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I probably won’t be the first one to say that Smith & Wesson knows how to make a revolver. And a beautiful one at that. The Model 617 happens to be one that shoots .22LR, looks sexy while doing it and gives you 10 shots in the cylinder. Its K frame is about the same size as a .357 Ruger GP100 and it may be the highest priced .22LR revolvers on the market today. But it’s worth every penny . . .

Top – Smith and Wesson Model 617 .22LR; Bottom – Ruger GP100 .357 Magnum


Smith & Wesson 617 in a Galco GP100 Holster – yep, it fits.


The Model 617 sports a 4 inch barrel, stainless steel satin finish and synthetic grips that aren’t oversized. Best of all, it will shoot any .22LR ammunition you choose to run through it. If you already own a K frame revolver in any other caliber, a 617 would make a fine choice for practice.

Some also call it the quintessential “kit” gun – a firearm you can stick in your tackle box or a pack for a walk in the wilderness. The front sight is basic black…I plan on changing mine out for a fiber optic version. Otherwise, the sight picture is excellent and the rear sight is easy to adjust for various ammo types.


Fit, Form & Function

To say this revolver is pretty is like saying Alessandra Ambrosio is attractive – it’s wholly inadequate.  There’s just something sexy about a piece of highly polished stainless steel. All of the parts of this revolver are tightly but properly put together. There’s no wobble in the cylinder, whether it’s in the frame or not, and everything moves together in unison, just as it should.

Smiths don’t have a reputation for target-style hair triggers on their revolvers and this one is no exception. But the bangswitch on this Smith is buttery smooth, albeit slightly on the heavy side. Grit, however, is conspicuous by its absence. It breaks in the same place every time with no slop or sluggishness to speak of.

In single action mode, you get more of the same with a much lighter pull. After a lengthy range session with hundreds of rounds, my trigger finger was still ready for more. If you like an extremely stiff trigger where your finger will be sore when you’re done shooting, I’d suggest you give the Ruger LCR in .22LR a try.

A warning, though: while some gunmakers say that you can dry fire any of their .22’s, do not dry fire this one. First of all, Smith & Wesson does not recommend it and says in the FAQ section of their website that it can cause damage to your precious and very expensive revolver. Plus, I found a Smith & Wesson forum posting by someone who acquired a used Model 617 and posted the following picture.

Yikes! Appears to have been dry fired extensively.

Shooting the Smith & Wesson Model 617

With a gun this heavy and shooting .22LR, there is absolutely no recoil to speak of. The pistol appears to be a gun that shoots a bigger caliber unless you look closely or someone watches you shooting it and notices the absence of muzzle flip.

While I tried as many brands and types of ammunition as I could, I adjusted the rear sights for my go-to .22LR round – the 40grain CCI Velocitor. Once I got the sights where I needed them to be, I could put rounds just about wherever I was aiming. Distance to the target was 20 yards and 15 yards between two range sessions. I used a rest to test the gun for precision.

With proper ammo, sight adjustment, and technique, this may be a viable target or varmint pistol.  Range to target – 20 yards.

As you’d expect, the 617 fired everything I could put through it without any problems. A word of caution regarding proper seating of the rounds, though. Make sure the cartridges  are fully seated into their respective chambers. On one chamber full of Velocitors, one out of the ten rounds wasn’t fully seated which caused the round to fire (explode) in the chamber itself.

Some debris was sprayed back into my arms and face and the case was deformed beyond recognition. This tank of a revolver, though, didn’t skip a beat and I just kept on shooting.  Extraction of empties was flawless and effortless. There was one instance where I had to use a little more force on the plunger, but nothing that required tools or heavy machinery.

Ammunition Tested:

  1. CCI Velocitors Hollowpoints
  2. Federal Premium Target Loads – Solids
  3. CCI .22LR Shot shells
  4. CCI Mini Mags Solids
  5. Federal Premium Game-Shok
  6. CCI Mini Mags – Hollowpoints
  7. Winchester White Box
  8. CCI Blazer Value Pack
  9. American Eagle – Federal

It was very refreshing to read the Smith & Wesson Manual. I mean . . . I was reading between the WARNINGS and legalese looking for any ammunition restrictions like “Don’t use lubed ammo in this gun! Didn’t find anything. Ammo that locked up my LCR .22 didn’t phase this pistol whatsoever.


