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Devel Smith and Wess

From the Vault: Devel Smith & Wesson Model 59 Conversion

Author Caleb Savant and Steve Ostrem
one year ago

Caleb and Steve piled into the Brownells minivan and made a junket to Rock Island Auction Co., where Steve found a unique Smith & Wesson that tickled his fancy. No, it's not a revolver! It's a Model 59 that's been heavily modified by Devel Customs into a sweet concealed carry gun. The Smith & Wesson Model 59 was a double-stack pistol chambered in 9mm Luger, with a 14-round magazine. Designed by gunsmith Charles Kelsey, the Devel conversion includes a shortened grip (lowering mag capacity to 10 rounds), barrel reduced to 3½", weight-reducing cuts in the slide, bobbed hammer, pinky finger ledge on the mag base pad, and a full dehorning job. The triggerguard is recontoured with a finger hook on the front and a relief cut on the right-hand side to help the trigger finger clear the 'guard more quickly. Everything that can be HAS BEEN thoroughly reworked to make this the best-possible backup pistol, while retaining the sturdy Model 59 mechanism.

Compared to modern micro-compact 9mm pistols like the Glock 26, Springfield Armory Hellcat, and SIG P365, the Devel Model 59 is not so small. But when it came out in the 1970s, it was a strikingly compact full-powered pistol. The Devel Model 59 became THE police officer's backup pistol of the 1970s and early '80s. Then Smith & Wesson came out with the Model 459, which offered a lot the Devel's features - for a LOT less money.

As the Rock Island example shows, the Devel Model 59 was a well-made boutique gun. It feels good in the hand, and many pistol afficionados share Caleb's assessment that it's much more aesthetically pleasing than the stock "factree" Smith & Wesson pistols of the period.