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(This post is an entry in our spring content contest. If you’d like a chance to win a Beretta APX pistol, click here for details.) 

By Ang Li

One night while watching my favorite YouTube channel where the video usually starts with a tall, older gentlemen slinging lead in a backyard range, followed by, “Hickok45 here…” a thought ran across my mind: “I wonder if anyone makes a revolver in 10mm?” So I paused the video, typed “10mm revolver” in Google and 0.34 seconds later and I had my answer. It turns out that at one point Smith & Wesson offered Model 610 chambered in the powerful 10mm cartridge that can also shoot .40 S&W.

The Model 610 is a N-frame revolver with full under lug, red ramp front sight and adjustable rear sight. It was first introduced in 1990 with 5-inch and 6.5-inch barrel length, fluted cylinder and hammer mounted firing pin.

The model was discontinued after a few years and re-introduced in 1998 with unfluted cylinder, frame mounted firing pin, and the dreaded internal lock. There were just under 2000 of the 5-inch version and 2700 of the 6.5-inch version made in the first “no dash” production run. Later runs also produced a 4-inch model and the ultra rare 3-inch Lew Horton distributor’s special, where only 300 were made.

People who have shot this gun are impressed by its accuracy, as well as its ability to handle “real” 10mm ammo with it being a N-frame. Knowing the rarity of this firearm, I knew getting my hands on one wasn’t going to be easy. At any given time Gunbroker usually have less than five up for sale.

The one I had my eyes on was a no dash model with aftermarket fiber optic front sight, good looking wooden grips, and no signs of wear. I had a number in mind but it didn’t take long for others to drive the price way past it. Couple hundred dollars later the bidding frenzy seemed to slow down a bit. I figured I should at least place one bid after watching the auction for almost a hour. There were multiple serious bidders and there’s no way they’d lose an auction over twenty five dollars, there’s no way nobody is gonna outbid me. Never in my life have I been more glad to be wrong.

Getting a new gun never gets old. Even though this one isn’t brand new, the excitement is just the same. The gun has aftermarket wooden grips, wide target hammer, and a smooth trigger face. The seller also threw in 100 moon clips as he didn’t expect to fetch that high of a price.

With the 10mm and .40 S&W being rimless cartridges, moon clips are required to keep the rounds in place when firing and ejecting the spent cases. The wooden grip is smooth on the back end and checkered around the finger grooves, it’s thicker than the Hogue rubber grips that normally goes on the N-frame revolvers. To my surprise, the gun also had a trigger job.

There are reviews on the internet that reviewed the Model 610 with the stock trigger, which is on par with Smith & Wesson’s other offerings. I have shot Model 686 Pro Series, the iconic Model 29, Dan Wesson 44 Mag, and Colt Python among others, and I can honestly say the trigger on my Model 610 is better than all of them. If a crisp trigger is like breaking a glass rod, pulling the trigger on my 610 would be like breaking a smaller, thinner glass rod.

The double action is slightly heavier than the take up on a Walther PPQ, except it’s that smooth and fast all the way through. As for the single action, the gun will go off in about 3/4 of a second after you put your finger on the trigger and decide to fire. It will surprise anyone who’s shooting it the first time just how little effort it takes to break the shot.

The reputation of the 10mm cartridge is well known, combining that with a 6.5-inch barrel and a superb trigger makes this Model 610 the most accurate handgun I own. The weight of the gun makes the 10mm very manageable to shoot, and completely takes the snappiness out of the .40 S&W.

Shooting it standing with factory ammo at 25 yards single action, I was able to get a 1.75-inch 4-shot group. Shooting double action, I ruined an otherwise great five-shot group by pulling one low. These two groups are from my first time shooting this gun. After I started reloading the 10mm, I can hit an one inch square piece of tape at 25 yards at least one in every five shots off hand, single or double action.

At one point in time Smith & Wesson also offered the 10mm in a snubby, the Model 310 Night Guard in scandium frame. The 10mm is a favorite of many serious shooters, and there seems to be a resurgence of the caliber in recent years. The Model 610 is an accurate, reliable revolver that handles both 10mm and .40 S&W very well. Any discontinued quality revolver with limited production runs will always be valuable, and the caliber makes it very unique. If you ever come across a Model 610, I would seriously consider it.

Specifications: Smith & Wesson Model 610

Caliber: 10mm
Capacity: 6 rounds
Frame and Finish: Polished stainless
Overall Length: 12″
Weight: 49.4 oz
Trigger: Double/single action
Front sight: Interchangeable ramped blade
Rear sight: Adjustable notch

Ratings (Out of Five Stars):

Accuracy: * * * * *
Long sight radius, amazing trigger, a flat shooting cartridge, and very manageable recoil makes an extremely accurate revolver.

Ergonomics: * * * *
The gun points naturally, and while the wooden grips doesn’t absorb the recoil as well as the factory Hogue grips, it does fit the hand pretty well.

Reliability: * * * * *
I have had malfunctions with revolvers before, but this is a very solid gun, never had an issue.

Customization: * * *
There are options for the front sight and grip, same as most other production N-frame revolvers.

