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Old 08-22-2014, 03:15 PM
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Dave Nash Dave Nash is offline
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Originally Posted by Poohgyrr View Post
I'm looking at a standard pre '94 model and a quick search here didn't reveal much on this pistol. I still appreciate the 3rd Gen's and realized there is much I simply do not know about the 4006's.

A 4" stainless double stack 40S&W. I wonder if it held a special status within the company as a service pistol in their round. The normal ruggedness and reliability for the "general" service pistol design from S&W of that era. I prefer the TDA action but there were others.

Can anyone share interesting information or history or whichever on these?
Originally Posted by 824tsv View Post
I ordered a new 4006 in the spring of 1990 and had to wait several months before I could get it. It was the hot ticket back then, expensive and very hard to come by. I presume LEO orders were the reason for the delay. In my area most all P.D.'s eventually bought these pistols. Mine has been a joy to own. It's built like a tank, quite heavy and easy to control the recoil. I wouldn't want to conceal carry it due to its bulk, but a very nice pistol in my experience. I hand load for it and have had no issues with my reloads. I haven't seen very many on the used market recently, but a couple of years ago the market was flooded with LEO trade in's and the pistols could be had quite cheaply. Here's an opportunity to show mine again, with the original sales receipt from November 1990. It was a lot of money back then......
Originally Posted by Deputy50 View Post
The 4006 was in fact Smith's first .40 caliber semi-auto. It was designed with other third generation pistols of the time with input from gunsmith Wayne Novak. The adjustable sight version was purchased by California Highway Patrol as probably the first major 4006 contract (several thousand pistols.) CHP retired those units a few years back and purchased the railed 4006 - so the platform must have worked well for the agency.

I purchased a fixed sight model in 1994 as my first duty pistol. It is heavy, but extremely reliable and durable. As long as one understands it is a service pistol and not a target pistol, it is a fine investment, representative of the 3rd generation line.

I think I know you. If so, then a mutual friend just told me that I hadn’t contributed anything here in a while, so following are a few quick points about the 4006 I wrote over an early breakfast and proofed over a late lunch.

In the overall scheme of things, while Wayne was certainly a very important contributor to the 3rd Generation guns in general (and many of the separate things that led up to them), his involvement in the 4006 was much more limited and indirect. And without wanting to start a war here, so was Paul Liebenburg’s; although I routinely see other stories to the contrary about that on this Forum too.

After the initial go ahead to take a very experimental loading and a similarly experimental firearm platform and make both a “real” cartridge and “real” gun out of them, two committees were formed: one at Winchester/Olin and the other at Smith & Wesson.

Working both separately and together (for their work obviously needed to dovetail in order for it to be successful and truly accepted by the marketplace), these people created consistent production pistols and quality mass-produced ammo that took the original idea (something that in one form or another had been around for almost twenty years) to something that could be bought in quantity by departments and agencies through an LE Distributor or over-the-counter at a local dealer by lawful individuals of all kinds.

As most people here know, while the 3rd Gen “Line” was first shown to the press in the late summer and early fall of 1988, this gun [the Traditional Double Action (TDA) 4006, based to some degree on the by-then successful TDA 5906] was formally added to the line and introduced to its sellers and some of it potential users at the SHOT Show in January of 1990.

It was a couple of those potential buyers at SHOT that led to the California Highway Patrol’s first real interest in the gun and the ammo it utilized. Follow-up meetings and a very thorough and professional evaluation of it and several competitor firearms finally (it was a lengthy process) led to the 4006 being chosen by that Department as the first pistol to be used as their Duty Issue sidearm.

That move (to a new caliber, to a platform that was a bit different from the 5900-type from which it was derived, and to a pistol instead of their traditionally employed revolver) was, in many ways, symbolic of similar changes taking place in agencies all across the country at the time. And as such, this changeover and the thinking behind it was covered pretty extensively in various gun magazines of the day. Some of that reporting might be available “online” and if not, I am sure that back issues are available there instead.

Similar detailed coverage can be found in one or two publications from that same era concerning Charlotte North Carolina’s move to this cartridge in a Smith & Wesson handgun as well. For just like CHP in the “world” of State Agencies, Charlotte was looked upon as an example of a well run local department in an ever-expanding and well respected city of its type and size.

