GUN TESTS GRADE: A (OUR PICK)
The Model 617, this in its 6th design iteration, hence the “-6” in the model number, is an expensive rimfire revolver. As we studied and fired it, we found it to be a great choice, especially if you have a centerfire L-frame and want to train with less cost and recoil. This is a serious revolver for the wheelgun aficionado. This would also be a good choice for small-game hunting.
Our sample featured a bright stainless finish typically found on S&W’s other stainless revolvers. We like this finish, and it is easy to clean. The hammer, trigger, and sights are black and contrast nicely. Did we mention this is a beautiful gun? The 4-inch barrel uses a full underlug, so the 617 is a hefty revolver. At 39 ounces unloaded, this is not a lightweight 22 LR handgun.
The cylinder is fluted for all 10 chambers, making it easy to identify it as a rimfire revolver even though it looks a lot like a S&W Model 686. That’s because they use the same frame. The ejector fully dumps 22 LR cases when depressed. We had no issues dumping empties even after extended firing. All the chambers are countersunk. The front lock on the cylinder is located in the end of the ejector rod. A pin in the underlug snaps in place when the cylinder is closed.
|Action||Revolver, Double Action|
|Overall Length||9.1 in.|
|Barrel Length||4.0 in.|
|Sight Radius||5.3 in.|
|Overall Height||5.5 in.|
|Maximum Width||1.4 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||39.0 oz.|
|Weight Loaded||45.0 oz.|
|Cylinder Gap||0.010 in.|
|Frame Finish||Stainless Steel|
|Barrel/Cylinder Finish||Stainless Steel|
|Frame Front Strap Height||2.5 in.|
|Frame Back Strap Height||3.5 in.|
|Grip||Textured Finger Groove Rubber|
|Grip Thickness (max)||1.1 in.|
|Grip Circumference (max)||5.0 in.|
|Front Sight||Ramped and Pinned|
|Rear Sight||Adjustable U-notch|
|Trigger Pull Weight (DA)||13.0 lbs.|
|Trigger Pull Weight (SA)||4.9 lbs.|
|Trigger Span (DA)||3.6 in.|
|Trigger Span (SA)||3.0 in.|
The top side of the barrel is bead blasted for a matte, non-glare finish. It also wears decorative grooves on the top side. The front sight is a plain black post pinned in place, which we like. The rear sight is adjustable for windage and elevation, and if you are not familiar with S&W revolver sights, you will need to look at the manual since there is no indication for up/down nor left/right adjustment. The back bottom edge is serrated to kill glare. We would have preferred the entire shooter-facing side of the sight be serrated, not just the bottom portion.
The trigger face is smooth, and that is fine for speed shooting, except the DA trigger pull was 13 pounds. We would have liked it to be less, but it was quite serviceable. SA pull weight was just under 5 pounds, and again, we would have liked it lighter. The DA trigger pull was exceptionally smooth with no stacking. In SA mode there was no creep. This is a really good trigger, even if it is a bit on the heavy side.
The grip is S&W’s newer textured rubber with finger grooves and slight palm swell and flat butt. We like this grip. It fits average and full-size hands equally well.
Going hot, we found the 617-6 offers great accuracy. At 15 yards our best five-shot groups measured 0.78 inches with the hotter Aguila and Winchester Power-Point ammo. The milder PMC Target ammo had a best group of 0.83 inches. On average, the 617-6 shot well under one inch. This is the kind of accuracy needed for humane small-game hunting. Moving to speed shooting in DA mode, our groups opened up, and we attribute this to the heavy trigger. We did encounter a bit of splatter with the S&W, and we did note the cylinder gap measured 0.010 inches. The gap for the Ruger and Taurus measured 0.008 and 0.009, respectively.
Our Team Said: The 617-6 is a hefty, medium-sized revolver with a good trigger in both SA and DA and a large, full-size grip. It was tight and offered good accuracy. This revolver is a must-have if you own a 686 or other L-frame 4-incher. We also think this would make a great small-game hunting revolver. The cost is high, but so is the quality and performance. It’s Our Pick of the three tested here.
22 LR AND 22 WMR RANGE DATATo collect accuracy data, we fired five-shot groups from a bench using a rest. Distance: 15 yards with open sights. We recorded velocities using a ProChrono digital chronograph set 15 feet from the muzzle.
|Aguila Interceptor 22 Long Rifle 40-gr. RNS||Ruger LCRx||S&W 617-6||Taurus 922 Tracker|
|Average Velocity||1042 fps||1079 fps||1079 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||96 ft.-lbs.||103 ft.-lbs.||63 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||1.49 in.||0.78 in.||0.52 in.|
|Average Group||1.69 in.||0.83 in.||0.81 in.|
|PMC Target 22 Long Rifle 40-gr. RNS||Ruger LCRx||S&W 617-6||Taurus 922 Tracker|
|Average Velocity||804 fps||840 fps||834 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||57 ft.-lbs.||63 ft.-lbs.||62 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||0.86 in.||0.83 in.||0.40 in.|
|Average Group||1.34 in.||0.89 in.||0.69 in.|
|Winchester Power-Point 22 Long Rifle 42-gr. HP||Ruger LCRx||S&W 617-6||Taurus 922 Tracker|
|Average Velocity||1026 fps||1028 fps||1079 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||98 ft.-lbs.||99 ft.-lbs.||63 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||0.92 in.||0.78 in.||0.74 in.|
|Average Group||1.30 in.||0.96 in.||0.94 in.|
|Taurus 922 Tracker||CCI Maxi-Mag 22 Magnum 40-gr. JHP||CCI Maxi-Mag 22 Magnum 40-gr. TMJ||Federal Game Shok 22 Magnum 50-gr. JHP|
|Average Velocity||1149 fps||1160 fps||995 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||117 ft.-lbs.||120 ft.-lbs.||110 ft.-lbs.|
|Smallest Group||1.18 in.||0.64 in.||1.16 in.|
|Average Group||1.56 in.||0.73 in.||1.23 in.|