S&W Model 69

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  • Trapper Jim

    Master
    Rating - 100%
    19   0   0
    Dec 18, 2012
    2,401
    77
    Arcadia
    I graduated from Rochester Indiana High School in 1969. It was the first graduating class to go all 4 years in the brand new school building. This review covers the Smith and Wesson Model 69 Model 69 | Smith & Wesson (smith-wesson.com) available today. Many will remember my review on the Model 696 (5) Smith and Wesson Model 696 .44 Special | Indiana Gun Owners - Gun Classifieds and Discussions.

    The model 69 is a 696 updated with modern manufacturing and dual chambered for 44 Magnum. Shooting 44 Magnums in this piece is not for the faint of heart. When I used to visit my friends working at S&W back in the day, It was so much fun to spend time not only on the production floor, but watching the forge, the craftsmen that put the knurling on the hammer spurs, packaging, range testing, shipping and barrel makers. The supply of steel and materials was vast inside the plant and other buildings on 2100 Roosevelt Ave. I believe most of the steel was from Carpenter in those days.

    My last visit was the pre production work party of the new XFrame in 500 S&W. The factory was just starting to replace the old machines with new CNC equipment and robots. MIM parts that only needed assembled and not fit so much. Engineering shortcuts that saved labor and such was coming on line.

    Meanwhile, back on the range many of us saw the failures of this transition. Sears were letting go, safeties were breaking off in the field and the EDM barrels were not producing the kind of accuracy we were used to. I will admit that the Hillary hole and these so called improvements were not for me.

    The transition is over, MIM has been improved, the water pipe barrel and shroud system has been perfected. So today’s offerings hold their own. I will not live long enough to put the trouble free millions of rounds through this new platform, but if things do break, the factory or gunsmith can easily repair with modular parts. Granted, breaking down is not as big of problem as to when they break down so there is that.

    As one can see, the lack of tool marks and fantastic machining of the inside is very clean and precise. Ed Brown was one of the first gunsmiths to dress the inside of his guns as nice as the outside. The fourth generation MIM parts that you see are very hard and easily tuned. The sideplate fit is perfect and replicated many times on sample guns that I have studied.

    Many of asked why I always include 10 pictures in my reviews and to that I say… that INGO does not allow 20. It is important to point out that the width of material on the muzzle and protecting shroud is thicker than the 696 in comparison. The accuracy for an out of the box specimen is as good or better than anything I have tested, and this is a 2.75 inch barrel. The frame mounted firing pin is easy to adjust or replace.

    A quick look at the extractor on this 5 shot model is unique. Being in a round cylinder you would think that the extractor fingers would all be the same length. Two are longer than the other 3. There is only one way it will go back together and the locating pins have been eliminated. Smart engineering in my book.

    I do miss however the shroud locking latch as these models come with a ball detent machined into the frame. Some say its better and easier to get the cylinder to flop open in a strong breeze that is required for a game gun. I fit a pair of grips to this as it came with two piece rubber grips. Handgun Grips | Altamont Company.

    Developing a good skill set with revolvers is challenging. It requires determination, practice and a complete understanding of revolver mechanics. This kills the chance for a lot of people to try. To be fair, there are a lot of weird things that have been tried with revolvers and a short list of things that I will NOT take part in, is a Flitz special, bobbing hammers, eliminating SA sears, risking primer hits, lightweight frames, porting, chamfering charge holes, moon clips, fiber optic sights and such. Just me and to each their own.

    It is nice to see that this model 69 comes with the front edges of the cylinder dressed for ease of holstering and a finished look as if done by a craftsman. I carry this in a Safariland Leather OWB Holsters (Outside Waistband Holster) | Bianchi Leather Model 527-09 S&W. Unfortunately, this model is discontinued like so many of the offerings being replaced by plastic, sweat guards or straps, trigger lock mechanisms and such. Interesting.

