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I've been looking at S&W model 19s on gunbroker and some are described as "pinned and recessed"; I see the pin above the barrel in the frame. What does the recessed mean? Also, when did S&W do this as it seems to describe older guns. Furthermore (sorry) are these guns as strong as the newer guns? Is there a structural difference between models 19, 27, and 686? I know some of this could be answered by a good gun reference book, but I don't possess one right now. Thanks a bunch.
 

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You've got the "pinned barrel" figured out. "Recessed" means it has a counterbored cylinder so that the cartridge rim is flush with the back face of the cylinder, and the back face of the cylinder is nearly flush with the frame opening.

Strength-wise, the S&W revolvers all have a letter designation frame size. The 19 is a "K" frame, as is the 686. The 27 is an "L" frame; a bit heavier and larger. The 29 (Dirty Harry's .44 Mag) is an "N" frame - lots heavier.

The K frame guns will not withstand a steady diet of full-house loads - they will eventually loosen up from the pounding. For a medium .357 load, they will withstand many thousands of rounds with no problem. There may be some flame-cutting on the topstrap if you shoot it a LOT, but that can be prevented with a replaceable piece of shim stock fitted around the topstrap at the forcing cone.

The Old vs. New debate on the S&W wheelguns will go on forever. My perception is that the old ones were better fitted and better finished; it didn't just have to be "good enough" - it had to be as good as they could make it.
 

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Hmmmm . . . Are you sure? I thought the 686 was an L-frame, and the 27 a N-frame?
 

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Question. What exactly is considered a full house magnum load? Are the 125 gr. JHPs released from the Remington company considered full house loads if they're bought from Wal-Mart and marketed as sporting ammunition?
 

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"Full-House" loads are generally heavy bullets with max charges of slow powder.

The 125s are usually a smaller charge of a faster powder. You can judge the pounding the gun is taking by the recoil YOU feel - try shooting some hot 158s and then some 125s..... quite a difference.
 

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The guys I run around with consider anything that is a factory load or above a full house load. Your store bought rounds are "full" — tfhey are not a "reduced" load. Some who reload will have a mild load to shoot just for fun. Cowboy Action loads are reduced in power, so they would not be a full house load. Then there are the hot loads that are loaded to at least what you would get from the factory, or above (sometimes waaaaaay above) what you would get from the factory. These are the "full house" loads. I don't think there is a definition that is etched in stone. But like wwb said, there's quite a difference—you'll know when ya shoot one!
 

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Roadkill Bill,
You're right that the 686 is an L-frame and the 27 is an N. The L-frame is essentially an N-frame with a K-frame size grip.

"Full power" or "full house" loads as are commonly referred to in this context are those that are of standard factory velocities or better regardless of bullet weight. There are some mid-range .357 mag rounds that would not normally be considered full house as well as the Cowboy loads.
 

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A recessed cylinder means the back of the cylinder is recessed so that the rim of the ammuntion fits into the cylinder instead of sitting on it. I'll post a picture of my recessed cylinder on my model 13 tomorrow.
 
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