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the 1st an 2nd gen guns were junk and the bad rep of those guns turned people off to the 3rd gen
Dude, that's not true one bit. They had some finicky things with some of the old style hollow points, but so did most of the semi-autos on the market back then. My 1st Gen 469 came to me in excellent condition and hasn't missed a beat. There are a lot of people that can say the same thing.

I get it, you like the Sigs. That's pretty obvious from your comments. But if your preferred gun is so superior, why is it necessary to beat on its competition.
 

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The 1st and 2nd gen guns sold well so they obviously were not junk. They were not nearly as refined as the later 3rd gens, but then again nor were the other DA autos of the time period. I have an early Beretta 92S, and while it's a beautiful pistol I wouldn't care to take it into battle any more than the Model 59. The sights suck, the grip is as slick as a wet bar of soap and the DA trigger is just as bad as the Smith's. The later 92F that was adopted by the US Army as the M9 was far superior.

Gun manufacturers often bring promising designs to market that need a little more refinement to be perfect, and the early Smith autos were no exception. I wouldn't recommend one as a primary defense arm, but as an interesting collectible and a fun weekend shooter they're great. But I wouldn't pay more than $400 or so for one. I sometimes see them on Gunbroker for upwards of a thousand, and all I can say is that those sellers must be smoking some pretty good stuff.
 

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There was a shoot-out involving some creeps and the San Francisco P.D. who, at the time were issued S&W M59s. Fire continuity from the officers was interrupted by the magazines untimely falling from the pistols, engaging the (stupid and needless) magazine disconnect, rendering said pistols inert. Replacing with fresh magazines seemed to fix the problem, until they, also fell out.
Learning of this, and being generally unsatisfied with the 3 M59s that I had the misfortune of shooting, soured me on all center fire S&W semi-autos for four decades.
 
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Many years ago, a buddy of mine who also worked to do some training with various organizations had a Model 39 at the range and was telling me about how well it pointed. He suggested that I try it out and after that I knew I had to get one.
That gun hasn't missed a beat. Much as people malign the triggers, the trigger on my M39 is actually fairly smooth and fairly comparable to a typical SIG but perhaps just a touch heavier.
Problem with the alloy framed S&W guns is that they use some fairly thin sections of aluminum to cam the barrel to lock and unlock and all the ones I have seen seem to show wear in that area. I don't know that they will wear out or fail, but that is still not inspiring of confidence.

With that in mind, when a Model 659 came my way at a really good price, I bought it. I figured stainless steel frame would be a lot more durable. It probably is, but the gun is amazingly heavy for what it is and the nice pointability of the Model 39 isn't there anymore. The trigger also isn't quite as good. Perhaps it is a stainless versus blued steel thing or perhaps it is a wear thing. I don't know. The shape of the grip isn't anywhere near as nice as on many other pistols... The motorcycle tyre analogy is pretty close to the truth.

Accuracy of neither my Model 39 nor Model 659 is anything to brag about. They both do about 2 to 4 inch groups at 25 yards on a good day. Neither has ever malfunctioned in any way. I have put a lot more rounds through the Model 39 simply because I have had it much longer. I have enough confidence in the Model 39 to have used it as a carry gun a few times. The Model 59 is just way too heavy for that purpose and doesn't really point well enough.

- Ivan.
 

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There was a shoot-out involving some creeps and the San Francisco P.D. who, at the time were issued S&W M59s. Fire continuity from the officers was interrupted by the magazines untimely falling from the pistols, engaging the (stupid and needless) magazine disconnect, rendering said pistols inert. Replacing with fresh magazines seemed to fix the problem, until they, also fell out.
Learning of this, and being generally unsatisfied with the 3 M59s that I had the misfortune of shooting, soured me on all center fire S&W semi-autos for four decades.
I suspect the problem was isolated to those specific Model 59s, most likely how they were adjusted (you can adjust the amount of engagement with a S&W mag catch). Smith & Wesson didn't change the mag catch design over the life of their metal-framed autos aside from making them reversible to comply with the JSSAP requirements. If there was a problem that serious that was never remedied they wouldn't have sold so many guns to LE agencies over the years. Until the Glocks took over the market S&W was the #1 seller of semi-auto handguns to law enforcement.
 
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I suspect the problem was isolated to those specific Model 59s, most likely how they were adjusted (you can adjust the amount of engagement with a S&W mag catch). Smith & Wesson didn't change the mag catch design over the life of their metal-framed autos aside from making them reversible to comply with the JSSAP requirements. If there was a problem that serious that was never remedied they wouldn't have sold so many guns to LE agencies over the years. Until the Glocks took over the market S&W was the #1 seller of semi-auto handguns to law enforcement.
And the U.S. military adopted the Beretta 9mm, while retiring the 1911s, until the boots on the ground started asking for their .45s back. Just because a major governmental agency adopts and maintains use of a certain platform, it should not necessarily be treated as an endorsement of said platform or its efficacy. The Colt M1892 .38 Long Colt revolver, the Reising M50 SMG, and the M1 Carbine are all stark examples.
It is entirely possible that the S.F.P.D. catastrophe was an isolated incident. Cold comfort to a police officer who might have lost his life in that conflict. There's also the matter of sending a sworn peace officer afield with a sidearm equipped with a magazine disconnect in it. THAT'S a bad move, in ANY theater of conflict. Given a choice between being armed with an auto pistol equipped with an M.D., or a 6-shot K-frame .357, I'LL take the revolver.
 

