Hello. It turns out I bought a S&W model 27-5. It is not as old as my model 19 -- the barrel is not pinned and the cylinder is not countersunk for the catridge rim.
I tried it out this Sunday. I tried some .357 magnums and it still hurt -- partly I think the wood grip was banging into my sore thumb. I guess some Hogue grips would fix that, but then I'd give up the beautiful wooden grip.
With 38 special, I found I was hitting a little to the left. However, after playing around, I found I was getting about a 1.5" group. (I guess I'm saying that right. The spot with bulletholes could be covered by a 1.5" shoot-n-see dot.) I was happy. I was shooting at 25 yards without a rest. I did better with my model 19, even with .357 magnum. It made me think that if I ever get my CHL maybe I should consider the 19. I wish I had a digital camera so I could show you folks a picture. Another interesting thing is the front sight -- instead of a grooved ramp, it is a large square with the front part of the blade rounded off. It looked funky to me, but it obviously works.
So I finally have an N-frame. Now If I can find a nice J frame, and a 1917....
Smith used to (may still) offer other front sights for that 27...red ramp and gold bead, for example.
Look real close, below the front sight on the side of the rib for a tiny circle...thats the pin that holds that blade in place.
I think on later models it was made integral...not removable like the model 28.
The wood grips, while beautiful, were not always the best for serious shooting, as you found out.
Hogues came factory installed on later Smiths and are still found at just about any gunshop.
Save the wooden grips for when you want to show off your nice 27.
I think the front site is permanent. It appears to be part of the barrel.
What's the benefit of a gold dot or red ramp?
The deluxe models of days gone by had gold beads, red ramps and even an ivory insert as an option.
Contrast and preferences being the main reason, depending on uses, IMO.
Some like plain black, front and rear.
I kinda learned with the RR WO set up and shot well with that combo.
I am comfy with my 659, 645's and King Cobra that still have 'em, to name a few.