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Discussion Starter #1
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I was reading this neato thread about Model 66 revolvers which reminded me of a question I've been meaning to ask.

Does a Model 66 suffer from the same forcing cone issues that the Model 19 supposedly suffer? I'm a bit skeptical that the Model 19 is all that frail but the issue has been bandied about in more recent years. The Model 19s I've had were used with full power ammunition and gave perfect service.
 

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IMHO, the 66's are not prone to the forcing cone "issue" that a few 19's seem to suffer from. I am also one of the few that feels the 19's forcing cone "problem" has been over blown by the rumor mill and internet.

Currently I own seven 66's, and five 19's. My high mileage 19, is a blue 4" 19-4 with over 12,000 rounds through it. Over 3000 of those rounds were 158 grain 357's. The forcing cone shows very slight erosion, and it locks up like a bank vault. No endshake, and light cutting on the topstrap. I'd say over 90% of those 12,000 rounds were FMJ as well. Absolutely no problems with that 19-4, or any of my other 19's for that matter.

My high mileage 66 is a 4" 66-2 with unknown number of rounds through it. I can vouch for over 2000. Probably 400 of those being 357's. I also ran a few boxes of 110 grain 357, as well as 125 grain 357 through it with no ill effects. This particular 66-2 was a police trade in. It had shot thousands of 125 grain 357 through it prior to my purchase. The forcing cone shows some erosion, and there is VERY slight endshake, and slight cylinder rotational slop. It is one of my most accurate revolvers, and I regularly shoot IDPA with it.

In over 39 years of carrying, shooting, and being around K-frame magnums, I have never seen a cracked forcing cone in person. I've seen photos on the internet. My gunsmith told me this winter that he had seen his first 19 with a cracked forcing cone. It was a nickel 19-5 snubby. The owner told him it had fired mostly 357's. He did not know the bullet weights, nor how many.

Back in the day, my partner and I were at the S&W Academy. We were speaking with one of the instructors concerning the K-frame magnums, and he told us the the 66's were stronger than folks gave them credit for, and in his opinion stronger than the 19's. He told us that the steel used in the 66 no dash, as well as the early model 60's was so tough that it wore tool bits at an alarming rate. The steel content was changed with the 66-1. That info is all second hand so take it for what its worth.

I have personally posted on just about every gunboard, asking if anyone has seen, let alone cracked, a forcing cone on a 66. To date I've yet to have anyone respond. A few "shot loose", but no cracked forcing cones, and none destroyed. One fellow claimed he stretched a top strap and permanently put his 66 out of time. When asked if it was with handloads, and what dash his 66 was, he never responded back. Go figure.

My personal theory on the forcing cone issue, and percieved weakness of K-frame magnums is as follows. Every photo I've seen on the web of 19's with cracks in the forcing cone had three things in common. One - all the afflicted 19's were 19-5's, the first 19's to have crush fit barrels. Two - all were dirty, not just shot dirty, but neglected dirty, with lead buildup visible. Three - all had fired 110 grain and 125 grain 357's prior to the crack appearing. So were the barrels over torqued, or flawed during manufacture? Did the lead build up cause over pressure, or did the light fast boomers cause the crack, on their own or in some combination with the aforementioned factors? Your guess is as good as mine. I never have seen even a photo of a cracked forcing cone on a 66.

I'm a shooter, and carry K-frames for serious everyday. The 66 is my primary carry gun, in the 2.5" and 3" flavors. I keep them clean, and use 158 grain Speer Gold Dots, and have yet to have a problem. I compete with 4" 66's and shoot alot more than most folks every year. I think that if there was really a problem I would have seen it in one of my 19's or 66's. I've seen two S&W revolvers locked up tight by their internal locks at the range, and I'm told that locks are "not an issue". So I think the same about 357 use in 66's. It is not an issue, for me. Regards 18DAI.
 
