27 October 2021

A Skim Of S&W Generation Differences

L - R: Model 59, Model 459, Model 915


In a nutshell, the differences between the 39/59 series pistols is:

1st no firing pin block.

2nd gets the firing pin block and has the option for an ambi-safety.

Otherwise the 1st and 2nd gens are the same.

3rd gen deletes the half-cock notch and revises the frame for a wrap-around back-strap/grip made from space age polymer instead of screwed on nylon stocks.  The barrel bushing is deleted and sights are changed to dove-tails front and rear.

The 1st gen frame has the ejector/magazine safety arm (on our left) and the blade the safety presses to drop the hammer.

The magazine safety feature is actuated by a spring loaded plunger in the slide (on our right) which pushes down on the ejector and disconnects the trigger.  The magazine pushes it back up to allow the trigger to engage.


The safety drum pushes down on the safety blade, tripping the sear and disconnecting the trigger.  The drum also rotates into the path of the hammer, preventing the hammer from striking the firing pin.

The 2nd gen adds a firing pin block which is a spring loaded plunger in the slide which is pushed up by a blade just outside the safety blade.


The 3rd gen changes the magazine disconnect plunger from metal to plastic.


  1. I picked up a 915 when they were introduced. It also happened to be my first 9mm. Everyone was getting nines back in the day, so I had to jump on the bandwagon. I was a nice pistol, but for one reason or another I couldn't shoot very well with it no matter what fodder that I used. It did function flawlessly though right out of the box. I can't blame the gun for the groups. I sold it to a buddy and he shoots it like a champ. I ended up going back to my 1911s with which I grouped a lot better. I did pick up a Star BM9 within the past year and I shoot that very well. Maybe because the configuration is very close to a 1911.....

  2. The only modern "Smiff n Western" I have much experience with is my wife's 5906. It's similar to the 915, but in stainless and the controls and sights are a little difference. The only S&W's I own are both antiques manufactured before 1899. A Model 1-1/2 centerfire in .32 S&W, and a First Model Double Action in .44 Russian.

    1. My oldest is a pre-10 M&P .38.

      Most of my Smiffs be the plastic variety.

      The original allure of the 59 was that Daisy Softair I used to have way back when.

      Since then I've started being interested in how they changed over the years. I'd love to put a 5906 next to that 915 and the 910 to show how the third generation simplified while S&W tried to keep them price competitive with the onslaught of Glock on the police market.

    2. Well, maybe next time we are within 1000 miles we can take the 5906 to the range. It's a solid pistol to be sure. Heavy and substantial. Feels pretty indestructible, and really doesn't seem to ever show any wear.


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