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Old December 8, 2018, 11:14 AM   #6
Driftwood Johnson
Senior Member
Join Date: January 3, 2014
Location: Land of the Pilgrims
Posts: 1,792

This is my Model 19-3 that I bought brand-spanky new in 1975. The action is still as silky smooth as it was when I bought it.

It's drawback was it's frame strength. S&W recommended that they be shot way much more with .38SPL loads and only qualifications be carried out with full house .357 loads.
Not quite correct. It is not the frame, it is the forcing cone that can be the issue. S&W K frame 38 Special revolvers have a clearance cut at the bottom of the forcing cone. They have had this feature since about 1905. The reason is there needed to be clearance for the gas ring on the yoke to clear the bottom of the barrel. With 38 Special revolvers this was never a problem.

This is a photo of the clearance cut on the forcing cone of a S&W K-38. You can see the flat cut reduces the thickness of the forcing cone at that point.

This is the clearance cut on my 19-3.

What can happen with a K frame revolver that is chambered for 357 Magnum, if firing high velocity, light weight bullets, such as 125 grain bullets, the forcing cone can crack at its thinnest point. This is a well documented problem with K frame 357 Magnums and light weight, high velocity ammunition.

Like this:

I have had my Model 19 for over 40 years and it is still going strong. However I will admit that the great majority of ammunition I have put through it over the years has been 38 Special.

S&W developed the L frame for exactly this reason. It allows for a little bit more space for the gas ring, and it is not necessary to relieve the bottom of the forcing cone.

Regarding the Model 19s presently being offered by S&W, they may have addressed this problem, I am not sure about that.
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