S&W model 66 questions


December 24, 2006, 11:39 PM
Hi just want to start off by saying hello and merry christmas/happy holidays to everone as I am new to this group. I have two questions about my 4" S&W model 66.

1) I have heard that the 66's cousin, the model 19 had bad problems with the frame cracking from shooting too many magnum loads through it. Does this apply to the 66?. My thoughts are that stainless steel is stronger and should'nt but I want to get some more opinions.

2) I bought this gun used from the local pawn shop for $300 2 years ago. The previous owner had stamped there intials into the left side of the frame with a lettering punch. Is there anyway to get rid of this or am I going to have to live with it?. It is a great shooting gun.


Brian Craig

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December 25, 2006, 12:10 AM
The Model 66 is nothing more then the Model 19 made of stainless steel.
It's no stronger or weaker than the Model 19.

If your cousins Model 19 had cracks in the frame, I suspect he was abusing the gun with extremely hot loads.

The gun will last the best when you do most of your shooting with .38 Special ammo, and when you do shoot Magnums, shoot standard factory level loads with 158 grain bullets.
It's non-standard hot loads, and light 125 grain bullets that are the hardest on any revolver.

Shoot a mix of about 2/3rds .38 Special to 1/3rd Magnums and the gun will last about forever.

As for the stamped initials, removal depends on how deep they are.
If they're stamped with a standard steel stamp, they're likely to deep to remove.
One option is to have a stainless or brass plate made up that will just cover the stamps, have your won initials engraved on the plate, then have it soft soldered or even epoxied on the frame, covering the initials.
For that matter, you could just have a small blank plate attached over the stamps.

December 25, 2006, 05:00 PM
Your model 66 should shoot just fine.

The medium frame .357 was the brainchild of famed gun writer and shooting ace Bill Jordan. He reasoned that most police would practice with .38s and not spend a lot of time shooting hot magnum loads. But as the gun became more popular with civilians and police shooters, pistolsmiths noted that the guns would not hold up extensively with a full diet of magnum loads.

In the May 1979 issue of the NRA's American Rifleman, associate technical editor C.E. Harris wrote an article on .357s. He noted that the beefier large frame Smiths, the Colt Pythons and the Ruger Security-Sixes held up fine with contstant magnum loads; however, he notes, "I wore out a S&W 19 by pouring thousands of full .357 loads through it. It would require retiming about every 1,500 rounds. Police armorers who service the K-frames tell me that's about par when shooting .357s."

Harris subsequently told me that after about two retimings, the frame would begin to warp. Eventually the warping ruined the gun and made retiming the gun impossible. The Security-Six (his favorite .357) not only didn't use a sideplate, it had a robust forcing cone and cylinder, and a massive topstrap. Skeeter Skelton wrote that he knew of three Security-Sixes that had in excess of 30,000 rounds of hot magnum ammo, each, with no parts replacements. For a gun that's about the same size and weight of the 19/66, that's quite a selling point.

I wouldn't worry about the initials stamped in the gun, either, nor would I remove metal in that part of the frame, as it may weaken it. And as long as you're using commercial .357 ammo, I wouldn't worry too much about it wearing out. As dfariswheel pointed out, it's the 125 JHPs that do most of the wearing and tearing. They're a fabulous defense round, but I would shoot them sparingly in ANY gun.

(BTW, I think the 66 is a beautiful gun and I'd love to have one of the old ones with recessed chambers.)


December 25, 2006, 11:00 PM
How do you tell / what do you mean by recessed chambers?. If this seems like a dumb question please forgive me as I am only 25 and still learning about handguns. Is there anyway I can tell the age of this gun by the serial number?


Brian Craig

December 26, 2006, 03:04 PM
The previous owner had stamped there intials into the left side of the frame with a lettering punch. Is there anyway to get rid of this or am I going to have to live with it?

If it's a really nice gun, you could change your name.

I've never heard of any issues with 19s cracking. I have a pinned and recessed example that I'd never part with.

As far as pinned and recessed, here's a thread with pictures (http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/530103904/m/776109857?r=776109857#776109857) that should explain it.

December 26, 2006, 08:48 PM
Yep mine's pinned and recessed, but it looks like the "tit" on the pin ontop of the forcing cone is gone but the pin is there.