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I agree with '18DAI, as that was our 'first' duty gun back in the late 60's and we shot the heck out of it, took a licking and kept on ticking...BUT , I have to say ,when we had our shops, we had several model 19's in for split /cracked forcing cones, NO, NEVER a model 66....I know from contact with the factory, they used up and ran out of Mdl 19 barrels some years ago, and are a tough item to find, and I have had two other shops contact me ,for the same thing.........my bet is from "misuse", hot reloads, etc. Know others who shoot theirs all the time, and NO problems.
The steel alloy/metallurgy,of the 66 over the 19 is "better" from what we have been told.
Who knows, maybe years back, there was a 'batch' of "defective"? ( for the lack of words) barrels that were used in model 19's ( forgot to add, these were ALL 4 inch barrels that I am familiar with....)
and lastly, as we all know, the squeeky hinge gets the oil and we tend to "hear" ONLY the "bad" things on the internet, the complaints and the whiners. :roll:
 

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Discussion Starter #4
I seem to perceive that the Model 19 cracked forcing cone reputation hasn't touched the Model 66. I'm not certain at this point that the Model 19 even suffered a black eye to its reputation when the L-Frame was first introduced. All the magazines prominently featured the L-Frame but didn't dwell on the Model 19's shortcomings as the reason for introduction. I still have the Guns & Ammo, Shooting Times, and American Rifleman magazines from the era and suppose I could research it if I cared enough to do so.

I really don't care though. I got over the "light jacketed bullet, high velocity" trend before I obtained my first Model 19 so mostly shot various 158 grain cast and jacketed bullets stoked with healthy charges of either 2400 or H110. My thoughts are to leave the light weight bullets to the weenie 9mms and such. The .357 Magnum is very capable with "meatier" bullets so that's what I prefer to shoot. The 125 grain JHP has a reputation that is very large. Perhaps too large. One hundred twenty five is not a magic number yet ".357 Magnum-with-125-grain-JHP" is trumpeted as the ultimate panacea for handgun stopping power. Perhaps it sounds "tough" when it rolls off the tongue or something. I feel certain that there are individual brands of bullets of other weights that perform as well or better than some brands of 125 grain bullets. I've heard and read all about the tests. The more supposed "proof" of the uniquely awesome performance of 125 grain bullets I read, the more skeptical I become because it appears that they are trying too hard to prove something. Good hits are golden, poor hits don't cut it, and a handgun can't be relied on to be a "stopper" at any rate. The only person I ever observed with a fatal gunshot wound was lying on his back in the floor, drilled through the heart with a Federal .357 Magnum 158 grain jacketed soft point fired from a 4-inch Llama Comanche. He needed shootin' by the way.

Sorry to get off on a rant. Anyway, I shot a lot of magnum hand loads through a certain nickel 4-inch Model 19 and it never so much as mussed the plating. Unfortunately I later traded it away since I also had a suitable Model 27. Now I keep my eye peeled for another. I like the N-Frame .357 Magnum revolvers best of all but am really keen on the K-Frame guns. I've wondered if I'd be better served with a Model 66 rather than a Model 19.

The Model 19 was immensely popular here in Texas in the 1970s when I was a young fellow just beginning to experience the wonders of handguns and Smith & Wesson revolvers. Everyone used them (and probably abused them) and no one complained about their durability. The Model 66 was conspicuous by its absence from gun shop cases and individual collections. A Treasury Department friend of the family had one which was the only one I saw for some time. It was many years after the introduction of the L-Frame that the fragile reputation of the K-Frame .357 began to filter into my thick head.

I ought to lose my prejudice against the L-Frame revolver and try one of those in 4-inch guise too.
 

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18DAI and Dan have it nailed, IMHO.
The internet is a wonderful tool, but it's also a 'magnet' for unfounded rumors...often the posts come from folks who (perhaps unintentionally) abuse their guns.This 110 gr and 115 gr magnum stuff is pretty much crap , and anyone who is surprised when a dirty, 'maintenance-challenged' revolver doesn't handle a steady diet of (too)-hot loads probably should find another hobby.
Never had any problems with a M-19, but I treat my guns like an adult should.
;mcp9
Don
 

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In keeping with the OP's line of question, I have another thought.

Has anyone else wondered the following. If the K-frame magnums were so "weak", that the L-frames were produced to "replace" the K-frame, why did S&W continue to produce K-frame magnums right alongside L-frames for another 20+ years?

I've asked this question on various boards over the years, and never recieved a satisfactory explanation. The most common explanation given to date is that "the L-frames can digest a constant diet of hot, heavy loads better". I have seen no evidence to support this conclusion. In fact I had a PC L-frame go out of time on two cylinders, and it never saw a 357 round, just factory 38's. Regards 18DAI.
 
