We lucked into a supply of durable – and increasingly collectible – early Smith & Wesson Model 64s in .38 Special from a law enforcement trade-in that are looking for a new home.
What is the Model 64?
Introduced in 1970 as S&W's first stainless steel six-shot service revolver (more on that in a second), the Model 64 was itself an evolution of the venerable Model 10 Military & Police, a K-frame that was first introduced in 1899 chambered in .38 Long Colt before it settled down to its more commonly seen .38 Special format. With a swing-out cylinder, the M&P revolver was known by Smith as a "hand-ejector" model to differentiate it from the company's 19th Century top-break guns.
The M&P proved so successful that it was the default revolver for law enforcement, military, and security use for decades, defending that title from upstarts like the Colt Police Positive and Spanish/Latin-American made clones.
Fast forward to 1965, and S&W had introduced their first all-stainless wheel gun, the five-shot Model 60, which was in turn based on the Chief's Special snub-nosed J-frame revolver. The Model 60 was well-received, especially in law enforcement circles, and it was a no-brainer to follow it up with the Model 64 just five years later.
When first introduced, the inaugural Model 64 appeared on the scene with a tapered 4-inch barrel
By 1972, the gun was upgraded to a second-generation variant, which came standard with a 4-inch heavy barrel. Overall length of these guns was 9.25 inches and the weight was 34 ounces unloaded. This gun hit the market as the Model 64-1.
Around 1977, the gently updated 64-2 replaced the 64-1.
Then came the also similarly updated 64-3 in the same year, a model that S&W kept as standard in their catalog into the late 1980s.
For a utility gun that shoots a wide range of common .38 Special ammo, they are hard to beat.