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Thread: Smith & Wesson Model 19 2.5" by Tanaka

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  1. #1
    Join Date
    29th May 2004
    Athens, Greece, Earth
    Posts liked by others
    Blog Entries

    Smith & Wesson Model 19 2.5" by Tanaka


    Even though I like 1911s more than any other handgun, I decided to include in the "Airsoft Project" some other guns, so that our members can get a better idea of what is available in the market.

    In the past, I owned a S&W Model 66, with a 4" barrel. Lovely revolver, but just like any other revolver I've tried (and no matter with what grips), when I pulled it out of its holster in a hurry, the gun always pointed high for me, the barrel being at something like a 30 degrees angle (or so) upwards. I also found the 4" barrel somewhat too long for my taste. I didn't like the 2" ones either, too short for me. The only revolvers that looked nice and proportional in my eyes, back then, were the ones with a 3" barrel, but there weren't many of them around. Anyway I sold the Model 66 after about a year and never owned another revolver since then.

    So, when I decided to include a revolver in the Airsoft Project, I went around and looked at what was available. What draw my attention, was the beauty shown below:

    This is a 3" Tanaka S&W Model 65, with which I really fall in love. Unfortunatelly, it was impossible to find one. I searched almost every on-line Airsoft store in Europe and in Hong Kong, but nobody seems to have it. My next target was the Model 66 from the same firm, which didn't have the very nice wooden grips of the 65 (it comes with some rubber ones), and its barrel was 2.5". Again, no luck! Finally, I settled for the object of this report, the 2.5" S&W Model 19, from Tanaka. Here is what the postman brought to my door.

    A colorful cover, over a styrofoam box, which contained the revolver, an instructions leaflet in Japanese, a small bag with BBs, another one with an allen wrench, a small copper tube (more on that later) and a plastic BB loader. The Tyler grip adapter, which is shown on the box cover is not included in the package.

    The box is marked "Heavy Weight" and indeed the revolver feels very much like the real thing, in your hand. It might not weight exactly the same as the real one (some day, I have to buy a kitchen scale for ... my wife), but it does not feel light at all.

    It is a gas operated, double action revolver, firing 6mm plastic BBs. Tanaka is using the cylinder to store both the gas (HFC 134A is recommended) and the BBs. The revolver's capacity is 11 BBs (more later). It's the typical K-frame Combat Magnum, with a wide hammer and smooth trigger (very appropriate for a combat/service revolver).

    What attracted my attention, when I took the revolver in my hands, were the rounds which were already in the cylinder. These are dummy rounds, permanently mounted in the cylinder, and cannot be removed. Five of them are marked "R-P 357 Magnum", while the sixth one is marked "Gas" and has a hole.

    In order to fill the revolver with gas, you have to align this hole with the gas loading gate, which is found at around 11 o'clock on the cylinder's face and use the above mentionned copper tube, as an extension of your gas canister nozzle. The reason is that the majority of the gas cans are thick enough and won't allow you to fit their nozzle directly in the filling valve, so this extension is mandatory (another small thing to loose).

    The BBs are loaded from the front of the cylinder. There is a hidden, fixed magazine inside the cylinder, which takes 6 BBs and which can be loaded either with the supplied loader or with your hand, and the other five cylinder holes take one more BB each, for a total of 11 BBs. Some folks have reported that they were able to load 12, but I didn't want to break anything so I didn't force the last BB in the magazine. As you see, the severe look of the front of the revolver is seriously degraded by the white BBs, someone should come out with BBs in lead color to imitate the real .357 round nose bullets.

    This revolver (actually all K-frame Tanaka revolvers) has a feature not found on other models of the company's line. It features a cone-shaped plastic extension, at the rear of the barrel, which seals the cylinder hole with the barrel, in order to improve the performance of the revolver (no gas leaking at the cylinder gap). In reality, this is an extension of the inner barrel of the gun. On top of that cone-shapped part, you can find the hop-up adjustment screw.