If you have the money for a 617, you’ll be getting one of the best .22 revolvers made by anyone on the planet. Of course, for the price, you could pick up a 1911, a Glock and a thousand rounds of ammo for it. Or six Kel Tecs. But hey, for a revolver this shiny and that you’re great grandchildren will enjoy, it’s worth it.


Model: Model 617 in .22LR
Caliber: .22LR
Magazine capacity: 10 rounds
Materials: Stainless Steel
Weight empty:  38.9 oz
Barrel Length: 4 inches
Overall length: 9.13 Inches
Sights:  Replaceable, Front Pinned Partridge; Rear Sight – adjustable
Action: Double Action/Single Action
Finish: Satin Stainless
MSRP: $829.00

RATINGS (out of five stars)

Style * * * * *
As pretty as a Bond Girl, regardless of which one we are talking about.

Ergonomics (carry) * *
While you’re probably not going to be concealed carrying this firearm, it’s the approximate size of other revolvers in its class. So if you own a Ruger GP100, for example, this weapon will fit into any holsters you may already have on hand for it.

Ergonomics (firing) * * *
A dream to shoot…and a better trigger than other “ahem” .22LR revolvers out there.

Reliability * * * * *
Fired absolutely every type of .22LR I could find to put through it from CCI Snakeshot, Winchester Bulk White Box to Highly lubed Mini Mags. I even blew up a Velocitor round in its own chamber and kept shooting. I could almost hear the gun say, “Is that all you’ve got?”

Customize * *
Changing out the grips and sights is about all you can do to this gun. Perhaps a trigger job could be done if you are so inclined, but I wouldn’t mess with it. I also found out you can mount a small rail in place of the rear sight in case you want to use optics on this revolver.

One of the finest .22LR revolvers I’ve had the pleasure to shoot. Its size and weight are the only things that caused the subtraction of a star. My grandkids will be shooting this thing long after I am gone.

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  1. Yes, I agree. I fiddled with the trigger a bit on mine, and added a front fiber optic sight. Other than that…one of the best investments of my life.

  2. Just wanted to echo what you said. I got this gun, also in 4″, as a “trainer” for the wife. Now she doesn’t HATE going to the range with me. It’s such an easy shooting gun, with no moving parts, no magazines to deal with, and the trigger in single action is something even she finds user-friendly.

    The real bonus from my point of view is that if she can strengthen her fingers to where she can do the double-action trigger pull comfortably, I feel fine buying her the big brother (686 I think it is) in .357 magnum for home defense when I’m on a business trip. The trigger, the weight, the sights — everything should be identical between the two 4″ guns.

    Of course… I now have a .22 Sig Mosquito (her previous “trainer” pistol) for sale…

  3. True greatness! Purchased my 617 early 1993 my first thought out of the
    box was this shoots better than my Browning 22 rifle. Put at least 10,000 rounds
    thru this gun in all kinds of weather absolute relibility! Thank You Smith&Wesson!

  4. I have the 6″ barrel version. Great gun.

    I have been tempted to try and do a trigger job on it.

  5. When I hold a basic firearms class the participants start shooting with the 617 and move to the 686 (a .357 magnum-capable using straight .38 Special loads for training). The two guns could be twins, with the 686 (39.7 oz) weighing in at less than an ounce heavier than the 617 (38.9 oz), with virtually identical specs. The 617 is a great gun, while the 686 is reputed to be “the one gun most gun shop owners would own if they could only have one gun.” High praise and good company for the 617.

  6. I owned a 6″ version for many years and just traded it for a 696. In my opinion the 617 was too darned heavy for a rimfire. S&W claim a weight of 44 ounces but it felt much heavier, perhaps because it was so muzzle heavy.

    If you’re shopping for one get the 4″ as it’s much better balanced.

    All in all it’s a fabulous handgun which is particularly great for practicing double action speed shooting.

  7. Have a 617 with the 4″ barrel, wood grips and no locking system, 6 shot cylinder on layaway… gently used – $500 even.

  8. @Steven Visser, I wouldn’t call it a kit gun because of its weight, which is right up there with three Subway foot-longs. I guess that the definitive kit guns would be the S&W M317 or the M63. Still, the 617 is an utterly fantabulous .22LR revolver.

  9. I will not buy another S&W revolver until they get rid of that “roll over like a show dog bitch” lock no matter how good it the review is.

    • I couldn’t agree more. I just can’t see past that hole and will continue to look elsewhere as a result.

      • Then with Rugers you’ve got:
        STURM, RUGER @ CO.,

        • Actually, most Rugers have locks, but they are housed underneath the grips where you cannot easily see them.

