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(This is a reader-submitted review as part of our gun review contest. See details here.)

By Erik

Before the dawn of the GLOCK era, the default cop guns were Smith & Wesson’s Model 66 and it’s blued sibling the Model 19. Lots of them hit the used market as police departments made the switch to striker-fired pistols, so they offer a reasonably affordable option for beginners or experienced, but revolver-curious, autoloader shooters. Smith & Wesson recently started selling the Model 66 again, but the new ones have a weird two-piece barrel, and to my mind, lack the visceral appeal of the older guns.

The Model 19 was introduced in 1957 as the first K-frame chambered for .357 Magnum. Allegedly developed with input from Bill Jordan, a border patrol agent and gun writer, the Model 19 was meant to let law enforcement types have a .357 revolver that was easier to carry than the heavier N-frame revolvers that were then chambered for .357.

Billed as the “Combat Magnum” and offered in 6, 4, 3, and 2.5 inch barrels the Models 19 and 66 (the stainless version) occupied much the same niche that the GLOCK 17/19/26 family does now. Patrol officers could have the 6 or 4-inch versions and plainclothes officers could carry the 2.5-inch version.

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The particular version under review here is a 66-4 with a 2.5 inch barrel and the round butt. The 66-4 was made in the mid-1990s and does not have the internal lock that seems to instantly take $150 off the resale price of used Smiths. It was a police trade-in that I got for $350 about three years ago. I have not seen any offered at that price or as trade-ins recently, but you still find them in gun shops and online for $500-600.

The 2.5 inch version was meant to be concealable while still offering the capacity of a full-size service revolver – a whopping six rounds – and useable sights. It was, in effect, the revolver equivalent of a GLOCK 19, small enough to conceal but not intended as a pocket gun or back up like the five shot J-frames.

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Model 66 is the archetypical double action revolver. It has a long, but smooth, double action trigger. It’s so long, and, at about 10 pounds, stiff enough that it serves as a safety. It would be quite difficult to fire the gun unintentionally, and the trigger pull is long enough that you might actually be able to reconsider and abort your decision to fire part way through the trigger press. The downside of the double action trigger is that it hard to shoot well. It takes some practice to keep everything lined up for the duration of the trigger’s travel.

The single action trigger is entirely different. Cock the hammer and you get no take up at all and a trigger pull that can’t be more than 3 pounds. The break is clean, crisp, and light. In fact, I think it’s a little too light. I have only to contemplate the concept of pressure and there is lead going down range. It’s fun to play around with, but you could get yourself into a lot of trouble with a cocked revolver in a self-defense situation.

Unloaded, the all-steel M66 weighs in just under the two-pound mark. You feel the weight and size of the gun if you carry it. I have a Remora holster for mine, and I can carry it inside the waistband fairly comfortably at 4:00. The round butt seems to help it stay close and unobtrusive. At 3:00, however, the width of the cylinder is hard to hide and makes me look like an inept shoplifter.

Shooting the M66 is fun. Far too many people’s only experience with revolvers is shooting Airweight J-frames, which is not fun. You could burn through hundreds of rounds of .38 Special in an afternoon with this gun and still have a smile on your face. Even a box of .357 is manageable, although the small grip on mine becomes uncomfortable after a couple of cylinders. The double action trigger is challenging, but does teach you skills that transfer to DA/SA autoloaders. For me the main difficulty is figuring out what to do with my thumbs. Because the grip is wider than the frame, my thumbs, which settle comfortably on an autoloader, seem to dangle in space.

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The Model 66 has good, adjustable sights. The front sight has a bright red insert and the rear is a square notch with a white outline. Compared to the fixed sights that many service revolvers have, they’re pretty nice.

A common complaint about the Model 66 is that it is not really capable of handling a steady diet of .357. Some have suffered cracked forcing cones and flame cutting of the topstrap. The Internet consensus, for what it’s worth, is that one should avoid excessive use of hot 125 and 130-grain loads, but 158-grain bullets cause less trouble. But what “excessive” means in this context is never clear to me. My solution? Just shoot .38s. My wallet and hands fully support this decision.

