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Old 12-11-2016, 01:16 PM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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I am looking for a .357 magnum revolver to carry while I am hunting. The gun would be carried in addition to the rifle or shotgun I would be hunting with, i.e. a lot of carry and a little bit of shooting, which steers me away from the N-frame guns from this application. I've got a bunch of 686 models with half-lug 4" barrels that I like, but . . . I want a 6" barrel gun and I strongly dislike the full underlug the 6" 686's always seem to have. This seems to be leading me to a M66 as my only option. I would love to have a 686 6" with half-lug barrel, but, sadly, I don't think S&W has ever made such a gun. Also, for aesthetic reasons, I am not interested in any models with the internal lock when a non-IL version is available.

For a M66 for shooting (i.e. not collecting), which engineering change is the best shooter model of M66?

TIA

--shinbone

Last edited by shinbone; 12-11-2016 at 03:20 PM.
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Old 12-11-2016, 01:34 PM
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You're probably going to be limited to what dash number you will find in a 6" model 66, they don't show up for sale that often and I don't think it would matter much. Dash 0,1,2 probably will all be great revolvers, buy whatever decent one you can find.
All my 66's are great guns.
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Old 12-11-2016, 02:52 PM
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Take whatever you can find, the dash number means nothing when it comes to shooting quality. All engineering changes are made for one of two reasons, simplifying production/cost cutting and improving durability, nothing more.

Shootability from an accuracy standpoint is strictly how well an individual gun matches up to the ideal combination of parts and how they relate to each other. Differences of less than .001" can make the difference between a tack-driver and a gun that won't shoot in a bucket. The reality is quality revolvers in general, as a rule shoot far better than they have any right to, and far better than most shooters are capable, even very good ones!
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:05 PM
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Model 27 or 28. What's not to like?
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:13 PM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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Originally Posted by sodacan View Post
Model 27 or 28. What's not to like?
Great guns, and I love me the N-frame - feels good in the hand and shoot so nice, but I am looking for something smaller than an N-frame for the "carry a lot, shoot a little" aspect. I also prefer SS for this application for the lower maintenance aspect. I edited my original to clarify this.

Last edited by shinbone; 12-11-2016 at 03:41 PM.
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:24 PM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
All engineering changes are made for one of two reasons, simplifying production/cost cutting and improving durability, nothing more.
Good point! Which dash-number in the M66, short of a version with an IL, would be the most durable?
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:28 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
Good point! Which dash-number in the M66, short of a version with an IL, would be the most durable?
Doesn't matter. They all shoot better than I do, and will probably last longer . . .
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Old 12-11-2016, 03:47 PM
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Pinned and Recessed are

Model 66: no-dash and -1s.................

Model 19 no-dash through -4s..............

might be easier to find a 6" 19 than 66.



SS/66s are easier to maintain when carrying in the woods.........

If it's not your primary hunting gun ....... I'd go with a 4 or 2 1/2" for ease of carry.........................

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Old 12-11-2016, 06:11 PM
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Quote:
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Good point! Which dash-number in the M66, short of a version with an IL, would be the most durable?
For aesthetics, the last pinned & recessed model, 66-1. for having all up-grades that mean something. the 66-5.
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:17 PM
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There is a Model 686 Mountain Gun currently for sale in the classifieds on this forum. That is what you need to check out.
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Old 12-11-2016, 08:24 PM
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From a shooting and carrying standpoint it doesn't matter

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Old 12-11-2016, 08:38 PM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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There is a Model 686 Mountain Gun currently for sale in the classifieds on this forum. That is what you need to check out.
bdGreen
Thanks for the tip on the gun for sale, and I know those are not that easy to find. Luckily, I already have a 686-5 Mountain Gun. I was shooting it yesterday, and it is a great gun. It is the best of the 4" barrel .357 guns, IMHO. For the sake of completeness, in 4" barreled .357's, I have a 19-3, a 620, the already mentioned 686-5 MG, and a 627-5. All very sweet guns.

But, I am wanting to try a 6" barrel without a full lug.

