S&W Model 66

| March 7, 2009 | 16 Comments

An Old Legend

Firearm tested
S&W Model 66

Ammo used: My Own Reloads
Reloaded 38 special 148gr DEWC, 50 Rounds
Reloaded 357 Magnum 158gr Flatpoint, 20 Rounds

Smith and Wesson first started producing this weapon in 1970. The first issue can clearly be identified by the stainless steel rear sight, pin barrel, serrated stainless trigger, recessed cylinder and the ?mod 66? stamped on the frame underneath yoke (notice the no dash). The revolver pictured above is a first production issue in great shape. I had been on the search for one of these legends for quite sometime when I came across this specimen in one of the local shops. After examination of the forcing cone, barrel, lockup, timing and trigger pull I knew it was the best conditioned Model 66 I had ever seen.

The Combat Magnum was built upon the K-Frame. Smith and Wesson no longer makes the K-Frame and have opted to replace them with the heavier L-Frame models, which include models 619, 620 and the model 686. The L-Frames are a bit heavier and for me do not point as naturally as the ?Old Legend?.

This weapon was carried by many law enforcement agencies in the mid to late 70?s through the late 90?s that I know of. Some have been rumored to have been in service for a much longer time period. The demise of the K-Frame and the ?Old Legend? came from owners starting to prefer the lighter and faster 125gr 357 Magnum load. With faster powders this load often caused flame cutting and forcing cones to crack. During the creation era of the ?Old Legend? the bulk of 357 Magnum ammunition available at the time was a 158gr lead projectile. Though rumored as not being a strong platform for a lot of Magnum rounds. If you stick with the 158gr projectile you should have no issues with enjoying it?s companionship on your days at the range for a very long time. In fact I know of a few friends who have over 8000 rounds of nothing but 140gr and 158gr 357 Magnum loads through their Model 66?s and they still lockup very tight.

So how does the ?Old Legend? perform on it?s day at the range? Better than I ever dreamed of. The weight of the K-Frame and the half lug barrel just makes it a natural pointer. Even with 357 Magnum ammunition I was capable of quick and easy follow up shots. I now understand why so many law enforcement officers carried this weapon for such a long time. Out of the 70 rounds I reloaded with the hardest primer on the market CCI, the ?Old Legend? was 100 percent reliable. After 39 years the ?Old Legend? is still capable of shooting tighter groups than I. The picture below are the first 6 shots of 38 special DEWC fired by me, on the range at 15 yards at a 5.5inch target.

By now you can imagine the smile I had on my face. The ?Old Legend? definitely deserves a space on the pistol rack inside the safe to keep it nice warm and comfy.

A model 66 357 Combat Magnum should be owned by every firearms enthusiast. Though these can be very hard to find in as good of shape as my ?Old Legend? it can be done with a little patience. Or you could try to find a S&W Model 19 which is the same weapon that comes blued, which also can be just as hard to find. Determination and patience are the key and also part of the fun in finding such a fine weapon.

Get out there on the hunt and enjoy your time searching!

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16 Comments on "S&W Model 66"

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  1. Jim Farmer says:

    I purchased a Smith and Wesson Model 66-1
    (K-Frame) .357 Combat Magnum “stainless”
    4″ revolver back in October 2008. Revolver is
    perhaps 30 years old, yet in 98% condition
    a beauty. Pinned barrel, counter shrunk chambers, Goncalo Alves grips. I shot it several
    weeks ago. Not surprisingly highly accurate.
    If limited to owning but one hangun this would
    be hard to beat. Versatile, classic, useful for
    not only self defense/house protection and
    homeland security but likewise ideal for the
    outdoorsman: fishing, camping, hunting, back-packing, venomous snakes (.38 Special
    shot loads). Also, useful for hunting rabbit
    and squirrel, dispatching vermin such as
    raccoon, skunk, possum, and for butchering
    livestock. .38 Special wadcutters for smallgame
    and vermin. Also, an ideal sidearm to take along while picking wild berries, plums, etc.
    A very versatile, classic, historical, and
    venerable firearm.

  2. Jim Farmer says:

    I’m sure this same Smith and Wesson Model 66,
    or any good handgun for that matter, would be
    highly regarded by pilots, aviators, etc. as a
    personal handgun in the case of terrorists,
    hijackers, etc. I do know during World War II,
    Korea, and Vietnam military pilots and aviators
    were issued a .38 caliber revolver, usually
    carried in a shoulder holster beneath their
    flight jacket. The Smith and Wesson .38 Special
    Victory Model was a parkerized version of the
    latter S&W Model 10 Military and Police and
    had a laynard ring on the grip butt. How much
    better a stainless handgun would be in an
    enviroment of salt water, high humidity, or
    freezing cold, snow, or rain.

  3. James Hebert says:

    I just came across one of these at a local shop for $300… and I’m very interested, but too much of a novice to know what to inspect for to determine its true condition. Can you give me any tips or pointers on what to make sure *should* be right, or what to look our for?

    Given that it passes inspection… is the price in the right ballpark?

    Thank you!


  4. admin says:

    That is a great prince if the revolver is in good condition.

