Essentially a stainless-steel version of the immensely popular, iconic, and nearly century-old Smith & WessonModel 10 revolver, the Model 64 blended some more modern trends with a classic police K-Frame.
The guns gained decent popularity with U.S. law enforcement – though increasingly competing in a market space turning to semi-autos – and then some of them found their way into the Guns.com Vault. Which had us wondering, why should a veteran police service revolver with some modern updates find a new home in your safe.
So, we pulled one from the vault to find out.
First A Smidge of History
The Model 64 rolled onto the scene in the 1970s. That puts the Model 64, and specifically this Model 64-8 launched in 1988, right at the heart of the revolver vs. semi-auto battle playing out across America’s police departments.
The 64s managed to remain in production until late 2021, when the model was finally consigned to the S&W Archive. All in all, that’s not a bad run for a wheel gun launched just before Gaston Glock finished tinkering with his fancy new polymer-framed striker-fired pistols.
Functionally, the primary advantage of the stainless-steel Model 64s in 1970 over the Model 10 – which is still in product – was, well, obviously that groovy new stainless appeal. It was only the company’s second shot at an all-stainless-steel design – with the first being the Model 60 – and it provided a familiar but more weather-resistant option.
While I personally fancy the look of the blued Model 10, I can also see the appeal of a service revolver that’s more resistant to that maddening challenge of corrosion during a long service life in a humid environment. As for this specific specimen, Guns.com recently managed to pick up quite a few 64-8s through our Police Trade-In Program, though most have since vanished to new owners.
Specs and Function
Common for single/double-action revolvers of the day, the 64-8 offers six rounds of .38 Special, or .38 Spl +P in this case. This example still hosts the rubberized S&W grips, though those often varied for department-issued guns between other grip options available from manufacturers like Hogue.
I’ve added some additional specs from this example below:
Length: 8.9 inches Barrel Length: 4.125 inches Weight: 2.15 pounds DA Trigger Pull: 10 pounds SA Trigger Pull: 4 pounds
Another distinguishing aspect of the 64-8 was its two-part barrel. In addition to the 4-inch option, barrels could be had on 64s as 2, 3, and a rarer 6-inch option. Sights are basic, with a rear notch and glare-cut front ramp. I won’t claim to be much of a revolver marksman, but the sights are better than most old military or police-issued handguns in my safe. The double-action trigger pull is long but smooth and predictable. The single-action pull is short and crisp.
For me, the gun also pointed very naturally, but you can feel the weight – nearly double a Glock 19 with less than half the capacity – if you are more accustomed to modern polymer semi-auto pistols. While I fancy wood grips on a revolver, after shooting a Model 10 next to this 64-8 with synthetic grips, I can attest to the grippiness as a helpful feature on the range, and the finger grooves fit my somewhat larger hands nicely.
Lastly, and somewhat tragically, there is a lock built into the frame with a key likely still sitting long forgotten in some officer’s desk or simply thrown away.
I’m not much of a revolver shooter in frequency, but I enjoy them on the range. Hence, the gun was fun to shoot, but my groups were subpar for what I normally expect with my Sig P320 or Glock 19. In the end, I managed effective but not overly pretty self-defense groups on a man-size target at 20 yards.
That’s a me thing, and not a gun thing. I have no doubt the gun would prove accurate and reliable for any owner who can really bring out its effectiveness. It chewed happily and smoothly through everything from cheap reloads to Remington Ultimate Defense +P hollow-point ammo. Ejecting spent casings was equally reliable for to 200 rounds of ammo I could find.
The real money for me was the grip and the trigger. The single-action trigger was almost like cheating as a guy who spends more time with semi-autos. It was crisp and short. The double-action trigger was also smooth and, while long, paired nicely with the rubberized grip to stay on target. In addition, the texturing on the hammer and cylinder release were aggressive, positive, and effective – so, basically what you would expect out of an old S&W wheel gun.
The sheer weight of the gun also helps mitigate standard .38 Special, though not a slugger round anyway, with the gun more rocking happily than snapping in your hand. The .38 Spl +P options certainly offered more snap, but nothing that was terribly uncomfortable or hard to control.
Honestly, it was probably the most fun gun to shoot on my last range trip, which included everything from a KelTec PMR30 and my personal P320 to a rival Model 10 I was testing out.
Final Thoughts: Where Does This Old Gun Fit In Now
Where, oh where, can an old – but not that old – police revolver find a good home? I think the three defining factors you have to decide to answer that question are your comfort with the weight, size, and using revolvers. If you’re comfortable with all three, then there is no reason the gun couldn’t make a nice self-defense or home-defense piece.
For me, I like capacity, but this gun was pure fun to shoot even with six rounds, and I could use the practice with revolvers. As a trade-in option, it also comes with that trade-in price point. I even ended up really liking the stainless-steel option, and the gun cleaned up with very little work.
But better yet, owning and shooting a gun with a bit of service history behind it is the special sauce that makes a firearm particularly attractive to me. I wouldn’t mind having it in my safe for the regular range run, but we’ll have to see what the wife thinks about that and the growing list of other old guns I’ve been eyeing. This one, however, would likely get more range time.