(Please note that my mention of them and my lack of including others is not intended as a “slight” of those other departments and agencies but is used here merely because I was peripherally involved in Charlotte's adoption of the gun and cartridge whereas I was more fully immersed in the sale to CHP. So I can speak firsthand about both of them and I can tell you with certainty, that if you do wish to learn more, much information was written about these organizations and their move to the .40cal at that time.)

Something else that I can tell you about firsthand, is my belief that the first shootable and non-show (or display only) guns that the general public really got to see, handle and well, “shoot”, were X-Serial Number guns built for me to get to Roy (Jinks) for one of the “Annual” events at Bisley in England in 1990, where S&W would be displaying.

I’m sure that there might have been “a” similar pre-production sample (or “two”) that could have been put in somebody’s hand domestically for a demonstration or an informal day’s shooting but to my knowledge, those guns were the first ones taken to a major event to allow people to see for themselves how they performed. And for a cartridge that later had as major (and hoped for) an impact on the American law enforcement market as it did, it is rather ironic that the first members of the "public" who got to shoot it and the guns designed for that purpose, weren't even Americans!

While competitive events are held throughout the year at the historic National Shooting Centre at Bisley, this program took place in the first half of that year (1990) and it was recognized that if we didn’t afford that many influential people (from Great Britain and elsewhere in Europe) the opportunity to shoot the gun then, it would be another year (at best) before we could get samples in front of them at something as big and beneficial as this, in that country, again.

We were all hard-pressed for time on this and other projects at Smith & Wesson, so building shooting samples before actual production had begun was not something that seemed to be in the cards. But in regard to the “big picture” for the Company (in terms of developing overall interest internationally and not just here to police departments in the US), it was important.

So to aid that effort, and to help out Roy who had always been (and still is) helpful to me (I’ve learned a lot from him over the years), I “cut a deal” with the man in Engineering who had then, just been recently appointed to a key position in the “ironing out” of the kind of kinks one sees whenever you tool up for the production of a new “machine” (for that is what a modern day firearm really is: a “machine”); especially one that is also trying to successfully harness the output of a cartridge that is also new (and in this case, unlike anything else) itself.

He was a member of the same multi-department / multi-disciplined group that I mentioned earlier and that I belonged to as well. And, as a result, I knew that pretty much, every second of his and his own crew’s time was accounted for (just like the rest of us). So I approached him (cautiously, as I wasn’t as stupid in those days), and begged him to help (as I was a lot more humble in those days too).

Whether so stop my crying or just get me out of his office in the Main Plant on Roosevelt Avenue, he finally offered to assemble some number of guns more than Roy asked for, with the understanding that while they (or the barrels) would be “Proof Tested” for safety as all pistols were at the time, any function testing or accuracy evaluations would be my responsibility; as would the selection and acceptance of responsibility for the still experimental pistols (hence their X-Serial Numbers) I would choose to be used as public “demonstrators” and that would be shot a lot by an inquisitive and generally knowledgeable group of experienced shooters. Sure, I thought, I’ll put my head in that noose, no problem.

But I believed in the gun and I believed in this man’s people to build these to the best of their ability as samples for me so we went ahead with the plan. (By the way, I am not being cute by not naming him here for I respect him a lot. But the last I heard, he is still in the industry, in a very key engineering position at another and competing firm, and I didn’t think it would be fair to drag him into things here without his permission.)

As he promised, one day, a large group of outwardly identical X-Guns was brought up to my office on time, along with a supply of magazines (that at that point, might have been just as “experimental” themselves). I thanked him profusely (he was a good guy and not only someone I enjoyed working with but typical of the many people who worked there when I did who always put the success of the Company at the top of their “things to do today” list), collected the guns and my gear, and then trotted off (drove actually) to the S&W Academy Building to wring things out.

Having the full use of one of their 100yard indoor ranges (and it was a real 100yd indoor “range” and not just the typical testing “tube” that many companies employ), I dragged in the guns, my stuff and a LOT of .40S&W ammo to spend the rest of the day “testing”.