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So for about the same $550 to $600 you’d pay for a used Model 66, you could have a new GLOCK 19 that is lighter and slimmer, has more than double the capacity, is infinitely easier to reload, shoots less expensive ammunition, is easier to shoot accurately, and is just as reliable. Police departments did not abandon revolvers just because GLOCK had an aggressive sales force; there is a lot to like about the striker-fired guns.

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But revolvers like the Model 66 have their virtues too. If you were to devise a gun for someone who was not willing to train regularly or for someone whose careful training has been flushed from his nervous system by a flood of adrenaline, it would be a revolver. There are three controls on a revolver that you can manipulate: the trigger, the hammer, and the cylinder release. Someone who has never touched a gun before could pick up a loaded revolver and, assuming he has had sufficient exposure to television to locate the trigger, get off six shots.

The hammer is probably best left alone unless you are playing around on the range and the cylinder latch is only necessary for the second six shots and, let’s face it, if your problem has not been resolved by your first six rounds, you’re in trouble. There may be a few people able to reload a revolver under life and death pressure, but it’s not me and, unless your initials are J.M., it’s probably not you either.

So, assuming that the gun has been loaded, only one of the three controls is really necessary to operate the gun. If you were looking for gun that a spouse who is less enamored of the range than you are could use in an emergency, a full-size service revolver like the Model 66 would be a good choice. At least that’s how I justified buying mine.

A few years back RF suggested that the ideal beginner’s gun would be a Ruger SP101 with a three-inch barrel. Its only shortcomings, he thought, were the fixed sights and the protruding hammer spur. He even suggested that Ruger make a version of the SP101 with adjustable sights and a bobbed hammer. Ruger has introduced a lot of new product since then, but the Farago-ized SP101 is still languishing somewhere in the Ruger skunkworks.

Until Ruger delivers the ultimate beginner’s gun, the M66 offers everything RF said a beginner’s gun ought to have save for the bobbed hammer. And that can be fixed pretty easily. It’s a little bulkier than the SP101, but you do get an extra round and it’s still concealable. A 3-inch M66 would be even better, but they are rare enough that the extra half-inch of barrel pushes you well beyond reasonable beginner gun pricing.

For the non-beginner the M66 has its appeal too. I use mine for backpacking and hiking in black bear country. I figure a round (or two) of .357 is probably more practical for that application than a magazine of 9mm or .40 cal. But more than anything else, I just like the way it looks and feels. It has the same ineffable appeal as a custom 1911 or a Ducati.

There is something about the heft of the gun and the precision with which the parts fit that is absent in a polymer-framed pistol. For practical purposes (and price) polymer guns are hard to beat, but the Model 66 has an aesthetic appeal that polymer guns can’t begin to approach.

Specifications: Smith & Wesson Model 66-4

Caliber: .38/.357
Capacity: 6 rounds
Materials: Stainless Steel
Weight: 31.5 ounces
Barrel Length: 2.5 inches
Action: DA/SA
Sights: Adjustable
Price: $500-650 (over $1000 if you want the 3”)

Ratings (out of five stars):

Style * * * *
It may not be a Colt Python, but it’s a good-looking gun.

Accuracy * * *
Pretty good for such a short sight radius.

Ergonomics * * * *
Totally depends on the grips it comes with. For my moderately large hands the grip seems a little small, but the length of pull is ideal.

Carry * * *
It’s not a pocket pistol but it carries pretty well. Generations of police detectives carried them.

Reliability * * * * *
It’s a revolver. They can fail catastrophically, e.g. total lock up, but tend not to be subject to the routine minor failures of autoloaders. They’re as dependable as any mechanical object is ever going to be.

Customization * *
There are a bazillion options for grips ranging from utilitarian rubber to gorgeous, rainforest destroying tropical hardwoods. Holsters are another matter. There are nice custom holsters out there, but you are not going to walk into a big box store and find a holster designed for your Model 66.

Overall * * * *
It’s the quintessential service revolver.

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    • Four — trigger, mag release, slide release and slide.

      Got a 66-1 in 4″, great range and home def gun.

