GUN TESTS GRADE: A
We wonder if, perhaps, the most commonly carried revolver of all time hasn’t been one of the small, J-Frame Smith & Wesson revolvers. Frequently chambered in 38 Special, with 1.875- to 3-inch barrels, these little pistols make a great self-defense or backup pistol. But we wouldn’t want to have to rely on one for bear defense. We wholeheartedly admit that a 38 Special beats a sharp stick, but we would prefer something a bit more substantial in that case. We sometimes see folks trying to shoehorn bear-capable cartridges into a little bitty revolver, which would also not be our first choice.
|Action Type||DA/SA revolver, hammer fired|
|Overall Length||12.1 in.|
|Overall Height||6.1 in.|
|Maximum Width||1.71 in.|
|Weight Unloaded||49.6 oz.|
|Weight Loaded||54.5 oz. with six 180-grain FMJs and moon clip|
|Cylinder Material||Stainless steel|
|Slide Retraction Effort||N/A|
|Receiver Material||Stainless steel|
|Front Strap Height||2.5 in.|
|Back Strap Height||4.4 in.|
|Barrel Length||6.5 in.|
|Grip Thickness (Maximum)||1.25 in.|
|Grip Circumference||5.4 in.|
|Rear Sight||Adjustable white outline|
|Front Sight||Black replaceable|
|Sight Radius||8.3 in.|
|Trigger Pull Weight Double Action||11.6 lbs.|
|Trigger Pull Weight Single Action||4.6 lbs.|
|Trigger Span Double Action||4.0 in.|
|Trigger Span Single Action||3.5 in.|
|Safety||Hammer bar and action lock|
|Warranty||1-year limited warranty, non-transferrable|
|Made In||U.S.A., Massachusetts|
We understand the utility for this kind of concept for those who are going to “carry it a lot and shoot it a little.” We, however, like to practice with things. People tend to not practice with things that cause them considerable pain. Recoil can certainly do that, and weight is one of the best mitigators of recoil. We like weight in our big bores. The 10mm may not epitomize the term “big bore” in most eyes, but the Buffalo Bore 220-grain bullets at more than 1200 fps can get your attention. We like the weight out front on this revolver.
Our Smith & Wesson decoder ring confirms that the “6” prefix, as in Model 610, means that the handgun is made from stainless steel and there is most of 3 pounds of it in this revolver. Everything is in a satin finish that makes the 610 look like it is ready to head for the wet of Alaska right now. The barrel on our sample is 6.5 inches long and has the full underlug. This moves the balance more forward toward the muzzle and reduces muzzle flip. In the scheme of things, that means the 610 will recoil less, allowing for more comfortable shooting and faster follow up shots. The 6.5-inch barrel also creates a long sight radius, further aiding with accuracy. The top strap is already tapped and drilled in case the shooter wants to go all the way and mount some kind of optic.
The S&W 610 wheelgun ships with an adjustable rear sight mounted along with a plain-black ramped front sight. The front blade is held in its slot via a lateral roll pin. We found a number of replacement sights available at Brownells.com if plain old black is not your thing.
This is a round-butt N-frame revolver, which means the frame and the cylinder are both big. That also means lots of meat in the cylinder walls to handle those buffalo-stomper loads. The front edge of that big cylinder is chamfered for easy holstering. In fact, almost every forward-facing surface is rounded off in some way to ease handling. Because the Model 610 is designed for a semi-auto-type rimless cartridge that headspaces on the case mouth, moon clips must be used. Three are included in the box. If you are going to make the most use of your 610, do yourself a favor and buy the setup to load your moon clips and remove the empties after firing. Shooting sessions will be a lot more fun. We secured some extra moon clips made by Ranch Products (RanchProducts.com) as well as a moon-clip extractor tool through MidwayUSA.com. The moon clips require a bit more effort to set up, but finding your empties is sure a lot easier.
The hammer and the trigger are both wide, with the trigger having a smooth face and the hammer spur being checkered. Required trigger compression was a bit more than 11 pounds for double action and 5 pounds for single action. Both DA and SA pulls were smooth and crisp, just a bit heavy.
The longer barrel of the S&W 610 provided some extra velocity as well as more sight radius, which helped make this firearm the most accurate in our test, even if just by a small amount. It beat out the SIG Tacops by an average of 0.17 inch per group. One of the important things to remember about revolvers is that, while their ammo capacity may be smaller than most semi-autos, they don’t care what kind of ammo you put in them. You can put six different kinds of ammo in this revolver and it won’t matter. If something does go wrong, just pull the trigger again. But nothing went wrong with our sample. Function was flawless. With the 6.5-inch barrel, muzzle velocity and, therefore, muzzle energy was the highest of the firearms in this test. This would be a very interesting piece on which to mount a scope and then to use as a primary hunting arm. It really liked the 200-grain PMC ammo, averaging just 0.77 inch for the three five-shot groups.
Our Team Said: The Smith & Wesson 610 was very accurate and did a great job of taming the recoil from the heavier loads. We would love to wring this pistol out with a nice scope mounted on it.
|Remington 155-grain Hog Hunter||Colt Delta Elite||SIG Sauer Tacops||S&W Model 610||Springfield XD-M 10|
|Average Velocity||1212 fps||1200 fps||1250 fps||1228 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||506 ft.-lbs.||495 ft.-lbs.||538 ft.-lbs.||519 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||1.68 in.||1.36 in.||1.65 in.||1.33 in.|
|Average Group||1.94 in.||1.75 in.||1.85 in.||2.03 in.|
|MagTech 180-grain FMJ||Colt Delta Elite||SIG Sauer Tacops||S&W Model 610||Springfield XD-M 10|
|Average Velocity||1214 fps||1193 fps||1231 fps||1210 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||589 ft.-lbs.||569 ft.-lbs.||606 ft.-lbs.||585 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||1.61 in.||1.49 in.||1.07 in.||1.49 in.|
|Average Group||1.93 in.||1.80 in.||1.49 in.||1.78 in.|
|PMC 200-grain FMJ||Colt Delta Elite||SIG Sauer Tacops||S&W Model 610||Springfield XD-M 10|
|Average Velocity||1011 fps||997 fps||1019 fps||1017 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||454 ft.-lbs.||441 ft.-lbs.||461 ft.-lbs.||459 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||1.37 in.||0.95 in.||0.57 in.||0.97 in.|
|Average Group||1.83 in.||1.30 in.||0.77 in.||1.17 in.|
|Buffalo Bore 220-grain Hard Cast||Colt Delta Elite||SIG Sauer Tacops||S&W Model 610||Springfield XD-M 10|
|Average Velocity||1189 fps||1166 fps||1236 fps||1200 fps|
|Muzzle Energy||691 ft.-lbs.||664 ft.-lbs.||747 ft.-lbs.||704 ft.-lbs.|
|Best Group||1.80 in.||0.95 in.||0.77 in.||1.27 in.|
|Average Group||1.94 in.||1.19 in.||1.25 in.||1.85 in.|