Smith & Wesson Model 25 .45 Wheel Gun Extraordinaire

Smith Wesson Model 25 45 ACP

The S&W Model 25 has been around for 65 years and is an iconic wheel gun (Photos:

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.

early Smith & Wesson Model 25-2 45ACP 6.5

This early Smith & Wesson Model 25-2 up for grabs in the Vault is both classic and collectible. This revolver is chambered in .45 ACP and features a 6.5″ barrel. Note the Partridge-style front sight. Its “N” prefix serial number points to a production date of after 1969 but before 1977.

early Smith & Wesson Model 25-2 45ACP 6.5 full moon clips

S&W’s earlier M1917 had previously been used with “full” or “half-moon” clips that held six or three rounds of .45 ACP, respectively, with the clips providing the rimless cartridge a base for the revolver’s extractor to push the brass from the cylinder. The Model 25, when chambered in .45ACP, still uses the same style clips.

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.

125th Anniversary Model 25 SW Smith

They bore a gold-filled barrel roll mark and an anniversary seal on the side plate. The Goncalo Alves target grips had sculptured medallions while the front sight changed to a ramped red insert style target sight with an adjustable rear.

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.

25-5 Smith Wesson 45 Colt

This 1980s-era S&W Model 25-5 in .45 Colt is a more compact 4-inch model. They have a reputation for being very accurate and are a great example of Smith & Wesson’s high-quality production. This particular specimen up for grabs in the Vault includes an extra Pachmayr grip set and protective case.

Smith Wesson Model 25-5 8.375 inch barrel

Then there is this 25-5 with the distinctive 8-inch barrel

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.

smith Wesson Classic new Model 25

Available as part of the company’s Classics line the Smith Wesson Model 25 is a double-action revolver chambered in 45 LC or 45 ACP. It is built on a large N-frame and is the target version of the Model 22.


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