The ‘wondernine’ before the wondernine was cool (VIDEO)

The ‘wondernine’ before the wondernine was cool (VIDEO)

Essentially an updated variant of Smith & Wesson’s M39 9mm, the follow-on Model 59 was one of the first U.S.-made double-stack combat pistols.

Hitting the market in 1971, the 14+1 Smith was a double-action semi-auto with a staggered box mag originally designed to fill a niche for Navy frogmen types in Vietnam. Its only real comparison in the days of Disco came from overseas in the form of the Browning/FN Hi-Power (which was single-action) and the French MAB PA-15 (which was hard to come by in the U.S.). Beretta only introduced the first gen Model 92s nearly a half-decade later while the Czechs followed up with the CZ-75.

In all, the M59 was a pretty sweet gun for its day and was only replaced in Smith’s stable by the very similar Smith & Wesson 5906 in the late-1980s — which in turn had to compete with the more up-to-date invasion of Sig P-series and Glock 17/19 handguns that brought more to the table as well as Bill Ruger’s domestic P85/89 series.

In a good review of a surplus M59, Sootch00 takes a close-up look at an imported example being distributed by Century.

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