Wednesday, March 15, 2023

Gratuitous Gun Pr0n #233...

I've been wanting to get my hands on one of these for a while now.

In the Third Generation S&W autoloader least the original four digit ones before they mucked it all up with the "value series" three digit guns...the third digit nominally indicates the type of action the pistol uses. If that third digit is a "2", "3", or a "7", it indicates a traditional double action pistol with a frame-mounted decocking lever, like the one on SIG Sauer's classic P-220 and its offshoots.

The pictured pistol is a Model 5926. The "59" indicates a full-size double-stack 9mm. The "2" is a full-size pistol with frame-mounded decocking lever and no manual safety, and "6" is for stainless steel frame and slide.

This model was only produced for a short period, from 1990 to 1993, and the prominently hooked trigger guard marks the one in the photo as an early gun.

The frame-mounted decocker was something of a kludge on these, and had to be recalled once because some FBI agents managed to brick their 1076s. Via hearsay (and unconfirmed at this point, so take it with a grain of salt) if the decocking lever were to be inadvertently partially depressed during the firing cycle, something in the mechanism would break, leaving the user with an inoperable handgun. At least an all-stainless Smith weighing 29 whatever ammo was still in the gun...would make a pretty fair bludgeon.

All the frame-mounted decocker pistols were recalled for an upgrade, and upgraded guns feature a couple dots punched into the frame under the lever. This pistol does not appear to have been upgraded, but I'll need to call Smith to be sure; they were upgrading pistols as recently as a couple years ago, but guys on forums were reporting getting the gun back without the punch marks as far back as the late '00s.

So, why did Smith even go with this weird, retrofitted decocking system? It's hard to be sure. One would assume it's involved with going after LE contracts, since the FBI went with the frame-mounted decocker on their Smiths rather than the traditional Walther-style slide-mounted hammer dropping safety used on most S&W autos.

With traditional Smith & Wesson revolvers, you can always turn to History of Smith & Wesson by Roy Jinks, or Smith & Wesson 1857-1945: A Handbook for Collectors by Neal & Jinks and get well-researched scholarship on the origins of the classic models and the reasons for various changes, but there's no scholarly equivalent for Smith's metal-framed autoloaders. It's a shame, too, because one could be written now while a lot of primary sources are still available, but that situation ain't gonna last forever.