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S&W 5906 Tactical.

The Smith & Wesson 5906 TSW is chambered for the world class 9mm Parabellum cartridge. The pistol is s development of the earlier Models 39 and 59 of the 1950s and 1970s respectively. In addition, it is a tatical version of the 5900 series.

Typical of most modern semi-auto pistols, the S&W 5900 series employ a locked breech action that uses the Browning cam-operated tilting barrel system to lock and unlock the action at the moment of firing.

The pistol has a traitional double-action trigger and a ten-round magazine. It is constructed of stainless steel. Sights are fixed and of the low mount type.

The TSW offerings feature a black steel rail that is attached to the front of the receiver, directly in front of the trigger guard. This rail is designed to allow one to easily attach things to the front of the gun although curiously, S&W doesn't currently catalogue any of these attachments. While S&W doesn't offer attachments, we did find two firms that specialize in such offerings. Streamlight, Dept. GAH, 1030 West Germantown Pike, North Town, PA 19403, makes a small flashlight that attaches to the S&W rail and Insight Technology, Dept. GAH, 3 Technology Drive, Londonderry, NH 03053, catalogues a laser sighting device and a white flashlight that is compatible with the S&W rail, as well.

If not quite fresh, the TSW or Tactical S&Ws are still a design that works. Out of the box the sample shot to the point of aim out to 25 yards or slightly beyond and the trigger, while not target quality to be sure, was still easy to work with. Moving from the first DA shot to subsequent single action shots is no big problem once one gets the hang of it and the Smith was a pleasure most of the time, with most ammunition. As can be expected, it paid big dividends to run a variety of fodder through the sample. On the range some groups averaged twice the size of other loads and at least one load proved to be less than 100 percent in function, as well.

While some question the performance of the old 9mm these days, it remains the cartridge of choice for much of the rest of the world and the cartridge still gives a good account of itself on the streets if the proper ammunition is chosen.

We clamped the sample 5906 TSW in a Ransom Master machine rest for the range testing and all shooting was done at 25 yards. We arranged Oehler 35P skyscreens 15 feet from the muzzle and fired five 5-shot groups with each variety of ammunition. When the smoke cleared, it was obvious that the 5906 preferred Winchester's excellent 147-grain SXT JHPs. The Winchester load just edged Federal's 124-grain Hydra-Shok JHP ammunition for overall honors in the accuracy department, averaging 3.43 inches center-to-center. The Winchester load generated 293.9 FP of energy. The consistent Federal ammo aver aged 1,160 fps over the chronograph, generating 370 foot pounds of instrumental energy and the five groups averaged 3.5 inches center to-center. Black Hills Ammunition's 147-grain subsonic JHPs were right on the heels of the Federal and Winchester ammo where accuracy is concerned but generated only 285.9 FP of instrumental energy.

The sample did not like FMJ ammunition in general and Winchester's Super Unleaded 115-grain FMJs in particular. In the Ransom Master Rest or hand held, the ammo proved much less than 100 percent in functioning. For some reason the sample 5906 would routinely fail to extract an empty cartridge from the chamber, wedging the next round between the feed ramp and the empty case in the chamber. When one is choosing a pet load for a semi auto--any semi auto--it pays to shop around!

The S&W 5906 TSW is a functional, good looking semi auto that should give a good account of itself for quite some time. Although accuracy was less than hoped for, it is representative of the design, and the sample proved dependable with most ammunition. The 9mm is indeed a world-class cartridge and when the best ammunition is chosen, the 9mm gives a good account of itself in most situations.
25-YARD ACCURACY PERFORMANCE
S&W 5906 TACTICAL
AMMO USED                            5-SHOT GROUP SIZES (INCHES)
                                              SMALLEST
BLACK HILLS 147-GRAIN SUBSONIC JHP               2.3
FEDERAL 124-GRAIN HYDRA-SHOK JHP                2.62
FEDERAL 100-GRAIN BALLISTICLEAN JSP              3.0
WIN. 115-GRAIN SUPER UNLEADED FMJ                5.0
WINCHESTER 147-GRAIN SXT JHP                    3.12
WINCHESTER 115-GRAIN FMJ                         6.5
REMINGTON 124-GRAIN FMJ                         2.75
AVERAGE GROUP ALL AMMUNITION
AMMO USED
                                     LARGEST  AVERAGE
BLACK HILLS 147-GRAIN SUBSONIC JHP    5.75     3.75
FEDERAL 124-GRAIN HYDRA-SHOK JHP       4.9      3.5
FEDERAL 100-GRAIN BALLISTICLEAN JSP   10.5     5.62
WIN. 115-GRAIN SUPER UNLEADED FMJ     8.62     6.43
WINCHESTER 147-GRAIN SXT JHP          3.63     3.43
WINCHESTER 115-GRAIN FMJ              10.75    7.75
REMINGTON 124-GRAIN FMJ               8.25     5.75
AVERAGE GROUP ALL AMMUNITION                   5.12
SHOOTING RESULTS - QUICK TEST
S&W 5906 TACTICAL
AMMO USED                            AVG. 5-SHOT GROUP[R]
                                      25 YARDS (INCHES)
BLACK HILLS 147-GRAIN SUBSONIC JHP           3.75
FEDERAL 124-GRAIN HYDRA-SHOK JHP             3.5
FEDERAL 100-GRAIN BALLISTICLEAN JSP         5.625
WIN. 115-GRAIN SUPER UNLEADED FMJ            6.43
WINCHESTER 147-GRAIN SXT JHP                 3.43
WINCHESTER 115-GRAIN FMJ                     7.75
REMINGTON 124-GRAIN FMJ                      5.75
AVERAGE GROUP ALL AMMUNITION                 5.12
AMMO USED                            AVG. VELOCITY[R]  POWER
                                      15 FEET (fps)    FACTOR
BLACK HILLS 147-GRAIN SUBSONIC JHP         936         137.6
FEDERAL 124-GRAIN HYDRA-SHOK JHP          1,066        132.2
FEDERAL 100-GRAIN BALLISTICLEAN JSP       1,160        116.0
WIN. 115-GRAIN SUPER UNLEADED FMJ         1,085        124.8
WINCHESTER 147-GRAIN SXT JHP               949         139.2
WINCHESTER 115-GRAIN FMJ                  1,180        135.7
REMINGTON 124-GRAIN FMJ                   1,074        133.2
AVERAGE GROUP ALL AMMUNITION
SPECIFICATIONS
S&W 5906 TACTICAL
Maker:           Smith & Wesson Dept. GAH
                 2100 Roosevelt Ave.
                 Box 2208
                 Springfield, MA
                 01102-2208
                 www.smith-wesson.com
Action Type:     Semi-automatic pistol;
                 Browning 1935 design;
                 double-action/single-
                 action trigger
Caliber:         9mm Parabelfum
Capacity:        10+1
Overall Length:  7.5 inches
Barrel Length:   4 inches
Weight:          38.3 ounces
Sights:          White dot front ramp;
                 Novak Lo Mount
                 2-dot Carry rear sight
Grip:            Curved backstrap,
                 black composite
Finish:          Satin stainless steel
Price:           $822
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Article Details
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Author:JOHNSTON, PHIL W.
Publication:Handguns
Date:May 1, 2001
Words:1036
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