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Old June 12, 2019, 03:45 PM   #1
DrMLap
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Recommend an accurate, reliable handgun I can add a rail to?

I'm a little bummed out. Got a call from my gunsmith. He said he was not recommending adding the rail to my S&W 19-3 revolver. Now I'm thinking about selling it and getting another handgun.

I love my 19-3 because it is a revolver and therefore shoots reliably. And because it's fairly accurate, especially after getting a trigger job. And after putting a red dot sight on my air pistol, I decided I've got to have one on my 19-3. So I did some research and found the Warne single-piece mount for S&W K frames - https://warnescopemounts.com/product...-wesson-matte/. Yes, it came with the caveat that only the later model 19's came with pre-drilled holes that the Warne lined up with. But my gunsmith can drill and tap holes in his sleep so I thought this should be no problem.

It's a problem. As my smith explained to me, when S&W began the -3's they had just finished figuring out the best steel strength for the top strap for this 357 Mag K frame revolver. Drilling extra holes in the top strap may weaken the frame a little too much for magnum loads. Then there was an additional problem. One of the holes in the Warne rail lined up too close to the hole for the front screw for the rear sight. So close, in fact, that there was a slight overlap — not good.

Now I have to go pick up my 19-3 from my gunsmith without giving him any money. That means neither one of us is happy.

I'm probably going to sell my 19-3 and buy another handgun. I really like the Colt Python, but they are hard to find. Maybe harder to find than my S&W Model 19 was. And I would have to find out first if I can mount a rail on it.

But maybe there is another handgun that I would like instead. I'm looking for recommendations from anyone reading this. Here are my requirements:
- If it is not a revolver, it has to be as reliable as one. No jams, no misfires. Your usual semi-automatic pistol is probably not going to satisfy me.
- It needs the accuracy of a revolver. I was able to get under 3.5 MOA mean radius groupings at 24 yards with my 19-3. It takes a lot of expensive accurizing of a semi-automatic pistol to achieve that kind of grouping. This includes polishing the barrel, replacing the barrel bushing with something slightly tighter, and doing some expert rail tightening to reduce slide wobbling. I don't really want to get into that.
- It must either have a picatinny or weaver rail, have dovetail grooves, or have the beef to accept new drilled and tapped holes so that a rail can be mounted. I'm sorry, red dot sights have spoiled me. I do not want to go back to iron sights again.
- I would prefer 357 Magnum as I reload and already have the dies. But if I have to buy new dies to reload for what I want, then so be it. In any case, I want to stay in the .38/9mm range. 40 cal stuff and larger, or .30 cal and smaller, is another ball game.
- It must hold at least 6 rounds.

I think there are semi-automatic pistols that do not involve a moving slide with a barrel bushing, e.g. toggle bolts. I suspect there is no way to mount a rail on the top. But if any of you know of such a handgun, please reply.
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Old June 12, 2019, 05:14 PM   #2
ratshooter
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I think some of the S&W Custom Shop revolvers come with rails under the barrel. Use good ammo and magazines and any of the top quality autos will be 99.9% as reliable as a revolver. Maybe this.

https://www.smith-wesson.com/firearm...model-327-trr8

Good luck with your search. But I believe you are over thinking this.

But I wouldn't sell the model 19 unless you just had to to fund a new gun.
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Old June 12, 2019, 09:32 PM   #3
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What is your budget?
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Old June 12, 2019, 11:39 PM   #4
74A95
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Originally Posted by DrMLap View Post
And because it's fairly accurate, especially after getting a trigger job.

- It needs the accuracy of a revolver. I was able to get under 3.5 MOA mean radius groupings at 24 yards with my 19-3.
The trigger job did not change the mechanical accuracy of the gun. It might have helped you shoot it better, but mechanical accuracy and your skill are two completely different things and should not be confused.

3.5 MOA? What was the actual group size when measuring the widest spread? How do you test it? Offhand? Of sandbags? How many shots? How many groups did you shoot?
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Old June 13, 2019, 12:04 AM   #5
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3.5" at 24 yards is not good accuracy. That's not even good at 50 yards. Good would be five shot groups under 2" at fifty. The model 19 wasn't S&W's finest revolver by any means. Not meaning to call your baby ugly, but it was a K frame of middle of the road virtue. The newer L frames came along and ate its lunch. No comparison between the two. Get an L frame and put a dot on it.
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Old June 13, 2019, 02:03 AM   #6
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3.5" groups at 24 yards is not great. 3.5MOA mean radius at 24 yards, which is what the OP stated, is pretty a little better, but still not amazing.

