Smith&Wesson Model 66 what can it "digest"?

Discussion in 'Revolver Handguns' started by bluez, Oct 14, 2019.

  1. bluez

    bluez Well-Known Member

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    A buddy of mine recently bought himself a Model 66, 4 inch.
    Its a gorgeous gun in perfect shape.. almost LNIB.. turnline is very very faint.
    I'd guess less than 100 rds thru it.

    Its a prelock so I guess its pre mid 90s?

    He knows that these revolvers are marked as .357 Magnum... he also knows unlike the 686 or the GP100 that they are know to wear hard if fed a lot of full power .357 Mag Ammo and that training is supposed to be in 38SPC with these Kframes.

    He has some 38SPC in 130 gr +P on hand but not a lot..

    So his question to me as his usual gun-guy is (which I cant answer on my own). what kind of 357 Magnum ammo is safe not just for carry, but also if he wants to train hard and put 200-300 rds thru it in an afternoon.

    ...most of his Ammo stock is this 142 gr Fiocchi Ammo which claims 1420 fps and 636 ftlbs of energy (not sure reference barrel length ..probably long)
    He has plenty of it.
    https://www.midwayusa.com/product/100024278

    But I know this ammo.. It may not be the hottest factory load you can buy but its definitely up there and pretty hot.

    Question he has is this Ammo safe to shoot in volume out of his Model 66?
    Not for carry but just for training...
    Or should he spend money for 38 SPC and/or a milder training 357 Mag (if so which ones? perhaps a 158gr thats slower and the longer bullet will reduce the flame hitting the FC? )

    What do you guys think?
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  2. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's certainly safe to shoot. However, full .357 ammo in any flavor will "shoot it loose" in short order. Best to practice with .38 specs in a K frame.

    That was the main reason S&W brought out the L frame.

    BTW, the model 66 is simply a stainless version of the Model 19.
     
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  3. bluez

    bluez Well-Known Member

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    So even if he just just a box of that Fiocchi it would not be a good idea?
    He is itching to shoot his gun..

    Any mild 357 Mag that are safe to shoot? But that still deserve the name 357 Mag?
     
  4. rock185

    rock185 Active Member

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    My model 66 was made in 1972. I carried it every working day, and shot the heck out of it recreationally for several years, using mostly Magnum ammo. It was/is a good old gun, and nothing ever broke, forcing cone didn't crack,etc. But I finally had to send it back to S&W to have it overhauled. The only remaining original parts are the frame, side plate and rear sight. I still have the old gun. It has led an easy life since overhaul because after it's return, I soon began carrying and shooting the, then new, L-Frame revolvers. So I consider the 66 safe/can "digest" any quality factory Magnum ammo, but would prefer the L or N-Frame S&Ws were I to resume shooting a lot of Magnum ammo on a regular basis.
    66, 1972 (11).JPG
     
    Last edited: Oct 25, 2019
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  5. locutus

    locutus Well-Known Member Supporter

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    A box or ten of .357 won;t shoot the gun loose. But 100-150 rounds per week of full power .357, and it will need re-building in a year or so.

    Tell your friend to shoot up his existing stockpile of ammo and enjoy.
     
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  6. bluez

    bluez Well-Known Member

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    Thanks a bunch fellas! :D
     
  7. Sniper03

    Sniper03 Supporting Member Supporter

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    I have experience with the Model 66 Smiths as does Rock and Locutus.
    And a continuous diet of Duty 357 Mag ammo and in what I consider an excessive amount will damage the gun. The Crane can loosed due to the damage causing possible other issues. I also carried one for years on Duty! Being an
    LE Firearms Instructor and Armorer for years I have seen it happen.
    IMO, it is senseless to think you have to shoot an abundance of Duty 357 Magnum rounds for practice and training. Serves no logical sense when 38 SPC Rounds are fine for training and accomplish the same results. In fact better because the person training does not have to experience the extra recoil exposure. Which can cause bad habits like pre-anticipation and flinching. And the person not enjoying nor benefiting from the training time due to what they are experiencing. Not to mention shooting a excessive amount of full 357 Magnum rounds, I have seen the Web of the Shooting Hand with full power 357 Magnum loads split the skin between the thumb and the index finger from exposure to the recoil of many rounds. At the Metro we shot enough 357 Magnum rounds to keep proficient and also maintain our Qualification Courses. But for normal training we used 38 Special Rounds and also 38 Spec. Wadcutters because they were less expensive and were loaded locally by a ammunition manufacturer. As I said this is my opinion.;)

    03
     
  8. SGWGunsmith

    SGWGunsmith Well-Known Member Supporter

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    It's really a waste of money and velocity to shoot .357 Magnum rounds out of the Model 66, especially the 2½ inch version. OK, if you want to light up the night, start the charcoal in your grill going, or severely burn an adversary.
    Yes, a steady diet of magnum rounds will loosen up these fine revolvers. Mine is relegated to .38 Special rounds with 125 to 150 grain bullets, but I don't find that +P or +P+ provide any sort of advantage as the shorter barrel doesn't allow the velocities, but the 4-inch might be much more willing to take on .357 Magnum rounds, at least on some occasions:

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Oct 16, 2019
  9. Sniper03

    Sniper03 Supporting Member Supporter

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    SGW
    I am envious! That is ONE FINE LOOKING REVOLVER. Rosewood Grips and all! I was assuming it is Stainless? If so, obviously a little bit of Semi Chrome!:D
    I had a Model 66 I did that too and it looked like Chrome!:) I like that gun!