Last edited by shinbone; 12-11-2016 at 09:48 PM.
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Old 01-05-2017, 08:56 AM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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I am still looking for a shooter grade M66 with 6" barrel, but . . .

Anyone have any experience with the relatively new M66-8 (4.25" barrel)? The few reports I have heard are saying the two-piece barrel is shooting some impressively tight groups . . . ?
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Old 01-05-2017, 09:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shinbone View Post
I am still looking for a shooter grade M66 with 6" barrel, but . . .

Anyone have any experience with the relatively new M66-8 (4.25" barrel)? The few reports I have heard are saying the two-piece barrel is shooting some impressively tight groups . . . ?
At least the 66-8 has the full diameter forcing cone - eliminating one weakness of the older guns. As far as accuracy unless you are an Olympic shooter I don't think you would test the limits of 2 piece barrel accuracy unless you clamp the gun in a rest.

This being the year 2017, I might point out the alternate technology would be something like a Glock 20. 10 MM punch in a gun that's 10 ounces lighter but still very shootable. I know, blasphemy.

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Old 01-05-2017, 09:39 AM
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I'm going to be a heretic and suggest the Ruger Security-Six with the 6 inch barrel. They can be found for $450 or so, are great shooters and are more common in 6 inch than the Model 66.
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Old 01-05-2017, 09:42 AM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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Thanks for the alternate suggestions, and, no doubt, each has its merits, but I prefer to stick with S&W, even with the many other valid options out there.

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Old 01-05-2017, 11:14 AM
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M-66-3. Probably -4's are good, too. But they added the endurance package in the yoke assembly at M-66-3. Mine has been a superb gun, the one I've carried most over the past 26 years.


It has a four-inch barrel, but I've owned a six-inch M-19 and think you're on the right track. The stainless gun is the better choice in the real world.


Jeff Cooper was best known for advocating the .45 auto, but he liked some revolvers, too, and commented that the six-inch Combat Magnum was a fine combo of power and portability. He liked it as a trail gun for hikers and backpackers.
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Old 01-05-2017, 11:22 AM
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Older 66's aren't too hard to find but you'll see many 4" barrel before finding anything else. You can find the model 19 with a 6" barrel occasionally but a 6" model 66 is rare. You will probably have to pay a premium for the 6" due to the rarity.
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Old 01-05-2017, 12:50 PM
Green Frog Green Frog is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alk8944 View Post
For aesthetics, the last pinned & recessed model, 66-1. for having all up-grades that mean something. the 66-5.
^^^ This ^^^

I had an early Model 66 no dash (police trade-in, 4" bbl) that I rebuilt and had retro-fitted with a factory 6" barrel. After much use and abuse it has now been resurrected as a 4" full under lug 327 Fed Mag (See my Project 616) but it was a fine range gun. If I were to replace it now, I would have a Model 66-1 that would IMHO retains all of the good features of the no-dash, with the most glaring manufacturing shortcomings addressed. As you have seen from preceding answers here, all of the dash numbers work fine, and so long as an individual example has a minimum of features that you personally dislike, it would be hard to go wrong with any of the Model 66 manufacturing variations. You asked for a recommendation though, so I vote for the dash 1.

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Old 01-05-2017, 02:06 PM
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Shinbone did not ask for suggested guns for his needs/wants. He asked for suggestions on a "specific" gun. He obviously has other guns and knowledge about them. He even has guns that would serve the purpose stated, but he wants a 6" model 66!

So my answer is...-1 simply because I like P&R guns. They're not better, I just like them. I would not turn down a no dash unless it had SS sights. Those are for collecting, not shooting.

Good luck in your search. That is part of the fun too.

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Old 01-05-2017, 03:30 PM
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Deleted. I unintentionally broke the rules. My apologies.

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Old 01-05-2017, 04:13 PM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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Birdgun - Thanks for the head's-up. I've got some of those on my Watch List.

At this point, for a Model 66 with 6" barrel, I am looking for:

1) A 66 no dash, because the first version of anything has the most cachet; or

2) A 66-3 or a 66-4, to get the endurance package without the MIM parts or internal lock.