3.5MOA mean radius at 24 yards would be groups that averaged about 1.8" 2.6" or so the way groups are most commonly measured. Not amazing accuracy, but better than average. I would think that finding a semi-auto pistol that accurate wouldn't be horribly difficult.

To the OP: Is there some reason you are measuring your groups in mean radius instead of center-to-center of the two rounds farthest apart in your group? There's nothing wrong with mean radius measurement, but it's harder to do than the common method for group measurement, and since it is not commonly used in accuracy testing it will be difficult to compare the results you obtain to results you find elsewhere.
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Last edited by JohnKSa; June 13, 2019 at 07:31 PM. Reason: Incorrect on my details about mean radius vs c-t-c.
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Old June 13, 2019, 07:53 AM   #7
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3.5MOA mean radius at 24 yards would be groups that averaged about 1.8" or so the way groups are most commonly measured.
Isn't this what 99% of shooters call center-center groups? Sorry I didn't understand, but after a lifetime of shooting I'm not familiar with the term "mean radius", but as an engineer I understand the concept. I just haven't heard any shooters use that term. If he's getting 1.8" groups C-C, he's doing "OK".
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Old June 13, 2019, 11:42 AM   #8
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A lot of "old timers" will tell you how a 2-2.5" group at 25yds is decent and fully acceptable accuracy from a service grade pistol.

In .44/.45 caliber, a 2" group can be one ragged hole!! (5 shots, overlapping)

Lets be clear about something, a rail and a scope base can be different things.

I no longer remember the name, but there was a scope mount that used the factory S&W rear sight screw hole. I would pass on anything that has a mounting hole "close" to the factory one. IF the base/rail you are considering doesn't line up properly with the factory hole, but is very close or partially overlaps, its NOT the right base for that specific gun.

I can easily understand your smith's reticence to drill holes in a 19-3. And, if you ask him, and he agrees, to drill holes in a Python, you'd BOTH be lucky not to be shot by an enraged collector.

There are models of revolvers today that come factory set up for scope/dot sight use. See if there isn't one that suits your needs and desires. I would caution against drilling holes in out of production, desirable, collectable handguns. Your gun, your money, your life, so your choice, BUT do consider that doing so destroys its collector value, as well as ticking off every purist who ever sees it.
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I think there are semi-automatic pistols that do not involve a moving slide with a barrel bushing, e.g. toggle bolts. I suspect there is no way to mount a rail on the top. But if any of you know of such a handgun, please reply.
I know of one semi auto in current production that doesn't use the Browning tilt barrel system, and comes with a built in scope mount, and in .357 Magnum.

Desert Eagle

However the size, weight, and cost of the gun may be outside your desired range. Also it needs JACKETED .357 ammo, ONLY. so, no .38s, no lead bullet loads, no light loads. Accuracy is excellent, mechanically, but some people find them difficult to hold and shoot well (size). Triggers are fair to decent, and can be improved if desired.

Seriously, go look at other pistols, ones better suited to mounting the dot sight you want. older S&Ws are not good choices, unless you are looking to be tarred and feathered (verbally at least).

Good Luck!
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Old June 13, 2019, 11:52 AM   #9
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I have not ordered one, but want to get the Weig-a-tinny rail for my GP100. It adds a full length rail on top of the GP100. it would probably meet your criteria.

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Old June 13, 2019, 12:20 PM   #10
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Your 19-3 was made between 67 and 77. Drilling holes in it will reduce its value to approximately 1/4 (one fourth) of what it is currently worth. This information comes from a friend who works at a gun shop and is in tune with what guns are currently bringing.

He also told me that some S&Ws became factory drilled and tapped for scopes starting in 94.


Go find a new or newer gun, don't butcher an old Smith.
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Old June 13, 2019, 01:09 PM   #11
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Sell the 19-3 to someone who appreciates it for what it is.

Buy a flattop AR pistol with a barrel longer than 10 inches.
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Old June 13, 2019, 02:13 PM   #12
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"...weaken the frame a little too much for magnum loads..." 19's don't like a steady diet of magnum loads anyway.
"...red dot sights have spoiled me..." Dots are too big, but they don't need a rail to mount.
However, like DavidAGO says, a GP100 will handle hot magnum ammo all day and hold the rail with no fuss. Probably fit your hand better too.
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Old June 13, 2019, 07:29 PM   #13
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Isn't this what 99% of shooters call center-center groups?
A center-to-center group (the most common way of measuring groups) is actually the extreme spread measure of the group.

Mean radius is going to be smaller than that.

To calculate mean radius, you first determine the center of the group. Then you measure the distance from that center to each of the shots in the group, recording all those distances. When you're done, you average the distances and you get the average of the distances, or the mean radius of the group.