    The S&W Model 19 comes with adjustable rear sight, with a white outline and a red insert in the front ramp one, just like the real gun. Well, actually the real gun has an orange insert, but this is a minor discrepancy. The insert was not a tight fit and could move around a bit, so I secured it with some Crazy Glue, since it will most certainly get lost, when I start shooting the gun.

    The revolver's top is serrated, like on the real thing.

    The gun features full inscriptions and two S&W trademark signals, one on the frame (which however does not say S&W, but Tanaka Works),

    and another in the medallions of the grips.

    The revolver is of the round butt frame type, and the grips look as if they are made of very nice wood, however they are in reality plastic. What is even worst, is that their rear is not uniform, so adding weights in them is not an easy task. Not impossible, but not a 15 minutes job. I didn't care much about this, since I have some plans for the better looking and more hand-filling grips, shown in the first picture on the Model 65.

    The gun's quality is quite high, but there are some things which are completely crazy. For example, the frame cover plate is of slightly different color and texture, than the rest of the frame (see the picture above, as well as the picture showing the right side of the revolver, a little higher up). This is probably because the two parts are not made of the same material. Also, the seam between the plate and the rest of the frame, is not as clean as on the real S&W guns. I am sure Tanaka could have done a better job here. Minor details, but they need to be noted.

    Overall, the gun is a very nice revolver, quite authenticly styled and giving very much the impression of the real one.

    In the next page, you can read about our shooting tests results.


    The Tanaka M19 is a classic double action revolver, meaning that it can be fired either by the long, heavy double action trigger pull, or by cocking the hammer and firing it in single action mode. Both pulls are quite nice, not heavy, not light, just right. So the trigger is quite helpful in accurately shooting the gun.

    How it shoots? Well, I wish I could say "well", but I can't. It looks as if it is impossible to get any grouping out of this revolver. I have read in the various Internet forums before, that the Tanaka's short-barreled revolvers have accuracy problems, but this is something I never expected. I shortened my usual shooting distance from 10 m to 6 m, and used a large rectangular cardboard box, covered with four targets, trying to see where the BBs were landing. The gun was firing very low and with enough dispersion, to confuse you if you didn't have a completely clear target-mounting surface.

    The first shots were done with some no-name 0.20 gr BBs, that Airsplat.com has send me. I thought that maybe some heavier BBs would help it work better, so I tried some 0.25 gr BBs I had, which seem to group a little better, at a distance of 6 meters.

    Here are some targets shot with the 0.25 gr BBs, at 6m. As you can see, it's nothing to write home about.

    As you can see, the groups are about 4" for 12 rounds fired, at 6 m.

    This target below was shot with 0.20 gr BBs, at 6m as well. As you see the group is quite larger, around 6".

    It's really frustrating, because no matter what I try, I can't make this gun shoot any better than that. Maybe I should experiment a little with the hop-up adjustment, people have reported that they have seen improvents, when totally removing the hop-up mechanism from the barrel.

    Another issue I noticed is that the revolver shoots VERY low, as it is now. In order to have the shots hit approcimately to the point of aim, I have to align the bottom of the front sight's red insert, with the upper edge of the rear sight! That means that the front sight is about 3-4 mm too tall, so some trimming operation is in order, to bring the POI up a little.

    This is a link to the way I modified this revolver, in order to improve its accuracy a bit, and bring the POI close to the POA.

    Poor Man's Chrono Test

    With propane gas, the power of this short-barreled revolver penetrated the first side of the Coke can, and just dented the other side. So BBs velocity is around 290-310 fps. Admitedly the sound of each shot is not strong enough, not as strong as that of the pistols I've tried, so I was not expecting anything faster than that.