    • DaveM, removing the lock is a five-minute job at most, and anyone can do it with ease. It takes less time to remove the lock than it takes to clean the gun after a range session, and it does not leave a hole in the gun. If that’s not easy enough, S&W has already announced that it’s phasing out the lock.

    • I was going to say that there is one in every crowd, but low and behold there are a few in this case. If the internal lock system is such an issue for you please continue to due as you claim as it will free up the already short supply of Smith And Wesson Revolvers.

      • I agree RL, I’ve had 7 S&W revolvers, from 22LR to 460Mag and have never had a problem with the built in trigger lock and I use them too. And even if I did, why would I care, S&W will fix it for No Charge.

  10. What is it about these S&W revolvers that makes me drool? Just got to have one of these.

  11. As for this being the most expensive .22LR revolver, S&W model 17 masterpiece lists at $959, and that is a 6 shooter in blued steel. I’ll probably die an old man waiting for Dan Wesson to reintroduce the .22LR pistol pac, so maybe this stainless 10 shooter is going to be my next revolver.

  12. I’m curious what the DA/SA trigger pull weight is on the 617, and what can be achieved by later tweaking it to reduce the pull and not sacrificing firing.

  13. I’ve had one for a few years now. I put a Wolff trigger pull reduction spring kit in it and it improved the double action trigger tremendously. I can shoot it all afternoon with no discomfort. It does occasionally misfire with some brand of ammo, but not all- you’ll have to experiment. I also found some speed loaders and loading blocks on the internet. They enhance the revolver shoot very much. I can load about 200 rounds into the blocks and speedloaders and shoot till empty. Its a lot of fun.

  14. Way back in 1981 I bought an S&W Model 17 “K22 Masterpiece” .22 in blued steel, 8″ barrel, target sights, and added target stocks to it. With Eley 10X and CCI Green Tag target ammo, it groups around 1″ off sandbags at 25 yards. Sort of remember it costing around $400 then, which seemed pretty expensive (30 years of inflation).

    But for a serious target gun, I have an S&W New Model No. 3 topbreak with target sights – a single action revolver in .44 Russian. The trigger break is incredible – like a thin icicle snapping.

  15. Is it possible to get a clarification on what exactly happened when the case “wasn’t fully seated” and you were sprayed with debris? I can’t figure out how a round couldn’t be fully seated; on my 617, if the rounds are sticking-out the rear of the cylinder at all, the cylinder can’t be closed, and if they are mostly-but-not-quite-fully-seated, the recoil shield on the frame seats them fully when I close the cylinder.

    Despite firing many thousands of rounds of all types/brands/quality levels through my 4″ 617, I’ve never had a problem like you described. A walk-through of exactly what happened might help others avoid a similar situation, which definitely sounds dangerous.

    • I will do my best to clarify the incident. I had 10 rounds of Velocitors in the revolver. I don’t recall exactly which round, but when I fired on the one that exploded, some shrapnel or debris came back at me and hit my forearms and forehead. I sustained no injuries. A cease fire was called for folks to change targets, and I unloaded the revolver. The casing in question was actually imploded on itself as if it had been crushed. It was not a split case or blown out case. It is as if it was crushed under pressure. I was not sure if it was a bad round, so I made an assumption that the round was slightly back from the chamber and not fully seated. What I started to do after that was after loading all 10 rounds, I would simply run my thumb over each round in the cylinder to make sure it was fully in there and not sticking back out. I had no further issues after that at all with that ammo or any other type I used that day. I am no expert by any means, so if anyone else has any insight on what this issue may have been, please educate me and the rest of us.

      • Sounds as if the revolver might be out of time or at least certainly was when you touched off that round. If the bullet was held up leaving it could create over-pressure and slices of lead shaved from the bullet would be blown out.

      • Thanks very much for the details of the issue you experienced. Steve has already talked about the cylinder not being indexed correctly for one shot, and I agree that it could cause a problem like you describe, but I wonder if it is even possible with a rimfire revolver of this type. For the cylinder to be rotated far enough to allow pressure from a round fired in one chamber to enter another chamber and deform that chamber’s round is quite a bit of rotation; too much to get a solid hit on the rim to fire the first round, in my opinion.

