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Digging the S&W 69 and 66-8

92G

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Will preface by stating I have had nothing but problems with modern production S&W revolvers. Both 686's had to go back to S&W for extensive work, as did the 627, 640, 327 and so forth. Ultimately I got rid of each S&W revolver for various reasons. The older S&W revolvers are built to exquisite standards, but modern ones not so much. This is why I'm thrilled with the model 69 and 66-8...they feel and shoot like S&W's built 20 years ago.

Model 69:

In Fall 2016 I became enamored by the S&W Model 69 "combat magnum" chambered in 44 mag. The idea of shooting 44 mag through an L frame got me excited. Had Carl at Four Seasons order me one. Upon inspection everything looked kosher. Barrel was clocked properly. Cylinder gap was a snug 0.004" throughout. Lockup felt perfect. Trigger was very smooth, substantially better than most modern factory S&W builds. The model 69 has now seen just under 500 rds of 44 magnum. Everything from full power to light cowboy action loads. It's a bit on the snappy side but that's to be expected given only 37 oz. weight. The accuracy is phenomenal. On par or better than any 629. Perhaps this is due to the new 2 piece tensioned barrel design.

Model 66-8:

After having so much fun with the Model 69, I asked Carl to order me a 66-8 "combat magnum" chambered in 357. Sure enough, this one was built just a nicely as the Model 69, but the 66-8 is a bit more slender due to the K frame. The brushed stainless finish is more my style than the usual shiny stainless S&W finish. On first range trip I decided to compare my 686-6 (that had professional trigger job) to the new 66-8. Simply put: no contest. The model 66's bore sat lower in my hand and pointed more naturally. Perceived blast was also less, which I attribute again to the snug cylinder gap. After first range trip with the 66-8, the 686 went straight to consignment. The 66-8 is now at ~600 rds of flawless function. Accuracy is stellar. Now I can see why so many people are snobs about their old model 66's.

Anyone considering a new production 357 or 44 revolver should consider the Model 66-8/69, and this is coming from someone who has zero faith in most current S&W builds.

Pics for your viewing pleasure:

IMG_3749.jpg IMG_3750.jpg IMG_3751.jpg IMG_3754.jpg
 
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I was just about too post asking about this. I was trying too choose between a M66 Combat Magnum In .357 or a 686 (both new production). I'm guessing you would strongly suggest the m66?
 

92G

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I was just about too post asking about this. I was trying too choose between a M66 Combat Magnum In .357 or a 686 (both new production). I'm guessing you would strongly suggest the m66?

there are objective and subjective differences between the new production 66 vs 686. the biggest difference is the frame size. the model 66 K-frame for me points much better and the bore sits lower in my hand. i much prefer the way it points and shoots. i'm not alone in this group. seems many people feel this way.

the 66 is lighter and cylinder substantially thinner. so if cylinder width is an issue the M66 wins.

the guns are also built very differently. the 686 is the typical 1-piece barrel design. the 66 is a sleeved barrel. many complain about the newer design but personally i find it superior. my theory is the sleeved barrel design allows the unskilled labor at S&W to build a gun correctly. unlike current production 686's that have canted barrels and widely erratic cylinder gaps, the M66 models seem much more consistent.

the issue the rep308 is bringing up about 686's being more reliable appears to be historically true due to the K frame's forcing cone being a bit thinner especially on the bottom of the cone. for the current M66's this is not an issue. the M66 also now uses the crane ball-detent lockup rather than the more traditional ejector rod lockup.

personally i would go with the 66 over 686 all day long. for me it's a no-contest. everyone who shoots my M66 falls in love w it.

- - - Updated - - -

I think the 686 is tougher for heavy loads but the 66 is a better looking gun. I have both and a GP 100 when I really want to shoot heavy .357

yes historically this seems to be the case but the current M66 does not use the older 66 forcing cone. the new model is beefy and i suspect very strong. in terms of GP100, i put some heavy underwood loads through mine and immediately noticed increased cylinder endshake, peening all over the ratchet and now appears out of timing. it's heading back to ruger. so while the GP100's are thick and beefy, i'm no longer convinced they're all the much more "durable". i think their cast steel and mim'ed parts are somewhat shitty. i still dig the GP100 and love the way it shoots.
 

M1911

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After having so much fun with the Model 69, I asked Carl to order me a 66-8 "combat magnum" chambered in 357. Sure enough, this one was built just a nicely as the Model 69, but the 66-8 is a bit more slender due to the K frame. The brushed stainless finish is more my style than the usual shiny stainless S&W finish. On first range trip I decided to compare my 686-6 (that had professional trigger job) to the new 66-8. Simply put: no contest. The model 66's bore sat lower in my hand and pointed more naturally. Perceived blast was also less, which I attribute again to the snug cylinder gap. After first range trip with the 66-8, the 686 went straight to consignment. The 66-8 is now at ~600 rds of flawless function. Accuracy is stellar. Now I can see why so many people are snobs about their old model 66's.

