Gunner’s Journal

The 1911 Worlds Finest Handgun!

The Smith & Wesson Model 25-5

Posted by Gunner on December 13, 2008

The S&W model 25-5 is one of those revolvers that has gained classic status along with most of the other “N” frame S&W’s made before the lawyer proofing started with those darn framelocks that everyone loves to hate myself included.
A couple of years ago you could buy about any older S&W revolver for very little money but these days people have come to realize that these wonderful revolvers are something special and prices have increased accordingly. Most any S&W “K” frame will sell in the $450 to $500 range with “N” frames at $600 plus depending on how rare they are. I recently saw a nickel 6 inch 41 magnum marked at just under $1000! A word to the wise if you have one keep it!
My journey with the S&W “N” frame started in 1976. At that time the model 29 was the revolver to buy. Barrel length was no barrier to the price at that time. The guns were in short supply and were selling for the sum of $400 which was a lot of money at that time. In fact more than is being asked for them now. Of course there is nothing new under the sun and as soon as the supply caught up with demand the prices dropped as dealers found themselves with a lot of unsold guns on the shelf. Being a young officer at the time we didn’t make much money so I had to wait until the prices came down. My first was a blue steel beauty with a 4 inch barrel. Yea I wish I had held onto that one but as with most folks if you want something new you have to do some trading and that Colt 1911 sure looked good:-) Regardless my love of S&W revolvers was in full bloom and has never really left me in spite of the overwhelming trend toward new semi autos.
I picked up my first 25-5 with a 4 inch barrel in 1980 and I loved it! I found I could shoot this big old revolver for a long time without beating myself to death with the recoil of the 44 magnum. That and handloads were a pleasure to shoot using some of the old Kieth type lead bullets going about 750 to 800 fps.

I even carried that big boy as a duty gun for awhile until the weight finally made me change back to the model 19 which is a wonderful revolver in the “K” frame. You wear 45 ounces(depending on barrel length) on your hip for 8 to 10 hours and you’ll know what I mean. After that I relegated it to off duty carry in a cross draw holster from Bianchi. In winter it worked just fine. Back then the Winchester Silvertip was the round to use and I carried my 25-5 loaded up with the big Silvertips.
After a few years we all followed the trend and carried the wonder nines on duty. I still found myself carrying the 25-5 off duty a good bit. I decided it was time to qualify with it since it had been a while since I had taken it to the range to qualify with it. We used an indoor range at a PD close by since it was winter. I got some funny looks since I had one of those obsolete revolvers but I didn’t really care then or now. The first round fired was in dim light and the flash and boom stopped all activity on the line. I stopped firing to because I thought somebody jammed or something had gone haywire. Nope, just new guys not used to a large revolver being fired next to them:-) After clearing the line some of the young guys wanted to know what in the heck I was shooting. Of course now I’m one of the old guys so I explained what it was etc.
That gun served me very well for a good number of years. The affect it had on suspects was something to behold. You’d think I pointed a cannon at them. I eventually traded it for a Colt Delta Elite 10mm when they came out. I’ve regretted that trade more than any other after some years had gone by.
Is the revolver a viable duty or carry gun now? In my opinion yes it is. In fact there is really nothing better as a backup gun than a snubbie S&W. I prefer the S&W 642 that I can just drop in a pocket and go. I’ll probably always have a revolver of some type close by. I have confidence in them and have used them so many years they feel like an extension of my body when I point one downrange.
I haven’t made a solid conclusion yet but it seems to me that the revolver is making a comeback in popularity. Only time will tell.
By now you know this isn’t a review like I normally do but a bit of nostalgia and some personal history with a gun that I truely enjoyed shooting and trusted to save me if I needed it. So, next time you are looking over the shelves in your local gun shop and see an old S&W revolver stop and take a look. It may call out to you like they have to me.

13 Responses to “The Smith & Wesson Model 25-5”

  1. Ed Harkreader said

    I have a 25-5 etched into the barrel is 45 long colt of 1989, after falling in love with this big ol’ gun I traded off a set of Mod 686’s. My wheelgun came from the factory with rubber grips and a non fluted cylinder, is this a special run that S&W came out with?

  2. Gunner said

    Hi Ed,

    It sounds like a regular production gun from the date shown on the barrel with that caliber and 1989. If I remember correctly it was a limited run though with the non-fluted cylinder. There for awhile they were all about the non-fluted cylinders first on the model 29 then several of the other N frames like yours. The idea was that with a solid cylinder you could load them a little hotter than the standard cylinder models. I’m not sure how many they made like yours but not very many.
    That’s a fun caliber to shoot and wonderfully accurate one as well especially with handloads. That’s a nice find!

    All the best,

  3. Ken Goodwin said

    My home was broken in and My 25-5 was stolen
    all original 7- 3/8 ” Barrel- Long Colt 45

    Memphis Tenn.

  4. Gunner said


    I sure hate to hear that. We are to often victims of crime these days. I sure hope MPD recovers it for you!


  5. Chris Moore said

    I bought my 25-5 in 1984 as a private security officer, then carried it at my first police department, from 1987 until I was forced to carry the “electric” gun in 1991. I still have mine, and I will never part with it (barring total apocolypse). I could shoot over a hundred rounds a day without any stress, unlike that lovely Dan Wesson in .357!
    45 Long Colt is a wonderful round, full of history. I now have two other guns in 45 LC, a Great Western SAA clone and a Winchester 1894 lever action. And, I’m looking to find a nice 1872 open top or a Walker Conversion clone…and a reloading set-up.

  6. I was very fortunate to run into a 25-5 in 6″ at a Hampton Va gun show back in January. I went in hoping to move a couple safe queens and walked out with a gem! Of course the awful hogue rubber finger-groove grips had to come off in favor of some Miculek smooth grips,
    Very few handguns have the combination of balance, power, and utility of this revolver. It will accomplish everything the more modern hot magnums will without the drama.

  7. Gunner said

    Great find! I really love that gun. I had a 4 inch which as many of us sometimes do traded it and regretted it later. I’ve always been a big fan of the 45 Colt round. With the right load it will get the job done as well as any handgun round even magnums as you said.
    You made a nice choice in grips as well. Those are the ones I had on mine back in the early 90’s.


  8. walt daniels said

    I was fortunate enough to have purchased a 4″ 2-5 from a friend. It shoots like a dream and is probably my most accurate handgun. The box says it’s a factory model with target trigger , hammer, and sights. I won’t be letting go of it anytime soon.

  9. ray beair said

    I have a model 25-5 4″ 44mag can’t find anything about it can anyone help me.

  10. awp101 said

    Reblogged this on Meccanica Mekaniikka Mecanică.

  11. Dan said

    I own several N frame S &W revolvers. Over time they are wonderful shooters and never seem to wear out. The trigers smooth out after 250 rounds or so and and are as fine as any revolvers made.

  12. Chris Hanks said

    I want to know what year my S&W was made. Serial #N849843 target. Blued revolver 8 an 3/8 barrel. 45 long colt was made

  13. dan said

    i purchased a 25-5 44 magnum in 1985 ; i havent seen many of these ; is this a rare piece?

    They. Are rare indeed. All 44 mags are factory model 29,629 etc. What you have is a 45 Colt that has been changed over to a 44 mag. All 625 and model 25’s are chambered in 45 Colt.

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