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S&W Model Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp: Perfect Carry .357?

Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
We take the Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp from Smith & Wesson to the range to see if this classic revolver is still relevant.
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    It was in 1974 I saw the Smith & Wesson Model 19, built on the famous K-frame. I had read about them, of course, in all the major gun rags.

    It had those great trumpet-shaped Goncalo Alves target grips and a deeply blued finish you could check your teeth in…and it only cost $150.

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    Back then, if you had a Model 19, you kept it, and if you saw one in a store, you bought it.

    Smith & Wesson’s Model 19 is still around and kicking, although these days, there are even more options…like the Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp.

    Today, we’re going to take a look this high end version of the Model 19, check out its specs, and see if it’s worth your time and attention (and money!).

    Table of Contents

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    Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp Review at a Glance

    Pros:

    • This gun will last you, your kid, and your kid’s kid if you take care of it.
    • You get two stocks with the gun — a set of beautiful wood stocks and a Hogue recoil tamer.
    • The action is pure Performance Center, tuned to a fine pitch with a trigger to match.
    • A tritium front sight and fully adjustable, black-bladed rear help a lot. Good stuff!

    Cons:

    • Capacity
    • It’s pricey
    • That port-side keyed frame lock should not be on a Performance Center gun

    The Bottom Line

    While it’s not a perfect gun, and I particularly would have liked to have seen a higher capacity, the Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp is an all-around great revolver.

    Available Coupons

    Specs & Features

    Specs

    • Caliber: 357 Magnum, 38 Special +P
    • Length: 8″
    • Barrel Length: 3″, with serrations on the top of the barrel and frame
    • Weight: 34.2 oz.
    • Capacity: 6

    Features

    • Barrel serrations
    • Dual grips
    • Cylinder yoke lock
    • Adjustable sights
    • Barrel vent

    Background

    The Smith & Wesson Model 19 was first produced by the company in 1957. This K-Frame revolver comes chambered in .357 Magnum and is a bit lighter.

    It’s enjoyed a long history with multiple iterations and improvements.

    .357 Magnum Round
    .357 Magnum Round

    Leading to the Performance Center Carry Comp…

    Anything with the Performance Center moniker indicates that it’s a part of Smith & Wesson’s performance-based models which means more bells and whistles…the downside to that is price.

    Fit & Feel

    Before we get to the actual targets, let me discuss three factors that can affect accuracy… recoil, grip stocks, and trigger. I alluded to these above; let’s look at them in a bit more detail.

    I was curious as to how much recoil I would feel with this 3-inch .357, given its chunky weight and vented barrel. Well, it did kick, but it was very manageable.

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    I’m glad they included two sets of stocks. (That leads me to think about the Colt Anaconda I just reviewed — that beautiful $1,499 .44 Magnum only comes with the rubber Hogue stocks).

    I do think the rubber stocks tend to help reduce felt recoil over the wooden ones, but the wood just looks so much classier.

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    When I first pulled the gun from its case after picking it up from my friend Duane’s shop, the rounded, smooth-faced trigger felt stiff in both SA and DA modes.

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp Trigger

    I did not jump to conclusions, as I have owned many S&W revolvers over the years, and they tend to “slick themselves up” with dry firing and use.

    Of course, one could always hire a trigger job by a gunsmith, but since it has the Performance Center engraving on the barrel and the frame, I think I’d pass on that. Just use it, and the trigger will sort itself.

    It wasn’t bad, for sure, but I am picky where my triggers on $1,100 revolvers are concerned.

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    How Does the Model 19 Carry Comp Shoot?

    I shot three loads from a rest at right at 20 yards at my backyard range. Conditions weren’t bad — 40 degrees and clear. The mud was ever-present, but I can’t blame bad groups on it, alas.

    Using Fiocchi 142-grain FMJ SWC, the gun shot absurdly low (and left), a result I should have anticipated when I’d noticed that the rear sight was all the way down. I raised it later, but at least it put all five shots on the paper. 

    I then shot a handload of a Lee cast 160-grain tumble-lube SWC over 7.1 grains of Long Shot. This 19 didn’t like it.

    Next, I went with a load that many .357 owners shoot with regularity — the .38 Special. I have a handload using the same bullet over 3.5 grains of TiteGroup.

    It wasn’t exactly pinpoint accuracy, but I could see using it for practice. It was easier on both the gun and me. I would definitely work with this load to tighten things up – the potential is there.

    By the Numbers

    Reliability: 5/5

    It’s a revolver, and it’s a Performance Center model. This thing will last you for generations.

    Ergonomics: 4/5

    The trigger was my least favorite part, but everything else felt good.

    Accuracy: 4/5

    When the sights are where they’re supposed to be, it does okay. It’s not pinpoint accurate but as a range toy, this thing is fun.

    Customization: 4/5

    You can add a few things here and there.

    Value: 3.5/5

    This is where the biggest downside sits…price. It’s expensive, but it’s a good gun, so I think it’s worth that price.

    Overall: 4.5/5

    Available Coupons

    Smith & Wesson Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp Upgrades

    Final Verdict

    For those who are sold on Glocks or other poly-framed semi-autos, no amount of waxing eloquently on my part about wheel guns will make much difference, even one as distinguished as this one.

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    But, if you haven’t drunk that particular brand of Kool-Aid, you might want to give the Performance Center Carry Comp 19 a look.

    Its inherent quality is manifest in its sights, construction, finish, accuracy, and reliability.

    Add in the vented barrel, and you have a very nice package to accompany you on your foray into Sketchytown.

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp
    Smith & Wesson Model 19 Carry Comp

    Just practice with both .38s and .357s and get a great holster — that way, you’ll be ready for whatever pops up. I, for one, am glad to see that the Model 19 is back!  

