October 18, 2011

S&W Model 625-3 45 ACP

The concept of a revolver chambered for 45 ACP goes back to WWI, when Colt and Smith & Wesson brought out their Model 1917s to fire the semiautomatic-pistol cartridge through the use of half-moon clips. With the more recent introduction of full-moon clips, these six-shot revolvers can be reloaded very quickly as long as you have a supply of loaded clips. The original S&W Model 1917 had a detent to hold the cylinder fully open, which helped expedite the reloading process. Recently, revolver maestro Jerry Miculek proved just how fast a 45 revolver can be reloaded. He fired six shots from his gun, dumped the empties, reloaded, and fired six more—all in less than three seconds.

Gun Tests acquired an early S&W Model 625 (Model of 1989) with 4-inch barrel (about $900). The S&W Model 625 is apparently only available today as a Jerry Miculek Special version at $1011, or as a Performance Center gun with 5.2-inch barrel at a higher but unspecified price. There is a 3-inch version of the blued Model 25 as a Dealer Special. Still another S&W 45 ACP revolver is the Thunder Ranch Special, with 4-inch tube and flashlight, for $1335. These last two still appear on the company website. Be aware it might not be easy finding a 4-inch or 5-inch S&W 625 like the test gun. A search of 350 S&W revolvers at the Guns International website (www.GunsInternational.com) found not one Model 625.

Gun Tests September 2008

You can’t buy a new revolver exactly like this 1989 model today, but the Jerry Miculek Special might come close. This was a superb setup. The Pachmayr grips replace the original finger-grooved ones.

The S&W 625 had excellent adjustable sights. The revolver supposedly could be fired with 45 ACP cartridges dropped individually into the chambers, or with full-moon clips, or with 45 Auto Rim cartridges. The Smith could also accept the older three-shot, half-moon clips. The magazine tested with Black Hills 230-grain ball, Federal Hi-Shok 185-grain JHP, and Cor-Bon 185-grain JHP. They also tried a few Auto Rim cases handloaded with 260-grain Keith cast bullets, but didn’t include them in the formal results. Here’s what they found.

The stainless-steel 625 was slick and smooth, and generally wonderful all over. The small, slim Pachmayr grips made the gun pleasant to hold and shoot, and gave easy access to the trigger. The right side of the under-lugged barrel had "45 CAL MODEL OF 1989" electro-etched into its matte-stainless finish. The left side had the company name. The hammer retained the old-style firing pin, though the barrel was not pinned in place. A stubby, well-checkered hammer and a wide, smooth trigger completed the setup. The latch had had its edges rounded by the gun’s owner. He told them that the gun had come with finger-grooved rubber grips that had not fit him at all. He cut the grips down but eventually replaced them with the small ones shown.

Gun Tests September 2008

The 625 was mighty pleasing to our test crew. Some might want a lighter gun with slimmer barrel.

The timing, fit, finish, and workmanship were excellent throughout. The lockup was tight, with no slop anywhere. The owner had put a thousand rounds through the gun before they inspected it. The extremely smooth double-action pull had them grinning. Later they were told the gun didn’t come that slick. Its internals had been slightly modified by its owner. The SA trigger pull was like ancient S&W revolvers, crisp and clean, breaking at 3.8 pounds. The DA pull was very smooth at 10.3 pounds.

The gun was matte finished everywhere except for the blued, adjustable sights.

The ramped front-sight insert was serrated to cut glare, and both front and rear were devoid of all dots, glitter, paint, and what-have-you. That was refreshing. The team noted that this was one of the first modern S&W revolvers to have the correct dimensions to its cylinder outlets. They closely matched the groove diameter of the barrel. Earlier Model 25s commonly had outlets as large as 0.458 inch, much too large for the 0.450-inch to 0.451-inch barrel. This gave leading with cast bullets, less-than-ideal accuracy, and even some spitting with jacketed bullets. Not so this one. All recent Smith 45 revolvers have the correct dimensions.

Gun Tests September 2008

Revolver whiz Jerry Miculek shot 12 shots from a similar revolver in under three seconds. Buy one of these and start practicing.

The magazine used the owner’s trimmed full-moon clips, which were easy to load. When it was time to remove the empties from the clips, they used a "Demooner," available for about $17 from Brownells. The magazine said that if you like 45 ACP revolvers and full moon clips, to get yourself a Demooner. They believe they’re worth it if you value your fingers, time, and serenity.

Rapid-fire results with this gun were the best of the test. The weight and balance of the gun let them get excellent hits as fast as they could work the smooth DA trigger. The 625 was extremely fast to reload. The full-moon clips held the cartridges in firm alignment so the reload was able to drop into the gun easily. Loose rounds all fired properly. There were no problems with the 625, and its accuracy was outstanding. They thought it was a “mighty pleasant” handgun.

Comments (8)

Interested in one of these. I live in the Dallas area. I will start looking for one this weekend.

Posted by: frankgon4 | February 9, 2012 5:54 PM    Report this comment

I wish some manufacturer would bring out a carry version of this revolver.
2"-2 1/2" barrel,short front sight,groove rear sight and a bobbed hammer.

Posted by: poletax | October 21, 2011 6:17 PM    Report this comment

i have one of the original 1917 models, and it is probably my favorite range pistol. i am not an expert, but i can dump the spent moon clip and drop in another about as fast as the semi auto guys can swap a clip. lots of fun and the same caliber as my semi autos.

Posted by: tje | October 21, 2011 11:55 AM    Report this comment

My 625-3 is very enjoyable to shoot; but, is better as a pin gun. I use my 325 Thunder Ranch for concealed carry.

Posted by: Cristiano1911 | October 20, 2011 1:15 PM    Report this comment

I am a subscriber to Gun Test magazine

Posted by: 2lazyb | October 20, 2011 12:12 PM    Report this comment

I am a subscriber to Gun Test magazine

Posted by: 2lazyb | October 20, 2011 12:11 PM    Report this comment

I always wonder if two practiced shootists, went through a box of 50 shells, one with a revolver, one with a semi-auto, no extra magazines, no speed loaders, no clips. Which one would finish first? As far as accuracy in the contest, all that would be required is hitting the target.

Posted by: Mister E | October 20, 2011 11:55 AM    Report this comment

I bought three of the Model of 1989 625's; two 5" and one 3". I wish I'd bought a 4" at the time. They are a fine and accurate revolver. I've killed white tails with them and numerous varmints. I had one modified at the S&W Performance Center and that is probably the finest trigger I've ever experienced Well worth the $$

Posted by: WillD | October 20, 2011 11:54 AM    Report this comment

Add your comments ...

New to Gun Tests? Register for Free!

Already Registered? Log In