    Please read

    To determine if you have a good specimen or not.


    anyone know where your can purchase rear sights for the model 66……..????

  6. Chase says:

    I just came across this website and had no idea that the model 66 had such a reputation. And so I thought I’d share my short story on how I came to own mine.

    When my father was younger and about to leave for the academy to become a peace officer, an old Minnesota highway patrolmen, who was a family friend I’m told, gave it to him as a gift. I recently, about two years ago, became a firearms enthusiast and started purchasing a few of my own. One day my dad took me into his bedroom and pulled out an old toolbox and inside was a leather pistol case. Inside he had the mod66 combat magnum and a .38 chief special. He gave me the mod66 and kept the .38, the .38 is his CCW, and now its one of my most favorite guns to shoot. Mine has some very nice wooden grips with a metal S&W emblem on either side.

  7. admin says:

    Time for me to take some updated pictures. The Old General did not deserve to be seen in rubber and I have since got some nice wood grips for it.

  8. Bill Loyd says:

    The Smith & Wesson model 66-2 has to be one of the best hand guns ever produced.
    I began shooting pistols in bulls-eye competition in the mid ?70?s with a Ruger Standard MK I. I have not shot in competition in years, but still love going to the range shooting targets and still preferred auto loaders. I now own a fair collection of guns including the updated Ruger MK III 22/45 along with other semi-auto pistols ,which I have always preferred over revolvers, until now. I now own the Smith & Wesson 66-2 that my father carried for several years before he retired from my hometown Police Department, he carried a model 19 before that. He retired in ?96 and passed away suddenly last year. I also have a Smith & Wesson 38 S&W my grandfather carried as a Deputy Sheriff. Regretfully I moved away from home and never shot that much with my father, what few times I did shoot with him I would harass him for still caring a wheel gun on the force long after others had switched to auto loaders. My father also didn?t enjoy competition or recreation shooting as much as I, he shot just enough to pass the pistol range each year. My first trip to the gun range with his model 66 after he passed away made me regret ever teasing him about his wheel gun and that we hadn?t gotten together to shoot more often than we had. He had changed the trigger spring on the 66-2 to lighter pull spring and installed Pachmayr grips, I have his original spring and walnut grips. His 66-2 converted me after the first few rounds. It is as tight now as it was new and on target with every pull. I have became more consistent with this gun than any of my others from 22 to my 45 auto. I could never use this pistol for a defense weapon in case anything happened to it, too much sentimental value there now, but it is now one of my favorite guns ever. For now it remains in my vault, when not at the range. This gun will be passed on to my son one day, but I do plan on shooting it with him before I pass away also. I can easily say to anyone wanting a good quality hand gun, get yourself a Smith & Wesson model 66 or 19, even if you have to pay extra to find a good one, you want regret it!

  9. John Tsantes says:

    I ran across your comments when I was looking for Model 66-2 pricing. I’ve been offered $600 for my mint-condition gun and wanted to make sure it was priced right. I think it might be a good deal. I bought it new in 1982 and it only has about 20 rounds of 38 through it…no 357.

  10. admin says:

    Bill the best way to determine the price of your Model 66 is by acquiring the blue book and also looking at sites like gun broker.com to see what others are looking for. Price is subject right meaning it all depends on if the buyer thinks he or she is getting a good deal and if the seller is getting out of it what he or she wants. I hope this helps I just really hate giving prices online as I do not wish to hurt yours or anyone else’s sale.

  11. Paul says:

    The model 66 is one of the best handguns ever made!

  12. Raff says:

    I just picked up a model 66 (no dash) this weekend for $425 at a pawn shop. It?s a little beat up on the outside but everything locks up tight and it?s in great working condition. Feels great on the hands and shoots like a dream. This and the model 67 (similar K frame but comes only in .38 spl & without the half lug barrel) are my two favorite Smith & Wesson revolvers. I always hear that a lot of people disliked the target grips, but I think one reason it balances so well is because of those grips. Plus the medallions on the grips give it a classic touch. 66 is definitely one to put into your collection, or get the blued version it?s based on, the model 19.

  13. Cliff O'Neal says:

    I currently own two model 66-2’s and if there has been a better revolver made I
    haven’t found it. I also have two model 27-2’s in 5″ barrel and they are almost
    as easy to shoot as my 66’s. It depends on the size of your hands whether “K”
    frames or “N ” frame feel better and I also think that if, God forbid, I could own but
    one handgun it would be a S&W model 66!

  14. John Thedford says:

    I bought a 66 a newer model and the first time on the range was a beautiful experience thank u for the forum it help make my mind up in pursuing to buy one thanks again

  15. Eric Fetch says:

    I see this is a older post but I purchased a 66 no dash , 1972 year model today. Haven’t shot it yet but I think in very good condition. Will have my gunsmith look it over, I shoot 22 benchrest and watch all your videos . Thank you

  16. E you are going to love that model 66 do me a favor preserve that baby because you have something nice on your hands. When I say preserve it means shoot the snot out of it but with the right ammo. Please do not shoot these 110gr and 125gr light hot ammo they have been known to crack the forcing cone. If you stay with 130gr and above shoot it as much as you would like. I wish you were close by because I would check it for you. Good Luck

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