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Practically Shooting

Latest Odd Addition: S&W Model 12


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I don’t know why, but I’ve wanted one of these for a while.  


The Model 12 is an Airweight K frame .38 Spl.  Basically an aluminum alloy framed Model 10.  You could get it in any combination of 2” and 4” barrel, round butt or square butt grip frame.  I’m getting a 2” round butt.  


But then again, it’s not just an alloy-framed Model 10.  An odd fact is the Model 12’s frame is thinner by .08”.  

Well, the Model 12. 12-1, 12-2, and 12-3 is. The last ones, the 12-4s, were standard K frame width.  Who would want that?  


Weight: 18oz. 

For comparison sake, the smaller 5-shot .38 J-frame concealed hammer Airweight 442/642 is 15.8 oz.  


I even have a couple boxes of standard pressure Federal Nyclad 125 HPs saved up for it.  


For some reason, I’ve had a thing for Sam Spade, Noir-style gats lately.  










Freakin’ Gunbroker.


Maybe a Detective Special will be next.


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  • 2 weeks later...

I’ve had it in my hands for maybe a week now and it still seems weird to see  “AIRWEIGHT” stamped on a K frame.    

I’ve carried it in a jacket pocket some and it rides well.  My iPhone in the opposite pocket is enough counterweight to make the jacket hang right.  


I think S&W is missing out by not making these now, but in Scandium.   Add some better sights and it would be slick.  A 3” barrel option would be a neat variant also. 

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  • 4 months later...

Since things are pretty slow around here, here’s an update.


The Model 12 is still receiving attention from me.  It hasn’t slipped away as old news and been forgotten yet.  


I painted the front sight green and put a BK grip adapter on it, and made no other changes.  http://bkgrips.com

With the narrower than standard K frame, aftermarket grips for these are scarce and/or require a long wait.  Standard ones leave a gap at the top.  The grip adapter was a temporary solution, but will remain permanent.

Ahrends Grips was a possibility, but they are going bankrupt.


The only other change I can foresee is a possible trigger and hammer change.   Both are Model 12-specific parts due to the frame width.  The trigger is narrow, but grooved, and grooved triggers are not my preference for DA shooting.   Rather than permanently modify original parts on an otherwise unmodified 50 year old gun, I looked online for original parts to attack. What I found was some trigger and hammer sets.   If I get one of those pairs, I’ll bob the spare hammer.   I have gone back and forth on a hammer bob, but if I get a spare I can try it out without fully committing to it.    The gun has been carried in a jacket pocket some this winter, and that hammer grabs like a big fishhook.    


Admittedly, I overlooked these for a long time, but it’s a pretty interesting gun.  I’ve read before that they “carry like a J but shoot like a K” and that’s a good way or putting it.   

Recoil is similar to an Airweight J frame, but it’s much more controllable to make a follow up shot.  


It’s even made it to a class already.  I attend the same Low-light/Night pistol class each year in December.  Since I was using my Kimber K6s in the class this year, I took the Model 12 also.  I’ll hold details of the challenges of managing revolvers, flashlights, and speedloaders for another time, but both guns were fine.


New toys arriving since the M12 have all been S&Ws.  A streak.  That’s just how it worked out.  A new M&P 15-22 rifle came first, then a nice old Model 39-2 9mm and a somewhat tired looking Model 65 3” RB. It was odd picking up the 65 last week in the shop with empty cases and gun racks.  

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  • 4 months later...

The 4” one isn't here yet, but I was doing some comparisons and realized this:


A 2” barreled S&W Model 12 weighs 17oz.

A 4” barreled S&W Model 12 weighs 19oz.   

A Glock 43 is right in the middle at 18oz.  

The S&Ws are six round guns.  The Glock is 6+1.   

The G43 barrel is 3.41”, so it falls right in there also*.


I didn’t realize they were all that close.   


I suppose the Glock 48 with its longer 4.17” barrel is a closer comparison to the 4” S&W 12.   The G43 weighs 20.74oz empty.  That is actually 1.74oz more than the S&W.   



*If I wanted to get really technically off in the weeds, I’d point out that revolver and auto barrel length specs aren’t a direct comparison.   Since revolver barrel lengths are for the barrel only and don’t include the chamber like autos do, you can either add another 1.67” for the S&W cylinder or subtract 1.2” for a Glock 9mm chamber.   Then things go all wonky.   

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Sounds like a neat gun, if you like wheel guns.  Somehow I just never got the bug.  I've owned a few, but today I own exactly zero.  Maybe if I look enough on Gunbroker, I'll end up with one.  Like you, that's how I came to possess several of my firearms today, by making a lowball bid that I just knew I'd never win.  Nothing like waking up to an email from Gunbroker saying, "Congratulations!."