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The L-frame was introduced to go head-to-head with Colt's Python, particularly as an affordable alternative, for LEO use.
The cylinder length and several other measurements duplicate those of the Python.
The M-686 actually preceded the M-586, contrary to popular belief.
Unfortunately, 1980 marked a landslide year for the replacement of revolvers by semi-autos...
As in any other business, timing is everything. :shock:
Cracked forcing cones?
Sure, they exist.
So do sprung yokes, bent sights and lots of other maladies.
There are also stories about the 'fragile' Python.
Funny...I've never owned any of the 'problem' guns, including an older Python that saw some LEO service.
Lots depends on how the guns are treated.
Don
;)
 

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I have a 66-2 that was the sidearm of a dear personal friend who happened to be the Police Chief in the Rhode Island town where I lived long ago. When the PD traded in their 66's for SIG 226s, our shop handled the transaction and we got the Smiths. I took 4, including the Chief's gun.

This 66 was in his holster for over 8 years. He was a gun guy and believed in keeping himself and the troops proficient. He religiously shot 100 rounds a month of duty ammo, the Federal 125 Grn JHP plus a good deal of .38 "shop" reloads. You can do the math, but that gun had seen 10,000 maximum effort rounds and untold amounts of .38 by the time it was traded.

When I got it, I refit a new, oversized cylinder stop, tweaked it a little and proceeded to shoot the blazes out of it in the 17 years or so since. I wouldn't be suprised to find out that I have doubled the Chief's round count. Today that gun is one of my favorites and it sees alot of field time. If there were any weakness in the design it would seem to me that this gun would show it first, and it hasn't.
 

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I think I posted this before, but I'm getting old and can't remember. My wife shoots a model 66 in competition and has had zero problems with it. This is with countless of rounds through it.
 

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I've held and shot the gun Drew is talking about. It is a great gun!

That said, I had a 66-1 that the forcing cone was paper thin and when I sent it to S&W they told me it was in danger of cracking. I had the barrel set back and all was well. It does show though that it can happen on a 66.

I agree the K frame does handle quicker than the L frame.
 

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Nframe said:
I've held and shot the gun Drew is talking about. It is a great gun!
That's right Chris you did! We added another couple of hundred rounds to the count that day!

Top left hand corner of this photo, with the Smooth Round Butt Targets.....

 

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Sebago Son said:
Nframe said:
I've held and shot the gun Drew is talking about. It is a great gun!
That's right Chris you did! We added another couple of hundred rounds to the count that day!

Top left hand corner of this photo, with the Smooth Round Butt Targets.....


You have way to many guns. I will take half of those off your hands. ;)
 

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Oh those are only a few of my plinkers.... I'll tell you where to send the check and when it clears they're on their way to your dealer.... :D
 

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I agree that the issue of cracked forcing cones on M19s is over blown... I own some M19s and have known a lot more... none had a cracked forcing cone... in fact the only cracked forcing cone I have run into personally was on a beautiful early post WWII K38... and I'm sure it was shot a LOT with high velocity ammo...

I had a friend once (whose .357Mag load was SO hot I quit hunting armadillos with him, fearing being blasted by his exploding pistol at any time) who loaded incredibly hot .357 Mag loads... with 158gr Keith bullets and a charge of Unique that was WAY off the scale... it regularly blew primers and loosened primer pockets... he loved the load and it was Accurate...but man... did it ever have a crack when he touched one off... :eek:

Anyway, he didn't even shoot the gun loose after several years... so I can testify that the M19 is STRONG!!!

I have heard the explaination that the 125gr bullets are shorter than the 158gr + bullets and have to jump farther to the forcing cone... which in turn hammers the cone... not sure if it is so or not... but using 158 gr bullets is just fine with me anyway... and cheaper too... :D

I'm happy with my M19s... though the M66 is nice too...

FWIW

Chuck
 

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c pierce said:
I have personally seen three model 19's with cracked forcing cones. Yes they do exist. :)
Before I knew any better, I bought a Model 65 4"HB for a song, the reason I found out later was that the forcing cone was not only cracked but a pie shaped sliver broken and missing at he 6 o'clock.

I sold it to a guy who turned it into a PPC gun.
 
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