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Author Topic: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...  (Read 12683 times)

Stephen A. Camp

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Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
« on: October 17, 2008, 10:37:15 pm »
Hello.  Of late I've noticed that Model 64 and 65 police trade-in's are showing up on the market. In my early years of policing, 4" DA revolvers in either .38 Special or .357 Magnum were the choices and though semiautomatics have pretty much filled police holsters today, I never felt undergunned with the old revolver. Do not misunderstand; I appreciate and use the autoloader a great deal and remain especially fond of the 9mm Hi Power and .45's in the 1911 pattern, but believe that a slick DA revolver remains a viable defensive tool and for me, just a heck of a lot of fun to shoot, something that rates very highly.

A while back, I bought a NIB S&W Model 64-1 from friend at a fair price. It appeared to be nothing special but did have a very nice DA out of the box.  The single-action is typical, light and crisp. I hoped that the fixed sights were "on" and as it turns out, I couldn't be happier in that regard; with either 158-gr. hard cast SWC's handloaded to just under 900 ft/sec or with my preferred "serious" load (Remington 158-gr. LHP +P), the revolver puts them exactly to POA out to 15 yards and with a 6 O'-Clock hold it does the same at 25 yards.

All was not perfect, however.  The cylinder would sometimes lock up. This was cured with a tiny bit of stoning of the hand by my gunsmith.  It seems that the cylinder was trying to turn before the cylinder stop could lower. I removed a tiny burr in another location and cutting to the chase, the gun's run fine for roughly 600 rounds since and I believe the intial problem has been resolved.
None of my other S&W K-frames have exhibited this problem, but to me this serves as but another example that no gun should be assumed reliable until tested...regardless of the manufacturer.


The revolver is stock other than my sticking on an old pair of Uncle Mike rubber grips. Well, one "custom" touch was blackening the serrated ramp front sight with a black Sharpie.

Shooting:  Shooting was done at 5, 7, 15 and 25 yards and all was done double-action.  Ammunition used was handloaded 158-gr. cast SWC or CRN. Both of these hit right at the 900 ft/sec mark from this revolver and both are consistent, having extreme velocity spreads of no more than about 18 ft/sec.

5-Yards: At this close range, I decided to try Mr. Jim Higginbotham's "Standard Controllability Drill" which is 5 shots @ 5 yards in less than 2 seconds, starting from a low ready position.
All shots are to be within a 5 1/2 x 8 1/2" rectangle to pass.  I did a slight variation on this and used my standard hand-draw "Gort" target with a similar sized dotted circular outlined area as the target.


A total of 30 shots were fired, or 6 runs of 5-shots each.  Average time was 1.81 seconds with the highest time being 1.88 seconds. This seems to be about the best I can do DA so I reckon that Mr. Miculek has nothing to fear from me! Ammunition used was the 158-gr. CRN handload mentioned previously.

Some have stated that the handgun's purpose is self-protection and I fully agree that this is certainly one most important aspect of handgunning for most of us, but I still maintain that the purpose of my handguns are whatever I want it to be...within reason. I place high value on (usually) being able to hit what I aim at so this was about all of the "practical" shooting done.

The rest of the shooting today was done double-action.

7-Yards: This was not timed but was definitely slower than for the previous drill.  The reason was two-fold, I wasn't intending to shoot quickly but mainly forgot to set the timer! I would estimate that roughly 1 sec/shot would be the cadence.


Two cylinders-full of the CSWC handload were fired standing and in double-action using a two-hand hold. The group here is nothing special as many revolver fans will attest; the purpose for me was to make sure that any "yanking" of the trigger was gone. I tend to do this more than I like when shooting at maximum speed (for me) and do all I can to make sure that it doesn't bleed over into all of my handgun shooting. This may or may not be a problem for others.

15 Yards: At this distance, essentially the same thing was done as at the 7-yd line.


Ammunition used was again the CSWC handload.

25-Yards: Here I did shoot using two-hands, but seated and with my wrists braced. Shooting was slow-fire and double-action.


20 shots were fired with absolutely no effort at speed. I estimate that roughly 3 seconds per shot would be pretty close to the actual cadence but I didn't pay any real attention to that. This is better than I normally shoot at this distance.  Today was just an "on" day.  I admit freely that I cannot do this on command on any given day.

(I had hoped to shoot some at 50 yards but that range was occupied by fellows trying to get their rifle scopes and POI's to match before moving to the longer 100 and 200 yard ranges.

