Today, we are looking at the S&W Model 66 stainless steel 2.75-inch barrel handgun on the popular K Frame. With so many requests from SurvivalBlog readers, we are covering this, another good ol’ fashioned revolver.
Early Years Carrying a Revolver
Truth be told, in my early years as a police officer, private security contractor, and private investigator, I carried a revolver for the simple fact that in Illinois, at least at that time, you were required to only carry a 4-inch barrel revolver when doing private security. As a police officer in various areas of the country, I was pretty much allowed to carry just about any type of handgun I wanted. Still, more often than not, I’d reach for a Smith & Wesson revolver in .38 Spl or .357 Magnum.
Back in the day, the two most popular revolvers were the S&W K Frame with a 4-inch barrel for a full-sized duty handgun or a Colt revolver, once again with a 4-inch barrel. It’s hard to go wrong with either one of those choices. The S&W K frame revolver design is well over a hundred years old and has a proven track record. And, I always found it was easier to get a better double-action trigger pull on the K frame as opposed to a Colt.
Revolver for Self Defense or Survival
Many people today believe that a revolver is an “antique” and not suitable for self defense use or survival. I couldn’t disagree more. For sure, you are usually limited to a “mere” six shots in a S&W Model 66 revolver. However, a reload or two using HKS Speed Loaders, will keep you in the fight. If you can’t get the job done with 12-18 rounds of ammo on-tap, you did something wrong and should have brought along an AR or AK to save your bacon. And, remember that, only hits count in a gun fight. You don’t want to aimlessly send rounds down range without having a target. Yeah, I know, in all the Hollywood movies, the good and bad guys seem to have semi-auto handguns that have an endless supply of ammo on-tap. If that were only so…
Here’s a short story, but it’s worth mentioning again. When I was a supervisor and K-9 handler for a large security company back in Chicago, one of my officers (who was also a friend of mine since we grew up together) was having problems keeping people away from a huge electrical power plant that was being decommissioned. People were stealing the huge coils of copper. Truth be told, we should have had at least two or three officers protecting that property. The plant was more than a city block long; it was huge.
There was a problem with some toughs in the neighborhood, who were determined to steal some of that copper no matter what. One evening, I camped out with my officer, with the hopes of catching these guys in the act of stealing. I also had one of my K-9s with me. He was a huge sable-colored German Shepherd named Max, and he hated other dogs, period!
We had scared off these guys once that night, but they returned, bringing their mutt of a dog along. All I had to do was turn Max loose, and they all took off running. I believe some of those guys outran their own dog. Later on that evening, they returned and opened fire on us. I returned fire with my company-issued S&W Model 10, heavy barrel K frame revolver. I intentionally fired over their heads, not wanting to kill anyone. Only thing is, I was young and dumb and the only ammo I had were the six rounds in the gun.
That was not a good thing. Luckily, those guys never came back. So, I learned many years ago to always carry one or two reloads for a revolver or semi-auto handgun. I certainly didn’t feel undergunned, but I was stupid for not carrying some extra ammo. I never made that mistake again!
Still Reach For a Good Ole’ Fashioned Revolver
Even today, I’ll reach for a good ol’ fashioned revolver when I leave the house. Maybe it is just nostalgia, but I don’t feel outgunned with just six rounds in the gun and a couple speed loaders ready to go. I stoke my .357 Magnum revolvers with .357 Mag ammo, if the gun is to be used as a house gun. The sound of a .357 Mag being fired inside of a dwelling is deafening, to say the least. When out and about, I’ll have the gun loaded with full-power .357 Mag loads. This is one of the advantages of having a gun chambered in .357 Mag; you can stoke it with .38 Spl loads or full power .357 Mag loads. That’s nice! And, needless to say, the .38 Spl loads are much more controllable, too.
Snubby S&W Model 19
S&W Model 66 Snubby
The S&W Model 66 snubby has a 2.75-inch barrel, which is a quarter inch longer than the Model 19’s barrel. I don’t know the thinking behind this, but the gun is still very concealable. That extra quarter inch isn’t hurting anything.
Model 66 Also Called the Combat Magnum
The Model 66 is also called the Combat Magnum, and it is manufactured out of stainless steel with a nice brushed finish to it that is not shinny at all. It holds 6-rds. The front sight is a red ramp, and the rear sight is S&W’s famous adjustable one with a black blade. The gun can be fired single-action by thumb cocking the hammer back, or double-action my simply pulling the trigger. In single-action, the trigger broke right at 3.5-lbs, and the longer, double-action pull was very smooth and broke at 12-lbs. The grips are black synthetic and appear to be made by Hogue. Original guns came with wood grips. However, the synthetic grips are more comfortable to shoot with. Weight unloaded is 33.5 ounces, and with a good fitting holster on your belt, you soon forget you’re carrying this little power house.
Stainless Steel Gun
In my neck of the woods– western Oregon, a good stainless steel gun is the way to go in order to ward off rust. Stainless steel will rust, but it rusts less. So, the stainless steel is an asset around where I live. It’s either that or a high-tech coating of some type required on the entire gun.
Ammo Used For Model 66 Testing
I had a decent selection of .38 Spl and .357 Mag ammo to run through the Model 66. From Black Hills Ammunition, I had their .38 Spl 100-gr HoneyBadger +P all copper bullet with the fluted design, which is the wave of the future if you ask me. I also had their 158-gr CNL Cowboy Load, and this was mild, at only 800-fps. In .357 Mag, I had their 125-gr JHP and their 158-gr JHP; both are great fight stoppers. From Buffalo Bore Ammunition, I had their .38 Spl +P Outdoorsman Hard Cast Load, which is a great round to carry out in the boonies since it’ll penetrate deeply and get the job done.
I also had their 125-gr Barnes SPB load that is low-recoil, designed for short barreled handguns, and the same load in 128-gr, and their .357 Mag Outdoorsman load with the Hard Cast bullet– another outstanding load for out in the wilderness. From Double Tap Ammo, I had their 125-gr JHP, 158-gr JHP, and their 180-gr Hard Cast solid. In .38 Spl, I also had their full wadcutter load for very soft shooting; it’s great for punching paper.
Accuracy Testing Results
Accuracy testing was done over a rolled-up sleeping bag on my Jeep Wrangler with the target at 25 yards. In all, I fired about 300 rounds of ammo without any problems. I didn’t think there would be any either. If I did my part, I could keep the rounds beneath three inches. Quite often, they were down to two inches.
Well Armed and Protected
Combined with a couple speed loaders and a good holster on your hip, you’re pretty well armed and protected from two-legged and four-legged threats with the Model 66. For fun shooting, you can find some inexpensive, all things considered, SWC .38 Spl ammo or lead round nose. Just make sure you give your gun a good cleaning afterwards. That lead really gets a gun dirty. Save the full-powered .357 Mag loads for serious self-defense. You could do a lot worse than a good “old” fashioned revolver these days, for most of your needs.