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!