As some "old timers" will recall, police handgun qualifications used to involve some shooting at this distance.)

Conclusion & Observations: Today's session reinforced my respect for the old Model 10 and its variants. On the several Model 10 and Model 64's I've owned over the decades, most were sighted in very well from the factory and all would at least hit very close to POA. I got lucky with this particular Model 64 in that as closely as I can tell, POA matches POI for me with the loads I will primarily use in this handgun.

There were no failures to fire nor sticky extraction; in short, the revolver ran perfectly. I regret that I didn't hang on the Model 10's, 64's and 65's I owned when they were common as the proverbial "hen's teeth."

This one is not for sale...at any sane price.  I intend to keep it and shoot it quite a lot, something that can be done using the "honest" .38 Special handloads mentioned w/o fear of damaging the revolver.  It may be "only" a .38 Special but for me, it will do 99% (or better) of what I expect from a side gun.  Some may disagree and that's fine; shoot what you enjoy most and can hit best with.  I'll continue with my 9mm's, .45's, and so forth, but as I get older, I find myself enjoying revolvers more and more and appreciate not having to chase brass for reloading.


Fouling on the muzzle was quite uniform, indicating that the crown was just fine as it came from the factory. Though intended as a service revolver, the Model 64 is capable of much greater mechanical accuracy than I can wring out of it.


Though I do not find them as comfortable as the Uncle Mike "Goodyear's", were I to carry this revolver concealed, I would likely use these Eagle Secret Service stocks. I see this revolver as a fun gun for the range or open carry when knocking around on a friend's ranch or in the woods.

If in the market for a .38 revolver for similar reasons, I'd take a real hard look at clean Model 10's or Model 64's, be they in the heavy bbl versions I own or the "pencil" barrels.

They'd been shooters in one form or another for roughly a century and have evidently met at least most users' expectations to have this sort of longevity.

Take a look and take a chance on one; I think that you might be very surprised and pleased.

Best.

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    Thernlund

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #1 on: October 18, 2008, 02:20:10 am »
    Another excellent report with great pictures.  Thanks for posting it.

    I sure do love those Smiths.  And nothing wrong with .38 Special.  It got the job done for many years, eh?  Still does today.

    Cheers.


    -T.
    Arizona  Arm yourself because no one else here will save you.  The odds will betray you, and I will replace you...

    Stephen A. Camp

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #2 on: October 18, 2008, 02:30:25 am »
    Hello.  Yes, I agree.  My .38 Special revolvers for "serious" purposes are loaded with nothing real new; they're fed the old Remington 158-gr. LHP +P.  I have visited with a couple of officers forced to use their snub off-duty revolvers (loaded with the LHP +P) in separate incidents decades ago but remember that each of their opponents went down with one center chest hit each; one is still down.

    Best.

    springmom

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #3 on: October 18, 2008, 06:24:54 pm »
    Thanks so much for posting this.  I began my revolver ownership with a m37 snubbie and, well, it's been a struggle.  I love it for its concealability; it's driven me near to distraction at times trying to actually *master* the beast.  But my 66-3....that gun is a joy to shoot, even in .357.  In .38's I can play all day.

    I look forward to more posts from you here.  And if I might suggest to the mods, a sticky on these would not be amiss.

    Jan
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    Harry Buttermint

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #4 on: October 18, 2008, 06:54:12 pm »
    Yes the basic M&P type service revolver is as good today for it's intended purpose as it ever was. I carried a 4" M65 for about 13 yrs before my Dept. switched to the M&P40. I never felt I was at a disadvantage being armed with the 65 loaded w/ .38spl+p.
    Luckily, I had the opportunity to buy-back a 65-4 once they had been sent back to S&W for an overhaul & safety check. The revolver I recieved came back w/ a new cylinder that has the off-set cuts in the extractor star, thus eliminating the old dual alignment pins that sometimes had the bad habit of coming loose from the cylinder and causing problems in the alignment between the star & cylinder.
    What a great shooting weapon! I have it loaded w/ Federal 158 gr. LHP .38spl+p.

    ( The reason the 65s went back to S&W prior to being bought back by interested officers was that the dept. had some barrels break-off at the threads/frame due to a careless S&W employee improperly mounting barrels. This affected more than the 65 to a lesser degree it affected 686 & 629. Yes, S&W assurred us he was fired.) 

    Robinson

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #5 on: October 20, 2008, 09:25:45 am »
    Good stuff!  I own a 4" Model 10 and 2 3" Model 64s and they are great guns.  They all shoot to POA with the 158 gr LSWCHP+P ammo -- I use the Georgia Arms version.
    Georgia

    alone

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #6 on: October 23, 2008, 01:30:36 am »
    Mr. Camp.

