Introduced in 1955, the big N-framed Smith & Wesson Model 25 was originally marketed as the “.45 Target Model” and it is easy to see why.
Essentially a modernized update to their old World War I-era Model of 1917— which in turn was largely rebooted as the Model 1950 .45 Army– the .45 Target Model was a big, 5-screw double-action revolver made by S&W to use the .45ACP cartridge with moon clips or the .45 Auto Rim without the devices. Standard features at the time included a target trigger and hammer, a high Partridge-style front sight, and beefy checkered wood grips with a gold S&W medallion inlay. Finished in a deep blue, the guns were originally offered in 4- and 6.5-inch pinned barreled versions.
Proving popular with Bullseye competitors, after 1957 the 45 Target Model was officially listed in Big Blue’s catalog as the Model 25– with the Model 1950 rebranded as the Model 22– and soon, other calibers and barrel lengths were added.
To celebrate the company’s 125th anniversary in 1977, Smith issued a limited run of commemorative Model 25s, 25-3 guns, chambered in .45 Colt.
Moving forward, generational improvements on the Model 25 series typically alternated between .45ACP and .45 Colt versions, with the even numbers going to the former and odd dashes to the latter. For instance, the 25-6 was chambered in .45 ACP while the 25-7 was a .45 Colt.
By 1979, Smith had replaced the 6.5-inch barrels models with a shorter 6-inch variant in production, while retaining the 4-inch models and introducing an even longer 8.375-inch model as well.
By 1991, Smith dropped the Model 25 from their regular catalog, leaving it as a special production gun and in 1999 halted even that. After a brief hiatus, however, the big .45 target revolver was reintroduced with the 25-11 series just after the Millenium.
Today, S&W continues making the Model 25 as part of their Classic line of revolvers with a pinned Patridge front sight, Micro-Adjustable rear, and 6.5-inch barrel.