        Another possibility would be a punctured rim on the case that was being fired, and some of that gas from that puncture (and perhaps bits of brass) blowing rearward and exiting out the sides of the frame on either side of the rear of the cylinder. A portion of that gas flowing under the extractor could have entered the next chamber and crushed the casing of the next round. Ive seen photos of center-fire casings in adjacent chambers crushed when a revolver has blown-up due to faulty ammunition, but I’ve never seen it happen during normal firing. I have some Velocitors, but I don’t think I’ve ever tried them in the 617. I’ll run a box or two through it and see if I get any problems.

        Thanks again for the info!

        • That reference to “Steve” in the second line is supposed to read “virtualjohn”.


          Time to hit the sack….too late for accurate typing.

      • Gents,
        It occured to me that the reason for the misfire might be due to the dry fire pitting itself. Think about it. The hammer point may have been able to pierce through the cartridge rim due to the pit hole Opposing the pin – not being a flat surface.

  16. “I probably won’t be the first one to say that Smith & Wesson knows how to make a revolver.”

    Funny, I was just thinking S&W is forgetting how to build a good revolver. The last 640 Pro I looked at in the gun store had a canted barrel. They’re using cruddy MIM parts and include a lock because the parent company needs “gun safety device” sales.

  17. Once you add the beauty of a load block and speedloaders this gun gets 100% better than it already is. I recommend at least the 40 round block but more is better. I also have 3 of the speedloaders with the long handles. Watch out, that box of 525 can disappear in one setting.
    Can you spell SWEET???!!! Check it out at

    • Yup, a great addition. I originally bought the 40-shot block to go with my DS-10 speedloader, but recently added a 9-ring, 90-shot block to my range bag. Amazing how quickly you can empty a box of rimfire with a speedloader, a topped-off loader block and a fair-to-middlin’ DA revolver shooter.

    • Because you can. And the price is actually closer to $750.00. If you don’t want to buy it, then don’t. I wouldn’t be buying a Kel Tec just so I could have something to dry fire.

      I guess I don’t fully understand your comment.

      • Why not use a standard centerfire K-Frame revolver for dry fire? Better yet, go to the range and fire 550 live rounds from that 617. A box of 550 rounds of Remington Golden Bullets costs less than 50 rounds of 38 Special.

  18. have 617 with the 8 3/8 barrel absolutely awsome… this 6 shooter will not close up if cartridges are only slightly misaligned… old shells that are losing shape chamber ok but here is an important caution which may be cause for your blow black, which nearly caused my loss of sight in one eye/ shooting an anchutz 22lr with old shells that should have been tossed, the brass was week and the shell casing split in the breach… no damage to the gun but microscopic peaces of brass powder and debris flashed back some how directely into my eye… the cause – old amunition which should have been disposed of. old amunition brought out of the old hunt camp we just sold… the stupidity, only time I ever fired a shot without my safety glasses.. stupid yes but hope we all learn….. through out the old amunition, wear the glasses,,, and god bless S W 617 – which handled all the crappy shells without a burp —–

  19. I have a 617 with 6″ barrel. I love the trigger and action. I don’t fire this revolver using the, my reference, long pull on the trigger. I aim at my target, cock the hammer and then pull the trigger and the trigger let off is nearly as soft as the set trigger on my Thompson Center Hawken. It’s heaven to shoot. My problem is seeing the sights. I have looked into the fiber optics which I believe would help me to better see the front sight. I’ve heard some of these do not work well on this model. Anyone out there willing to share their experiences along this line. Maybe it’s just my 70 year old eyes, but I still love pulling the trigger and shooting pesky varmints and also enjoy squirrel and rabbit hunting. Thanks for your time and consideration.

    • I had the same problem and solved it by painting the back of the front sight with reddish-orange fingernail polish. I have the 617 with 6″ barrel with a trigger job and Hogue Exotic Hardwood square butt conversion grip. Definitely have a real affection for this weapon.

  20. My 10 round 617 w/6″ barrel is better than I ever would’ve expected it to be. A pleasure to shoot and flawless to boot! If you can afford it, get yourself one; lots of fun and economical too.

  21. I’ve had the pleasure of owning a 6″ 617 for 3 months now. The only thing I can say is “Why did I wait so long!”. This revolver is my absolute favorite and a blast to shoot. When I’m at the range I always keep saying “Just one more cylinder”. It’s certainly an expensive .22 but it’s a piece that will last forever.

  22. By some coincidence, I was at a gun store this afternoon where I saw a used pre-lock, six-shot, 4″ 617-1 for $499.

    I was intrigued and asked to examine it.