With that said, can you convince me why wheelguns are a good choice for pocket carry?  Oh, maybe I could do that myself.  I've carried a Ruger LCP in my pocket for a few years and have come to learn that if it has ANY pocket dirt on it, then it won't fire reliably.  

Ok - what modern, inexpensive wheelgun do you suggest I look for?  I really don't like the reliability of the semi-auto pocket guns.

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I started with revolvers and had a bias that way for a few years, but have been an auto guy for a long time.  I know a lot of people say they shoot revolvers better, but I’m not one of them.  

I have to look for reasons and places to justify choosing a revolver in most cases, so I may not be the best one to sell you on them.   I readily admit the nostalgia is one big attraction to me.  I’ve been addicted to Adam-12 since old reruns have been showing this year, so maybe that’s it!


I do prefer them for places like pocket and ankle carry.  I think they resist pocket crud a lot better than autos, and the shape makes the grip easier to get my fingers around in a pocket.  I like the S&W Centennial models (442/642/640) with the concealed hammer for this, so it has one less opening to collect crud.  I have gotten sloppy and waited too long between “de-lintings” and found more than I’d like in the trigger travel opening, but I feel confident I could press through it on the shot.  Manually operated is an advantage here, I think.


The 2” model 12 I got last winter is a bit big for pants pocket carry since it’s a K frame, but it worked great in a jacket pocket.  I really, really, like having a revolver in a jacket pocket.  I can have it in my hand with nobody knowing.  If I had to, I can shoot through the pocket, and keep shooting until empty.  An auto’s slide would surely foul on the pocket some way or another.  


I see some other honest advantages to revolvers, mostly involving close quarters shooting.  Really close, as in crushed up against each other.   An auto slide can be blocked or bound by pinching up against someone, but you can power a revolver through it.  And again, a “hammerless” model has less to get interfered with.


Snubs are awful hard to shoot well.  It drives me up the wall when well-meaning gunshop loafers suggest a snub as a first gun to people (almost always to women).  They are NOT beginners’ guns. They are experts’ guns.  Even at that, few “experts” shoot them well.   But as what I call a “Get Off Me Gun” I think they are the best.  


Edited by BarryinIN
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You do bring up some really great points.  The pocket crude fouling an auto is my biggest concern and my biggest problem.  Like I said, my Ruger LCP will not be reliable after a week or two in the pocket without cleaning.  I think I would get a dedicated .38 and not bother with a .357.  I've fired snubby .357s and frankly I don't like the muzzle blast, as it teaches flinch.  

I'm with you on the idiocy of snubbies as a beginner gun, no they are for experts.  It's similar to teaching a new trap shooter with a .410, just no.  A .410 is an expert's gun.  

I'll go check out some hammerless pocket revolvers.  

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.410- Yes!  Same deal.  


.357 Mag in a small gun is just awful.  Even in a K-frame, in the rare times I carry one, it’s usually with .38 +P.    


On the the other hand, sometimes when I carry a revolver it’s because I want the greater power of magnums.    I’ll deal with it in a K frame then, but not smaller.   I’ve shot magnums in my Kimber K6s, which is more Detective Special size, and it wasn’t much different t from a K.  There are some mild magnums like Remington .357 Golden Saber, that’s more of an in-between 38 and 357, that aren’t so terrible.  When ammo supplies loosen up, I’ll try to get more of that and give it another test.


But in a five-shot J-frame snubby, I have no need for a Scandium framed model so I can use .357 magnums.  The Airweights with .38s are plenty abusive for me.  


What I’d like to see done for concealed hammer pocket models is the addition of some sort of “crud barrier”.  Maybe a sliding gate or a brush-like guard over the trigger travel slot would keep it clear but allow the trigger to move.  Not much gets in there anyway, but nothing getting in would be better.  

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  • 3 years later...

I’m so convinced the Model 12 is a real gun that I bought a third one.  

I have a 2” square butt version coming.  It’s an early variant, a 12-1 made in 1961. 

Any S&W with a 2” barrel and square butt grip is an odd combination, but after getting a Model 15 2” SB a couple months ago, I found I liked it.  It was only a matter of time until I got a similar Model 12. 

Model 12s were made in four basic variations: 2” barrel with square or round butt grip, and 4” barrel with square or round butt grip.  I now have three of the four.  I can already tell I won’t be able to stand it until I get a 4” SB and make it four for four.  

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Make it four.   

Today I sent payment on an even earlier one.  It’s an M&P Airweight, what we now call a Pre-Model-12.  It was made in 1954; three years before S&W went to the model number system.  

It’s early enough to have the aluminum cylinder, so it won’t see much, if any, shooting. 

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