By the way, I'm going to have to walk back my earlier statement that a mean radius group would be roughly equivalent to half the extreme spread. In practice, according to Hatcher, the mean radius group measure is about a third of the extreme spread.

So although I said that 3.5MOA mean radius at 24 yards would probably equate roughly to a 1.8" c-t-c group, using Hatcher's rough equivalency suggests that a better figure for 3.5MOA mean radius at 24 yards would be about 2.6" c-t-c groups.

2.6" c-t-c groups at 24 yards is definitely good accuracy, but it's not amazing or anything. Any really good quality semi-auto pistol should be able to get into that neighborhood, perhaps with some work to find a loading that the pistol "likes". I have a number of off-the-shelf centerfire handguns that will shoot that well with ammo they "like".
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Old June 13, 2019, 07:51 PM   #14
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Everyone finds loads that seem to always throw one bullet (sometimes two) out of the group on a pretty regular basis. It would seem that the mean radius method would cover this up when talking about group size. It sounds better than it is when you measure it that way. Working as a quality engineer for many years, this seems like a way to make something look better than it actually is. It doesn't show extreme spread? Makes me think of Mark Twain. He once said that if a man is standing with one foot in a bucket of ice water and the other in a bucket of boiling water, on average he's quite comfortable.
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Old June 13, 2019, 09:05 PM   #15
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Both metrics have advantages and disadvantages.

The mean radius method takes every shot into account while the extreme spread only measures the two shots that are farthest apart.

The extreme spread gives you sort of a worst case metric which many people find useful, simple to measure and intuitive while the mean radius approach is less intuitive and harder to measure.

I believe the military uses mean radius and it probably makes a lot of sense for some of their applications. For artillery, it probably makes more sense to know how far the shells will strike, on average, from the aimpoint than to know how far apart the two shells that strike the furthest apart will be.

That said, in my personal opinion, I don't believe its benefits outweigh its disadvantages for small arms.
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Old June 14, 2019, 01:28 AM   #16
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I believe the military uses mean radius and it probably makes a lot of sense for some of their applications.
The military uses both mean radius and MOA in different small arms applications.

mean radius is used in the accuracy requirements for ammunition (group size mean radius avg at a given distance) and also MOA in accuracy requirements for certain weapons.

Interestingly enough, testing of many official standards is almost never done. One example I recall is the standard for overseas shipment for the M16A1 rifle. The standard in the manual was 8 MOA. Eight (8) MOA. If the rifle would shoot that well, or better it was good to go overseas and use in combat. If it wouldn't shoot that well, it was to be "retained in CONUS for training use". Never heard of any unit ever testing their weapons against that standard before deployment.

Personally, I'm more comfortable with the common Center to Center measurement, and since one measures extreme spread, then knowing none of the shots are further away from the POI than that is good enough for me when discussing general accuracy.
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Old June 14, 2019, 10:14 AM   #17
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- If it is not a revolver, it has to be as reliable as one. No jams, no misfires. Your usual semi-automatic pistol is probably not going to satisfy me.
You don't sound like you have too much experience with modern semi-automatic pistols.

I've shot thousands of rounds through various CZs, SIGs, Glocks, and Walthers that have never malfunctioned.

And I've shot numerous revolvers (including S&Ws, Rugers, and Tauruses) that have choked on shaved lead or brass fragments, fallen out of timing, or been unable to eject spent brass without a rod and hammer).

The myth of perfect reliability with revolvers is just that... a myth.

That said - I'm with your gunsmith - don't ruin your 19-3 by trying to attach a rail to it.
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Old June 15, 2019, 11:18 AM   #18
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Recommend an accurate, reliable handgun I can add a rail to?
Here's one...

T/C Contender



As or more accurate than any other handgun I've ever found. as reliable as anything made by man, great trigger, and comes drilled and tapped for bases or a rail. Available in about any caliber you can think of, with a huge range of barrel length and grip options.

I have a red dot sight on one of mine (.45-70) and so far, its worked great!
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Old June 15, 2019, 12:04 PM   #19
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Seconded

I have yet to succumb to buying Addl. barrels. It is really hard to beat a Contender for casual use on the range.
Excellent trigger, it's an incredibly flexible platform.

Is the 45-70 as brutal as I think it would be? Seems like a really flexible round to take the Contender over to the 'wild' side. Mine is in .44 mag both my grandsons really dug shooting a .44 "magnum" even if grandpa put together mouse fart loads for them.
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Old June 15, 2019, 05:49 PM   #20
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Is the 45-70 as brutal as I think it would be?
Depends what you put in it, mostly. I shoot approximate factory load equivalent (400gr cast), and mine has a seriously ported 14" barrel and Pachmayr rubber.