Overall: * * * *
A platform that can maximize the potential of the 10mm cartridge. With the 10mm being a versatile round in bullet weight and velocity, it won’t have feeding/ejecting/magazine issues as with semi-autos. Great choice for hunting with the 10mm or for competition with the .40 S&W.

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  1. I’m a dumbass for missing a 610 being sold halfway across the state for $900. Two hour drive each way would have been worth it.

    I would love an L frame in 10mm though. As much as I love 10mm, an N frame seems a bit big for it. A .357 Mag has more case capacity than a 10mm and would make better use of an N frame.

  2. With those grips, that is a serious good-looking revolver.

    The ‘snappy’ in.40 S&W has a lot more to do with the lack of mass in the typical plastic-fantastic that it seems to be primarily chambered in.

    And as you noted, with sheer mass comes shooting comfort. If I ever get another major caliber revolver, I’ll buy a heavy one.

    How does 10mm compare to .44mag in downrange performance?

    • Comparing a N frame 610 to a N frame 29/629, the 610 is a lot more soft shooting. There are people who has taken elks with 10mm out of a 5″ 1911

    • ‘How does 10mm compare to .44mag in downrange performance?’

      As M2AP pointed out the 10mm has a lower case capacity than .357 magnum, although it also can run at slightly higher pressure. Also, being a shorter, fatter cartridge, when using bul lets of equal sectional density, 10mm bull ets take up more of that case capacity than .357 bu llets do. So overall the 10mm is slightly less powerful than .357 magnum and nowhere close to .44 magnum, especially with high SD bull ets. The one caveat is that like 10mm, most .357 magnum loads are not full pressure loads. You have to go to Buffalo Bore, Double Tap, etc. to get full power .357.

      • I have a 610 that has the cylinder chambers bored another .25″ to accept a 10mm magnum (same length cartridge as .44 magnum and .357 magnum in an autoloader cartridge: 180 grain JHP at 15-1600 FPS). I’ve taken several deer with this one, including a south Texas buck at 75 yards

  3. That is one good looking gun! After falling in love with the(increasingly expensive) 1000 series autos, I’ve been on the hunt for a reasonably priced 610 for a while now (no luck). Maybe S&W will make another run of them in the classic series. If not the search will continue….

  4. No doubt there are gaps in my knowledge of handgun ballistics, but I just don’t get revolvers chambered for semi-auto cartridges. Aren’t there enough honest-to-God revolver cartridges out there to give you the downrange performance you want, without messing with moon clips?

    • I agree a .357 is a bit more powerful than a 10mm. 10mm makes a LOT of sense in a semi-auto, but a revolver? I guess there’s some novelty to be had there, but other than that, no thanks. I’m not surprised it was never a good seller for S&W.

        • They’d have to make the 10mm rimmed WAY more powerful than the 10mm rimless.

        • 10mm magnum. same bullets as 10mm, but another .25″ of case: 1.24″ compared to 0.99″. hard hitting and flat shooting.

      • 10mm is a great way to get .357 power in a pis tol, especially since for carry, you can add an inch of ba rrel to the semi-auto over the rev olver. But other than as a novelty there’s nothing a 10 can do that .357 can’t do better in a revol ver. Half-moon clips might be a slight advantage for reloads since they’re quicker than speed strips and easier to carry than speed loaders, but that’s about it. And if you had to load loose am mo fast, the clips would be a big disadvantage.

      • Simon,

        Ammunition compatibility between different firearm platforms is really nice.

        In this example (10mm cartridge) someone might want to have a semi-auto handgun for everyday carry and a large revolver for hiking or hunting. Why keep a few hundred rounds of 10mm and a few hundred rounds of .357 Magnum when you can just keep a few hundred rounds of 10mm?

      • I think that would be a .41 Rem Mag. Had one years ago in S&W nickel 4″. Really a nice gun, wish I had it today!

    • Like pistol caliber carbines and PC lever actions, ya get it or ya don’t.
      No harm, no foul.

      The Ruger 45lc/45acp revolver is double sweet.
      My CA .40 Pitbull is right there.

      Variety is the spice of life.

    • For me, the appeal is in ammo compatibility. I have a few .40/10mm guns already, so not having to stock up on another type of ammo is kinda nice. More importantly though, as I reload, is all my dies, powders, projectiles, recipes and experience reloading for .40/10mm transfers over to the new gun. Won’t take me long to work up a new load or 2 that work well in this gun, and can make ammo for it a lot quicker/easier than getting setup for a whole new cartridge. Now, most of that benefit goes away if you already own a revolver (or several) in .38/.357/other common revolver cartridges. However the only wheelguns I have are old relics that use oddball ammo (Nagant revolver) or don’t even use cartridges at all (Colt 1860 Army) so I’m not set up to reload for .38/.357. Also, some people just like unique oddbal things in their own right, and there ain’t nothing wrong with that.

    • It would make a good sidearm on hunting trips. Still a hard hitting round but without the recoil of a 44 mag

  5. These revolvers in 10mm are getting harder to find and at least from my luck they are not cheap. They are consistently running $1500 plus. They are fun to shoot and are unique.
    Some people like myself like the guns that were really not that popular ie Colt American 2000. It is just what you want. It doesn’t have to make sense to anyone else except yourself. It is your money spend it the way you want


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