    What do you think of the S&W Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp? Let us know in the comments below! Need more revolvers? Check out our article on the Best .357 Magnum Revolvers.

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    14 Leave a Reply

    • Commenter Avatar
      Clark Tracey

      Just picked up one of these a few weeks ago for my wife and the first trip to the range the front site flew off and was lost (I'm thinking it wasn't pinned). The other issue is the cylinder release was binding. I have many Smiths and I'm a huge fan, the Shield Plus 4" is my daily carry but if the Quality of this revolver is an indication of what comes out of their "Performance Shop" I'm not impressed. I would have expected this from Taurus but not Smith. By the way, I love how this thing shoots (based on 6rds before sight ejection).

      July 1, 2024 6:05 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Petunia

      While I agree with you on the Hilary hole,,,,disagree with your “eloquent “ words. They are grips, not stocks.

      June 1, 2024 8:53 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        tk

        The grip is the metal frame part you hold on to. That is covered by the stocks to make it more comfortable (and sometimes more attractive)

        June 14, 2024 2:23 am
        • Commenter Avatar
          Petunia

          Uummmm nah,,,frame is the part thr grips screw onto,,,,also where the barrel attaches to and cylinder.

          June 14, 2024 6:47 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Tom Messimer

      I think that the Performance Center Model 19 Carry Comp and the Model 19 Classic are among the finest revolvers ever made by S&W. This comment may tick a lot of traditionalists off but truth is truth. Yet, there is no comparison to quality and longevity between the classic examples and these. I am the first to drool over classic S&W revolvers (even Colt's) but these new revolvers are simply finely tuned revolvers with much better internal technologies than could have been dreamed about in the past. The end game is that these revolvers have significantly fewer problems than those of yesteryear and will last much, much longer.

      November 10, 2023 11:09 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Hammer

      I picked up a Model 19 CC 2.5" a few months ago and have been very impressed with it - it lives up to the Performance Center reputation in every way. And the trigger on mine is excellent - butter smooth and not excessively heavy at all in DA. SA is short and crisp as can be. This is really a fantastic snub and with full power .357 loads, the ported barrel makes a notable difference.

      October 28, 2023 8:51 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Billy Clayton

      Grips are too short and I'm not a big man.

      March 31, 2023 7:30 pm
    • Commenter Avatar
      Mr. Mark

      If you're trying to convince readers to buy this gun, you're not doing it. First, it's from S&W's "Performance Center." I had to go to their website to find out exactly what all that meant since you mention some things but don't really specify other than the high price. Okay, so this model has the tritium front sight, a ported barrel, a "tuned trigger for a lighter pull" and comes with two sets of grips. You mention all of this, but don't mention any benefit of the tritium sight even after you shoot the gun. You barely touch on the ported barrel. I owned a ported .44 Mag revolver and the recoil reduction was very significant compared to a non-ported .44 mag of the same model. Is this barrel ported enough to show a significant reduction? All you say is that this revolver is "manageable." As for the trigger, you point out that it is stiff and you expect more from a high dollar revolver, and that apparently it will "shoot itself in." Did you measure trigger pull? How does it compare to the standard 686? If I'm spending $1200.00 on a "Performance Center" revolver I'd like to know what it really checks at right out of the box. Accuracy? 3.5" groups at 20 yards are nothing to brag about. I can get that regularly from my 3" 686 with standard factory loads. Finally, in your own words this is a expensive range toy that you think is worth the price. You didn't sell me (and we won't even talk about it's low gloss ugliness).

      November 9, 2022 10:29 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Pascal

      a wheelgun with the hillary hole no thanks

      November 9, 2022 9:34 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Ty Gladden

      My store has a 586-7 on Gunbroker, right now. Basically same thing as your 19, but with a 7 shot cylinder. It's a really nice revolver.

      November 9, 2022 6:14 am
      • Commenter Avatar
        tk

        It is also the larger L frame instead of the smaller K frame. The cylinder is enough bigger that it can safely be drilled for an extra chamber.

        June 14, 2024 2:27 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Bull o' the Woods

      "That port-side keyed frame lock should not be on a Performance Center gun." Amen, brother. Here's a great quote from over at Revolverguy dot com: "[T]he lock has symbolic value. Yeah it’s ugly, but the ugliness of the lock transcends what the eye can see. When we see the lock, we see a reminder of the powerful, anti-liberty, anti-gun forces that colluded to deprive us of our civil rights in the Clinton era. We also see a reminder of one of their most important victories—a signed agreement that turned one of the most prized and beloved of American companies against its own customers, against its industry brothers, and against the Constitution itself. The lock reminds us of all the losses we’ve sustained to those enemy forces, and the ongoing struggle to prevent our Constitutionally-recognized, natural rights from being infringed. It sticks in our craw like an enemy flag being flown over an American position, and stings like a finger poke in the eye from a bully."

      November 8, 2022 8:32 pm
      • Commenter Avatar
        Clark Tracey

        Honestly......I didn't even notice it.

        July 1, 2024 6:09 am
    • Commenter Avatar
      Lee Keller King

      One of my lasting regrets is that I sold my 4 inch barrel Model 19 back in the 1995 or so when I was just out of law school and strapped for cash. (No, a law degree and a bar card are not a guarantee of a high income). I had replaced the Goncalvo Alves grips with Pachmayr rubber grips (the GA grips were too large for my stubby fingers) and it shot much better than I could. My (faded memory) is that it came with a ribbed trigger instead of a smooth one (which I might have preferred).

      Ahh. Memories. :)

      November 8, 2022 4:42 pm
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