Sunday, January 06, 2008
Sunday Smith #30: Model 625-2, 1989.
With the .45 ACP Model 25 continuing in production into the 1980's, it was inevitable that S&W would introduce a stainless version. Sure enough, towards the end of the decade the Model 625 appeared. Seemingly designed to be an ideal bowling pin gun, its 5" full-underlug barrel minimizing the muzzle flip from the .45 cartridge, the 625 had enough oddities to keep collectors scratching their heads for some time to come.
For starters, there never was just a plain 625 or 625-1; the first guns to hit the street were designated "625-2", and engineering changes incremented normally from there. It was also unusual for a 5" gun at the time in that it had a round-butt frame, something that was only seen on short-barreled N-frames of the era. The very earliest ones had the barrel rollmarked "Model of 1988" (despite being made in 1989) and had ramp front sights, but almost immediately this was changed to a laser-etched "Model of 1989" and a patridge-type front sight blade. Unlike other stainless guns from Smith & Wesson, which had brushed finishes, the 625 was finished in a soft matte bead-blast.
In 1990 the 625-3 debuted the longer cylinder stop notches associated with the "Endurance Package" from the 629, and the "-4" change that followed three years later introduced holes pre-drilled in the topstrap for accepting scope mounts. The 625 proved popular with competition shooters for the speed with which it could be reloaded thanks to its use of moon-clips. Indeed, when Jerry Miculek set his famous record of "six shots, reload, and six shots in 2.99 seconds", it was a Model 625 that he used.
The revolver pictured above, an early "Model of 1988" marked gun, was purchased from a friend for $450 in the Autumn of 2003. The 625 seems to hold its value better than some of its more common modern N-frame siblings, and a LNIB example could fetch as much as six bills. The sample above, given its status as a very early rollmarked gun, could bring $550 or a bit more at auction, even with the aftermarket cocobolo Hogue monogrip. A good shooter with minor cosmetic issues could probably be found for around $400, and the beauty of the finish on these guns is that any gunsmith with a blasting cabinet and a deft touch can freshen it right up.