      • I too own a 4″ Smith and Wesson Model 66 or Mod. 66-1 of 1980 vintage. It has original Goncalo Alves target
        grips, pre-1982 pinned barrel, and counter shrunk chambers. It’s my primary “self defense/house protection/
        concealed carry handgun”. Also, for the outdoors and general purpose. Were I limited to owning but one
        handgun only it would be my own S&W Model 66 (K-Frame) .357 Combat Magnum revolver with 4″ barrel.
        For both urban and metro, including rural and wilderness, I cannot think of a more versatile, useful, classic,
        and comforting personal sidearm to have along. I even own a 1979 vintage Smith and Wesson Model 19,
        also with 4″ barrel. Both S&W Model 19’s and 66’s revolver still define armed security, law and order, and protection for the common law abiding citizen. And it remains a sensible, sound, and practical choice for those of us who can’t afford an armed body guard 24/7 provided to anti-gun political elitists Michael Bloomberg, George Soros, Obama, and their “socialist” ilk! Of course, they collectively are provided this by American tax payers.

        Remember “Dial 911 and Die: Exposing The Police Protection Myth” at

    • How many controls on a Glock? Well, let’s see:
      (1) trigger
      (2) magazine release
      (3) slide release
      (4) slide
      (5) take-down release

      Here is where the comparison between a semi-auto handgun (such as a Glock) and a revolver gets critical:
      If you keep a round chambered in a semi-auto handgun such as a Glock, you damn well better be keeping that semi-auto handgun in a holster that covers the trigger since its single action trigger is pretty short/light and there is no safety on the firearm. If you keep a fully loaded cylinder on a revolver such as the Smith and Wesson Model 66, it is a LOT less critical to keep that revolver in a holster since its double-action trigger is long/heavy and is NOT prone to unintentional discharges in spite of the fact that it does not have a safety.

      • Which is why I prefer my Xd, if you’re not gripping it, it ain’t gonna fire. You can safely draw and have a 100% degree of certainty that even if you’re totally stupid and have your finger on the trigger before your grip it still isn’t going to go bang.

        • Yes, or a DA/SA pistol (with or without safety) such as a HK p30 or p30sk. Their quality makes them almost as reliable as a revolver and safer than striker fired pistols.

      • Actually, Glocks do not have a single action trigger, when the tigger is pulled, it performs several actions, not just one single action. Glocks have several safeties also, the only one you can see from the outside the trigger safety.

    • 3? Slide, trigger, slide catch… Pretty much point and shoot as well assuming there is a round in the chamber.

    • To get to the meat of Omer Baker’s comment, a revolver like the Smith and Wesson Model 66 is simpler to operate than any semi-auto handgun, even a Glock.

      The minimum controls that you HAVE to operate on a revolver is the cylinder release (to open/load the chambers in the cylinder) and the trigger (in double-action mode to fire the gun).

      The minimum controls that you HAVE to operate on a semi-auto pistol like a Glock is the magazine release (to remove the magazine and load it), the slide (to chamber a round), and the trigger (in single-action to fire the gun).

      Furthermore, a revolver is easier to use when typical malfunctions happen. You just pull the trigger again (in double action mode). With a semi-auto pistol, you have to “tap” the magazine to make sure it is seated properly, “rack” the slide to eject/clear any jams (e.g. failure to feed, stovepipe/failure to eject) or dud rounds, and then pull the trigger again (in single-action mode).

      • If you can quickly determine that it’s just a failure of the round in the chamber to go off, then SOME semi-autos (not Glocks!) give you second strike. Pull the trigger again.

        I did have a dud round once under some stress; all I did was rack the slide and pull the trigger again.

        You DON’T want to do this on a stovepipe, at least not the stovepipes I’ve experienced (next round is already mostly chambered), as racking the slide creates a double feed.

  1. Smith and Wesson revolvers are nice and all, but at this point you’re paying more for a name (same as colt firearms). I remember a ways back when I was looking for a .357 revolver, I went into a LGS, and saw a Ruger GP100. The clerk then showed me some smith and Wesson revolver as well (don’t remember the model). The smith had rough machine marks, cheap grips and bad fitting, while the ruger had great no machine mark and great fitting, and came with a set of Hogue grips as standard. And the kicker is the Smith was $150 more Fran the ruger. Needless to say,I left the shop with the gp100 and three boxes of ammo for less than I would have given for just the smith revolver.

