The S&W Performance Center Craftsmanship

| May 18, 2014 | 4 Comments

By Mark Singer
Safe Direction Firearms
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Today, many individuals feel that the venerable 6 shooter or the wheel gun is all but obsolete. The popularity of the revolver within law enforcement agencies was staggering and then the advent of the first wonder nines. The first high capacity semi-automatic pistols adopted by many police agencies in the 1980?s and were primarily produced in 9mm Luger (parabellum) And as law enforcement changes so do the preferences of the armed community; with high capacity semi-autos sweeping the market. Yet today revolvers are still capable and a lot of fun when you combine 44 magnum with Buffalo Bore Ammunition.

Flash 48b  629


Well, today I would like to take a look at two revolvers designed by?Smith and Wesson. Both are not commonly found and are perhaps some of the best wheel guns this author has owned. These two revolvers are the products of precision gunsmithing done S&W?s own Performance Center. The first revolver we will discuss is the model 627; built from the ground up to be a precision competition gun on the S&W large or N frame. The barrel length is 5 inches which is an uncommon length for a revolver but I find it to be near perfect for the 357 magnum. It is quicker when transitioning between targets than a 6 inch barrel but balances better than a 4 inch barrel gun. The barrel has a unique profile as well; the sides are flattened surfaces in order to reduce weight (the empty weight being 44 ounces), the barrel sports a deep crown to protect the rifling, and the underlug is somewhere between half and a full lug as it angles upward from the front of the shrouded ejector rod to the muzzle. The front sight is an old school design, a Patridge style with a gold bead insert. For those of you not familiar with this style of sight I will explain. Most front sights are of the ramped variety. The purpose of a ramped sight is its ease with which it is to be drawn from a holster without snagging on the holster. A Patridge sight is a vertical rectangular blade with both sides tapered toward the front so that the shooter sees sharp edges reducing the chances of glare from the sides of the blade. The sight provides great visibility and the addition of the gold bead only enhances it as the sight really pops in the shooter?s eyes as it picks up the ambient light quite well. The 627 is equipped with a flash chromed tear drop shaped hammer with a pinned sear, the trigger is equipped with an overtravel stop and has a smooth light trigger pull especially for the double action trigger pull, and it comes with 5 moonclips provided. The overall length is 9.5 inches.

The 627, while it is a revolver, it is not a 6 shooter. This impressive firearm holds 8 cartridges of 357 magnum or 38 special when fully loaded. The cylinder face is designed with a cut out to fit 8 rounds held within a moon clip. Moonclips are flat metal disks with cutouts to fit the star of the cylinder as well as to hold the rounds for fast reloading, and reloading with moonclips could not be faster. Jerry Miculek set a world record with a six shot 45 ACP revolver by firing 6 shots ejecting the moonclip bound spent cases, reloading with a second moonclip, and firing off 6 more rounds in under 3 seconds. For competition, moonclips are fantastic but for carry I find them to be flimsy and I prefer speed loaders and I must again recommend those from 5 Star Firearms.

The Manufacturing/Engineering and Production Supervisor at 5 Star Firearms, Clinton Hartford, was the lead designer behind these speed loaders. They are made of Billet Aluminum and are of high quality. An interesting design as they rotate opposite of the commonly found speed loaders; so that the rotation of the loader does not push the cylinder closed. Furthermore, the fluting machined into the loader allows it to clear most grips with greater easy than the competition. They are one of the few manufacturers that produce speed loaders for the 8 shot 357 magnum offerings. As an aside, these speed loaders?will also fit the Taurus model 608 revolver.

.357 Magnum S&W Model 627 Performance Center








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The accuracy of the model 627 is beyond this author?s ability to shoot it and I consider myself to be a decent shooter. The following target was shot only in double action with 3 boxes of 142 grain Fiocchi Truncated full metal jacket ammunition at 25 yards. I find this ammunition to be an excellent target load. When the rounds were fired through a chronograph the measured velocity was an average of 1450 feet per second. The high velocity and truncated cone make for a very flat shooting bullet.








Now, we bring ourselves to the S&W model 629 Talo Deluxe. This is a 44 magnum 3 inch barrel N frame revolver. The primary purpose, at least to this author, would be a back-up gun while hunting, something to defend yourself against a wild boar that?s charging. This was a Talo release which generally means some pretty grips were included. Well, when this author first received the firearm the double action trigger pull was ghastly; one of the heaviest and roughest I have experienced. Now, I am quite adept at working on my guns to improve the trigger pull weight and smoothing out the pull itself but I have always wanted to know if the performance center at S&W was worth the extra money. I decided to send it to S&W for the Combat Arms Revolver Package. The only differences I wanted were the finish, as I wanted a bright but not mirror finish, and I had them fit the gun with a Cylinder & Slide Xtreme Duty Fixed rear sight (primarily because I did not see the purpose of an adjustable sight on a snub nose 44 magnum). When I received the gun back the trigger was miraculous! Better than anything I could have done at home and the fit and finish where greatly improved. The new stats report as follows: wide target hammer, unloaded weight of 39.8 ounces, overall length of 7.9 inches, C&S Xtreme Duty rear sight, taller .30 inch front sight with orange insert, and a bright stainless finish.

.44 Magnum S&W Model 629 Performance Center


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Now, the accuracy of this firearm is dependent on a few variables: experience with heavy recoiling magnums, upper arm strength, rate of fire, and dare I say how brave one can be. I myself have been called by my close circle of friends, a recoil junkie. I happen to like firing heavy magnums and I have spent a lifetime practicing with 44 magnums with snub barrels. I have two favorite loads for this gun. A DoubleTap load produced with a 300 grain Nosler JHP and my absolute favorite is a 240 grain +P load produced by Buffalo Bore and affectionately called Deer Grenades by the company. The Chrony placed their velocity at around 1380 fps. If you want to light up the night, use the Buffalo Bore load. Below are some stills from my high speed camera. The first still is a 44 Special load provided for comparison, the load is a Hornady Critical Defense offering which is a great self-defense load made for the 44 with a flash reduced powder. The remaining stills are the Deer Grenade loads and the target was shot with the same loads at 14 yards:

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In conclusion and in my humble experience, the S&W Performance Center is absolutely worth the extra money. They perform quality work and offer some firearms that not many manufacturers produce. So, if you have the opportunity to get yourself a S&W PC gun I highly recommend it.





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4 Comments on "The S&W Performance Center Craftsmanship"

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  1. cheryl says:

    Great report and very informative.

  2. daniel lynch says:

    my 627 is 5 1/2 inchesm,is this a good pistol for hunting big game?

  3. arthur says:

    I recently purchased a 627 and about 90 rounds into a visit to the range the cylinder stopped locking or would dislodge after a shot. Been with S&W for 3 weeks now and no word from them besides a case number. Sure was sweet while it was working.

  4. Mike Silverton says:

    I have the .44 mag 629 V-Comp. Send it back soon after acquisition to remove a hitch in the double-action trigger squeeze. It came back much improved, tho to be honest I only fire it in single-action on a rest. The .44 mag’s a bit much for these old hands so I won’t comment on accuracy. Fit and finish beautiful. I replaced the original grip with wood for purely aesthetic reasons. Even tho I don’t take it to the range often I love the gun’s look to much to give it up.

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