Smith & Wesson’s hugely successful army & Police business revolver morphed into the version 10 in 1957—when the agency began numbering its models. It’s since served together the launching pad for a head-spinning selection of handguns.

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Barrel lengths/configurations, calibers, sight varieties and finishes might change, yet the basic template has always been a medium-frame revolver featuring one of two people a ring or square butt.

The .357 Magnum make its medium-frame, mid-1950s debut in the version 19—a beautiful, adjustable-sighted revolver envisioned by its champion, bill Jordan, together the can be fried law-enforcement tool. In 1974, however, a down-and-dirty, fixed-sight, heavy-barreled .357 variation on the model 10 design template appeared: the version 13.

Originally a square-butt four-inch gun, it was followed later by a three-inch round-butt variation that has actually the distinction of being the last FBI-issue revolver prior to the an excellent Semiauto Takeover.


Oddly enough, the design 13’s stainless twin, the design 65, actually preceded it by a couple of years, and the very first Smith I ever before owned was a design 65. I preferred it, but I was less than enchanted through the reality it was stainless steel, a little bit of retro snobbery the sparked a long, long search because that a model 13. Apparently, I had actually some contending soulmates in the carbon steel/blued department because it took me fairly a spell.


When I uncovered it, there to be one kicker. It had a square butt. Ns knew enough around the design 13 to understand that the cataloged three-inch guns of FBI reputation all had round butts.

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Miller’s three-inch model 13 sports a bobbed hammer and service-type stocks. The was, the said, “carried a lot and shot a little.”

Well, a little bit of consultation v gun writer Massad Ayoob noted the answer. Appears Smith & Wesson do a limited run the square-butt three-inch guns for one Australian agency—some that which controlled to filter back here come the States.

The reality that it was a three-inch made that instantly much more desirable. I’m a sucker because that three-inch Smiths in one of two people J- or K-frame configuration. Many hot hrs slaving over a chronograph have presented me the velocity rise from a two- come a three-inch barrel is considerably more far-ranging than that between a three- and four-inch barrel—particularly through +P .38s in the 125- to 158-grain load range. With .357s? i don’t lot care. Mine days of shoot high-test magnums out of anything smaller sized than a Marlin lever activity are pretty much done.

And there’s one an ext argument because that a three-inch gun over the standard three-inch snubbie: The included stretch of vision radius renders the sight snapshot much more forgiving.


The sights room fixed and also pretty much bulletproof, so a little of fooling roughly with different loads is required in bespeak to uncover a reasonable weaken between suggest of aim with suggest of impact.

My used model 13 was among those “carried a lot, shot a little” specimens the make it possible for smith & Wesson nuts come own more long-out-of-production standards than they might otherwise afford.

Mine was far from pristine, but I didn’t care. It had a couple of preferable old-school functions as far as i was concerned—namely a blued finish, a pinned barrel (Smith & Wesson started crush-fitting that barrels in the beforehand 1980s) and also that square butt. It also had a factory bobbed hammer that appealed to me, as it would force me to work on double-action shooting.


I chose 20 feet as the yardage to examine the zero on those low-profile fixed sights. Because I’d installed a lighter create return spring—a Wolff spring i bought indigenous Brownells—the double-action pull load on my model 13 was just a hair over six pounds and also smooth as butter.

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Twenty-yard groups with 158-grain command semi-wadcatter (c. Cartridge) to be solid.

I determined to stick with two tons that would be period-appropriate selections from the model 13’s heyday. Earlier in the mid-1970s, during the final law enforcement pre-9mm hurrah for the .38 Special, over there were two preeminent lots for those who didn’t choose .357s. One to be the so-called “Treasury load,” a 110-grain jacketed hollowpoint; the other was the “FBI load,” a +P 158-grain command semi-wadcutter hollowpoint.

My Aussie version 13 preferred the FBI pack from Buffalo bore over part vintage super Vel 110-grain jacketed hollowpoints—marked “Police Only.” This was fine through me. I’ve always thought a 125-grain minimum to be preferable for any .38/.357.

What was likewise gratifying was the reality it shot share 130-grain full-metal-jacket ammo at around the same allude of affect as most 125-grain +P jacketed hollowpoints. Unfortunately, it didn’t shoot my handloaded 148-grain wadcutters precious a whoop. However that’s a little price come pay for such a handy, packable chunk of a vintage company revolver.

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My pistol was produced in 1979—which, in ~ my age, doesn’t seem all that vintage. The version 13 was discontinued in 1998, however it’s still precious looking for.