    • I love the Ruger GP100 series enough to have two of them. There is no question that they have near flawless machining, fit, and finish. Of course they are built like tanks and will last thousands upon thousands of rounds and several lifetimes.

      No matter how you slice it, however, Smith and Wesson revolvers are much more pleasing to the eye. Are they so much more pleasing to the eye to command an additional $150 to purchase one? Not in my world … which is why I have two GP100s.

      Fun question: which manufacturer has a reputation for better stock revolver triggers? Ruger or Smith and Wesson?

      • In my personal experience smith has a better trigger than Ruger. I’ve always felt that was because Smith was lighter built than Ruger. In a long term SHTF situation I’d rather have a Ruger than a Smith.

        But for range work and day to day I’d rather have the Smith. Just me.

        • Not just you, jwm; I know a lot of folks that agree with you.

          I have both, use both, have competed with and carried both. I give Ruger a slight edge in long-term durability, and S&W a similar slim victory for accuracy. But for the average gun owner, either will fill the bill just fine.

        • Do not want a S&W any day of the week–I ONLY trust Rugers & have many of them–have tried & shot everything else & I do not like anything else

      • Honestly, I can’t really attest to the triggers on modern production smiths. The only revolvers of theirs I’ve fired belong to my father, who collects the revolvers built in the “good ol’ days”, the “newest” one being made in the ’70s. And even then, most of the guns were so modded that the only original parts left on them were the frames. But, I like my ruger’s stock trigger. It’s a bit heavy, but smooth and crisp breaking.

      • And as for the looks, I will gladly admit that smiths have a certain elegance, I love the the the marriage of sharp, flat edges and bold, rounded curves of the gp100.

      • Ooh… Are you trying to start a war?


        I own both Smiths and Rugers. The Smith triggers are better than the Rugers in both double and single action. In fact, on the Smiths that I own, the single action triggers are so good, they are in fact telepathic.

        On the other hand, I’m certain that I could drop my Ruger SP101 down a flight of stairs, and the odds are that only the stairs would be damaged.

        Of course, I would never contemplate doing such a horrible thing with a work of art such as a Smith & Wesson revolver. ?

        • I’m from WVA. My older brother still lives there. In 1976 he bought a Ruger Blackhawk in .357. It remained his only pistol til his fil passed recently and left him a shoe box full of colts and S&W’s. They remain in the box under his bed.

          It’s rural WVA. A deputy sheriff came by and told my brother and some others that he needed backup at a house the next holler over. My brother grabbed his Ruger and went along.

          My brother and another citizen, who was armed with a shotgun covered one side of the house. When the deputy approached the front the bad guy , in classic hollywood fashion, Bailed right out a shut window on my brothers side of the house.

          My brother and his partner moved to intercept the bg and the bg and shotgun man collided and began to wrestle for the shotgun. My brother had no shot so he stepped in close and commenced to use his Ruger as a beat stick.

          It worked quite well and after wiping a little blood and other bits off the Ruger the gun was just fine.

          I’ve heard of people damaging their pistols by using them as clubs. But apparently the Ruger works just fine.

      • I wish the choice for our presidency were based upon the same considerations as the Ruger vs S&W.
        It is a win/win either way.

        A man can dream can’t he?!

        I, happily, own both a 4″ SS GP and a perfect 4″ blued Model 19-4.
        Asking me to choose would be like asking me which child is my favorite.
        There are differences.
        And those very differences make this such a beautiful world.

      • I think it depends on the model. I have a Model 36, a Model 28 and a Ruger Police Service Six, all from 30+ years ago, and a recent Ruger LCR. I have also tried a lot of triggers of both brands in stores. Best of all? A current Smith 686+ Custom Shop that I am still drooling over at my LGS. That trigger is like butter. I could not imagine a DA trigger could be so good. As for my guns, the Model 28 has a better trigger than the Service Six, but the Six is still pretty good. The LCR trigger is better than the Model 36, though, by a pretty good margin.

  2. I have 2 66es, a 3″ 66-1 and a 66-5 in 2.5″ (no Hillary hole until 66-6. Perhaps not a co-incidence.) I absolutely love them. I have aftermarket trigger return springs in them (dislike the aftermarket main springs) and that makes them really awesome to shoot. They’re high quality (although not light) guns that are accurate to shoot. They are also available as bargains if you’re patient enough.

