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Old August 21, 2013, 11:14 PM   #1
RodTheWrench
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S&W Model 66 - To buy or not to buy?

Details:

no-dash Model 66
Stainless
4"
Pachmayer grips

A local guy is selling it, he got it used and doesn't know much about it. No box or anything else.

Having bought and sold guns for years, I know generally what to look for but I want one of these as a keeper so don't want to settle for just any old model 66.

Be honest, is the 66 really that awesome? Is the no-dash extra awesome or a liability? I noticed the pinned barrel in the pics - good or no?

I've read about forcing cone wear, what else is common on these to have issues?

Is it better, or just different than the model 60? It's been a while since I've shot both and can't recall right off. Do I wait for a 60 or just buy this and get a 60 when one rolls around as well?

Sorry for the picture quality - his pics, not mine.

Oh, he wants $500 obo. Seems ok, is it?

Thank you in advance for your wisdom, opinions and not-too-snarky remarks.
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Old August 21, 2013, 11:17 PM   #2
billygun
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Looks good, Offer $400
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Old August 21, 2013, 11:22 PM   #3
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A 60 is a small 38 spl and a 66 is the stainless version of the model 19 357 combat magnum. The blue m-19 was the revolver Bill Jordan did his fancy fast draw shooting with.

Great light weight, compared to the M-27, 357 mag duty gun. If it is in good shape and you don't intend a steady diet of magnum rounds I'd buy it.

If you want to shoot a lot of mags an Lframe or an N frame is probably a better bet. IMHO.
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Old August 21, 2013, 11:24 PM   #4
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I would pull the trigger on that.
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Old August 21, 2013, 11:27 PM   #5
RodTheWrench
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The 6" 686 and GP100 will be doing the heavy-duty Magnum shooting so that shouldn't be an issue.

What about that pinned barrel? Good, bad or ugly?
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Old August 22, 2013, 12:00 AM   #6
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It's hard to tell by pictures, but it looks like this one is a very early 66 with stainless steel sights, which considered somewhat collectable. Nothing super special, but it does demand a premium... In general 66 is an excellent gun and earlier one, which has pinned barrel and stainless sights are most valuable. So, I think $500 is well worth it, as long as it's in good condition.

As far as "issues" with forcing cones I wouldn't worry about it. It appears to be very rare issue and only happened to shooters who used a steady diet of very hot magnum loads. And even then the issue mostly was reported for Model 19, not 66. So, unless you plan to put thousands of hot magnums through it (normal 158 grain doesn't count!), you have absolutely nothing to worry about.
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Old August 22, 2013, 12:52 AM   #7
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BTW The model 60 is also chambered in .357... it's closer to a J-frame (small) than a K-frame (mid-size frame) like the 66. Having owned a model 60 in .357, I would buy the 66. YMMV. Pinned barrels are kool.
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Old August 22, 2013, 04:52 AM   #8
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I'd make an offer and pick it up if it were me.
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Old August 22, 2013, 05:45 AM   #9
BillCA
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I'd snatch that in a hurry.

This is an early no-dash Model 66 with stainless sights. Later guns had blued sights so this makes the no-dash a bit more collectible. These were highly regarded revolvers in the 70's and widely used by police, especially in humid southern states. It's the stainless steel version of the Model 19 (shown below).


S&W Model 19-5 without the pinned barrel

The pinned barrel is usually coupled with the counterbored chambers so that the case heads are recessed. Both are considered desirable features in collecting S&W's.

The whole issue of forcing cones came about when police agencies started making officers qualify with duty ammunition instead of .38 special wadcutters. Two things happened... Officers went from firing maybe 100 rounds of .357 Magnums a year to firing hundreds of rounds per year to qualify. Secondly, to contain costs many agencies or individual officers had habitually used .38 Special wadcutters (LWC) for practice. This left leading in the forcing cone if officers were not meticulous about weapons hygiene. And let's face it, many officers simply ran solvent and a brush through the bore a few times and called it "clean". S&W found that most of the forcing cones were failing due to serious lead build up and a lack of good cleaning practices. Almost all the failures were due to lead build up in the forcing cones when using 125 grain JHP ammo. The shorter, lighter bullet jumped the cylinder gap at higher speeds than the 158gr bullets. Combining the impact pulses with a constricted forcing cone exerted pressure on the weakest part of the barrel, the flat cut underneath the barrel that allowed clearance for the cylinder yoke arm. Almost all of the problems involved carbon-steel guns, not the stainless steel guns.

The last of the Model 66's used the 2-piece barrel arrangement that was found on Model 619's and 620's. The frames of these guns are slightly larger than the original Model 19/66's too. Here's an example of one of the last Model 66's with a 2.5" barrel.
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:24 AM   #10
RodTheWrench
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S&W Model 66 - To buy or not to buy?

Picked it up. Guy came down to 450 and threw in a Bianchi holster as well as 100+ once-fired brasses(38/357 mix). I think I did good!ImageUploadedByTapatalk1377181376.355424.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1377181411.004669.jpg
ImageUploadedByTapatalk1377181432.155936.jpg
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:29 AM   #11
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Quote:
I think I did good!
I think you did great. Stainless sights, as I expected! All you need now is original stocks to have a collectable 66. That, of course, if you want it to look all original. If not this is great deal anyway!
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:49 AM   #12
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Good deal. I bought a 66-2 last year and I love it. From my research about the forcing cone issue I second what BillCA wrote. Keep it clean and stick with 158 grain magnum loads.
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Old August 22, 2013, 12:42 PM   #13
RodTheWrench
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S&W Model 66 - To buy or not to buy?