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The magazine disconnect has also saved the lives of some police officers. In one instance a traffic cop was sucker-punched and his S&W auto taken from him. Fortunately the weapon was on-safe, and the perp didn't know which control was the safety was so he hit the mag release button first, dropping the mag. Then he found the actual safety lever and tried again, only now the pistol wouldn't fire. It saved the cop from an execution-style death.

That being said, I personally hate mag safeties as well, and the pistols I have with one are range guns only. But we live in a world where a safety device might get you killed, or it might actually work as intended depending on the circumstances.
 

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The magazine disconnect has also saved the lives of some police officers. In one instance a traffic cop was sucker-punched and his S&W auto taken from him. Fortunately the weapon was on-safe, and the perp didn't know which control was the safety was so he hit the mag release button first, dropping the mag. Then he found the actual safety lever and tried again, only now the pistol wouldn't fire. It saved the cop from an execution-style death.

That being said, I personally hate mag safeties as well, and the pistols I have with one are range guns only. But we live in a world where a safety device might get you killed, or it might actually work as intended depending on the circumstances.
Also read stories in the gun mags back in the late 70~80s about cops who were struggling for their gun with bigger, stronger perps and punched the mag release themselves. Then drew their back-up!
 

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And the U.S. military adopted the Beretta 9mm, while retiring the 1911s, until the boots on the ground started asking for their .45s back. Just because a major governmental agency adopts and maintains use of a certain platform, it should not necessarily be treated as an endorsement of said platform or its efficacy. The Colt M1892 .38 Long Colt revolver, the Reising M50 SMG, and the M1 Carbine are all stark examples.
It is entirely possible that the S.F.P.D. catastrophe was an isolated incident. Cold comfort to a police officer who might have lost his life in that conflict. There's also the matter of sending a sworn peace officer afield with a sidearm equipped with a magazine disconnect in it. THAT'S a bad move, in ANY theater of conflict. Given a choice between being armed with an auto pistol equipped with an M.D., or a 6-shot K-frame .357, I'LL take the revolver.
Just because you make a blanket statement, don't make it so. For what it was designed to do, the M1 carbine excelled. The only time it became a "stark example" is when the troops tried to use a well made shovel as a backhoe.
 

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There is nothing really wrong with the M1 Carbine as long as one remembers that it was intended as a pistol substitute and fires pistol cartridges. Just because it looks like a rifle doesn't mean it is a reasonable substitute for a rifle.
The same kind of thing happened when Battlecruisers were included in the battle line because they looked so much like Battleships.

- Ivan.
 

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The US military has a long, proud history of employing weapons into roles for which they were not designed. Same goes for continuing to use them long past their sell-by date.
 

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My first 9mm was a 39-2, a pretty decent-shooting pistol. I removed the magazine safety and swapped out the sight for a factory adjustable sight (easy to do, lift the tab on the front of the sight, rotate it 90 degrees, and lift out the sight. The Magazine safety was spring-loaded and under that rear sight, so you just lifted out the spring and plunger, no more magazine safety. Replace the fixed rear with the adjustable one, rotate it 90 degrees, and drop that front tab into the machined slot). Bingo, instant trigger job AND you have an adjustable sight. I learned how to handload the 9mm with that pistol, and along with a Commander .45, I learned how to shoot autopistols. I have fond memories of that 39-2, it didn't gag unless I fed it some questionable ammo.
I did finally sell it and bought my first Hi Power, with the beer can sights. It was less reliable than that Smith. Classier, but not as trustworthy.
 

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I bought a model 39-2 in 1980. I still have it. Nice gun. I came to appreciate the DA/SA trigger. Trigger pull was like a revolver for the first shot. Comforting to carry with one in the chamber. I didn’t mind the slide mounted safety/decocker. Points well. Mine never jammed.

I preferred it to a 1911 for a long time. I have come to appreciate more accurate pistols. I have come to appreciate a perfect trigger too. And I need better sights now. So now it is largely 1911’s. I wouldn’t mind the 39-2 if I had to carry it.

This thread brought back fond memories. Might just shoot the old 39-2 tomorrow.
 

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The Model 39 is one of the most naturally pointing pistols for me. It hasn't been all that accurate in my experience though but hasn't jammed on me yet. The triggers on the S&W pistols seem to have gotten better with each new generation though the one on the Model 39 wasn't bad.
The aluminum frame S&W pistols always seemed a bit flimsy to me. The thin alloy sections of the frame used to lock and unlock always showed wear fairly early on though i haven't actually seen one break.
 

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I have a model 39 still that I’m very fond of. I also have a 459 that belonged to my late little brother that he carried. It seems to function perfectly.

With my police department went from revolvers to semi automatics, they went with the Smith model 59 which was brand new at the time. The individual officer price if you chose to buy one I think was $140. There were lots of issues back then. The running joke was that if you were going to get into a gun battle with your model 59 you should first fire it into the ground to see if it was going to work. Smith sent an armorer to the department and eventually most of the bugs were worked out. I got rid of the one I bought personally.
 

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I purchased a 59 new back about 1977. They had a fairly short run and rightly so. I could not get the pistol to run anything and way too many controls. As stated there are better options.
 

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The Model 59 had a fairly long run for a Smith & Wesson product, from 1971 until 1982 when the 2nd generation models came out. Mine runs perfectly fine. I just absolutely hate the trigger, but other than that it's a pretty decent gun.
 

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I never could like the Model 59, ergonomics just didn’t work for me. Loved the model 39 though.

The 459 has vastly improved ergonomics, trigger…well…everything. It’s a whole lot better than the 59 and not a bad shooter at all. The 3rd Gen S&W’s are brute strong, and very reliable. But finding magazines can sometimes be a challenge depending on which model you’re looking at.
 
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