    I will also say shooting 158 SWCs or even 105 SWCs from em really tightens up the groups in mine compared to the jacketed ammo for some reason. They’re definitely a favorite of mine to reload for.

  3. It was nice not to have to groan over a dozen oh so clever analogies or old western guy gun-speak laden with the word “fine” and combo “has much to offer”.

    • Got through the whole article without seeing “booger hook” or “bang switch.” Mad respect.

  4. Nice writeup, although I did spot at least one typo.

    I beg to differ about that J-frame Airweight experience, though. It’s true that the 442/642’s are Smith’s least expensive offerings on the new revolver market (I paid $329 for my no-lock 642-1) and for that reason alone they are indeed many folks’ sole experience with a wheelgun. When I first got mine it was indeed not very much fun. The trigger was one of the worst I’ve ever experienced, beyond heavy, and I could even make it bind up just before sear release. The recoil was indeed stiff, and my hand was a shaky mess after just a single 50 round box. I thought about selling it off, but I decided to give it a little TLC in the guise of a trigger job by a local gunsmith. It took several months of waiting, but the results were nothing short of night and day. Now I can run off 100 rounds absolutely pain-free and be ready for more.

    Then Josh Wyner wrote up that neat little article on the Hogue Bantam and Extreme G10 grips a few months back. I liked what I saw, and ordered the Extremes in Blue Lava Flow, same as the article. They’re beautiful and every bit as comfortable as the OEM grips.

    My EDC is the S&W M&P40c, the prototypical polymer wonder gun, and I’m quite happy with it. But it is very interesting to note that revolvers in general now cost more new than said polymer pistols. Obviously you save quite a bit with a molded frame as compared to machined alloy or even more costly, machined steel. That,too, is part of the aesthetic and appeal.

    Naturally I have a lot of guns on my bucket list including the 4″ 66/19 but hey, what can I say – I had to stand up for my little guy 😀


    • My bodyguard is flat out mean. I tend not to shoot it more than 15is rounds a trip. It has stock target grips though.

      • I have shot an air weight and an all steel (637 and 36) in the same range session. It amazes me what three more oz do. A model 36 or a Taurus 85 steel frame is small but shootable. The LCR defies physics however.

        I think if asked today, Robert might recommend, say a 3″ LCR 357 over a 3″ sp101 to the average ‘non-gun person’. Or maybe a flock 43? Robert, what say you?

  5. I like the model 19 and it’s no frills brother the 13. But I’m not buying a used one unless I know it’s history. That not running full powered loads thru one is an actual thing. I’ve been shooting for 50 years and mechanical malfunctions in revolvers are very rare during that time. Except for the 19 and it’s siblings.

    I’ve seen internal parts breakage on these after a steady diet of .357 magnum 158 grainers(in the late 60’s and into the 70’s I’d never heard of a 125 grain round for the magnum. Not saying it didn’t exist, but I never encountered it.)

    Now to modern times. Citizen dgu’s and cop dgu’s are a different thing. If I was a cop or soldier I’d want the latest and greatest bottom feeder available.

    But as a private citizen I’m not required to go to the sound of the guns. (At this point they’ll be a bunch of foaming at the mouth leftist sjw’s and #blacklivesmatter types raging that the courts have decided cops don”t have a duty….blah,blah,blah. And yet those cops do it every day.)

    From a private citizens point of view a revolver has a whole lot going for it. If you’re in that life and death moment where you’re holding the bad guy off with your left and trying to shoot him with your right hand you cannot afford an out of battery slide moment or a tap, rack, hopefully bang moment.

    And for those that think a glock 19 is just as easy for a noob to handle as a S&W 19 you might have a valid point if the noob had any instruction outside of the guy at the counter of the lgs he bought the gun from.

    I have lost track of the number of folks that I have known that bought 1 gun and a box of shells and took them home and loaded them and then put them away in hopes of never actually needing them.

    • “… folks … that bought 1 gun and a box of shells and took them home and loaded them and then put them away in hopes of never actually needing them.”

