September 2008

Big-Bore Wheelguns: S&W’s Model 625 Is A Classy Choice

However, another Smith 45 ACP—the new and expensive Model 325 Night Guard—was a bust in double-action mode. Also, our team liked the discontinued Taurus Tracker 455 SS4.

It seemssome of the really nice stuff in firearms doesn’t last long enough for all good men and women to hear about it, spread the word, and go out and buy it. How many times have we all said, "If only such and such company would make this or that," only to have it pointed out to us that they used to make this or that, no one bought it, so it was dropped from the lineup. We’ve encountered several Taurus firearms on the company website and in local gun stores that looked like really good ideas, only to find out they’d been recently discontinued. The same could probably be said of many gun makers who had a product that fit a niche market, failed to promote it sufficiently, and had to stop production. Such is apparently the case with two of the three guns in this report, though one of those two is still available in a specialized form.

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.

We acquired three 45 ACP revolvers, an early S&W Model 625 (Model of 1989) with 4-inch barrel (about $900), a new S&W Model 325 Night Guard with nominal 2.5-inch tube (MSRP $1082), and a Taurus Tracker Model 455 SS4 with 4-inch barrel and integral muzzle brake (about $500). 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. You might also find 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 our test gun. A search of 350 S&W revolvers at the Guns International website ( found not one Model 625. The neat, efficient five-shot Taurus was recently discontinued, but you can still find samples here and there.

Both the Taurus and S&W 625 had excellent adjustable sights. The Night Guard comes with fixed sights with a tritium insert in the front post. All these revolvers 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 two Smiths could also accept the older three-shot, half-moon clips. We tested with Black Hills 230-grain ball, Federal Hi-Shok 185-grain JHP, and Cor-Bon 185-grain JHP. We 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 we found.

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