    Accuracy: 1
    Upgradeability: 1
    Training Capability: 4
    Realism: 4
    Quality: 3
    Power: 1

    Overall: 14


    Well, I have mixed feelings about that revolver. It looks very nice and authentic, the weight is very nice, it balances well in my hands, but the accuracy problem makes it too frustrating to use. Maybe I should just make up a nice frame for it, and hang it on the wall. Darn, and it was bloody expensive to buy it!


    As I said, I didn't like the grips that came with the revolver. So, I started searching for something better. A "To Buy" thread in here, didn't produce any results, so I had to look elsewhere. Thank God, my best man also owns a S&W Model 19 (the real one), and he also works for the S&W representative here, so he came to my resque.

    It is not exactly what I was looking for, but at least they are a little thicker than the original grips,

    and they fill my hand nicely.

    Plus they are much fancier than the originals.

    I am still looking for something better. I have no idea what, even a Pachmayr rubber set would do I guess, so if you have a set of grips, for a K-frame S&W revolver, PM or email me with a picture. I would appreciate it.

    Upgrade 2

    Not satisfied with the above S&W grips, I ordered a set of an old favorite, the Pachmayr Signature ones.

    Yes, these fit my hand much better, just like I remembered they did with the real gun.

    Upgrade 3

    A few days after I post the above pictures of the Pachmayr grips, I received an email from Cornad Berry, the owner of our sponsor, Gungrips.net. In his email, Conrad was informing me that they now have wooden grips as well (in addition to their customized Alumagrips and other 1911 grips) and they actually had some, for the K-frame, round butt S&W revolvers. Conrad actually offered to send me a set, to try out. I gladly accepted Conrad's offer.

    Very soon, a small package was delivered to my door, and in it, I found a very nice set of rosewood grips for the Model 19. As you can see, the grips colors are very beautiful, a very nice, saturated red and dark black, in two circular patterns, one at the top and one at the bottom of the grip panels.

    As you can see, the same circular pattern exists on both grip panels, which shows attention to detail, on behalf of the person who selects the panels for these grips.

    The shape of these grips is similar to the slim S&W grips, with which the real 2.5" Model 19 was offered, but they are a little thicker near the top. I assume that this helps controlling the real pistol, when firing .357 Magnums. In my case, the slight bulge filled my hand nicely, giving a nice firm grip to the little revolver.

    Doing some quick presentations, from the single holster I have for this gun, the grips proved quite nice. Their smooth surface, helps the hand slide all the way to the top, (your second finger goes as high as possible behind the trigger guard) and provide a nice secure hold when drawing the weapon.

    I guess these are the grips my Model 19 will wear from now on. Conrad was nice enough to personalize them with my initials as well, so my search for grips for the little Tanaka revolver is now finally over.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization
    Last edited by John; 13th September 2008 at 08:36.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    25th June 2005
    Duluth Mn
    Posts liked by others
    John - That was a very well done report! Sorry about the out come.
    I have been wanting to get an air pistol to practice trigger pull in the
    house, I just don't want to spend a ton of money. For what some of
    these air guns are going for. I could pick up a nice used 1911 45acp!
    It only takes a few seconds to dial 911, It could take the rest of your life for help to arrive!

    Security Provided By Kimber

  3. #3
    Join Date
    29th May 2004
    Athens, Greece, Earth
    Posts liked by others
    Blog Entries
    You are right, some of the prices are outrageous. This silly revolver cost me around 200 Euros (about 230 US$, with shipping included). Too much money for such an inaccurate model.

    At least the Western Arms 1911s I've tried are quite accurate and well made, so it makes you say "Worth the money", but if you live in a country where guns are free (like in US), it some times makes a very difficult decision.

    On the one hand, these things allow you to practice at the convenience of your home, but on the other hand, as you said, they cost as much as a real gun. Additionally, if you want to practice some man-on-man scenarios, you'd better not practice them with real guns.

    So, it boils down to which are your exact needs.
    John Caradimas SV1CEC
    The M1911 Pistols Organization

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