Recently I reviewed the Smith
&Wesson Classics Series Model 25, a polished blued
steel and walnut revolver with the look and feel of an old Model
1950 Target, but chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge. I pretty
much figured that reviewing that sixgun would suffice as good
enough to familiarize our readers with the new Classic series
handguns. However, a couple of days later, Boge
bought this new Model 21 Classic, and it is enough
different to warrant a review of its own. While the Model 25 is
of the target style, this Model 21 .44 Special is built with
features reminiscent of the old 1st Model Hand
Ejector. The Model 21 has the round, pinned blade front
sight with square-notch rear, and the timeless and beautiful
diamond checkered walnut stocks.
Featuring a four-inch barrel and polished,
case-hardened frame, the Model 21 has a distinctive look that
sets it apart from the target-style Classic models, and is a
good example of a heavy duty service revolver, as effective
today as it was a century ago. Made of modern steels on
computerized machinery, the fit and finish on these new Classics
are as good as any ever produced in Springfield, Massachusetts,
but the styling sets them apart from most modern revolvers.
Every year at Thanksgiving, my brothers and I
gather back at Mom and Dad’s house with our families for a
traditional feast, as do most families in the United States. My
brothers and nephews sit around watching football all afternoon,
and chatting like school girls about the clothes that the
players are wearing. After listening to this foolishness for
several hours a couple of years ago, I finally snapped and asked
just what in tarnation they were talking about! Apparently, on
Thanksgiving, some of these football teams wear old-style
uniforms called “throwbacks”. While I have absolutely no
interest in watching grown men swapping sweat for hours on end
while fighting over a misshapen ball, I finally realized what my
brothers mean by “throwback”. Well, I suppose that this
Model 21 Classic is the throwback of double-action revolvers.
Picking up a Model 21 is like holding history in one’s hand.
It just has that old-style feel about it, much like holding a Colt
Single Action Army, but of a bit later era. The Model 21 .44
Special is like the lawman’s sidearm from an era when lawmen
were trained as Peace Officers instead of the military commando
attitude that some police departments instill in their officers
these days. There was a time when almost every lawman in the
nation wore a big double-action S&W or Colt on the hip, and
the Model 21 Classic epitomizes that sidearm. Built on the
round-butt N-frame, the 21 is a large, but well-balanced sixgun
which clears leather quickly and points naturally. The barrel
and cylinder of the 21 Classic is beautifully blued with a
polished finish, and the frame, hammer, and trigger are
casehardened. Were it not for the modern internal lock, the
handgun could pass for one built a hundred years ago. While on
the subject of the internal lock, I don’t use them, and
don’t really like them. However, the presence of an internal
lock will not stop me from buying a new Smith & Wesson
handgun. While many handgun buyers do not like the lock, there
are also many that do. I get email from readers who want a
handgun with an internal lock, usually from parents with small
children. Owning just one handgun, they do not own a safe, but
do want the ability to render the handgun inoperable when they
are away from home. Ideally, it would be great if handgun
manufacturers could offer identical models, but with the lock
being optional. However, as I stated earlier, the lock will not
stop me from buying a handgun, and the one on this Smith is an
effective design, making the sixgun incapable of being cocked or
fired when locked.
As noted above, the fit and finish on this
sixgun is very good. With their modern CNC machinery, the side
plates on new S&W revolvers fit better than ever. The fit of
the walnut grip panels is almost perfect, with just a slight gap
at the top of each. The case-colors are very nicely done, and
the entire handgun is well-polished. The barrel-cylinder gap
measures five one-thousandths (.005) of an inch. Timing is dead
on, and cylinder endshake is nonexistent.
Shooting the big Smith was a pleasure using
standard .44 Special ammunition. Trying out some heavy, but
within standard pressure specs, handloads, the stocks were a bit
small for my hand. For accuracy testing, I secured the Model 21
into my Ransom rest, and
fired on paper at a distance of twenty-five yards. Firing
various factory and handloads, the sixgun proved capable of very
good accuracy. 240 to 250 grain Keith lead bullets would
group right around two inches, and jacketed handloads did as
good or better. The best-shooting factory load was the Speer
Gold Dot 200 grain hollowpoint, which is also a dandy load for
social work or close-range whitetail hunting. These would
consistently group between one and one-quarter to one and
one-half inches at twenty-five yards. Checking the velocity of
this load had the 200 grain bullets traveling just under 800
feet-per-second at twelve feet from the muzzle, and recoil was
light, making for a very controllable load. Point of impact at
twenty five yards firing offhand was just a bit low for me with
the Gold Dot load, and a bit high using the heavier Keith style
bullets. Windage was dead on. The double action trigger pull
measured a smooth nine pounds, one ounce on the test gun, and
the single action is a typical S&W crisp four pounds, two
ounces. The Model 21 weighs in at 36.6 ounces unloaded. The
tapered four inch barrel measures a slim .593 inch at the
muzzle, giving the sixgun a neutral, quick-handling feel.
For packing around the Model 21 concealed, or
for field carry, the Sourdough Pancake holster from Simply
Rugged Holsters proved ideal. With the sixgun’s round
butt, hiding the big handgun under a loose shirt or jacket is no
problem, and the Sourdough Pancake carries the weight very
comfortably, while offering excellent protection to both the
wearer’s skin and the sixgun’s finish. Simply Rugged
holsters are handmade in Alaska, one at a time, and are one of
the best values on the market for a quality-crafted holster.
The Model 21 .44 Special is a welcome and
natural addition to the Classic line, offering styling touches
from the Hand Ejector models of a century ago, with a few modern
changes and a round-butt grip frame for better concealability.
It is a handsome sixgun that shoots accurately and handles well.
Check out the Classics and other Smith &
Wesson products online at www.smith-wesson.com.
For the location of a Smith & Wesson dealer
near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.
To order the Model 21 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.
To order a Simply Rugged holster, go to www.simplyrugged.com.
|For a list of dealers where you can
buy this gun, go to:
|To buy this gun online, go to:
Model 21 comes with hard case, manual and cable
Simply Rugged Sourdough Pancake holster.
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