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Smith & Wesson Model 547 - 9mm Revolver

Have you ever seen a 9mm revolver that didn't use moon clips?   Now you have.     This is the S&W Model 547.   It is a heavy barrel, 9mm (9x19) version of the legendary K-frame, 6-shot M&P revolver. S&W made 10,270 of these from 1980-1985; 6486 round with butt (and 3" barrel), and 3784 with a square butt and 4" barrel (as pictured below).   Supposedly, this was the most difficult-to-manufacture revolver that S&W ever made.

Click on a picture for a larger image

This Model 547 features walnut magna grips with S&W medallions, a 1/8" serrated ramp front sight, with the typical M&P style square notch rear sight.   It has a .265" flat face short throw semi-bobbed hammer, and a .312" smooth trigger.

From what I've been told (from reliable sources) the reason for this revolver's existence comes from the Middle East.  

In the late 1970's, the Israelis wanted to arm the Palestinian Police force with a 9mm handgun, but didn't trust them with an autoloading pistol.   Instead, they wanted a simple-to-use a revolver chambered in 9mm (and by "simple-to-use", they meant "no-moon-clips").   They contracted with Smith & Wesson to make it for them.

There are two problems that have to be solved before you can make a moonclip-less 9x19 revolver:

  1. How do you extract the cases?
  2. How do you keep a tapered cartridge from backing up when fired and locking up the cylinder?

Question #1 - How do you extract the cases? - was answered by Roger J. Curran of Stratford, CT in the form of patent number 4127955 - Extractor assembly for rimless cartridges.   Instead of the usual "star" type extractor, the Model 547 features a horn-shaped extractor (see picture 5 above) with small beryllium-copper spring tabs that grab the rim of each case.   This assembly is for extraction only; the cartridges headspace on the mouth.   The device works really well - I've never had a stuck case.

The second problem - tapered cases backing out and locking up the cylinder - was a familiar one to S&W.   This same issue killed the Model 53 (.22 Jet) revolver.   S&W overcame this in the 547 by adding a pin (above the firing pin) that prevents the fired case from backing up (see picture 6).   This solution seems to be effective, as I've never had the cylinder lock up in all the rounds I've fired.   Speaking of firing pins, the one in the 547 is a floating pin.   While this is common to most new S&W revolvers, it was unique to the 547 back in the day.

Soon after Smith & Wesson delivered the first shipment of these revolvers, the Israeli government cancelled the rest of the order and instead bought an IMI revolver that was a Model 547 knockoff.   S&W released the remaining guns to the civilian market.

Israel's loss was my gain.   I love shooting this gun.   I learned to shoot using an old pencil-barrel Model 10, so shooting the 547 felt like coming home.   However, I think that the 547 has a better balance because of the heavy barrel.   When I shoot this side-by-side with my Model 10, the 547 seems to point better (though I still prefer the looks of the old pencil barrel).

The first time I shot this revolver, I was surprised by the recoil.   I was expecting it to be like a soft .38 Special.   Instead, the recoil is noticeably sharper than even a stout +P, but less than a .357 Magnum.   It is by no means excessive or uncomfortable to shoot, just more than I expected.

This revolver (curiously) shoots to point of aim with all of the ammo I've tried with it.   It is also as accurate as any other 4" K-frame, which means that it's damn accurate.   I pulled off one of my most impressive (read that as "lucky") feats of marksmanship with this revolver.

I was at the range one morning while a fellow club member was practicing with a scoped muzzle loading rifle.   He was shooting at clay pigeons placed on the 100 yard target bunker.   There were three unbroken clays still on the bunker when he ran out of caps.   I pulled out my Model 547 and asked him, "Do you mind?"   He said, "Go ahead, for all the good it'll do you."   I cocked the hammer, aimed about a foot high, pulled the trigger, and watched one of the clays explode.   My buddy said, "You'll never be able to do that again." I proceeded to again cock the hammer, again aim about a foot high, again pull the trigger, and again hit a clay.   Before he could speak again, I shot the third clay with my third shot.   Rather than screw up by shooting again, I packed up and left the range.

I guess with only about 10,000 in existence, the 547 is a rarity or at least a collector's item.   If you can find one at a decent price, snap it up.   Not only is the 547 a great shooter, it's a pretty good investment.   The prices on these revolvers are going up:   As of 12/2007 the price on for an average used example is hovering around $700.   I paid $400 for mine a couple of years ago.

Report by EddieCoyle - 12/17/2007