    Cons: gun was obviously owned by someone who shot it a LOT. Cylinder lockup had noticeable side-to-side play and endshake due to wear. I did not bring the gauges but barrel cylinder gap looked dishearteningly wide; I eyeballed it at in excess of .010″ on all six chambers. Gun was also filthy and interior of bore was crusted with unburned powder granules. Rear sight blade was noticeably loose in its slot with several hundredths side-to-side and vertical free play you could feel when you put your finger on it.

    Pros: showed no sign of dry firing. And when I tried the trigger–with a folded handkerchief between the hammer and the rear of the frame, of course, there being no .22 LR snap caps available–it had the lightest, smoothest DA trigger I’ve ever felt in my life. SA trigger was better yet. Timing seemed perfect, as far as I could determine by eye.

    All in all it looked like it ought to clean up nicely. Unfortunately there was no .22 LR available in the store for sale, or else I’d have been even more tempted than I already was.

  23. Yes, these revolvers are a bit on the costly side, but I think that $499 for a used one in the condition you described, seems a bit much to me. I paid $739 + tax for brand new 617 10 shot w/6″ barrel; 3 years ago this March. I wouldn’t expect to pay more than $349 with all the work that’s needed and you say it’s only a six shot.

    • I just bought a 4 inch 617 for $765 on gunbroker. Ain’t cheap, but boy is it fun. Stoked that I can actually afford to go to the range regularly again!

  24. Re: the “Yikes! Looks like it’s been dry fired a bunch” picture.

    Looks like to me that the cylinder just has firing pin relief cuts in it. I have the same in some of my revolvers. When the cartridge is in the cylinder the firing pin strikes normally, but not all the way through. These cuts are in the cylinder so if the cylinder is unloaded, the firing pin will not strike hard steel and blunt or break.

    Look closely, all the supposed “dry fire” stikes are cuts, not dulled indentations.

    • Those are not “cuts” Barry. Those are pock marks from the firing pin striking the cylinder.

  25. You are not supposed to dry fire a rimfire weapon, it damages the firing pin. Those marks in the cylinder do not look like they are manufactured; zoom in on them. They look like mashes to the metal, they are even ragged in some spots. My 617 has zero marks like this, zilch, nada.

  26. I had been looking for a 4″ 617 for about 3 months and ran across a like new
    10 year old version with box, papers, spent shell and original receipt for $550
    out the door. It’s absolutely beautiful! Fit & finish – near perfect!
    As far as dry firing, use yellow #8×3/4″ dry wall anchors, .10 apiece at ACE.
    The 4″ has a perfect balance and enough weight to just “Feel Right”

  27. I have a 617-2 with aluminum 10 shot cylinder made in 1985- shoots great but very hard to open cylinder – anyone had the same problem?

  28. Interesting review. If I understand the report correctly, a second round went off in a chamber that was not aligned with the barrel when the gun was fired. I note from the photo that the case heads are at least partially recessed in the cylinder. If the case was a loose fit in that chamber, it might be that the recoil (slight those it is with a ,22) caused the case to slide to the rear & hit the recoil shield with enough force to set off the priming compound in the rim. But the force would be spread over the circumference of the rim & I don’t see how that could be enough to detonate the priming compound. Maybe it was just weak metal in that one case. (Good reason to wear shooting glasses.)

    If the top round chamber wasn’t exactly aligned with the barrel, the bulet would shave lead going out but that ought not to affect the cartridge case. Or perhaps the top round was overloaded, causing the case to be distorted, head separated, etc. Based in info provided, I think the cause was a bad round of ammo–nothing to do with the gun itself.

