The Odd Couple

The Odd Couple

Today, I spent a little time behind two guns I haven’t pulled out of the safe in a long while.  Almost four years in fact. Both of them are chambered in .357 Magnum and despite being revolvers of the same manufacturer, they are as much an odd couple as Oscar and Felix. One, is a classic Smith & Wesson (S&W), N-frame workhorse of a bygone era when the Texas Highway Patrol still carried revolvers.  The other was part of an early attempt by S&W to generate new interest in revolvers by departing from the classic “six-shooter” paradigm with a medium frame seven-shooter to replace the venerable Model 19 and Model 66 K-frame, .357 Magnums.

The S&W Model 28-2 was at one point, standard equipment for troopers with the Texas Highway Patrol.  This example came to me with a six inch barrel, polished internals, and a very slim trigger that has been polished to a high sheen to facilitate easy shooting in double-action mode.  The double action trigger is a very smooth seven to eight pounds while the single-action trigger breaks at a crisp 2-2.5lbs.  They don’t make them like this anymore (pinned barrel, recessed cylinders, deep bluing, etc).  As old police guns go, this one stands out with just a little holster wear and only the slightest hints of having ever been fired…Well, at least until I owned it.  There’s no mistaking the blast of the 357 Magnum but in spite of it, the felt recoil is milder than many 9mm semi-automatic pistols.  Of all my revolvers, it is probably my favorite.  It is an excellent, often cheaper and easier to find, alternative to the Model 27.

The seven-shooter mentioned earlier, is a 2005 vintage Model 620.  As is the case in S&W’s catalog, this gun a Model 66 in my inventory whose action (particularly the cylinders and frames) had seen better days before I subjected it to a steady diet of eight to ten-thousand, full-power loads over the course of a several years.  Unlike its K-frame predecessors, the 620 uses the larger, heavier L-frame common to guns such as the 586/686.  To reduce weight, the 620 features a two piece barrel with a half-length lug rather than the monolithic, full-length lug that was integral with 586/686 barrels.  The trigger, reflects modern liability issues and is fairly heavy in DA mode at around 12lbs while the single-action trigger breaks at about 4lbs. While not as heavy as a 686, the balance and feel aren’t the same as the old Model 19/66 K-frames either and unfortunately, S&W dropped these fine guns from their catalog.  Making matters worse, it was never easy to find ancillary items like holsters, speed-loaders, or moon-clips if you wanted to convert it to use them because it didn’t quite fit the mold of items made for the 586/686. That said, the extra round and weight savings over a 686 or the big N-frame still makes it very handy in its own right and worth of consideration in the second-hand market.  I’m fortunate enough to have a Comp-Tac Speed Paddle for this gun and carriers for my speed-loaders for this gun from the days when Gregg Garrett himself was forming holsters by hand.

Both are fine revolvers and should be a welcome addition to anyone’s toolbox.  Which is best really depends on the shooters needs.  The Model 28 was once a lawgiver in Texas but today, is more likely to be at home with a hunter or silhouette shooter.  The 620 is a viable option for someone wanting a modern revolver for self-defense but, it might be easier to find holsters and such for other models that haven’t been dropped from the S&W catalog.  My copies of each, and the Comp-Tac gear to go with them are not for sale.  You’ll have to get your own.

-Gary

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