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Smith & Wesson Governor: Is This a Mini-Cannon or a Gun?

Smith & Wesson Governor
Smith & Wesson Governor. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

Smith & Wesson Governor Revolver: Is It Worthy of Your “Vote?” – A judge may render a death sentence upon a prisoner, but it’s up to a state governor to decide whether or not to order a stay of execution.

Therefore, after Taurus made waves with its now-famous – some gun writers would say “infamous” – Judge revolver, a compact double-action wheelgun combining a .45 Long Colt bore with a .410 shotshell bore, it was only logical that Smith & Wesson would follow suit with a similar type of handgun known as…wait for it…the Governor. 

Now, Governor is a somewhat ironic choice of gun moniker on S&W’s part when one considers that that venerable gunmaker is located in a state – Massachusetts – whose history has been rife with governors who were either indifferent to the 2nd Amendment at best or downright hostile toward gun rights at worst.  

But I digress. 

So then, is this Governor worthy of gun owners’ “votes” (so to speak)? 

Smith & Wesson Governor History & Specifications 

The S&W Governor made its debut in 2011, five years after the Taurus Judge did so.

Like the Judge, the Governor is chambered for .45 LC and 2.5-inch .410 caliber shotshells, and also offers a .45 ACP option with supplied moon clips (to compensate for the lack of the rim on the latter autopistol-oriented caliber).

The Governor is built upon S&W’s so-called “Z-frame,” which is essentially a bastardized version of the N-frame that is the building block of Smith’s Model 29 .44 Magnum and Model 57 41 Magnum; it combines that with a grip styled after the K-frame series – the Model 19 .357 Magnum is a prime example of that series – and a lightweight scandium alloy or stainless steel frame.  

The standard barrel length and weight of the Governor are 2.75 inches and 29.6 ounces respectively, compared/contrasted with the 3” bbl. and 29.0 ounces of the Judge. Overall length of the Governor is 8.5 inches, a full inch more than its Taurus competitor. Width is 1.75 inches and height is 5.5 inches. 

Shooting Performance 

So then, how effectively does this gun “govern” the firing, i.e. how well does it actually shoot? We’ll turn to Robert Farago of The Truth About Guns website to address that question: 

“Light the fuse on some .410 shotshell (2.5″ only) and you’ll discover recoil stout enough to give a pint of Guinness a run for its money”… [AUTHOR’S NOTE: It’s mere coincidence that I’m writing this article on St. Patrick’s Day and quoting this passage in the process]…”Although the big Smith’s trigger is brand faithful—crisp and clean with no stacking or sticking—a Governor in double-action shotshell mode is no one’s first choice for double taps (a.k.a., closely paired groupings)…A professional shooter slow-firing Winchester Super X 000 Buck single action at a stationary target reveals that the Governor is still a useful firearm seven yards out. After that, not so much… Load-up the Governor with six .45 COLT or .45ACP cartridges (with moon clips) and it’s just as accurate as any of S&Ws Venti-sized revolvers. Shooting a Governor loaded with .45 COLTs, our man Wayne could put holes in the center of a target up to ten yards away all day long. So could you.” 

Robert rates the gun 4 out of 5 stars in the category of “Style,” 3 out of 5 for “Ergonomics (carry),” 4 out of 5 for Ergonomics (firing), a perfect 5 stars for “Reliability,” and 2 out of 5 for “Customize this.” (The only custom option being a built-in laser sight.) He concludes his review with an overall review of 4 out of 5 stars, with the witty parting remark of “Kinda like the world’s most fire-retardant paper hat.” 

Want Your Own Governor? Vote with Yer Wallet

The manufacturer lists an MSRP of $989.00 USD for the so-called “Black” edition of the Governor and $919.00 for the “Silver” version.

Christian D. Orr has 33 years of shooting experience, starting at the tender age of 14. His marksmanship accomplishments include: the Air Force Small Arms Ribbon w/one device (for M16A2 rifle and M9 pistol); Pistol Expert Ratings from U.S. Customs & Border Protection (CBP), Immigration & Customs Enforcement (ICE), and the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) Criminal Investigator Training Program (CITP); multiple medals and trophies via the Glock Sport Shooting Foundation (GSSF) and the Nevada Police & Fires Games (NPAF). Chris has been an NRA Certified Basic Pistol Instructor since 2011.  

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Written By

Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).