The Smith and Wesson Model 60 is a small-framed revolver chambered in .38 S&W Special or .357 Magnum. Features include a 3″ barrel and an overall length of 7.5″. The Model 60 employs synthetic grips, single-action/double-action trigger assembly, black blade front sight, and adjustable rear sight. The Model 60 also utilizes a 5-round stainless steel cylinder, stainless steel frame, exposed hammer, and satin stainless finish. It is also available with wooden grips at an additional $20. S&W recommends the Model 60 for personal protection.
|Sights:||Adjustable rear sight with fixed blade front sight|
Editor ReviewFinding the Right Handgun After Getting Robbed
Fifteen years ago, I went shooting at a gun range in Atlanta that rented pistols. I had tagged along with a friend who worked for the sheriff’s department – he was helping me understand my choices for a practical concealed carry gun. I had, the week before, been mugged and driven around Atlanta for an hour with a gun to my head.
After a couple of hours of semi-automatics and cathartic half-assed movie quotes, I went back up to the counter and picked out the Model 60. Small and simple. With a 3” barrel, the gun shot straight. There were no sliding safeties to confuse someone like me. The back end of the cylinder clearly showed when the gun was loaded. The little pistol seemed easy to use and un-intimidating.
The little thing fit perfectly in my hand. It pointed well, instantly. And I knew then which gun I wanted.
I’ll admit that I like big guns. I also like semi-automatics. I think the classic 1911 is one of the most beautiful handguns ever built, but I have difficulty working the mechanics. The grip feels swollen – and I’m a big guy, 6’4’’. I never thought I would develop an affinity for a diminutive wheel gun, but my friend and I ran through boxes of shells and, by the end, we were both smitten.
I’m ashamed to say that I took it back to the counter and left the range with a gun I didn’t like half as much, but one that I thought would be more easily concealable.
A Look at the Gun
The unimposing Model 60 has an ergonomic rubber grip. Though a bit bulky, it feels reliably secure. This helps tremendously with the recoil on such a small gun. For those interested in concealed carry, the rubber grip might not be the best. It has a tendency to catch on clothes. But they make all manner of grips for the gun – so finding the right fit and feel shouldn’t be a problem.
The sights are adjustable and prominent. The trigger pull is appropriately heavy in the double-action mode, but crisp in single-action. If I have a complaint about the sights it would be that I don’t like the black back of the front blade. (But I painted mine white.)
Back at the gun range, we marveled over our tight groupings. And it hasn't changed much since then. Here’s some of the testing I did for this review:
When I set down to do a more practical review, the groups were tighter. I used Hornady FTX .357s.
What I noticed, with both types of .357s, is that my first group and my last group had the highest deviations. And they were usually off by one shot, and not widely spread.
I practice mostly with Winchester .38 specials. They are inexpensive and have very low recoil. I know it is psychological, but I think I’m better with the .38s because I’m not so preoccupied with the recoil.
I ran a couple of hundred .38s through in this shoot. I practiced double-action off a holster draw. I ran several groups of two handed double-action shots, several one handed. At 25 yards, I was able to keep single action shots in 2” groups, very consistently. At 25 feet the groups tighten up to just over an inch.
Shooting double-action is always harder for me, but I shot 50 .38s at one round target and I think all but one stayed in the rings.
Long shooting sessions make me wish I had speed loaders, or assistants. When I am shooting fast, I feel like I spend a lot of time loading, but it is a minor complaint.
Reflection and Current Use
Years later, I still find this gun to be delightfully versatile. The Model 60 is easily concealable. The gun is only a bit larger than the Iver Johnson snub-nosed .38 my father carried in the 60s. The 3” barrel – one scant inch longer than most snub nosed .38s, gives it reliable accuracy – which makes it rewarding to shoot at targets. The ability to shoot the .357 round gives the gun daunting fire power. This isn’t a gun you’ll mind practicing with, and that is the only way to guarantee proficiency.
Still, it is a five shot. While this decreases the diameter of the cylinder, making the gun more compact, it limits the possibilities – or so I’ve been told. I’m not sure I mind. You can get semi-automatics with larger capacity magazines and still not hit what you are aiming at.
The simplicity and versatility of the Model 60 work to its advantage, which is why other companies have tried own versions of this classic. Ruger makes a version of the SP101 with a 3” barrel. The SP101 is heavier and more substantial, which helps with the kick of the .357s. Rossi and Taurus have each tried copies of the Model 60’s configuration, but they aren’t as popular (maybe because these companies don’t have the brand loyalty enjoyed by Smith & Wesson).
The only disadvantage I have found is that the gun is hard to holster. I don’t mean it’s hard to get into a holster, once you have found one, but they aren’t as easy to come by as I would like. I went to all of the major manufacturers, Smith & Wesson, and finally a custom maker – Jeff Hays – before I found the holster I wanted. I think it is the 3” barrel that creates the problem, but my Hays holster is perfect.
In the End…
I went back to the Model 60 because of the gun’s simplicity. I live out in the sticks. When we moved in, my wife and I found we shared our new home with some rabid raccoons. I called all of the official officials and was finally advised by Animal Control to “dispatch” any “nocturnal animals what’s out during the day time.” So I bought a utilitarian 12 gauge, one I nicknamed Dispatch. But the shotgun intimidates my wife. She won’t shoot it. We both wanted a gun that, should the need arise, my wife would use. I immediately thought of the Model 60. Simple, ready, reliable. Point and shoot.