October 20, 2021

Smith & Wesson Model 64-5 Review

Smith & Wesson Model 64-5

Tried and True

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On the ever-growing list of “dream guns” that I have, the Model 10 had been on the top of it for the longest time, probably within the first couple months of me gaining an interest in the hobby. Early on in 2017 I was lucky enough to find a Model 64-5, which is essentially a stainless steel Model 10. The “-5” indicates that this particular Model 64 has a heavy barrel.

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I’ve grown to love this old Smith more than I had anticipated and I have to say… everyone should have a revolver in their collection. If you’re interested in a little bit of history on the model and not the review, go ahead and scroll down to the end!

Revolver Overview

To start things off… I have no “what you get in the box” photo, as this was a trade-in that I purchased from Southern Ohio Gun, but as far as I know you at least got the revolver in the box when you bought it. That aside, I’ll run down some of the specs for you:

Barrel Length: 4 Inches
Overall Length: 8.9 Inches
Height: ~6 Inches
Width: ~1.6 Inches
Weight: ~37 Ounces
Frame/Cylinder Material: Stainless Steel
Frame Type: K-Frame
Caliber: .38 Special
Capacity: 6

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The Review

With this being my first revolver… I want to say for those that haven’t shot or owned one that it is a completely different animal to learn compared to semi-auto pistols. The ergonomics are all around different, how you hold them has to be different (because…powder burns), and the triggers are…for lack of better words, precise.

It also seems that revolvers are inherently more accurate than what us semi-auto shooters are accustomed to. This is probably due to the fact that its a fixed barrel that doesn’t rely on blow-back for functioning. The only two real downsides I see with revolvers are sort of obvious for most… you can’t change the sights out (typically) and you’re limited in capacity.

First I’ll hit on the ergonomics. Initially the Model 64-5 felt odd in the hand. It balanced awkwardly and the grip was completely different from anything else I had ever handled. Not flipping the cylinder out like a cowboy in the old westerns was hard not to do. But like that weird tasting snack you inhale, I couldn’t put it down. In time the feel of the grip felt like home, dry running a reload became easier, and the hammer didn’t feel as aggressive when I would cock it back. What I’m getting at is… the Model 64-5 (and maybe all revolvers) are like a fine wine and are a taste you have to acquire.

Before we get to how it shoots, lets talk about the trigger.. In double action there isn’t any take-up and there is no stacking. In single action there’s just break. I would say that the double action is around 8-9lbs and the single action pull is…immeasurable with how light it is.

As far as performance goes, the S&W Model 64-5 has been near flawless. It has shot every brand of plinking ammo (such as American Eagle 158gr) without issue, however, I have gotten 4-5 light primer strikes/hard primers while shooting 110gr Hornady Critical Defense. I do believe the ammo was the cause of the malfunction, as I didn’t run into anything similar with other loads.

The S&W Model 64-5 has been very soft shooting and right off the bat I was getting tighter 5-shot groupings with it at 7 yards than I was comparatively with the semi-autos I had the same time in with. The only real issue I encountered was that it was shooting a little bit lower; this was probably user induced though since I had never shot a revolver in the past.

I came into the revolver world expecting that I wouldn’t like it and that this would just become a “safe queen”. As I said in the intro…that isn’t the case. I have taken to the Smith & Wesson 64-5 quite a bit and I do plan on expanding the collection as time goes. If you’ve never considered a revolver before, I do think that you should at least try one the next time you get the chance. They aren’t only fun to shoot, but an invaluable training gun.

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 A Brief History:

As I previous mentioned  the Smith & Wesson Model 64 is the stainless steel version of the Model 10, both of which are K-Frame .38Spl revolvers produced by Smith & Wesson. Since the Model 64 is the offspring of the Model 10, I will be primarily focusing on the history of the Smith & Wesson Model 10. The Model 10 has been made in barrel sizes ranging from 2″ all the way up to 6.5″ and the Model 64 has been available in 2, 3, 4, and 6″ (the 6″ Model 64s seem to be rare though).

The Model 10 which was previously known as the S&W .38 Hand Ejector of 1899, S&W Military and Police, or as the S&W Victory Model was designed in 1899, began production in 1899, and was issued by the United States military starting in 1899. This revolver was originally chambered in .38 Long Colt but was soon changed to .38S&W (now known as .38 Special) after reports of the .38LC being a relatively ineffective cartridge. It is important to note, that since its introduction the Model 10 has undergone various changes and was not officially called the Model 10 until the 1950s.

The Smith & Wesson Model 10 has an extensive list of service by the United States military (and a bunch of other countries around the world including but not limited to: Australia, Britain, and Canada) and was used in the following notable conflicts (some in limited use, but still issued to some): World War 1, Irish War of Independence, World War 2, Korean War, Vietnam War, and the Gulf War.

It wasn’t until 1970 that the Model 64 was created (it is worth noting that the Vietnam War was still on going) and was quickly adopted by police agencies that were located in climates with high humidity, or areas that the threat of corrosion was a large issue. An interesting fact about the S&W Model 64 is that it was the first stainless steel revolver approved for use by the NYPD and the last revolver approved for use by the NYPD.

There have been a multitude of Model 10 variants that have been produced from 1899 and a fair number of variants produced of the Model 64, each one having some form of advancement that has remained until today, or some type of enhancement (such as a heavy barrel) that only lasted for a couple of years. Do you have a Model 10 or Model 64? Which variant do you have? Are there any that you’re wanting to get your hands on for your personal collection?

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