Smith & Wesson originally applied the name “Combat Magnum” to their short-barreled Model 19/66 K-frame revolver chambered in .357 Magnum. It gained a stellar reputation among cops and civilian carriers alike during the 1960’s and beyond. It’s still being made.
For those of us who remember the long-out-of-production Model 696, a 5-shot L-frame revolver chambered in .44 Special, the new revolver is a thing of beauty. Its barrel is only ¼” shorter than the earlier model, and it’s almost two ounces lighter. It can chamber .44 Special as well as .44 Magnum, making it a very versatile firearm indeed.
I have both the original, 4.2″ barrel Model 69 and the new Combat Magnum. I find both very comfortable to shoot with .44 Special loads, even the anti-personnel or hunting stompers loaded by companies such as Buffalo Bore. With .44 Magnum rounds, obviously, the comfort factor is a lot less; but recoil is by no means unmanageable, and I can handle 15-20 rounds with no real problem. I wouldn’t like to shoot more than that in a single range session without either a recoil-absorbing shooting glove, or a better, more recoil-absorbing grip such as a Hogue Monogrip or Smith & Wesson’s own X-grip. However, that’s an easy swap to make. The short-barrel version is compact enough to be carried in an overcoat pocket for winter use, and its heavier bullet will penetrate deeper through winter-weight clothing, if necessary, than a typical .38 or .357 snubnose revolver. That’s something worth having.
If you, like me, are a revolver fan, the Model 69, in both short and longer-barrel versions, is worth a look. No, I’m not being compensated in any way for recommending it, and the two I own were bought with my own money for my own reasons.