However, I'd probably take any dash version if it had target trigger and target hammer at a reasonable price. Nothing against MIM parts (meaning I wouldn't pass up a good deal on a 66-5), but, for later resale, most folks who care about MIM parts don't want them. And, as mentioned in my first post, no IL for me for aesthetic reasons. Although once the gun budge recovers after this purchase I may next pick up a 66-8.

Interestingly, I see by far more 66-2's out there than any other dash number.

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Old 01-05-2017, 05:05 PM
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Search Gun Broker for the lesser known 619 and 620.

L Frame guns with Half Lugs.
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Old 01-05-2017, 05:47 PM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom_R View Post
Search Gun Broker for the lesser known 619 and 620.

L Frame guns with Half Lugs.
Thanks for the info. I've got a 620, and it is indeed a very nice gun. But, unfortunately, 620's never came with a 6" barrel.
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Old 01-05-2017, 06:53 PM
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Your most affordable alternative would be a 19-5. In 19s the dash 5 means elimination of recessed cylinders and barrel pins. Unwanted shooter grade 6" 19-5s are fairly common. My local gun stores price them at $425 plus tax.

6" 66s are a lot less common so they cost more. They were not a production item until after the silver colored stainless rear sights were discontinued so that is not an issue. Recessed chambers add a cleaning chore without adding anything of value to shooters and barrel pins were non-functional so let collectors pay the premium for P&R. Prior to the current 66-8 there was never an endurance package in K frames. Dash 3 improved the front side plate screw to the modern larger head screw with a spring loaded plunger keeping the yoke from moving forward in the frame. The next significant changes for shooters were drilling and tapping the top strap for optics which was accompanied by the dash number increasing to 4, then elimination of square butts during dash 4 production. Neither were good or bad for everyone. They are relevant if will you want to mount optics or like traditional square butts. Next came an important change that is seldom mentioned in collector books. Approximately 1997 square cornered lands and grooves cut with broachs were superseded by rounded corner lands and grooves made by eroding away metal with electricity. Whether it is as easy to find accurate lead bullet loads with the modern rifling remains controversial. Are you getting good results with cast bullets in your 620 and other modern S&Ws or will you only shoot jacketed bullets?

I hope this helped you pick a grail 6" 66.

Last edited by k22fan; 01-05-2017 at 07:01 PM.
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Old 01-06-2017, 12:22 AM
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No one has mentioned the problems with an expanding gas ring tying up early M-66's. When writer Massad Ayoob blew the whistle on this, he was not too popular around S&W, but the revelation got us a revision that eliminated the problem.


I think it occurred only with .357 ammo. The heat of .38 cartridges didn't stall the cylinders rotating as they should. If your gun did jam with .38 ammo, please tell us here.


Bill Jordan told me in person that he envisioned using K-frame Magnums only some 10-15% of the time with full loads. And avoid hot loads with bullets of 125 grains or lighter. If you stay within these guidelines, a M-19, 66, etc. will last well.

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Old 01-06-2017, 04:20 AM
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The 6 inch barrel option didn't come along until 1978, during the dash 1 production, and the loss of pinned and recessed began in 1982 at the dash 2 production. The gas ring problem mentioned by Texas Star had been fixed by the intro of the 6 inch barrel..

I bought 2 of them when I was first hired as a peace officer, the first one in 1981 and the second early in 1983. One had a white outline rear sight, the other didn't so I added one.

It seemed that very few of the Model 66's shipped with Target hammers and triggers, especially if compared to 6 inch Model 19's. I added the wide, smooth "Combat" trigger to mine. The target hammers and triggers used on stainless guns at the time are just flash chromed for appearance sake. Loose target triggers seem easier to find in silver finish than do hammers, but both can be found with some looking. Lots of folks swapped them into their guns.

The MIM trigger began towards the end of the 66-4 run and the MIM hammer was added at the 66-5 mark.

Looks like shinbone should be looking for a 66-1 through 66-4 gun.

As a rookie cop and gun nut/S&W enthusiast, I tried out a lot of guns, K, L and N framers, 3-1/2 to 6 inch barrels and always came back to the 6 inch M-66. It seemed to provide me the optimum in controllability and reduced muzzle flash while not feeling like it was adding any extra weight on my belt over a 4 inch gun.