  29. got a 617 in 6″ this was one of my dream guns and it fits my hands perfectly, unfortunately my experience hasn’t been good at all. first problem was extremely poor accuracy (at 25 yds.) 10″+ groups with all types of ammunition including high dollar match, Lots of lead shaving off and building up around barrel extension up on close examination barrel extension looked like it may have been dropped before assembly landing on the extension possibly distorting the forcing cone a bit. Contacted S&W described the symptoms and what I thought I could see on the extension asked if they wanted me to leave the built up lead on for a possible diagnosis aid, advised to clean off lead & send it in. S&W replaced the barrel sent it back with a letter stating that it now met their accuracy standards. Now shoots much better
    seven out of ten average 2″ at 25 yds. however there are ALWAYS three flyers causing ten shot groups to open up to 6-7″ I have been shooting off a MTM pistol rest while seated at a concrete bench.
    I left the 617 at a local gunsmith for over a year while deployed to Afghanistan, after explaining the symptoms and asking for an accuracy diagnosis ,he fired one cylinder then declared there was no accuracy issue then wanted to sell me a trigger job. I was very unimpressed. In my field I actually listen to the operator/customer in order to get to the bottom & solve the problem. I believe that there are three chambers that are misaligned as there still seems to be excessive lead spraying from the cylinder gap just not a lot of build up. I intend to order a range rod from Brownells to check this .I also plan to mark the cylinder and try to identify if the flyers are coming out of particular chambers if so are these chambers also spraying more lead. At this point I should point out that that I own a vintage K-22 that will shoot a six shot group that can be covered with a nickel at 25 yds. Hell my Single Six and an old High Standard Double Nine I have will out shoot this 617. This problem is really bugging me and I intend to get it solved. With all of this said and if anyone is still reading this if anyone knows of a competent and honest revolver smith that will actually listen to the coustomer I would really appreciate a heads up.

    • Hello Phil,
      First of all a great big THANK YOU for your service to our country!

      I have a 617 and have experienced a similar problem. I couldn’t get the gun sighted in. It went back to Smith. They replaced the barrel, and after shooting 200 rounds through the gun I noticed the bullets hitting the target sideways and a lot of led shavings on the bench. The gun was very difficult to clean. Sent the gun, target and shavings back to Smith. They told me the gun was fine and that I needed to use a higher quality brass coated ammo. I live in California and was told there is a gunsmith in Lodi, CA who is the best around. I’ll be getting a second opinion soon.

  30. hello,

    I own a 357 smith and wesson magnum and I was wondering can I change my existing barrels 6 bullets to a 10 bullet barrel ? and if so how much does it cost? moreover i am interested in making my revolver the ultimate magnum may you please advise me since this is my first gun.

    Kind regards,


    • No. The Barrel does not hold the ammunition, the cylinder does. There is not a 10 round cylinder for a 357 magnum, not that I have ever seen. S&W does make 7 round & 8 round variations of the 357 Magnum, but they are separate models. You cannot just swap out a cylinder without it being made to function properly in that specific gun; it could be deadly. It appears you need to do some intensive studying & training on firearms before you start thinking about building an Ultimate Magnum. The first rules of firearm onwership: Responsible, Safe; to be that you must be knowledgeable and practice.

  31. I have had a S&W 686-6 Pro for a while and love it. Had trigger work done and it is smooth as silk. My husband bought me a S&W 617 for Christmas. I was so happy I cried. I have it in for trigger work with the same guy who worked on my 686. He is a master and does work for ICORE shooters. Oh, I’m a 69 year old woman who started shooting at 65. My hands are small so I have a challenge with grips that are right for me. Although heavier than some guns, the weight and barrel length are a great balance for me. Love them. If you have Second Amendment Sisters or other women only events in your area, your lady will gain confidence, get interested and when she chooses her own gun, she will like going to the range.

  32. Recently picked up a 617 new on sale. Unbelievable revolver; I am in love. All of my other 22 wheel guns feel and shoot like junk by comparison. Accuracy out of the box was excellent. Yes, it was the highest priced wheel gun I own but I would repurchase it in a minute.

    • What size barrel is yours Mel? I have the 6″ variety for over 4 years now, it is as you say: A Fabulous Shooter! I would like to have a 4″ model now ; ) but wish they made it in a 3″ version. I know they have the J-Frame variety, but it only holds 8 instead of 10. The 617 is easy to be amazingly accurate with, even in the 6″ barrel variety.

  33. Bought a new 4″ 617 yesterday going to break it in today. Excited! Noticed my trigger is partly dark finish whereas photos show it uniformly dark. Anyone else see this on theirs? The overall finish on the gun isn’t very good with swirl marks almost like sandpaper was the final step. All 617 /686 etc at the gun show had same “issues” so I bought it and it appears Smith just isn’t paying attention to the final finish very closely. As long as it shoots right I’ll he happy after playing with cheap 22s.

    • I got a 617 for Christmas. I always get trigger work done. However, it had significant other problems including S&W using a belt sander on what has been a finished product. My husband’s 617 he bought a few years ago had none of these issues. The gunsmith we had correct the problems said he has worked on three others recently with the same issues.

      • Why didn’t you send the firearm back to S&W for warranty repair, rather than take it to a gunsmith? I realize a trigger job is not a warranty issue, unless it’s not working to spec., but you say the finish was done with a belt sander? Were there gouges in it; would like to see a picture of what it was like before you had it buffed.

