OK, another chapter in Huey’s old gun rescue has started. First we had the Mosin, M1, 870 and P3AT that were all given a new lease on life by yours truly. Now, another veteran shooter comes into the fold…introducing the 1981 S&W Model 64-3 .38spl +P Revolver with 4” barrel…
S&W Model 64-3, 1981 vintage
It’s a great gun. Picked it up for a really good price at Vance’s in Columbus as they just got a bunch of police trade pistols in. I believe J&G Surplus has these for the same price ($279 for the Model 64 (stainless) and $249 for the Model 10 (blued)). Some of you may be asking just why in the hell did I get one of these. Well, to tell you the truth because I think revolvers are cool. I used to own a few and a moment of bad judgment caused me to let them go (I really miss that Ruger Security-Six in .357), I regret that. Revolvers have a “cool” factor that other guns don’t have. It’s like when I see a police officer these days with a wheelgun as his duty sidearm. You know he probably had a choice to get a Glock, Sig or other semi and chose that war club as his protection. Fear the man that takes a revolver to a gun fight, he is probably not worried about missing too much if he only carries 6 rounds in his pistol (my take on a Cooper classic). Also, revolvers give you that sense of comfort with a design as well tried and tested (as with the S&W K frames, which the Model 64 is) as the revolver. It just works. Its action is deceivingly simple…just drop bullets in the chambers of the cylinder and pull the trigger. Nothing fancy but it works.
This particular Model 64 was made in 1981 (I found a table on the I’net with serial number series info) and is technically the 64-3 model, which means that the barrel is of a heavy profile and not the slimmer version found on earlier ones. The 64 is still made today and can be had for a MSRP price somewhere North of $600 (see what a great value it is at the price I got it at). It came with fixed sights (the front post had been painted orange) and Pachmary grips, which were as close as these things came to being “tactical” in their time. Both the heavy barrel and Pachmary grips helped tame the recoil from the hot +P loads of 158gr rounds these things traditionally were fed for duty use. It is a normal double action design with the ability to be cocked for single action fire, although most officers would only of used the safer double action mode. It holds 6 rounds of .38 special ammo and is rated for +P loads – obviously since I already mentioned that. The weapon has no manual safety, of course, and it was made back before S&W even had any inclination to put key locks on their guns. It does have a firing pin block that makes sure that the firing pin is held off of the primer of the round under it until the trigger is pulled fully rearward. The trigger squeeze is not bad, but it is long..which is a primary safety on the revolver to begin with.
The “-3” portion of the model number meant a heavy barrel profile, to help tame recoil by adding mass to the pistol and also extend duty lifespan on the weapon.
Pachmayr grips came on this particular gun, popular during the revolvers heyday they are a welcome addition to the purchase.
The pistol has obviously seen some serious holster use as is evidenced by the numerous scratches and marks on the exterior finish. Despite that its in really good shape. The cylinder face is smooth and unmarred by carbon or brushes, the forcing cone has fairly good edges and no cutting is evident on the top strap (common in K frames that are able to shoot hotter .357 loads but also somewhat relevant to indicate if the previous owner used +P rounds constantly), the firing pin hole has crisp edges and the barrel is very shiny with good rifling. Overall a great find in my book.
Here are some pics that you can see the exterior surface condition hides a very solid shooter underneath…
The sights are basic, just a front ramp (painted orange on this pistol) and a square notch machined directly onto the frame. These guns are generally known for shooting POA/POI with normal loads for the majority of shooters and this pistol was no exception. With the smooth trigger I was able to put most rounds into a 5” circle at about 7 yards without any fuss shooting both single and double action…with single being the definitely more accurate option of the two. Recoil was very manageable with 130gr PMC standard pressure loads, which is to be expected.
Sights are nothing fancy but they work well on a duty piece like this..
No world class shooter here, but I think I would be hard pressed to find a bad guy with a center mass smaller than this circle that I would have to worry about hitting….
Like any defensive firearm, your choice of ammo is as important as the type and caliber of weapon you choose. While the .38 special is rather anemic in its performance in the range in which most target ammo is found (120 – 140 grain with either a round nose or wadcutter profile moving at around 850 fps) the hotter +P round that the model 64 is designed to digest can be a potent man stopper. Matter of fact, its ended the careers of many a criminal in the hands of law enforcement officers in this and the past century. I picked up a box of Winchester Silvertip 125 gr. +P rounds for it and an HKS speed loader “just in case”. Having a gun with no ammo is like having little more than a hammer to defend yourself with…and maybe even less than that!
PMC 130gr target ammo in the brass case and Winchester 125gr. +P HP rounds in the silver colored cartridges…looks like I am the Lone Ranger there…
Did a little video review of it on my iPhone with iMovie for YouTube….
So overall, I think this was a good purchase. Didn’t break the bank, reliable, good condition and can be used to have fun with at the range or as a reliable defender in m home if need be. Give an old gun a new life people, you (probably) won’t be sorry you did.