      I think that is probably a lot more common than we realize. For those people (who take a handgun home, load it, and put it away … never to be used unless needed for home defense), I think a revolver is quite literally the perfect solution for that application.

      Note: the revolver is perfect for that application because it is simpler to use than a semi-auto, safer than a semi-auto (assuming the owner does not store it with the hammer cocked and the double-action trigger pull is on the order of 8.5 pounds), and there are no springs under constant, maximum tension/compression. Furthermore, the springs that HAVE to work on a revolver (the hammer spring and trigger-return spring), are not beat up during use. The slide spring on a semi-auto is beat HARD during use and much more prone to breakage than the hammer and trigger-return springs on revolvers.

      • Yep. My Makarov has been a flawless gem that I could not praise enough. Then at an impromtu range session 120 miles from home the recoil spring took a dump. Wolf springs solved the issue and I still love my mak.

        But i prefer a revolver.

  6. Love me some revolver goodness. I took Ayoobs MAG 40 class 3 years ago. 22 students were in the class. 2 revolver shooters. I shot a GP100. The other guy had a 586. Ayoob wraps up the class with a qualifier shoot. He gives a signed $1 bill to those who tie his score and $5 to anyone who beats him. He gave away four $1 bills and a $5. I took a $1. The guy shooting the 586 took the $5.

  7. Liked the article and lack of cliches.

    The big reason to go with 357 is to shoot 357s.

    A fully loaded 357 outpaces a 9mm by a fair stretch.

    Cops didn’t leave the 357 because it didn’t perform. They left it because you have to practice to control it.

    On shooting 38 in a 357. Most 357s will shoot a 38+P around 50 fps less than a revolver chambered in 38 special.

    I constantly “Tell the CEO” on Rugers website to build a 6 shot 38 and/or 357 like the LCR. A Light Duty Revolver if you will.

    I imagine it would weigh around 17oz with aluminum cylinder frame and 20-21 oz with stainless. It would give a full length ejection stroke and be much more pleasant to carry all day than a 66.

    I will not pay for Scandium on a Smith and Wesson when you can get light weight without the brittle rare-earth frames.

    Come on Ruger. I’m waiting.

    • Specialist38,

      Smith and Wesson’s j-frame “Airweight” revolvers have a lot of aluminum and still weigh 16 ounces with a “snubby” (1 7/8 inch) barrel. If they increased the barrel to 3.25 inches and added a 6th round to the cylinder, that alone would probably push the weight up to at least 19 ounces. The added weight would help to reduce recoil as well.

      So, I think your idea of a revolver in the 20 to 21 ounce range is easily doable.

      • Yeah. If Smith can make a +P J-Frame at 15. Then they could bring back the model 12 with a 2,3, or4 inch barrel at 20 oz.

        And not even have to think about adding Scandium. All about marketing I guess. Use rare elements and charge double.

        If they’d build it (without a lock) – I’d buy it.

        Figure there’s a better chance with Ruger.

    • 357 doesn’t outpace 9mm out of a snubby barrel, and a 3″ barrel revolver is much larger than a 3″ single stack 9mm. You may as well just go .38 if you go j frame, you aren’t going to burn that extra powder.

      • My chronograph disagrees with you.

        My LCR 38 hits 900 fps with the best 125 +p I’ve found.

        My LCR 357 hits 1100 with golden sabre 125 and 1130 fps with Hornady 125 Critical defense.

        My 3in 65 adds 150 fps to those numbers in 357. 100 fps for my 3in LCR in 38.

        My SR9c won’t get close to that with 125 grain stuff.

        Carry what you are comfortable shooting buy don’t kid yourself on performance.

    • “…But I’m still a revolver guy.”

      That’s just because when you learned to shoot, John Moses Browning was still crapping his diaper… 🙂

  8. IMHO, because of the complexity of DA revolvers, one should de-burr the working surfaces and replace the rebound spring (S & W) with a lighter one that will not result in short strokes that could lock it up. De- horning is a good idea also.

    • The standard tuning/smoothing on a S&W is to do as you say: You polish all the mating surfaces other than the hammer/trigger. You can either trim off a coil+ on the rebound spring, or (better) get a new “9lb” rebound spring – so-called because using it drops the DA pull from 12 or so pounds down to 9.

