Making a special edition a little more special: fixing a 3″ Lew Horton S&W Model 25.

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A long-time client called me a while back, and told me that he’d just acquired one of the Smith & Wesson Model 25 “Lew Horton” editions with the 3″ barrel. He wasn’t happy with the gun, and asked me to do a makeover.

If you’ve hung out here for long, you know that I love 3″ barrels. I don’t know why, exactly, except that I like ’em. This gun is no exception, and to say I was excited about the prospects would be an understatement.

This gun had the worst double action trigger I’ve felt on a factory gun in a long, long time. He wanted that fixed, and the gun converted to DAO. (It’s an IDPA/carry gun for him, so he sees no need for single action capability.) The gun came replete with sharp edges, so sharp that I sliced open my left forefinger when I first handled it! Those needed to go as well. He also wasn’t happy with the stock S&W sights, for which the gun had already received warranty repair – the first rear sight actually broke in two when shooting! Finally, he wanted general competition-friend modifications that would also be usable “on the street.”

I started by getting rid of all the sharp edges, on all surfaces. The gun then went to the bluing shop for my Black Pearl finish. (This particular gun has the very hardest barrel steel I’ve ever encountered, and it caused no end of headaches in refinishing. The result is that this gun has a little more shine to it than any other Black Pearl finish I’ve done.)

Speaking of the barrel, the crown was both crooked and rough. The hard barrel, with its thin walls, made a normal crown out of the question. I made a very, very small crown, just enough to correct the problems.

The rear sight was replaced with one of Hamilton Bowen’s superb Rough Country units, and the front carries a gold bead sight from SDM Fabricating. The result is a fast-acquisition sight picture, useful for both competition and defense.

Of course the gun received a Super Action Job, along with chamfering the chambers. The trigger was reworked to the modern, thin S&W style, rounded and polished smooth for comfortable double action work. The DAO conversion required bobbing the hammer, and on this gun I tried a new style: a kind of “scalloped” hammer. I’ve already decided that the next one needs a bit of modification (the bottom scallop is too deep to balance the top), but I’m pleased with the result and the way in which it offsets the cylinder-heavy profile of the gun. The trigger weight dropped from 15 lbs. to 9 lbs., and is of course smooth in both pull & reset.

Finally, we needed some decent concealment grips. They’re made of a very nice walnut in a “boot” style by Don Collins, with some specific modifications to his basic design (to better fit my client’s hands.)

The result: a more “special” Special Edition. (My client reads this blog, and hasn’t seen the gun yet. To him I say: don’t worry, it’s coming back to you this week, but I couldn’t wait to show it off!)

-=[ Grant ]=-


About the Author:

Grant Cunningham is a renowned author and teacher in the fields of self defense, defensive shooting education and personal safety. He’s written several popular books on handguns and defensive shooting, including "The Book of the Revolver", "Shooter’s Guide To Handguns", "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals", "Defensive Pistol Fundamentals", and "Practice Strategies for Defensive Shooting" (Fall 2015.) Grant has also written articles on shooting, self defense, training and teaching for many magazines and shooting websites, including Concealed Carry Magazine, Gun Digest Magazine, the Association of Defensive Shooting Instructors ADSI) and the popular Personal Defense Network training website. He’s produced a DVD in the National Rifle Association’s Personal Firearm Defense series titled "Defensive Revolver Fundamentals" and teaches defensive shooting and personal safety courses all over the United States.
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