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Reviews : Arsenal

Smith & Wesson Model 66 F Comp Revolver

S&W’s Performance Center adds its techno-magic to a classic revolver design.

November 01, 2003  |  by Roy Huntington

Anyone who thinks a quality revolver is a dinosaur needs to consciously rethink his or her internal mode of operating. While I embrace new technology with the best of 'em, I also value rugged reliability, and a good revolver delivers both-in spades.

During my last two years on the San Diego Police Department, I spent my time at the Regional Training Academy as a training coordinator. The rude awakening thrust into my face during that time (the late '90s) was the fact that the majority (and I mean virtually all) of the new recruits had never shot a revolver, much less seen one in anything other than a movie. Indeed, most had never even fired a handgun, period.

Today, even experienced officers who have mastered shooting with a semi-auto may have little or even no experience with revolvers. That's a shame, and it may even be dangerous to the officer and the public.

Not a Dinosaur

When you begin to take serious looks at off-duty and backup guns, most officers favor small autos these days. However, usually, when you put "small" before auto you end up with a sub-caliber compromise and most of the small- to medium-scaled autos don't work as well as their full-sized brethren. This isn't true in all cases, but it's true in just enough cases that an ill-conceived buying decision may put an officer or others in jeopardy. Simply because "everyone else does it" doesn't mean you have to.

Yes, jeopardy. Those cute and cuddly small autos in calibers like .32 ACP, .22, .25,  and even .380 often simply deliver a false sense of security rather than a real level of preparedness. So while the dandy S&W F Comp .357 Magnum six-gun may not qualify as a "small auto," it nonetheless qualifies as a viable answer to the "which gun delivers the reliability and power I need" question, even though it nudges the largish side of medium auto size.

Most off-duty and "second" guns take a severe beating in the routine maintenance department. Most are loaded and forgotten about. Those dustballs that collect in trigger guards are not conducive to the reliable operation of autos, but a revolver will shrug them off without a bobble.
Think about it for a minute. While this article isn't intended as an "auto vs. revolver" debate, it does offer an opportunity to ask you to seriously evaluate your commitment to training, maintenance, and general skill at arms.

If you're the kind of cop who doesn't take the best care of his or her weapon, then you need to think about a wheel-gun for a backup. A revolver wins hands down on ease of maintenance. If you're the kind of cop whose idea of regular pistol maintenance is to blow out the cobwebs once a month, then you're a likely candidate for a wheel gun.

Then again, at the other end of the spectrum, if you're dedicated, believe training is vital and want only the best and most current technology, get a high-quality auto and go to work with it. But still, I'd argue the same highly motivated officer armed with a revolver like the F Comp would be just as effective. An interesting juxtaposition of ideas here, but true, nevertheless. Once again we're reminded it's the man behind the tool, not necessarily the tool, that matters.

This Tool Matters

Let's not argue the merits of a full-caliber .357 Magnum revolver. We'll assume we're all on the same page here. A solid shot to the torso with a high-quality .357 bullet pretty much ends any argument. So, with historically proven field performance and the advent of seven- and even eight-shot revolvers, suddenly wheel-guns are on par with many autos, especially in this age of 10-round magazines.

Those .357 Magnums mean serious business.

Getting back to the basics, if accurate, reliable, aimed fire is the decisive factor in any confrontation, the quality of the firearm and its ability to deliver that kind of performance should be paramount. So, to disregard a high-quality revolver just because it seems old-fashioned is to disregard logic.

That's nothing new, but why continue the sin, when simple experience with this tool might open your mind.

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Comments (1)

Displaying 1 - 1 of 1

James A. "Jim" Farmer @ 5/17/2014 12:05 PM

With a double-action police type service revolver it's still six shots for sure.
Remember: No substitute exists for accuracy. Only the shots that hit matter.
I'll keep both my Smith and Wesson (K-Frame) Model 19 and 66 "stainless"
.357 Combat Magnum revolvers with 4" barrel. They are beautiful handguns
too being of pre-1982 vintage: pinned barrel, recessed chambers, and factory Goncalo Alves target grips. I still maintiain an emotional, sentimental,
and historical attachment to classic firearms such as these mentioned. Also,
the N-Frame Smith and Wesson Model 27 and 28 Highway Patrolman .357
Magnum revolvers. Read my Friday, May 28th Medford, Oregon Mail Tribune
letter titled, "Happy Birthday to the .357" via Click on
"forum" followed by "letters to the editor." Also, Jack Burton's commentary:
"A Gun's Autobiography: Smith and Wesson Military and Police Revolver." This
fine masterpiece alludes to the S&W (K-Frame) Model 10 (pre-Model 10 in
story) .38 Special.

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