Smith & Wesson’s Classic Model 25


by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

August 4th, 2008




There was a time when most quality revolvers were made of polished blued steel and walnut. These old guns today are timeless masterpieces that stir the soul. Many modern guns are matte coal black and lifeless plastic. They work and work well for their intended purpose, and I own several myself. However, to me they are simply tools, built to get the job done with no frills or fanfare. Just tools. But the old classic Smith & Wessons, Colts, Remingtons, and Rugers that were built by craftsmen who could spend a few hours at a polishing wheel before hand fitting the parts are the handguns that stir my soul. In recent years, most manufacturers have drifted away from blued steel and walnut, especially for double action revolvers. There was a good reason for this. Most shooters wanted stainless steel and rubber grips. Stainless is more practical, and rubber makes for a good hold on the weapon when firing. When S&W introduced the stainless Model 60 in 1965, for many years the little stainless Chiefs Special brought premium prices, selling for much more than suggested retail, because shooters just had to have that little stainless gun. Other stainless models followed, and eventually, the polished blued guns were fading away, falling from production in favor of the stainless guns. Smith & Wesson continued to make limited runs of blued guns, but for the most part, stainless was king. Many shooters blame the manufacturers for not making the old style polished blued guns anymore, but it is not the manufacturers fault. They will build what we will buy. We were buying stainless, and the blued guns went away.

Now some shooters are demanding the look, quality, and feel of the older guns, and are willing to pay a premium to get them. Manufacturers (some of them) are listening, and we are able to buy new revolvers that are stronger and better than the older guns, but with the same classic look of polished blued or nickel-plated steel, and grips made of genuine walnut, the same stuff that is still used to make trees.

I was glad to see that Smith & Wesson introduced their Classic series of revolvers that are reminiscent of the sixguns that were built decades ago, but made with better steels on modern CNC machinery. I was especially glad to see the Model 29 and Model 25 Classics, built on the big N-frame with six and one-half inch barrels. They look just like the gun packed by Harry Callahan in the old Dirty Harry movies, which created such a demand for the Model 29 that they brought black-market prices for many years. The first Model 29 that I ever handled was when I was a fifteen year old kid, working at a McDonald’s in Clarksville, Tennessee. I was the tater guy, peeling, cutting and cooking about 2200 pounds of Idaho’s best every weekend. Fresh taters cooked in beef fat. They sure tasted better back then. Anyway, the restaurant manager was Hargis Chadwick, a rough character at the time, but he did allow me to handle a few of his guns, when he wasn’t cussing me out for something or another. Hargis would, everyday, take the day’s cash deposit and walk across the four-lane highway to the bank, bag of cash in one hand, and a Model 29 .44 Magnum in the other. I wanted a Model 29 badly, but at $1.15 per hour, it was unobtainable. Now, the Model 29, along with Models 21, 22, 24, 27, and my favorite, the Model 25, have returned as blued or nickeled N-frames in the S&W Classic line, along with some models on the smaller frames as well.

The new Model 25 Classic, Model 25-15 to be precise, is chambered for the .45 Colt cartridge and wears a six and one-half inch tapered barrel that measures a slim .604 inch at the muzzle, and it balances beautifully in the hand. The sights are black and easy to see well against a target for precise shooting. The rear sight is the standard S&W fully adjustable unit, and the revolver is drilled under the rear sight for a scope mount. The sixgun weighs in at forty-two ounces. Nothing feels quite like an N-frame in the hand, and with the Model 25’s thin, long walnut grip, the revolver points beautifully. The grip panels extend well below the bottom of the grip frame. They are nicely checkered and perfectly fitted. The grip is thinner in profile than the old target style S&W grip, and feels much better in my hand. The hammer is the wide, checkered target style, and the trigger is wide with shallow vertical grooves. Both have a case-hardened finish. The trigger pull in single-action mode measured a crisp three pounds, thirteen ounces, but felt even lighter due to the wide trigger. Double-action pull weight measures eight and three-quarters pounds, and is very smooth, as an N-frame Smith is expected to be. The firing pin is installed into the frame, and is a stronger design than the older style with the pin in the hammer. The sixgun has the S&W internal lock, should the owner wish to use the device. Reliability was perfect, with no failures to fire nor sticky ejection. Accuracy was excellent. I clamped the Model 25 into my Ransom Master Rest, and fired at a distance of twenty-five yards to test for accuracy, firing a series of five-shot groups. At first, accuracy was in the three inch range, strung vertically, until I finally realized that I had not tightened the elevation screw on the Ransom Rest. After correcting my mistake, every group fired clustered between one and one-half to one and three-quarters inches, with the best group just under one and one-half inches. Also, the groups were getting slightly tighter all the time. This is match grade accuracy from this .45 Colt handgun. The bullets used for accuracy testing were the 270SAA from Mt. Baldy Bullets in Cody, Wyoming. They are a modified Keith design, and weigh about 280 grains. I loaded them atop 6.6 grains of Trail Boss powder with a Winchester WLP primer. I was impressed by the accuracy of the Model 25. Cylinder throats measured a consistent .4515 inch, and the barrel/cylinder gap measured six one-thousandths (.006) inch.

The new Classic Model 25 is not cheap, but is still a good value, and in today’s dollars, the Model 25 is more affordable now than it was fifty years ago.

Check out the Classics and all Smith & Wesson products online at

For the Location of a Smith & Wesson dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at

To order the Model 25 online, go to

To order some of the superb 270SAA bullets online, go to

Jeff Quinn

NOTE: All load data posted on this web site are for educational purposes only. Neither the author nor assume any responsibility for the use or misuse of this data. The data indicated were arrived at using specialized equipment under conditions not necessarily comparable to those encountered by the potential user of this data.  Always use data from respected loading manuals and begin working up loads at least 10% below the loads indicated in the source manual.


For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:






Accuracy testing the Classic Model 25.





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Click pictures for a larger version.


Smith & Wesson's Classic Model 25.



Grips are well-designed and beautifully executed.





Sights are S&W's excellent fully-adjustable rear with pinned-blade front, and are plain black for precise target shooting.





Hammer (top & center) is a wide-spur checkered design, and trigger (bottom) is a wide grooved target style.



Smith & Wesson's internal key lock.