Chose Wisely for Possibly ONLY Revolver? S&W M66.


October 30, 2004, 06:20 AM
I'm 50! Old School! After owning MANY firearms over the years and then selling/trading almost all of them while my kiddos grew up, I'm slowly rebuilding a small collection for the gun safe.

I purchased a new S&W M66 4" yesterday ($450. + tax) for what may be my only revolver. Wasn't thrilled about the little lock thingy, though the transfer bar redesign seems good, and what a sweet trigger, and overall feel and balance!

My only previous Smiths were an early M59 double stack 9mm that ALWAYS locked the slide back with 1-3 rounds left in the mag, and an early 586 that would lock-up shooting hot loads??

Did I choose wisely on the M66? I've been out of touch with guns for quite awhile. What were the "dark days" for S&W I see folks discussing?


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October 30, 2004, 07:35 AM
Unless you plan on shooting lots of magnum loads using bullets of less than 140 grains, you have chosen one of the best 357 revolvers available. The K-frame 357's do not seem to hold up well to the lightweight magnum loads, but will last a lifetime if you shoot mostly reduced loads or 158 grain magnum loads. You can always practice with 38 Special loads and fire off some magnum loads for sight in and familiarization. This is what S&W thought everyone would be doing when they chambered the K-frames in 357.

Enjoy that model 66, S&W has announced that the K-frame magnums are going away and will be replaced by the L-frame magnums with shortened ejector rod shrouds. The designation for the new revolver is said to be a combination of the model 686 and 66. It will be the model 666. Don't know how well that is going to fly with those who have religous beliefs.:scrutiny:

October 30, 2004, 07:55 AM
You bought S&W's first SS .357 Magnum. You will likely never wear it out, no matter what ammo you shoot. There is only a minor increase in the size of the forcing cone when going from the K to L frame... even the grips are the same. The same erosion damage occurs in all revolvers... the K-frames will just show that wear earlier. The simple cure... as suggested, use slower and heavier rounds. I may yet get a 4" version; as of now, I have a 6" 66-6 and a 3" 65-3 (fixed sight version of the 66). Sadly, I ran my mouth a little too much to another customer in my local 'pusher's' last week... the fellow made their last new 4" 66 his first revolver!

The new 66's all seem to sport the Uncle Mike's combat grips - with their backstrap enclosed for more recoil absorption. That will sell them quickly over the standard Hoque-gripped 686's. Additionally, that partial lug just looks more appropriate - and, I suppose that is why most folks, me - a long time N-frame nut included, think of the 64-67's as having the best 'feel' in a 4"... probably that balance. Congratulations on a great purchase.

My current choice for protection in my +P rated 2" 10 and my 65/66's is the old FBI .38 Special +P load - the 158gr LHPSWC, like Remington's R38S12 @ ~$21/50 MSRP. The new .38 Special +P rated 125-135gr Speer Gold Dots are getting good press, too.


October 30, 2004, 09:50 AM
Stainz is right on the money. The 66 is a great gun. It may wear quicker with 125 gr magnums. But keep this in mind, S&W still sells the model 60 and 640 steel J frames in 357, so don't listen to internet nonsense that would have you believe that K frame magnums are some how weak.

The K frame magnums have been around for almost 60 years, and 25 years after the introduction of the L frame that was supposedly released to cure the K frames ills.

Properly cared for and using 158 gr loads a k frame magnum will last a long long time.

October 30, 2004, 05:45 PM
Thanks all for the heads-up on light bullet magnum loads in a M66. I'm gonna shoot mostly .38sp wad-cutter loads for targets, and occasional magnum stuff.

I'm dusting off my reloading gear and sure enough, I have some boxes of 100gr and 125gr Speer bullets I had loaded for my old .357s. I'll stick with 140gr and up for magnum loads and keep loads "below hot". My old Dan Wesson 15-2VH and Colt Trooper MKIII took all I could feed it, and would ask for more!

For all I know, that K/L frame difference may have played a part in my purchase of a blue M586 over a M19. The old memory cells are tired.:rolleyes:

Lone Star
October 30, 2004, 06:30 PM
Your EARLY M586 was probably one of those recalled for modification to the frame where the firing pin enters. That area needed to be modified, or the primer would flow back into the firing pin hole, when the gun was fired with certain ammo. Not all ammo brands/types caused problems.

Lone Star

October 30, 2004, 08:20 PM
re 59:
I don't know how similar the 59 is to the 39, but my 39 was locking open with 1 round left in the magazine every time. I sanded down the little nub on the follower - you will see what I mean if you put a magazine with 1 round into the frame of the gun (with the slide removed). It's been flawless since. Someone designed the magazines wrong.

October 31, 2004, 02:44 AM
I have a 66 with 2 1/2" barrel and adjustable sights. Pretty dumb combo, I think. Actually, I probably wasn't thinking as clearly as I could have been when I bought it. I really wish I had gotten a 65 with 3" barrel, but oh well.. they're great revolvers! The 4" 66 is an excellent choice for general use. I have a pair of Pachmayr Compac grips on my 66 and they make the gun a real pleasure to shoot... very comfortable and nicely cushioned. I'm going to convert my 6" 686 from square butt to round butt so I can use these same grips on it.

Why does a 125 gr .357 load create more wear on the gun that a 158 gr. load does? Simply because the bullet is travelling faster? And where does that wear mostly occur?

October 31, 2004, 08:48 AM
I never handled the lastest production 66, but it sounds like you made a good choice. It has an adjustable rear sight which is advantageous. They do feel good in your hand. I do prefer the double action trigger pull of Smith's. People say "K" frames will wear fast with constant diet of full power magnum loads. That's probably true but I'd say one could shoot a good number before needing a visit to the gunsmith. In my case I shoot mostly .38 specials in my .357's so that's a mute point. My favorite is the older model 66 with 4" barrel, so I would've looked for an excellent conditon used one myself. Only thing about used is that if you don't know how to check it out you could end of with someone else's problems. "N" frame Smith's like the models 27 and 28 are nice, but they're a larger frame. "K" frames like the 66 pretty much fit all hand sizes. FWIW, when someone wants a recommendation for a .357, I say S&W Model 19 or 66. (If this revolver will be used for self defense, I recommend an brand .38 special +P 158 gr. lead hollowpoint , .357 magnum Winchester 110 gr. JHP, and .357 magnum Winchester Silvertip 145 gr. JHP.)

October 31, 2004, 12:05 PM
Why does a 125 gr .357 load create more wear on the gun that a 158 gr. load does? Simply because the bullet is travelling faster? And where does that wear mostly occur?

The high impact velocity is the likely culprit of cracked forcing cones and if the cylinder timing is off just a bit the cracking can occur even faster. Cracks usually form at the six o'clock portion of the forcing cone, this is where the cone is the thinnest. The erosion is from the greater volume of gasses produced by the greater volume of powder required to propel the light weight bullets at high velocity.

November 1, 2004, 02:08 AM
If your M66 is indeed one a the latest models to hit the shelves then it would have the new barrel/shroud combos. As a precaution I would keep an eye on the tightness of the barrel as some of S&W other revolvers with this setup have been shooting the barrels loose. Now the other revolvers were made of the exotic alloys and yours is SS, but it's best to be safe then sorry as this is something new. Supposedly in the next few years all of S&W new revolvers will be using this barrel/shroud setup.

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