I do like my K-frames. I've got 3 of them.
 

jhrosier

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I bought a M69 when they first came out.
I had high expectations for it as a kit gun.
I quickly found that it has the worst trigger of any gun that I ever picked up...totally unusable in double action and barely tolerable in single action.
It caused me to swear off new S&Ws forever...wouldn't wish it on an enemy.

I need to find a nice older 629 Mountain Gun, or maybe the New Ruger GP100 in 44 spl.

Jack
 

92G

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I bought a M69 when they first came out.
I had high expectations for it as a kit gun.
I quickly found that it has the worst trigger of any gun that I ever picked up...totally unusable in double action and barely tolerable in single action.
It caused me to swear off new S&Ws forever...wouldn't wish it on an enemy.

I need to find a nice older 629 Mountain Gun, or maybe the New Ruger GP100 in 44 spl.

Jack

sorry to hear your model 69 was no bueno. what was bad about the trigger? gritty? heavy?

interesting you had such issue because my model 69 has a fantastic trigger in both DA and SA. the DA pull is heavy but has lightened up nicely after extensive dry firing. super smooth 10# pull. the SA trigger breaks like glass.

- - - Updated - - -

For me it's going to be the 69 in 23/4".

those of you interested in the M69 in 2.75" barrel, it's going to recoil like a SOB w full power 44 mag. if i were going with this shorter barrel model I would send the gun to magnaport for sure. this dude had his M69 quadri-ported, which I would consider doing even on the 4.25" model. the shorter barrel is going to be a bastard to shoot.

 
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jhrosier

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sorry to hear your model 69 was no bueno. what was bad about the trigger? gritty? heavy?......

The trigger goes from two fingers to pull it through simply locking up solid.
Smith seems to have lost the ability to make revolvers. Since it is not allowed to drop a gun off at the factory for repairs, sending it back through a FFL is too expensive to justify.

I have a few other S&W revolvers that are fine guns, including a couple of L frames. I can't even imagine how they Eff'd the M69 up so bad.

Jack
 

92G

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agree S&W production quality is in toilet. however the two piece barrel designs such as 66 and 69 seem to be doing well. perhaps the early models were crappy (often the case), but current ones seem good to go. this is reason why i almost never purchase brand new designs. i wait at least 6 months for them to figure out what they screwed up.

The trigger goes from two fingers to pull it through simply locking up solid.

not understanding this.
 

StevieP

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20161121_150709.jpgmodel66.jpg

Love my Model 66-8. If you're looking for a holster, check out Simply Rugged. I got the Sourdough Pancake (w/ retention strap), and their most valuable pouch to carry an extra six rounds in a "quickstrip."

At least for the model 66, the holster is sized properly for this new K-frame 4.25" model. I really like the oxblood color (vs black or tan).
 
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Going to be trying out both the 66 and 686 at the employee range tonight. I have a feeling I'm going to go with the 66, but at least I can try them before ordering
 

92G

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To the OP.

Are these PC guns or just standard guns?

Don

standard. they havent yet offered a new production PC 66 or 69. however having owned a fee PC guns the triggers on my 66/69 are on par w a PC trigger. a bit heavier but equally as smooth.
 

dcmdon

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Interesting, thanks.

I have a 66-2 that I picked up very cheap about 15 years ago. ($350 with 900 rounds of .357 hollow point). It was an ex-pd gun. Carried a lot, shot a little. It sat in my safe for 10 years until about 5 years ago I sent it off to Richard Fletcher, revolversmith extraordinaire, who turned it into something amazing.

Here's a before shot, its the one on the bottom right:



And here are a couple of after shots. The roll mark is not crooked like it looks in the photo.





 

92G

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looks great. i like the work he did on the trigger face. is the frame bead blasted? looks very sharp. i prefer the matte finish over the usual shiny stainless.
 
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So I got the chance to try out the 66-8 today. I only put 100 rounds in it, but overall I agree with the OP's assessment, the trigger is actually quite good and accuracy was amazing. In fact, the double action pull was way smoother than I expected.
 

M1911

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So I got the chance to try out the 66-8 today. I only put 100 rounds in it, but overall I agree with the OP's assessment, the trigger is actually quite good and accuracy was amazing. In fact, the double action pull was way smoother than I expected.

It will be even better with a trigger job from a good gun plumber.
 
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