    03
     
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  10. bluez

    bluez Well-Known Member

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    Thanks fellas.
    Again his stash of 38SPC is under 200 rds.
    His stash of 357 Magnum is some GP100 only loads (which this gun will never see) and the Fiocchi 142 grain.
    He is willing to buy some 38SPC +P to protect the gun or some milder or perhaps longer bullet .357 mag
    I think the longer bullet of a 158gr will reduce the flame hitting the forcing cone?
    or is the true issue the total energy?

    I am sensing the answers in this thread are now splitting into two schools of thought:
    - Go ahead no worries as long as he doesn't go crazy
    - Dont do it, only train with 38 SPC, period.

    Are same-energy 158 gr rounds safer due to the greater length thus greatly reducing the amount of flame hitting the forcing cone?

    PS: Some of you may recall I once cracked the forcing cone on a GP100... yes a GP100 !...this was about 4000 rds of that same Fiocchi 142 grain thru it and maybe 70 ish rounds of a home brewed (chronoed 1800 fps out of a 6 inch ,different gun but same batch), 160 gr Bear load
     
  11. sheepdawg

    sheepdawg Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The Model 66 will handle any standard 158 grain 357 load or any 38 spec. or 38 spec. +P or +P+ load. Any of the hotter 125 grain 357s is what to avoid. The forcing cone has cracked on a very few 66s because of the flat spot on the bottom of the cone and the slightly longer jump to the cone the 125 grain round makes causing flame cutting on the top. It's a good idea to keep the cone as clean as possible and check it carefully every time you clean it. It's blued brother the model 19 has more tendency for this trouble than the stainless 66.

    There are many stories of 10K plus 125 grain 357s going through 66s with no troubles. I feel this trouble is akin to the questions about low numbers m1903 rifles and the heat treatment. Many a low number 03 has had thousands of rounds shot through it, it's just I'd hate to find out the hard way.

    My 1972 66 on top with the desirable but horrible stainless sights. Belonged to Memphis Police Patrolman Larry P. Childress, shot and killed January 14, 1982 during the robbery of the residence at 5600 Shady Grove Road, Memphis Tennessee. 1972 m66 SW.jpg 1976 model 66.jpg My 1976 66 on the bottom with the absolute best trigger in the safe, sitting in Ahrends targets.
     
    Last edited: Oct 14, 2019
  12. Dakota1

    Dakota1 Well-Known Member

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    "Mild 357 Magnum is called "38 Special."
     
  13. joed49

    joed49 Member

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    The model 19/66 came about mostly from a request by Bill Jordan ( well known lawman) to S&W to come up with a lighter .357 for LE that could be carried all day by LE officers. S&W designed the model 19 to fill this need.

    It was meant to be a .38 Spl firearm that could fire .357 sparingly for duty use. S&W failed to inform buyers of this.

    Problems started to surface with the model 19s when the 125 gr .357 load became popular. Because of the higher speed of the lighter bullets they were hard on the forcing cones of these revolvers. I owned a model 19 that cracked the forcing cone from the use of hot 125 gr loads.

    The model 66 seems to hold up better and I own one of those now. But, for shooting at a range I only shoot .38 Spls and carry the .357 ammo for CCW.
     
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  14. ramjet

    ramjet Member

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    I am saying about 100 rounds of duty ammo. His choice. Then use the .38s for range time. Then carry the 125/130 grain magnums for personal defense. He should be good.
     
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  15. SGWGunsmith

    SGWGunsmith Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Thanks, it is one of my favorites. Back in the day when my Mom was still around and I had to go down to my hometown, which turned into a gangland hell-hole, I always carried this revolver. I did want to have it become clearly visible when/if it was drawn so some miscreant became aware that I was unwilling to become a victim.
    Yes, a little time with a tube of Flitz and an old T-shirt did the trick on the stainless steel.
     
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  16. SGWGunsmith

    SGWGunsmith Well-Known Member Supporter

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    The Smith & Wesson K, L, & N frame target revolvers have that unique silhouette that most everyone can recognise. When pointed in the right direction, some will even "pee with glee". :p
     
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  17. bluez

    bluez Well-Known Member

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    Wow this thread has had some energy!
     
  18. JimRau

    JimRau Well-Known Member Supporter

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    I had several 66's and one I used on duty and fired 100's of full power 357's through it and it never had ANY KIND of a problem, the same with the 19 I carried for 14 years. They are not as 'strong' as the 586/686's or the Rugers, but they will last A LONG TIME unless you try and use them daily for combative shooting. Just my experience in this area, do as you please. ;)
     
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  19. joed49

    joed49 Member

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    The model 66 is one of my favorite revolvers. No other revolver fits my hand so well, points so naturally and balances as well. They are a thing of beauty. I have a 66-5 2.5" that will probably be one of the last guns I let go. It was my favorite carry gun from the day I bought it.

    It does have short-comings but they are beautiful. Your friend snagged a good one.

    [​IMG]
     
  20. jigs-n-fixture

    jigs-n-fixture Well-Known Member Lifetime Supporter

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    I own three Mdl 66-1s with all three barrel lengths they offered in 1977-78. I was making good money, had just turned twenty-one and could buy my own handguns.

    I have shot more 158-grain magnum loads through them, than I can begin to count.

    I have had an issue with one of them, which was caused by a medium hot loading of Unique, which is one of the most temperature sensitive powders, and hot July morning in Las Vegas.

    The gun and rounds were too hot to handle without gloves, and my buddy and I shot them anyway. We both had heigh enough pressures to damage my 66, and his Python. I bulged two bores in the cylinder and cracked the forcing cone.

    The gun smith who did the repairs on mine was sure I’d double charged the reloads. So I took the rest of the box of reloads down, and we pulled bullets and measured the powder charges. All were within a tenth of a grain, and just a little more than half way between the max and min charges listed in the Sierra manual.

    Like others have said, the heavy magnum loads don’t hurt them. The light bullet loads might, if you shot a lot of them.
     
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