Sunday, January 20, 2008

Sunday Smith #32: Model PC-13, 1995.


In 1990, a new department was opened at Smith & Wesson. Dubbed the "Performance Center", it was envisaged as an in-house semicustom shop, where niche guns could be designed and built under the direction of master pistolsmiths Paul Liebenberg and John French. The guns would be based on existing S&W designs, built in limited runs, and shopped to Smith's various distributors, who would then get an exclusive model to offer in their catalogs. The concept proved popular, and soon it was not uncommon for models to be completely sold out at SHOT, the gun industry's big winter trade show.

In 1995 the Performance Center turned its attentions to the .357 Magnum Model 13. The Model 13 was first released in 1974 and remained in production through 1999. Also known as the ".357 Magnum Military & Police" it was, as the name implies, a slightly beefed-up fixed-sight M&P chambered for the more powerful Magnum cartridge instead of the old .38 Special. It was fairly popular with law enforcement, at least with departments that weren't hampered by the stigma of issuing "Magnums". It was available in both 4" square-butt and 3" round-butt configurations, the latter becoming very respected as a concealed-carry or plainclothes revolver, especially after its adoption by the FBI.

The Performance Center version, sold through the well-known distributor Lew Horton, was known as the PC-13. Based on the 3" round-butt gun, the magnum K-frame featured a bobbed hammer and double-action-only lockwork, lightly chamfered charge holes, a simple overtravel stop consisting of a roll-pin fixed in the rear of the trigger, Eagle Secret Service grips, and quad Mag-Na-Porting. The cylinder release was beveled on the bottom to better clear a speedloader and, unlike the standard 3" Model 13, the ejector rod was shrouded. The whole gun was finished in a businesslike matte blue. The Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson by Jim Supica and Richard Nahas refers to it as "A very serious carry revolver."

The revolver in the photo was purchased by a good friend at a gun show in 2001 for $650. It was gifted to me in 2002 and has held pride of place in my S&W collection ever since. As scarce as these revolvers are (only 400 of them were built), accurate pricing is difficult. MSRP in 1995 was $765, and examples have turned up all over the price map in the last few years, from $800 on the low end to a recent unfired-in-the-box specimen on Gunbroker.com with an opening bid of $1,199. Sadly, like most Performance Center guns, a lot of these seem to have been bought to hoard and never shoot, which is a shame for such a no-nonsense gun. As can be seen by the discoloration around the porting in the above photo, this specimen has been spared such an ignominious fate.

17 comments:

The Earth Bound Misfit said...

Holy crap, Tam, you got the Sunday Smith piece up early today.

Way early.

What's wrong?

Tam said...

Oh, that's just when I took the picture and started writing. I didn't hit "publish" 'til almost 8PM. Naptime and dinnertime and general-lazing-aroundtime all intervened.

Who is..... Carteach0? said...

Serious, serious revolver lust happening here. I didn't know such a thing existed.

Hyunchback said...

Mmmm, revolverlicious....

Dr. StrangeGun said...

Nice.

And a .450 Marlin case to hold it up?

Tam said...

Ayup.

Anonymous said...

Tam, you should have used a reflector when taking the photo. gun is too dark and there is too much backlight.

All The Best,
Frank W. James

Tam said...

Yeah, a lot of this stuff is simply going to need to be re-shot.

I painted myself into a corner by deciding to take all the Sunday Smith photos in the same place without stopping to think that for half the dang year the sun is on the wrong side of the house.

D'oh! :o

Anonymous said...

Cool piece!!

And I see you keep it loaded as is proper!

Draven said...

Tam,

A piece of foamcore from the local art store makes a good zero-budget reflector.

Anonymous said...

Can't remember the year, but Horton had Smith make some 3" round butt Model 66s without ports, and I grabbed one when they were announced; it doesn't have the class the PC-13 does, but it's still a favorite carry piece. There's just something about that particular configuration that has a very good balance.

Rustmeister said...

Yup, that's one fine wheelgun there.

Matt G said...

It's a fine, fine revolver, but I'd like it even more if they left the single-action option available. I like to know that I can pick off "the little man behind the rock", even with a serious carry gun.

Why, do you think, did they grind off the SA notch? (Yes, I know that this was de riguer back in the day in California competition revolvers.)

Curtis Lowe said...

WANT

DoubleTapper said...

Here in Israel, all used handguns can be purchased for about $200. Because the industry is regulated, all firearms are required to be registered. If you lose your permit, you are required to either turn your gun in at the local PD, or at a Gun Shop, where it can be sold. You have only 90 days to make the sale, or your weapon is forefit. So every imaginable make an model of handgun can be purchased. Of course since we can only get a permit for one hangun, I can't go buying up all the shiny toys in the store.

red said...

I guess the chance of finding one of these at the gun show this weekend is pretty slim (at least in my price range!).

Are you and the roomie going to the 1500?

Anonymous said...

Found this site because I was googling because I found one on these at the gunshow today. Very nice revolver. Shoots good too but does have some blast due to the porting. Shot it indoors in the dark next to a 3" 65 and a 3" 19PC, yes, I like 3" smiths. Recoil was on par with the 19PC which is also ported but I like the fact of the bobbed hammer and fixed sights. It will replace my 19PC as my carry gun.