Sunday, January 13, 2008
Sunday Smith #31: Model 64-4, 1994.
Stainless steel, first patented in the early 20th Century, didn't see widespread use in firearms manufacture until the 1960s. In 1965, Smith & Wesson launched the first production revolver made entirely out of stainless steel; the Model 60, a stainless variant of the Model 36 Chiefs Special. The revolver was a huge sales success, much to the chagrin of traditionalists, and was followed in 1970 by the Model 64, a rust-resistant rendition of the Model 10 Military & Police.
The new stainless M&P revolvers were widely issued by police departments, and much anecdotal evidence exists stating that they were highly sought after as personal weapons with the US servicemen then serving in Southeast Asia's hot, humid jungles. The gun is pretty much an exact copy of the Model 10 save for the steel used. Early models had flash-chromed hammers and triggers, but by the 1990s these were plain color-case hardened carbon steel like on non-stainless guns.
The Model 64 is one of the most prosaic firearms in the S&W lineup, and therefore commands little collector interest outside of very early guns or rare production variants. Good shooters can be found for ~$200 without much effort and even very fine specimens seldom top three bills by very much. The above example, a 2" heavy barrel Model 64-4 dating to 1994, was acquired (along with a couple C-notes) in LNIB condition in 2003 in trade from a private seller at a gun show for a 4" Model 624. It has served as this writer's nightstand gun ever since.