I did wring out all of the guns out as completely as I could in terms of general performance and, separately, my attempts to formally induce specific malfunctions. The magazines too were studied and tested thoroughly for matching a couple of mags to a given gun (sometimes an accepted practice “early on” in such work, if their interaction with all firearms wasn’t part of what one was “working on” or “testing for”) wasn’t the case here, where in a typical “shooting fair” program (here or overseas), it was not uncommon to have magazines become switched out between guns.

In addition to accomplishing the primary task at hand (finding preproduction samples that would shoot flawlessly in the hands of a broad-based group of critical shooters), I learned a lot about what, in essence, were the tangible results (the “real guns”) of the Committee that I (like my friend who had his people build them) had been a part of.

And at least two of those points should interest you.

In the previous year-and-a-half since the 3rd Gen’s had been introduced (late summer/early fall 1988 to late winter/early spring 1990), I had shot a 5906 a LOT: almost daily and always seriously. And, as in most successful tasks, the carrying, producing and shooting of that one gun almost everyday, all but made it a part of me. Therefore, any difference between it and the 4006 would be far more noticeable than it would have been through only occasional use.

That said, the controls and the sights were identical. The additional weight was negligible. And while I was obviously aware that the recoil was “different” in several respects than that produced in the similarly sized and shaped 9mm TDA, within the firing of only several magazines of the hotter and heavier bullet weight .40cal ammo that was available at the time, it too, was something that disappeared to me as well.

I read all the time about the substantially greater recoil of the .40cal in certain 9mm platforms BUT to me (and I fully realize that everyone perceives recoil differently) and in these two stainless steel handguns (only), after 50 and certainly after a 100 rounds of factory ammo, I forgot all about any difference I had first noticed. And before people start writing in and accusing me of bragging or accusing others of being “soft” in this respect, I am doing neither. In fact, while I have shot a good deal throughout my life, I don’t see myself as anything but average in terms of tolerance to recoil so I think that in many cases (again at least in these guns; that is, in a gun like yours), you will find the 4006 very comfortable to shoot and very easy to control.

Similarly, I think that people today have been so spoiled by the extreme weight-savings made possible by polymer frame firearms construction that anything even close to weighing what was once accepted as common (again in something like your gun), is thought to be overly heavy and all but impossible to “carry”. Granted, in some cases, the plastic framed pistols can be a lot less tiresome to lug around all day but that condition is often as much of function of body type, the holster employed, and just what it is that you are used to, as it is anything else. Your gun is not excessively overweight nor is it fatiguing or clumsy as such statements (not seen here but in other places on this Forum or elsewhere on the “net) can sometimes seem to imply.

Finally, shooting those guns over and over, for hours, while purposely trying to make them not work, I saw that even in those preliminary and not “real” samples (and again, no letters telling me what else would I expect from handbuilt product for these were not “custom” guns assembled by hand and tuned for performance, but instead, were merely “pre-production” guns that had been simply pieced together for me, out of whatever parts had been found lying around that week), that this was a very rugged and a very reliable firearm; one that would become only more dependable when made consistently in quantity and not the way these guns had been hastily assembled.

In fact, at looking to these last two points, I think that at the outset, the CHP (mentioned earlier) was a bit surprised that a pistol, which was smaller in profile than some of the revolvers they had officially employed over the years, weighed as much as it did BUT they got used it and, as noted earlier in this thread by “Deputy50”, they used both those original 4006’s and ultimately, their replacement 4006’s (sooner or later everything wears out or gets too beat up to use) for a LONG time with no problems; something very reflective of the ruggedness and reliability I mentioned here.

Anyway, after taking a short break that day and rating the guns in terms of operational differences, I then shot them at various distances both one-handed and two-handed while standing unsupported and then over (off) a sandbag while seated, to determine their potential for accuracy.

Ultimately, working well into the night and the next morning, I chose the guns to be packed up and sent along for Roy to show and let people shoot in the UK and, as they say, the rest (on both that and this side of the Atlantic) is “history”; something that along with “Information” and hopefully a lot of “tidbits”, is what you said you were looking for in the title of this thread. It is also something that has not been talked about in such a manner here on the premier S&W enthusiast’s site before now.
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