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Discussion Starter #1
One of my favorite S&W First Gen pistols was the M-39. OTOH, I've never owned an M-59, and have rarely heard good things about it. Was there a problem with the pistol? Any thoughts on why it wasn't as successful as many of the other "Wonder Nines"?

Harvey
 

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I never liked the way my M39 felt. My Colt 1911 had forever spoiled me. Anyway, after being a "safe queen" for about seven years, I sold the S&W to a friend for about what I'd paid for it originally.
 

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I knew some police officers that carried the First Generation 9mm S&W's. I remember some preferred the Model 39 because the Model 59 was too wide for their hand.
 

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I had a first gen M59; didn't like the grip angle or the fatness of the grip frame. A High Power or 1911 felt MUCH better (and shot better, too.) I do remember how amazing it seemed to be able to fire 16 rds at once, though. (Of course, if you can't hit a bull in the arse with a bass fiddle, what good is 16 rds gonna do ya? :wink: )
 

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Discussion Starter #6
I guess, from this small sampling, that the M-59's issues were primarily grip related. Any known mechanical issues, i.e magazine problems?

Harvey
 

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Nothing specific to the 59. The first gen guns had some extractor issues and were generally unpopular for reasons not exactly clear, but the basic Model 59 grip continued into the second (459, 659) and third (5906) generation. Small variations- such as hooked trigger guards came and went.

I've got a nice early Model 39 that works just fine but the only 59 I have is a Devel modified model.
 

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Charlie Petty said:
I've got a nice early Model 39 that works just fine but the only 59 I have is a Devel modified model.
I'll bet that's a keeper! You have a picture you'd like share with us so we can drool?

Ed
 

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Discussion Starter #9
IIRC, the Navy SEALs used a modified M-59, equipped with a silencer and a slide lock. While that is hardly an endorsement for the commercial pistol, the M-59 must have been a decent weapon.

It's just hard to understand why it wasn't more successful in the "Wonder Nine" years.

Harvey
 

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I'm not much with this digital photo stuff yet, but it's in the Feb. 2000 issue of GUNS with Ichi pix.

The suppressed M59 was commonly known as the "Hush Puppy" and was intended for use in tunnels and other places where noise was not good. I do not believe it was purely for Seals.
 

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Discussion Starter #11
Charlie:

IIRC, the "Hush Puppy" was the designation the SEALs gave to the modified steel-frame M-39 (Mark 22, Mod O), which was developed primarily to take out watch dogs. :?: The M-59, as I understand it, came out of a project for a high capacity version of the M-39, which also was to cure some extractor breakage issues in the 39. It too might have been called the Hush Puppy.

I don't know whether they were used by other services, and in tunnels, but could have been.

Harvey
 

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I think you're right about the 39 coming first, but I have heard both variations described with the name. Obviously there are a multitude of uses for such handy items :D
 

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The S&W M39 preceded the M59 by several years(1954). The 39 was initially offered in both 9x19 and .38 Spc wadcutter. The .38 Spc was cataloged as the M52 and was SA only.
 

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S&W Hush puppies

I had the good fortune to be in at the beginning of the hi-cap 39->59. The seals wanted more rounds - not because they missed much, but because there were so many puppies to hush. I worked at the Naval Ordnance Lab, White Oak (Silver Spring, Md), 1961-1969. Best job I ever had.

I _think_ it was an NOL mechanical engineer named Shepherd who cut up a Browning High Power, took the grip frame, and attached it to a 39 that had had its grip frame amputated, did some heavy filing, and made a double row Smith that would feed. Some days. The first double row double action semi-auto, as far as I know. If it wasn't Shep himself, it was one of his machinists.

S&W was shown the gun, and told to make it work right. They did. I had nothing to do with it, other than drool on it. One of my best shooting buddies at the time got the job of writing the "Ordnance Publication" ("OP" = "TM" to non Navy types) on it. I resented him for years after that. I was stuck doing the dull books, on mines and missiles. Sigh.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
csmkersh said:
The S&W M39 preceded the M59 by several years(1954).
Sam:

You're correct about the chronology. The M-39 Hush Puppy Project took place in the mid-'60s, and the M-59 didn't hit the commercial market until the early '70s, IIRC.

Harvey
 

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Discussion Starter #16
Mike:

Thanks for the input on the development of the M-59. Nice to be there when history's being made. Any thoughts on why the pistol wasn't a raging success in the commercial market?

Harvey
 

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Not sure why the S&W 59 wasn't a real hot seller.

Didn't follow the commercial market much then. But, I can guess:

It was classified for a while. Don't know when it got out to the public.

The '39 was not that popular a gun to begin with.

Browning High Power did everything the '59 did, except DA.

The 9mm was fighting the 45 ACP and the 357 Mag for police purposes.

I used to shoot informally, out in an isolated farm field with a retired USMC LTC or COL, I forget which. My family called him the "Big Bear," and he was. You didn't want to get on the wrong side of him.

His attitude toward hi capacity / double row magazines was summed up as follows, and it is a quote, best as I can remember 25 years back:

"If you can't solve your problem with 7 rounds from a 45, you don't need more ammo. You need close air support!"

P.S. The Big Bear was not the same person as the "Bear" who made such nice leather gear for IDPA shooters. Bear is gone now, and I suspect Big Bear too, but I hope not.
 

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Discussion Starter #18
Mike:

Thanks for your thoughts. I guess the 9mm won a temporary victory with LEOs back then, and hi-caps haven't gone away either.

Your quote from "Big Bear" evoked a chuckle from me, as well. The "Old Corps" mentality is still alive and well in USMC. :wink:

Harvey
 

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:D I've got an, admittedly, heavily modified S&W Model 59. Yes, the grip is, a bit, on the large side - but not unmanageably so, and no worse than a Glock Model G-21. I often get asked about this pistol; and I've let quite a few shooters try it out. Nobody has, ever, disliked the gun; and one guy who regularly carried an S&W Model 52 and always said that he hated 9's, handed it back to me one afternoon with an empty clip, an impressive group of holes on the target, and a sheepish look on his face with the comment; 'Hummpf, maybe I should change my mind - That's a nice pistol!'

Personally I'd have to agree. I've owned this pistol since the early 70's, liked it enough to have Austin Behlert do major modifications on it; and, unlike some of the other guns I've owned, the thought of selling it has never crossed my mind. As a matter of fact 8 or 9 years ago I actually pulled this pistol in defense of my life; and, at the time, I was glad to be holding on to it. :wink:
 
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