Monday, March 03, 2008

Sunday Smith #37: Model 696-1, 2000.


A little over a decade after the release of its beefed-up "L-frame" medium frame revolvers, Smith & Wesson capitalized on the fact that the slightly larger cylinder of the new guns would accommodate five .44 caliber holes with plenty of safety margin to spare. With Brazilian competitors Taurus and Rossi having both released five-shot medium frame .44 Special wheelguns, Smith countered with the Model 696, an all-stainless 3" round-butt big bore revolver almost guaranteed to find market share in an era when liberalized concealed carry laws were sweeping the nation.

Although heavy at only a fraction less than 36 ounces, the new revolver was fairly compact, yet its three-inch tube allowed for an ejector rod with a full-length stroke and enough sight radius to make the adjustable sights, with their red ramp up front and white-outlined rear blade, a useful addition. Only about a year after the introduction of the Model 696, the gun was redesigned to utilize S&W's new Metal Injection Molded lockwork, easily distinguished by the "flat nose" hammer lacking a hammer-mounted firing pin. The new model was assigned the "-1" suffix, signifying the first engineering change to the basic revolver. In 2001, the designation was changed again to the 696-2, with the addition of Smith & Wesson's controversial new key-operated integral safety lock. Only two years later, the 696 was dropped from the catalog.

In late 2004, the 696 became an online gun-collecting version of Dutch Tulip Mania. For some reason the gun became the object of wild speculation in internet forum and auction circles, with nice examples changing hands at $800 and more. Prices have since receded to more normal levels, leaving unwise speculators sitting on stacks of revolvers for which they'd paid too much, proving that it's important to know market trends before speculating in guns as investments, just like anything else.

The above revolver, shown wearing Hogue Bantam stocks, was picked up in Like-New-In-Box condition in early 2005 for $400, which was a good, if not earth-shaking deal. With factory grips and all the documentation and accoutrement, an LNIB 696 these days can expect to bring ~$600, with a premium for a "no dash" model with the hammer-mounted firing pin. For those who like the anvil-like reliability and solidity of a compact belt revolver made of steel, but prefer their bore size to start with the number "4", it's hard to imagine a better choice.

13 comments:

Lorimor said...

Yes, that would be a good choice.

Timmeeee said...

Which do you prefer, the 696 or the 624?

Assrot said...

I love a good, solid, steel frame wheel gun. I don't waste my time with anything less than a caliber that starts with 4. All the better if it is a S&W. I love the .44 magnum. My only regret is they didn't make these old guns in .50AE or .500 S&W.

I think both of these models are nice guns. I'm sure they pack a punch with good .44 magnum ammo but even if you use .44 special, they are still excellent scumbag stoppers.

I would imagine that using .44 special would make it manageable for a woman with some decent shooting experience.

Me, I'm looking to get one of the .500 magnum S&W wheelguns. Just as soon as they work the bugs out. Right now it's a joke.

I have a Magnum Research BFR in .500 S&W that is a much better gun for the money.

Tam said...

"Which do you prefer, the 696 or the 624?"

I like the 624 better, personally. It's more pleasant to shoot, and I prefer the aesthetics of the tapered barrel. There's no getting around the fact that the 696 is a lot easier to tote, however, especially in my Bianchi #3S "Pistol Pocket" IWB holster.

Gewehr98 said...

Damn, you found one!

I was getting ready to box up the 696 no-dash and send it your way for a photo expose' and Sunday Smith review...

Good on ya!

D.W. Drang said...

First a 296, now a 696.
I need a cold shower.

smith696 said...

ANyone know if $650 for a 696-1 is a good deal????? Comes with box and docs. Thanks, email me please-Levi

Tam said...

$650 for a nice -1 w/box & docs seems about right. I wouldn't go over six on a -1 without the box & docs.

smith696 said...

hey

smith696 said...

FOr some reason I forgot my password, but now its letting me post And I havent even logged in. Anyhow, do you guys belong to another forum? Im just getting into the gun forum thing/computer thing. Anyhow, Thanks for the info Tam, I preciate it.
I also got a 66-1 98%, No box/docs, for $420. I considered it a good deal for what I traded it for, and the cash I got as well. Also, Ive seen them for much more on gb.com, and I cant find ANY at my local Wash state gun shows. In fact, our shows suck so bad, that the only smiths I find are model 65s, model 36s, and models 10s, two of which I like very much, but Im not into at the moment.
Anyone familiar with the 41special? Id like to convert a speedsix 2 3/4 bbl into one, or just get a 3 inch model 57/657.

Hank Dodge said...

I picked up a slightly used 696 no-dash earlier this year. It's a sweet litle revolver. I love the .44 special caliber. I shoot a pair of Colt's .44 special SAA for SASS shoots and thought it would be nice to have a downsized DA revolver for concealed carry; the 696 was the natural choice.

I must admit that I did pay a premium for mine though. I have the misfortune of being a California resident and subsequintly have to deal with limited availability issues and other restrictions. Finding a 696 within the letter of the law here is a tall order. I was lucky to get this one.

Gewehr98 said...

Glad to learn that your 696-1 found a new home, Tam! It's in good hands, too.

Now, if you happen to have a K-Frame Model 19 or stainless Model 66 about to leave the roost, do let me know...

Anonymous said...

i picked up a very nice 696-1 for $425.. wouldn't sell it for twice that..