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.