Brian Craig

December 26, 2006, 09:03 PM
Those letters stamped on side of your 66 may be from a law enforcement agency; at one time the Model 66 was carried as a sidearm by various law enforcement agencies and/or individual LE officers. I wouldn't mind having an ex-LE revolver.

Even if they're just some guy's initials, the Model 66 is still an awesome revolver. You won't see the initials when your shooting it.:)


December 26, 2006, 11:46 PM
The intitials read :


Any idea's ?

December 27, 2006, 12:35 AM
Looks like a railroad security unit gun.
I don't know what railroad is the SCW & M, but I'll bet the gun was owned by them at one time.

December 27, 2006, 08:36 AM

South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department.
You can probably find them with Google.

December 28, 2006, 01:10 AM
Nice gun Brian. The 66 is my favorite Smith revolver.

Is there anyway I can tell the age of this gun by the serial number?

Yes, in general you can tell what year a S&W revolver was made by the serial number. Post all but the last two digits (replace with xx) and we can take a stab at it.

December 28, 2006, 10:48 AM
I contacted the director of the S.C. Dept of the natural resorces and this is what he sent back to me:

Brian: The model 66's were used by the department as our service revolver until the mid-1990s. In 1993 our agency was restructured and the name changed from the South Carolina Wildlife and Marine Resources Department to the Department of Natural Resources. The guns were stamped with the lettering as you described. Some of the model 66's were purchased by of law enforcement officers when we replaced them with Glocks and some were traded-in to the gun dealer who provided the Glocks. They were subsequently sold by the gun shop. Unfortunately, there were also a number of the S&W .357 that were stolen prior to our change-over to the Glocks. I know of at least three of them that were recovered after they were used in felonies in other states. I assume that the pistol you purchased was sold under Federal Firearms guidelines -- if not, you need to have the serial numbers checked just to make sure you will not get into a problem later on.

I did buy this pistol in the legal manner so it know its not a stolen gun. I believe my mystery is solved which has now changed my mind about the intials, I'm keeping the gun as it is, now I know the history I've got a real interesting pistol now.

Brian Craig

December 28, 2006, 10:49 AM
The serial number is 4K505xx


December 28, 2006, 04:13 PM
Cool story, Brian. I'm glad you're happy with your 66.

It was made around '74.

I bought one a couple of months ago that was made in '75. It still has the original target stocks, too.

December 28, 2006, 08:47 PM
I've never heard of a K frame .357's frame "cracking" from hot loads. The frame can stretch over time, give you some "end shake", but crack? Now, if you'd said "Taurus M66" you'd have had a bunch of guys say "See, Taurus is junk!" :rolleyes: But, I've got a well used Taurus that's still tight, a tiny amount of end shake evident, less than .001". This gun is likely at least 20 years old and MUST have been fired a lot because the back of the Pachmayr grip is worn down from the recoil. Don't sound like wadcutter loads to me, either. It was carried a lot, holster wear. I'm thinking probably a working security gun or something, maybe a Brinks gun or something. Hard to say. I don't know if it's old enough to be from the pre-wonder nine 80s era. I'm thinking early 80s, maybe, but don't really know.

I had a M19, the 66's blued Cousin. I fired a lot of 158 grain +P 38 reloads in it and quite a few 158 grain hot .357s over about 5 years and it was tight as ever when I traded it. I would think that if I'd kept it, it'd probably be as tight as my old M10 which is an early 60s production .38. It is my humble opinion that the supposed weakness of the K frame .357 revolver is grossly over stated. If you have an issued weapon being fired a couple hundred rounds every week or more on hot 125 grain carry loads, yeah, it's probably going to stretch a bit over time. For me, personally, that is of no concern. It'd last me a lifetime and it's one heck of a lot easier to carry than an L frame or GP100, much less the N frames it was conceived to replace.

June 5, 2007, 05:17 PM
Bringing life back to an old thread:D Anyway, I finally got a digital camera and wanted to share some pics with you all of my beloved model 66.

Guy B. Meredith
June 5, 2007, 08:45 PM
Since I do not have the ultra light CCW revolvers (California, you know) the M66 is my smallest and most challenging revolver. And I absolutely love it. It was made to be a part of the shooter.

I know you've got to be enjoying the heck out of yours.

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