Model 28

For 32 years—from 1954 until 1986—the best deal in the Smith & Wesson catalog was the Model 28, a revolver built on the N frame and chambered for the .357 Mag. cartridge. Before S&W assigned model numbers to all products, the maker called this gun the Highway Patrolman. Made with the user's choice of either 4- or 6-inch barrels, the Highway Patrolman had a matte-blue finish, with a very plebeian exterior. There was no grooving on the barrel rib or rear sight and no choices in sights, trigger or hammer. I have seen Target and Magna grips on them, almost always in oiled, checkered walnut. In other words, the Model 28 was a plain .357 Mag. revolver of the largest and strongest type. You got a lot of gun for your money and that made the Model 28 popular with cash-strapped police agencies and individual officers. 

Actually, the Model 28 was almost identical to a flashier gun called the Model 27. Originally, the Model 27 was introduced in 1935, and was made to the individual specifications of the buyer. This system did very well for a few years, but eventually S&W changed to producing the most-ordered variations as stock items. In the immediate pre-World War II era, lots of people wanted one of the new magnum revolvers and the demand picked up as soon as hostilities were over. By the mid-'50s, S&W put this plain-jane magnum in the catalog. It sold well and continued to do so until police service revolvers started to lose popularity with the advent of the DA/SA autos in the 80s.

Rumors about the Model 28 were rife for many years, the most common being the allegation that the gun was not quite as good as the upscale model 27. Several times over the years, I put Highway Patrolman revolvers in the Ransom Rest and fired them against Model 27s. There was no major difference in the two. As a matter of fact, I have seen Model 28s used for bullseye competition, as well as PPC and IHMSA matches. Model 27s, which I admire greatly, are lovely guns, but they are really no better than the economy-priced Highway Patrolman. I call it the “Blue Collar” Magnum.        

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10 Responses to Model 28

Fred wrote:
April 13, 2013

I purchased a Mod 28, 6 inch from a lady in PA in July 1964. Had virtually no wear on it. Took it with me to Nam in Aug 64 thru Oct 65 and it got a little wear. Outstanding weapon. Have continued shooting it for years but just semi-retired it in favor of a Performance Center 627.

Chuck wrote:
January 28, 2013

The model 28 has a hammer block so it is safe to load all 6 chambers i of the clyinder.

Jim wrote:
January 26, 2013

Hi, say could you tell me if you can load all cylinders on the 28-2? I bought one and see that the hammer has the pin type is thia a safety issue as was the single shots....thanks

N.W. Halls wrote:
January 22, 2013

have owned 1 since '54 was a LEO from '35-'65 best service weapon ever. it went to the Pacific with me as well.

C J Rice wrote:
March 26, 2012

My first center fire handgun was a Model 28 bought on E-6 pay in 1976...and the gun that convinced me of the worth and quality of S&W firearms. I took the gun home and offered to let my dad shoot it. He had never shot a magnum. I loaded it with .38 Spl and let him shoot it. After shooting the first six as I reloaded the gun, he mentioned it not being overly impressive. I slipped a .357 round into sixth place. As he came to the sixth round, the recoil and bark were considerably more to his surprise. We still laugh about that.

Terry wrote:
March 20, 2012

I have one of each, my Dad's 4' and my 6' mine has bee used by two different officers to qualify with they liked them also.

Gary wrote:
March 18, 2012

American handgunners have been on quite a trip. When the .357 was first introduced, it was the "Most powerful handgun in the world" and required the massive N frame to contain it. Today, you can buy a .357 in their tiny J frame. The recoil of this fearsome cartridge was guaranteed to all but rip your hand off. Then the .44 was the most powerful, then the .454 and finally the .500. Today, able-bodied shooters can run a box or two of ammo through any of these hand canons and live to tell about it. Are we getting more manly or what? Sadly, "self-defense" autos are taking over the market and the great S&W revolvers are slowly starting to take on "classic" status. But never forget: autos are simply machines; revolvers have a soul.

Marshall Williams wrote:
March 17, 2012

Over a period of about 20 years, I owned two of them, one four inch and the other six inch. I used both for bullseye as an "expert" class shooter. I usually shot higher center fire scores with the Model 28 than with a highly accuraized 1911. With its slick action honed by years of practice, I usually did better in timed and rapid fire. It was a marvelous old gun.

Rhonda Garrett wrote:
March 16, 2012

I think one of the biggest differences cosmetically between the 27 and 28 were the polish on the bluing, where the 27 had a very high luster polish on it's bluing, the 28 just lacks that super shiny sheen.

jim wrote:
March 16, 2012

My fathers HP was the first handgun I ever fired at the age of 5. 6 inch barreled model. I really hope I can coax it out of him someday.