I don't find it too brutal, but it is hell for stout!

One friend of mine wacked his nose with the edge of the red dot sight, the first time he shot it (and after watching me shoot it). Bled quite a bit! he hit the plate though, and his second shot, after we got the bleeding stopped was a hit, too!

My ported .45-70 comes back pretty hard, but doesn't jump as much as my 10" octagon (think featherweight) .44 Mag barrel with full house loads.

A Contender won't teach you how to do rapid fire, but it will teach you how to SHOOT (and show you how well you don't, too!)

Another point is that you can get a barrel in about any caliber you have a pistol for, and some rifles. And they scope well, and simply.
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Old June 15, 2019, 06:43 PM   #21
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>Drilling extra holes in the top strap may weaken the frame a little too much for magnum loads.<

That's a terrific revolver, and I would be reluctant to drill it or to do what I'm going to mention.

That is, use JB Weld to fix the rail to the top strap. Basically, I did the same thing to a cheap Mossberg 702 22lr a while back. It works fine, and shows no sign of coming loose.
https://thefiringline.com/forums/sho...d.php?t=597265

However, I wouldn't do it on a superb gun like that without practice sessions to get good at it, and considering that the recoil might test the JB Weld adhesion depending on the mass and shape of what you're attaching to the rail.
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Old June 15, 2019, 07:20 PM   #22
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Any of the newer K frames, L frames or N frames should work with the weig-a-tinny mounts. I’ve used mine on a 929 and my .460. Or there are a lot of options with auto-loaders and mounting optics nowadays. Any of the Glock MOS models or numerous other manufacturers have their similar models.
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Old June 15, 2019, 08:08 PM   #23
lee n. field
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Originally Posted by DrMLap View Post
I'm a little bummed out. Got a call from my gunsmith. He said he was not recommending adding the rail to my S&W 19-3 revolver. Now I'm thinking about selling it and getting another handgun.

I love my 19-3 because it is a revolver and therefore shoots reliably. And because it's fairly accurate, especially after getting a trigger job. And after putting a red dot sight on my air pistol, I decided I've got to have one on my 19-3. So I did some research and found the Warne single-piece mount for S&W K frames - https://warnescopemounts.com/product...-wesson-matte/. Yes, it came with the caveat that only the later model 19's came with pre-drilled holes that the Warne lined up with. But my gunsmith can drill and tap holes in his sleep so I thought this should be no problem.

It's a problem. As my smith explained to me, when S&W began the -3's they had just finished figuring out the best steel strength for the top strap for this 357 Mag K frame revolver. Drilling extra holes in the top strap may weaken the frame a little too much for magnum loads. Then there was an additional problem. One of the holes in the Warne rail lined up too close to the hole for the front screw for the rear sight. So close, in fact, that there was a slight overlap — not good.

Now I have to go pick up my 19-3 from my gunsmith without giving him any money. That means neither one of us is happy.

I'm probably going to sell my 19-3 and buy another handgun. I really like the Colt Python, but they are hard to find. Maybe harder to find than my S&W Model 19 was. And I would have to find out first if I can mount a rail on it.

But maybe there is another handgun that I would like instead. I'm looking for recommendations from anyone reading this. Here are my requirements:
- If it is not a revolver, it has to be as reliable as one. No jams, no misfires. Your usual semi-automatic pistol is probably not going to satisfy me.
- It needs the accuracy of a revolver. I was able to get under 3.5 MOA mean radius groupings at 24 yards with my 19-3. It takes a lot of expensive accurizing of a semi-automatic pistol to achieve that kind of grouping. This includes polishing the barrel, replacing the barrel bushing with something slightly tighter, and doing some expert rail tightening to reduce slide wobbling. I don't really want to get into that.
- It must either have a picatinny or weaver rail, have dovetail grooves, or have the beef to accept new drilled and tapped holes so that a rail can be mounted. I'm sorry, red dot sights have spoiled me. I do not want to go back to iron sights again.
- I would prefer 357 Magnum as I reload and already have the dies. But if I have to buy new dies to reload for what I want, then so be it. In any case, I want to stay in the .38/9mm range. 40 cal stuff and larger, or .30 cal and smaller, is another ball game.
- It must hold at least 6 rounds.

I think there are semi-automatic pistols that do not involve a moving slide with a barrel bushing, e.g. toggle bolts. I suspect there is no way to mount a rail on the top. But if any of you know of such a handgun, please reply.
S&W PERFORMANCE CENTER® Model 327 TRR8, looks like what you want.

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Old June 17, 2019, 10:51 AM   #24
74A95
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Originally Posted by lee n. field View Post
S&W . . . looks like what you want.
See post #2.
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