DA or SA. Upon opening the revolver up, I found that it was full of fine grit. There was nothing that was polished or what I could perceive as hand fitted. Just as molded parts. After cleaning and polishing critical components, the DA pull was indeed 10lbs. The final straw, with this firearm, was the groups were 6″ high at 50′ with light 38 loads and there is no way to adjust the rear sight in elevation. There does not seem to be options for taller Trijicon front sights or a lower rear sight. I sent it back for repair. Other Smith Revolvers have been very good, especially the Performance Center tuned ones. Unlike Ruger.

  • Chris Stevens February 2, 2024, 9:10 am

    I carried a Model 19 under a sport coat for years. Two and a quarter pounds without a speed loader isn’t exactly pleasant to carry, not to mention this handgun is not small either. Any time you decide to “port” a handgun, you are sacrificing night vision for “reduced muzzle flip”. I guess it’s not a problem when you only need one shot to defend yourself. Who want’s to make that assumption? In the real world, ported muzzle flash at night is a big issue. I have more than one S & W Model 19 and 66 models, none ported, and love them for home defense. There are better options for concealed carry.

  • David Simon January 21, 2024, 9:23 pm

    Thanks I don’t want it sold or passed around!

  • Glynn Mitchell January 19, 2024, 9:01 am

    I was issued a model 19 (in the model 66 form) with a 4” barrel in 1978 and carried it as a patrol officer and a detective. The short barrel makes it harder to conceal as the longer barrel pushes the grip closer to your body. The comp is a negative, very loud. The tritium sight is GREAT. I would recommend a tritium rear sight as well. I found myself actually wanting a 5” barrel as the four inch will sometimes pinch when you sit down. I will note a short barrel is harder to take away from you ( from my weapons retention training- hands on experience where officers tried to disarm fellow officers and retention methods were taught).

  • DD January 15, 2024, 10:32 am

    Oh look, it still has that stupid sell out keyhole safety on the side of it which ruins the aesthetics of the piece. I’ll buy a Ruger

  • Ed Gottlieb January 15, 2024, 10:24 am

    The Model 19 is a classic. The performance center did mine years ago when the Magna Port treatment was part of their promotion. My 19 was internally redone with all parts hand fitted and heat treated. The barrel was ported, a nice smoothing of the cylinders plus a gorgeous hot blue finish. Almost too nice to carry but the gun shoots so well and feels so good in the hand it’s hard not to have it with me. I have to say, S&W revolvers have never let me down. (neither have Colts) I have been teaching pistol craft as a martial art for well over 30 years. Whatever has to be done to get you home must be done sub 2 seconds from concealment. Once clients get to this point in their training, engaging 2 & 3 targets at arms length, (2 seconds is all that you have) more than half switch from their plastic wonders to small revolvers. Folks, revolvers are lightning fast close range wonders, and for me the S&W’s shine. I like the Colt line of older agents and Detective Specials also. There are a lot of good brands out there. This very nice looking new 19 from S&W is worth a look.

  • Rickie Z January 15, 2024, 10:15 am

    For those curious MSRP is $1092.00. A pretty good article including price and a trigger scale with numbers of single and double action pulls seems almost basic to include on a piece focusing on concealed carry.

  • Dave January 15, 2024, 9:41 am

    Too bad it still has the Hillary’s hole

  • Skyraider17 January 15, 2024, 9:41 am

    I was fortunate enough to meet Bill Jordan briefly in 1975 when he came to speak to our graduating class for the 107th. The pistol demonstration that he put on for us in the cafeteria was absolutely amazing and something that I will never forget.

  • Jumpie Been January 15, 2024, 7:25 am

    Angry elf.

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