      Doing this really smooths up the DA trigger pull on a S&W.

  9. Other advantage of a revolver – doesn’t leave empty brass laying around. Nice when practicing, a potential advantage in certain self-defense situations.

  10. The 66-4 may fill the niche of a G-19 but it has a much shorter barrel. The difference in velocity and energy between a 357 in 2.5″ and a G-19 using +p isn’t suficient to balance off the lower rate of fire and decreased accuracy. There is a reason the military went to autos 100 years ago. They are much more accurate.

    • I agree there were a number of reasons the worlds militaries changed to autos from revolvers. Accuracy, not so much.

      Compare unmodded 1911’s accuracy to unmodded 1917 Smith revolver accuracy. I have shot enough of both to know that the early generations of autos simply didn’t match the accuracy potential of the revolvers in use at the time.

      Apples and oranges, I know. And if I was heading into the hot spots in the world of today I’d want an auto. But so long as I’m now just john average citizen the revolver serves me well.

    • Revolvers may be obsolete but that doesn’t mean they are not effective.

      As far as power/velocity – most 9mm +P 124 grain is 100 fps second slower than a decent 357 out of a 2.5 inch barrel.

      That may be not be much to you but keep in mind that +P usually gives 100fps over standard pressure in the better loads. Of course some +P doesn’t give more than 50 fps over standard.

      The military went to autos for sustained rate of fire in combat. It’s funny that we went to war in WWI with an auto pistol and bolt action rifle. When they couldn’t produce enough 1911s in WWII – they supplemented it with … a revolver in 45 ACP.

      Don’t think I agree with more accurate part. If I want to punch some holes close together or at long distances, I dont grab a Glock – I grab a Smith and Wesson revolver or maybe my Flattop. Never saw too many folks shooting silhouettes with an auto. Although a Colt Gold Cup could probably do it.

  11. A 4 inch 66-3 was my first handgun. I always shoot full power magnums at the range. Have for years. But I would say I shoot specials in it at a ratio of 3 spl to 1 mag . One of the most accurate magnum handloads use is 195 grain pill, loaded just short of the cylinder face, choochin at 1000 fps. The bullet was designed for 35 rem, but works just fine for me. I will send an article in to TTAG if I ever crack the forcing cone.

  12. Managed to get in a gun discussion with a local cop around 1980. Turned out both of us loved our 4″ Pythons, but what he carried every day was a 4″ Model 19, because it’s a good bit lighter. I always heard that if you were going to shoot full power .357 exclusively, get the Colt.

  13. I have a 4″ 66-2 and agree with all your comments. I also have found that, while it will handle .357, it hasn’t been worth the beating the gun takes. Shook my rear sights off once and also caused the ejector rod to unscrew and hang up the cylinder. it’s my wife’s go-to gun so I don’t want to beat it up any further. Sticking with .38s and it works great. Yeah I’d rather carry my 19, but it is fun to wear that revolver!

  14. I’ve got two .357 magnum revolvers — Ruger LCR and S&W 681 4″. You really want that extra weight when shooting .357. The Ruger’s no fun at all with .357

    I also have a Ruger LCR-X 3″ in .38 +P with a Crimson Trace grip. That’s probably my favorite gun to just carry around: it’s light enough you don’t notice that you have it on, and with the 3″ barrel and SA trigger, I can put rounds exactly where I want them. (I can with the 681, too, but its sights are more rudimentary and you definitely know you’re carrying it).

  15. An SP101 is a horrible gun for beginners. Its trigger pull is so heavy a novice won’t hit a target beyond 7 feet. The muzzle goes all over the place trying to pull on that wretched trigger.

    A Glock is not reliable in the hands of a novice.

    • Bullshit–my wife & I picked up a Ruger SP101, went to the range & put 99% of shots on target (used whole box of shells)–she had never shot handgun & it was almost 40 years for me–the SP101 is fabulous weapon–now have many Rugers & love them all–have shot several Smiths of other people’s & did not care for them–none of my Rugers have had ‘trigger work’ & they are as good as or better than the numerous Smiths I have shot–

  16. An iconic and classy gun. I’m carrying the Glock 19 (actually a modified 23 with a 4″ stainless LWD conversion barrel) on my hip right now with 15 + 1 of 124 grain HST +P as I’m reading this. Seeing as the .357 loses quite a bit of velocity out of the 2 1/2″ barrel, I bet I’m at a similar power level to your 66. My J frame 1 7/8″ 340PD .357 is pushing full power Federal 158 grain JHPs at less than 1100 FPS, and it’s a handful to shoot. The Glock is pushing my aforementioned HSTs at an average of 1218 FPS.