    Moving along as to my favorite load in this piece and it will be 44 Specials already mentioned in other reviews. The 44 Magnum out of this 2.75” barrel is brutal not to mention the law of diminished returns. If you are worried that you do not have flinch anymore, firing Magnums will bring it back, just saying.

    After cleaning up in the shop, handloading a large supply of ammo and cleaning guns to put away, I like to indulge in a shot of Old 55Home - Old 55 Distillery and snack on a Dukes spicy Sausage Hot and Spicy Sausage Sticks | Duke's (dukesmeats.com) . Old 55 is Distilled by hand and crafted to perfection, Old 55 is an Indiana gem.

    I own and shoot several of the newly manufactured revolvers and am very happy with them, however, I do not see getting rid of my non Hillary Hole guns any time soon. Since a graduating senior in 1969, and always continuing to be a student of the gun, I will always be a little old school.



    See you on the Range



    Trapper

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    92FSTech

    Sharpshooter
    Rating - 100%
    2   0   0
    Dec 24, 2020
    513
    93
    North Central
    I have your gun's twin, and it is indeed one of the best shooting S&W revolvers that I own. Mine is also wearing a set of modified Altmonts, although mine are the boot grip style as I needed the shorter grip to fit it in my kit bag for hiking (I wish S&W would release a rubber 2-finger boot grip for the K/L Frame like the one they have for the J-Frame, those are my favorite). It locks up like a bank vault, the cylinder spins like a top, and with a little work the trigger is absolutely amazing.

    It is a bit of a handfull in full-house .44 Mag, but still shootable. Mine gets a steady diet of "light magnum" handloads...hotter than specials but not quite what I'd take into bear country. It's plenty accurate, too. Despite the popular distaste for MIM, sleeved barrels, and the Hillary hole, these are really good guns and shouldn't be overlooked.

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    (Turkey was shot from 20 feet, standing unsupported. Naturally, I had to flinch at least once...)
     

    Hopper

    Master
    Rating - 100%
    28   0   0
    Nov 6, 2013
    2,237
    83
    Hamilton County
    @Trapper Jim - loved this thoughtful and detailed review! As @92FSTech mentioned, I sort of have your twin in the 66. Love it. Though I did do the Wilson Combat spring upgrade as the factory trigger was heavier and not quite as smooth as I expected from a S&W. And, of course, being born in '66, I have the same affixiation to that numerical value as you do to graduating in '69!

    Love my 66 2.75", it's a keeper. Pleasant with 38 Spc, and not bad with 357 loads. I did originally try the "coke bottle" grips you have in your fetching pics. But they didn't fit my hands as well as the compact Altamont options I ended up landing on.

    These are absolutely wonderful revolvers and I think are overlooked by the plethora of plastic fantastic options on the market today. But like 1911 pistols, somehow I keep being drawn to old-school options.

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    92FSTech

    Sharpshooter
    Rating - 100%
    2   0   0
    Dec 24, 2020
    513
    93
    North Central
    Hopper, nice 66! I've thought about adding one of those, but I've already got a few .357 revolvers and have a hard time justifying another. I did the Wilson Combat spring kit in my 69 as well, and it drastically improved the DA pull, but I did have to shim the strain screw to add some tension in order to overcome a light strike issue that it created. Did your 66 come with that Hi-viz front sight, or did you add it later?
     

    Hopper

    Master
    Rating - 100%
    28   0   0
    Nov 6, 2013
    2,237
    83
    Hamilton County
    Hopper, nice 66! I've thought about adding one of those, but I've already got a few .357 revolvers and have a hard time justifying another. I did the Wilson Combat spring kit in my 69 as well, and it drastically improved the DA pull, but I did have to shim the strain screw to add some tension in order to overcome a light strike issue that it created. Did your 66 come with that Hi-viz front sight, or did you add it later?
    I added the Hi-Viz afterwards. Like your NM 69, mine originally came with the standard red-ramp front sight. I haven't had any light strikes with the spring kit so far <crossing fingers>!
     

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