  34. Hi, read ur comments on the Smith & Wesson Mod 617, I bought one 6 months ago but I would like to change the front sight on mine to a red fibre optic sight as my eyesight isn’t the best. I live in the UK and I thought you may like to help me out by giving me the name of a company in the USA that could provide me with this type of sight. I would be very grateful for any info on the subject. Regards. Mike.

    • Mike, Hi-Viz makes the Fiber optic Fronts. If you go to Brian Enos website, there are serious Competition Shoters and one of them offers a better FO Front for the 617. It’s thinner, so you have a better sight picture. Also, the Hi-Viz sights are slightly oval on top-these aren’t. Good Luck.

  35. The 617 was my first revolver – 6″, 10 shooter (well, really my second as I had a Ruger Single Six back in the day). What a great gun to plink away with at the range. It was the perfect gun for learning to shoot like a markswoman and I’ve shot it a lot, never had a problem. Love shooting steel with it. I’ve other great S&W revolvers now that I really like too, but the 617 is still a favorite and always will be.

    Comments about the front sight resonate with me, but I’m still shooting the original, though my eyes would appreciate something more akin to my 629 Classic front sight.

    When ever a new potential handgun owner says, “I’m thinking about buying a gun,” I try to get them out to the range and introduce them to 617 LR and 686 with 38spcls. That combo for 1st timers just really works. I encourage them to get the a 617 and then them see what they really want to do after 800-1,000 rounds. A 617 and a shooting coach will really make a huge difference in becoming a marksman or woman. After a few trips to the range (about 700 rounds) I next bought a 686+, and then . . . and then . . . but you already know this story.


  36. Yes Rachel I would agree whole heartedly, the 617 and 686+ are loads of fun. I wish they would make a 22WMR in an 8 shot with a 4″ barrel on the same frame as the 617. I shoot 22LR almost every time (95%) I go shooting; it’s the warm up round. Usually run off about 100 rounds. I split my shooting of 22LR’s between the 617, my Buckmark Practical with 4″ barrel or the Buckmark Hunter with 7.5 barrel. I have a Ruger MK III Talo and it is nowhere near as nice as the Buckmarks, so I rarely shoot it. I’ll probably pass it on to one of my young adults, they could always trade it in for something nicer if they like. Originally had not planned on buying a revolver and now I really like them. Funny thing though, I don’t like to carry them, except when I am hiking in the back country. It’s a bit difficult for me to conceal them unless I carry a J-frame, but I’d just as soon carry my Kahr MK40. What other S&W revolvers do you own?

  37. “If you like an extremely stiff trigger……give the Ruger LCR 22lr a try”. Not a valid comparison to the 4″ 617. Nobody considers the LCR to be any kind of range gun at a 1.875″ barrel. It’s a lightweight pocket gun. A better comparison would be the Ruger SP101, 22lr 8-shot cylinder 4.2″ barrel at roughly 30 ozs. SP101 has a stiff trigger to be sure “out of the box” new. But it improves over time, &/or you swap in the appropriate Wolf Springs.

    My vote goes to the SP101 as it is MUCH lighter weight ( but still rock solid ), & I only have to clean 8 chambers, not 10. The 2 extra chambers in a 22lr……I just do not see the need for, all things here considered.

  38. I just ordered my new 617. I traded in my older 686 for it
    Looking forward to the extra 4 rounds per reload.
    I may add the fiber optic front sight as well.
    Happy shooting

  39. I am a new pistol shooter, and this is my first hand gun. I took the NRA Pistol class partly for the experience of trying different types of hand guns. I have hands that are 6 1/2″ from wrist to mid finger tip and I am a 5’2″ 65 year old woman. I realized that for me revolvers were just easier. I had no trouble reaching the cylinder latch with my thumb. I can thank the review on this website for helping me decide what to buy: S&W 617 4″ barrel. I went to my range and bought it and took possession of it yesterday. I had been strengthening my hands with Prohands exercisers and a 3lb dumbbell for several weeks so I not only had no trouble with it: I love it so much I can hardly put it down! My only comment is that the front sight is hard to see, but I solved that quickly. I came off the range and said. “Has anybody got some Wite Out?” Somebody did, and after that my shots were scary good! This is my “Noob Traing Pistol”. I would like to try a revolver more geared to target shooting like the 617 6″, but am concerned about it being muzzle heavy. I looked at the specs on S&W Model 17 Masterpiece which has the 6″ barrel an thus longer sight radius, but am told they are nearly impossible to find. I told them I was willing to wait for one! Glad Rachel love the 617 in 6″ as I may have to go that route due to the 17’s scarcity.
    Again…thanks for this review. So glad I heeded it. I now own one beautiful revolver!