    There’s always room for another revolver in my collection and I’m glad you got a sweet deal on yours.

  17. 1st gun I had ever bought is my 2.5 inch Model 66.
    Wont ever sell it. Magna Ported. DA only. For my 1st 10 years was my daily CCW.
    Never let me down once………… the perfect gun for me then and probably now too.

  18. It is my understanding that S&W reinforced the forcing cone area that was prone to cracking from ‘too many magnums’ and any modern production 66 or 19 is fine to shoot full-power magnum loads all day if you dare. Whether it was fixed up prior to the lock hole in the side I do not recall.

    What I like about revolvers vs autos is the ammo variability. You can shoot a 95gr .38 and a 200Gr .357 hard cast without changing a thing. And wad cutters, those don’t feed so well in most auto-loaders…

  19. A Ducati reference in a gun review. I like the cut of your jib sir. BTW, in regards to what you should do with your thumbs when shooting a revolver; thumbs down with support thumb locked on top of strong side thumb.

  20. We had one of these as a “team gun” last deployment. My thoughts – if I’m close enough to use it I had a Gerber Patriot 2 fighting knife, and if I’m further away than knife range, I’ll stick to my M9.

    “Team Gun” = I have no idea whence it came, but it was in the safe and available to all. It was carried by guys who had obviously never shot it at the range.

  21. I have owned a Glock 17, currently have a CZ75b and a new M66. Love the CZ. But the revolver is different. More of a standoff weapon in my experience, especially here in CO where distances up in the mountains and everywhere are just different. Like the M66 better in the car. I really think the 125g aimed replaces 5 9mm blazed. My 2 cents. Also, prefer a 336 in the trunk here over a Bushy. But have both in case 😉

  22. One thing I’ll add: the Model 66 is a beautiful gun, if a gun can be called beautiful. My early 66 has a factory high polish, graceful lines, pinned/recessed precision machining and feels like part of my arm. Glocks are ugly, the plastic WILL degrade eventually, do not balance well, etc. Not that I hate Glocks, they have their place. But a classic S&W revolver is an iconic object IMO, like a Harley, ’59 Caddy and so forth. They’re just RIGHT.

  23. hello:
    I have a pre model 15 S&W 5 screw from the 1950’s that will shoot 6 rounds of 38’s into a 2 inch circle at 50 feet. Mostly were talking about a Soft people target. 357 is way over kill unless he’s wearing body armour. And recovery time for the average shooter with 357’s ? and the weight of the firearm itself? also, If I was going to recommend a firearm for a woman or anyone for that matter with less experience, and for home defense, I’d say a smith or colt,ruger in 38 special (+p). choice of ammo is vast. you could for instance, load with lead wadcutters or semi wads for the home with less recoil. A newbee would have no trouble shooting these all day at the range and build confidence in an emergency. It’s better to hit the target the first time than closing your eyes from the blast of a 357 and missing.

  24. My favorite revolver in my gun collection is my Smith & Wesson model 66-3 I believe it was made around the late 80’s it is rare because it has a 3″ barrel and S&W only did a short run on those! It’s in 100% mint condition with a beautiful custom grip.

  25. I bought a “Chief’s Special“ stainless Smith model 60 in 1986 for my wife that she never took a shine to. I’m glad because I did. I put Hogue Rubber Monogrip J-Frame grips on it. It’s reliable, easy to operate and easy to maintain. I have a letter from S&W stating that it’s safe for +P. I have plenty of heavier, larger caliber, higher capacity automatics, including some of the trendy plastic wonder-shooters. If I want to travel light by have a little something ”just in case” I grab the Chief. If I want to have a “gotta work” back-up I pack the Chief. It’s a beautiful piece of workmanship that always works and I am willing to count on it.

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