That's good news! Anyone know offhand where I can find some original stocks?
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Old August 22, 2013, 01:27 PM   #14
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Quote:
Anyone know offhand where I can find some original stocks?
Ebay, and if you are lucky, handy and willing to refinish them and can score a set for $20 - $25. I did, for my Model 17 recently.
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Old August 22, 2013, 01:46 PM   #15
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Of all the disappointing gun shows I've attended over the last quarter century (and many good ones, too), even the lousy shows usually had one or two tables set up that were just overflowing with grips.

It ends up being a LOT of looking and inspecting. If the dealer knows what he's got, even easier. Bring the revolver with you to try for fit.
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Old August 22, 2013, 01:47 PM   #16
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BillCA, please tell me about the grips on the 19-5 you show in that picture. Not original to that revolver, are they? What's the Smith & Wesson "name" for those stocks and where did you get them?
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Old August 22, 2013, 02:32 PM   #17
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Model 66 - in a 4" is a Square Butt K frame...so that is the grip you're looking for....should be lots of them around at most any decent gun show ...or you can buy them online from S&W ....or most any outlet like Brownells, etc....where you can get some aftermarket stocks...lots of them out there.

Average prices now on wood grips or stocks ..K Sq Butt ...are probably $ 75 - $ 125 a set.....
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Old August 22, 2013, 05:34 PM   #18
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That appears to be a 66 no dash due to the rear sight. If the forcing cone is not cracked and it is mechanically fine I would offer $450 but if he stuck to $500 I would not feel cheated. Now go get it.
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Old August 22, 2013, 05:45 PM   #19
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There are about a bazillion folks selling K frame stocks over on the blue S&W forum. There are also many, many aftermarket stock manufacturers if you want to go that way. Ebay is another possibility not to be discounted (pun not intended).
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Old August 22, 2013, 09:56 PM   #20
RodTheWrench
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Thanks again guys - it looks to be a great gun and I'm ordering correct grips for it ASAP. Now, being a lefty I don't have any need for the Bianchi holster. I wonder where I could find someone that has a K frame Smith&Wesson with a 4" barrel that could use it? Any righties out there?
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Old August 23, 2013, 01:23 AM   #21
BillCA
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens
BillCA, please tell me about the grips on the 19-5 you show in that picture. Not original to that revolver, are they? What's the Smith & Wesson "name" for those stocks and where did you get them?
You are correct. That M19 came with oversized checkered target grips with the thumb cut-out on the left side to allow speedloader clearance. These are older, smooth oversize "Presentation" grips by S&W. That's the name I've always heard them referred to as they are most often seen on guns in the wooden presentation boxes and commemorative pieces. They also happen to fit my hand best of all the S&W grips.

Here's the reverse side of those grips...


Both the target grips and the smooth presentation grips were made for all the frame sizes except the antique "M" frame (.22 ladysmith). It seems few people have actually seen or ordered the J-Frame grips though.


J-Frame smooth presentation grips on a Model 31-1


Oversize target grips on a J-Frame Model 63 - click to enlarge

And of course, we can't forget the N-Frame grips either.

Smooth N-frame presentation grips, shown on a nickel Model 58

Most of the wood on these grips is Goncolo Alves which I like better than most others. It's also known as Zebrawood or Tigerwood because the darker grain contrasts with the lighter color of the wood. Wood color varies from a dark, reddish color to almost orange. The grips on the M19 are closer to orange but the photos were taken indoors so they look darker. Here are the same grips installed on my Model 67 taken in better lighting.


Goncolo Alves can look spectacular with the right lighting whether they are smooth or checkered. These checkered target grips on a nickel Model 57 are spectacularly well grained, I think.


For anyone looking for the oversize style of grip and without the patience to wait for some to be available on E-bay or an auction site, check out Eagle's Heritage grips on their website (the link goes to S&W K&L frame grips. N-frame also available). Eagle grips lack the S&W logo, but otherwise look pretty good.

--Bill
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Old August 23, 2013, 02:11 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RodTheWrench
I wonder where I could find someone that has a K frame Smith&Wesson with a 4" barrel that could use it? Any righties out there?

Who's got two thumbs, is right handed, and just PM'd you a cash offer?

This guy!
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Old August 23, 2013, 03:33 AM   #23
Sevens
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Thanks for the rundown and great pictures, Bill!
I've got the same (well, almost the same...) grips on my Texas Rangers Commemorative Model 19-3. I say "almost" the same because IIRC, mine have a tiny little Texas Rangers "badge" (star, shield?) where the S&W logo is located.

My 17-6 and 686-3 both came with the checkered target grips. Though I do like the look, they simply aren't the fit or "feel" I like. However the Presentation Grips (glad to finally have a name for them! ) sure feel great on my 19-3.
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Old August 23, 2013, 03:19 PM   #24
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Just don't shoot that K frame with those original grips and that 158 Grain 357. It'll sandpaper your palms off. Use Pachmayrs for shootin' and originals for lookin'.
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Old August 23, 2013, 03:31 PM   #25
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Its not a problem to every shooter Airman..../ I shoot my K frames a lot - with the standard checkered wood target grips on them ..almost exclusively with full power 158gr .357 mag loads.....( I have a lot of K frames - model 19's and 66's ) ..and L and N frames ....but I put at least 5,000 rds a year thru my K frames / and many more than that thru my L and especially my N frame model 27's ....all of them with the wood checkered target grips ...some of them with the S&W wood finger groove grips as well.

In my opinion, if the gun is moving hardly at all in your hands when you're firing it ....the grips don't fit your hands properly / or there might be a change that could be recommended with the way you grip the revolver !
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