    Another excellent review!
    As Mr. Camp knows, one of my favorites is the Model 64, 3" RB HB.
    I sure do miss mine , still one of these days...

    -alone
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    LittleLebowski

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #7 on: October 23, 2008, 07:51:18 am »
      Well written as always, Mr Camp.  When are you going to start selling your custom targets to us  ;D

    Doug Wojtowicz

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #8 on: October 23, 2008, 09:30:20 am »
    It's so wonderful to see an article discussing the viable defensive use of a full-sized service revolver without a certain, self-appointed expert decrying that the .38 is a weak sister or that it's impossible to reload quickly. 

    Nothing is quite so beautiful and feels so ergonomic as a K-frame Smith.
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    SJW is not a synonym of "leftists" or "liberals". Left-wing and right-wing positions are based on economics. SJWs are left-authoritarians which means that they are not liberals. Don't paint all leftists or liberals with the same (misguided) brush.

    Johnny G

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #9 on: October 23, 2008, 03:06:29 pm »
    Another range report triumph, Esteban.  Your talent for writing concise, informative reports benefits the entire shooting community.  These reports are deceptive in their simplicity and clarity.  You point out some subtle, easy-to-miss points, and explain the value of some of the little-appreciated handguns.  There were/are good reasons for the widespread popularity of such sidearms.  These are often overlooked by those seeking the glitziest, "hottest" new products.

    I clearly recall being a rookie with a mild disdain for the old timers' revolvers, "just plain Jane, old model tens," and Colt Official Police revolvers.  A few years later, this same under qualified lad longed to buy every bell-and-whistle accessory possible to hang on his (only) .45 automatic.  Yeah, right.  Time and age don't necessarily bring wisdom, but they do provide a measure of perspective.  It was only gradually that I came to understand that gear is secondary to a mental attitude and practice.  As a tool, a high quality handgun needs only adequate power, a decent trigger, and visible sights.  Everything else is on the user.   

    This month, I purchased a standard old Military & Police .38.  I was moved to ponder many of the same factors you brought out in this report on your M64, a direct descendant.  Much as we both like our 1911-series and Browning HP autoloaders, I'm confident that you or I could get along with such a revolver as our only handgun, for self defense or field use.  Mindset, adaptability, and background make the workman more crucial than the exact tool at hand.

    By the way, Steve - - Have you tried out any of the Buffalo Bore .38 Special loads?  If not, see  http://www.buffalobore.com/ammunition/default.htm#38spl
    The Item 20A is a true +P 158 gr LHP with a truly enormous hollow nose.  Just below that, the Item 20C is the standard pressure version, safe in the older, non-+P rated alloy snubs.  (Such as old "Ratso," now in use by Elder Son Matt. ;) )  I was amazed at the accuracy of both of these loads. 

    I look forward to your next excellent article.

    Best always,
    Johnny Guest

    Stephen A. Camp

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #10 on: October 23, 2008, 03:15:41 pm »
    Hello, Johnny, and welcome.  Thanks for the kind words. 

    I've not yet tried any of the BB ammunition but plan to in the near future.

    I was thinking of the guns I've owned and foolishly let slip away and recalled that bird's nest on the ground that I didn't appreciate until too late:  Mr. Pierce's shop.  How many times did I (and many others) paw through the used-but-like-new guns to see what had come in this week?  I remember moving those darned ol' Model 58's out of the way so I could see yet another 27 or maybe one of the Norwegian-made 1911's.  What I'd give to get to go back now and grab up those old guns at their "old" prices with today's money.

    I'd like to visit with Mr. Pierce and Mr. Owens, too.

    Best.

    alone

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    Re: Range Report: S&W Model 64-1 w/4" Bbl...
    « Reply #11 on: October 23, 2008, 04:41:28 pm »
    Mr. Johnny Guest,

    Welcome to WTA!
    It is an honor to have you here sir!

    I tried two cylinders of the BB 20A , in two similar guns: Model 10 4" and Model 64 3"


    I tried two cylinders of the BB 20C : 1928 Colt Detective Special, and Older Model 10 snub nose.
    I LIKE! *yep*

    Mr. Camp, I await another excellent review from you with these loads. *grin*

    -alone





    None of us will ever accomplish anything excellent or commanding except when he listens to this whisper which is heard by him alone.

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