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Old 01-06-2017, 08:16 AM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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K22fan, TS and Buff - Thanks for the additional info.

I do see some 66 no-dash's on the big auction site with 6" barrels. Does that mean they were special order guns, or have had their barrels replaced?

Last edited by shinbone; 01-06-2017 at 08:18 AM.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:44 AM
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I want a 6" barrel gun and I strongly dislike the full underlug the 6" 686's always seem to have. This seems to be leading me to a M66 as my only option. I would love to have a 686 6" with half-lug barrel, but, sadly, I don't think S&W has ever made such a gun. Also, for aesthetic reasons, I am not interested in any models with the internal lock when a non-IL version is available.
You could always get a gunsmith to grind off the underlug on a 686.

As far as engineering changes go I like my 66-2 but doubt I would notice the difference between a 66-0 and 66-3.
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Old 01-06-2017, 09:52 AM
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I too, have seen a handful of 6" 66 no dashes. The earliest I recall seeing had a 9K serial number, so it was most definitely towards the end of the the no dash era (1975-76 ish).

I was never able to nab a 6" 66-0 myself, however I did find a super nice, NIB, 66-1 w/6" barrel from 1979. It actually has the 6 1/8" barrel that was mentioned in the SCSW 4. It has a great feel in my hand, very similar to my 4" 66-0 with stainless sights. Can't decide which one I like better. I prefer the pinned/recessed models as well. Good luck on your hunt.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:11 AM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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It actually has the 6 1/8" barrel that was mentioned in the SCSW 4.
Dkrueger17 - Beautiful M66 you have!

What's up with a 6-1/8" barrel!? I thought a 6" barrel was a 6.0" barrel. Why the extra 1/8"? Any benefits or detriments to such guns? Or, is it just a minor variation with no real effect on anything?


.

Last edited by shinbone; 01-06-2017 at 10:17 AM.
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Old 01-06-2017, 10:53 AM
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Thank you. As per the SCSW 4, they mention a small grouping of 6" 66-1's from 1978-79 that were made with 6 1/8" barrels. Why you may ask? I'm not sure...perhaps a slip in production?
They also say most standard 6" S&W barrels are actually closer to 5 7/8". They claim that the 6 1/8" barreled 66's are worth a slight premium, but I have not seen any evidence nor proof to back that up as of yet. I just simply like 66's!
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Old 01-06-2017, 12:05 PM
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There are several md 66 on Gunbroker now from $669 up.

Good luck
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Old 01-06-2017, 12:48 PM
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If you're a cast bullet shooter like me get a earlier one . The newer EDM rifled barrels shoot jacketed bullets better than cast . If you're going to shoot mainly full pressure loads skip the K frame & get an L frame .
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Old 01-06-2017, 03:57 PM
shinbone shinbone is offline
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I sure am learning alot on this thread! Thanks for all the input.

I handloaded with my Dad when I was a kid. He loaded for handguns, and I loaded for rifles usg an RCBS Rockchucler press. I have been thinking about gettingin back into handloading, but, for now, I just buy cheap bulk ammo to practice and plink, which is usually lead bullets. 99% of the shooting will be with .38 special loads, but in the field, where it counts, the gun will be sighted for and loaded with .357 magnums.
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:29 PM
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The 6 inch Model 66 dash nothings guns very probably had original shorter 4 inch barrels replaced with 6 inchers post-purchase. At the time, ANY Model 66 was hard to find. The factory would do swaps and there were a surprising number of loose 6 inch barrels floating around after they had been in production for a few years.

One of my coworkers found a 6 inch barrel and our department "armorer" installed it, clamping them in unprotected vise jaws. Coworker was pissed but the "armorer" was a lieutenant, so what could he do?
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Old 01-06-2017, 07:45 PM
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To the op's question, 66-4 , than the 66-5. while the five has the MIM parts, I do like the firing pin in the frame. if I had a choice I wouldget the -5 and get a new non-MIM trigger. Hey wait that's what I did. for only $45 and a little fitting , I got what I wanted.
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