    • Good for you – you made an excellent choice. Since this is a K-Frame Smith & Wesson revolver, when you want to step up into a larger caliber there is a huge number of options for your next choice and you will have mastered the K frame so it will be very easy for you to transfer your shooting skills to a more capable defense caliber like .38 Special and .357 magnum. The 686 is identical to what you have now, the only differences are the bore diameter and center fire cartridges instead of rimfire. If you decide to try competitive shooting as a recreational pastime, there are many types of matches you will be able to participate in. I encourage you to explore the possibilities with your 617, and once you discover how much fun it is you will probably want to try a 38 or 357.

      Even if you think a .357 magnum is too powerful for you now, you can fire .38 Special in a .357 revolver. Many target loadings of .38 Special can be quite easy to shoot comfortably. In fact, I used to practice with .38 Special wadcutter and semi wadcutter (lighter bullets designed for shooting at paper targets) and very seldom fired factory loaded .357 Magnum in my Smith & Wesson 586 revolver.

      Welcome to the revolver shooting community! We need more women to do as you have and join the firearms community, and you made an excellent choice. Congratulations!

    • If you are comfortable with that 617 (meaning it feels good in your hand, and shoots good when you point it) then, if you are carrying it for self defense, a 629 in the same barrel length is a near match in terms of how it feels. The sights are different, but you can have a gunsmith fix that part. The point being… practice until you get good using a gun that won’t make you flinch. And then if something happens – use something that will give them a bad day.

  40. I had a blue one in the 1990’s. It was absolutely great, but I gave it to grandkids. I just got a 6′ barrel 617, and I am terribly disappointed. Trigger is poor, accuracy worse. I shot my Kimber .45 (standard not target) that I carry daily, on the same target, and got groups less than 1/2 the size of the 617. It makes me sick to have spent $750 on this gun!

    • Al, you have to remember that the Smith & Wesson double action revolver was designed in an era when men were men, and women were glad for it. There was a time when these were the pinnacle of firearms engineering, and they are still appreciated by those of us who value the absolute certainty of a mechanism that works every time, all the time as many times as you need it to. Sort of like the AK rifle, but in a much more beautiful package.

  41. I bought a six-shot S&W 617 with a 6″ barrel in 1992. At the same time I bought a S&W .357 Magnum Model 686 with a 6″ barrel. What a wonderful pair of handguns they were. Both were fun to shoot and very accurate. Now I’m 84 years old and unable to shoot because of visual and physical reasons, so I’m giving all of my handguns to my daughter in Texas. I’ve owned Colts, Browning, High Standard, and H&R handguns, but S&W guns were and will always be my favorites. Maybe my great grandkids will enjoy shooting these fine, durable S&W revolvers someday. They will last for thousands of rounds.
    Happy shooting to all!

    • I had a 7 3/4 inch 586 in nickel finish and it was the most finely crafted firearm I ever owned. It came in the famed wood presentation case and with .38 Special wadcutters was one of the most accurate and easiest to shoot handguns I ever fired. As far as revolvers go Smith and Wesson makes the finest on the planet, and they are the easiest to do a trigger job on. Ruger makes some good guns as well, I owned a 4″ Speed six and it was a very good stainless revolver but it did not compare to my 586. Ruger revolvers are serviceable firearms, but to compare them to Smith & Wesson is like saying a bottom round stake is as good as a porterhouse. Ruger is a good quality revolver, but no matter what you do to them they can’t be tuned like a Smith. I would not compare them side by side because to do so is unfair to Ruger.

      If I had no choice but Ruger I would accept it because they do make good quality firearms, but they simply are not in the same league as Smith & Wesson.

  42. Happened to see the comment about hoping for dan wesson to remake .22lr revolver again. I bought a 6″ heavy vent blue model when they came out. Beautiful gun,great action and accuracy but, it misfired double action. A variety of shooter and ammo made no differance. Sent back to factory, same result when returned. Traded that pos. On a stainless version of same gun. Guess what? Yea same malfuntion. Traded 2nd pos in on early model S&W 617-6. Great gun, still have it. Be careful what you wish for.

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