Smith & Wesson 3 Inch Model 60 Pro .357 Magnum Revolver

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

March 24th, 2008

Updated April 23rd, 2008

 

 

 

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UPDATE!

With the accuracy of the Model 60 Pro not quite living up to my expectations as a good, all-around trail gun, I wanted to try another sample. The adjustable sights and three inch barrel had me filled with hopes that the Model 60 Pro would be more than just a good self defense weapon for those unpleasant up-close-and-personal social situations, so I put in a call to Smith & Wesson, and they pulled another gun out of the vault and sent it to me. I am happy to report that this Model 60 Pro is a fine-shooting little .357 Magnum trail gun. It displayed accuracy that is good enough to head-shoot a rabbit or squirrel out to thirty yards or so, depending upon the skill of the shooter. I tested the latest sample Model 60 with several of the same factory loads as I put through the earlier gun, and the newer one grouped much better. Factory ammo that grouped between four and five inches in the previous test gun grouped under two inches in the newest sample. The earlier gun had a barrel/cylinder gap of .008 inch, and the newer one has a b/c gap of .006 inch, and it does not spit out the gap as the earlier gun sometimes did. S&W states that anything between .005 and .01 is within specs, but tighter is better. Most importantly, the newer gun is accurate. It is accurate enough to do double duty as a defensive weapon, and as a trail gun, combining good accuracy with the power of the .357 Magnum. I am well-pleased with the latest test gun. It lives up to what I have come to expect from Smith & Wesson.

Jeff

The guns appear to be the same, but the bottom gun is much more accurate, with a tighter barrel/cylinder gap.

 

 

Smith & Wesson’s Model 60 has been around for a few decades now, and has gradually evolved from a stainless steel five-shot snub-nosed .38 Special with a cult following into a compact .357 Magnum. About three years ago, I reviewed their five inch barreled version. It was a very good little compact hunting gun, somewhat of a “Kit Gun” on steroids., and has since proven to be a very useful little revolver. This newest of the Model 60 family, dubbed the Model 60 Pro, wears adjustable sights and a three inch barrel, with a shroud that is scalloped to reduce weight. Thankfully, the sights are black, and the serrated front ramp is a Trijicon unit with a tritium insert for better low-light visibility. The rear sight is the classic S&W adjustable unit, which is both sturdy and reliable. I like adjustable sights on a handgun, as they add greatly to the versatility of the weapon, allowing a great latitude of load choices.

The Model 60 pro has a well-checkered hammer for easy cocking for single action fire, and a wide, smooth trigger for quick, comfortable double action work. The trigger pull measured ten and three-quarters pounds in double action mode, and just over three pounds, six ounces in single action mode. The double action pull was very smooth on the sample revolver, and the single action released crisply, as I have come to expect from Smith & Wesson.

The grips on the Model 60 Pro are the best-looking and most comfortable that I have ever seen on a J-frame S&W revolver. They fit my hand perfectly, and really helped to control the weapon while firing stout high-performance Cor-Bon and Buffalo Bore .357 Magnum ammunition. The ejector rod stroke on the Model 60 Pro measures about 1.15 inches, and worked well in fully ejecting fired cases. The Model 60 Pro weighed in at 22.6 ounces unloaded, and is a relatively light, handy little revolver. The entire stainless steel frame and cylinder are finished in a bead-blasted satin appearance, which is both good-looking and practical. I find a three-inch steel revolver a bit heavy for pocket carry, preferring a lightweight aluminum alloy revolver for such, but the Model 60 Pro carries very well in a compact belt holster. I carried the revolver in both a Simply Rugged Pancake leather holster and in an Uncle Mike’s Kydex paddle holster. For concealed carry, the Simply Rugged holster offers a lot of versatility, allowing for high and tight strong side carry for comfortable packing concealed, or as a cross draw holster while riding in a vehicle. The Uncle Mike’s holster is a good choice for an inexpensive unit to quickly clip on for range work or for a quick trip down to the local Stop-N-Rob for a late-night purchase. In a good holster, the Model 60 Pro rides very comfortably, and carries five rounds of .357 magnum ammunition.

Velocities out of the little three inch Model 60 were recorded with a PACT Professional chronograph, with the electronic eyes set at ten feet from the muzzle. The air temperature hovered around the fifty degree mark during testing. Velocity readings are listed in feet per second (FPS). Bullet weights are listed in grains. JHP is a jacketed hollowpoint bullet with a lead core. HC is a hard cast lead LBT type bullet. DPX is a Cor-Bon load using the Barnes XPB bullet, which is an all-copper bullet with a huge hollow nose. PB is a Cor-Bon PowRBall load that uses a polymer ball loaded into a jacketed hollow nose bullet to promote expansion.

Ammunition Bullet Weight Velocity
Cor-Bon HC 200 998
Cor-Bon JHP 140 1298.1
Cor-Bon DPX 125 1247.8
Cor-Bon PB 100 1545.2
Buffalo Bore HC 180 1256.6
Buffalo Bore JHP 158 1277
Handload JHP 158 1126.3
Handload Mt. Baldy Keith 173 823.6
Handload XPB 140 898

All of the high performance ammunition turned in respectable velocities. I tried a few handloads in an attempt to get some good accuracy out of the Model 60 Pro. Accuracy was plenty good for social work, but was not up to my expectations based upon my experience with other .357 Magnum S&W revolvers. Accuracy testing was done at a distance of 25 yards with the revolver locked securely into my Ransom Master Series machine rest. Accuracy with most loads would group five rounds into between three and four inches, with two of my handloads grouping into just over two and one-half inches. A couple of the factory loads would do no better than five inches. Carefully selecting ammunition would result in a handgun that is very capable as a defensive revolver at close range, but with the Model 60 Pro coming equipped with adjustable sights, I had fashioned this little .357 to be a good, handy trail gun, used for the occasional rabbit or squirrel, or even to drop a deer at close range. With the accuracy displayed by the sample gun, small game and deer would be out of reach if over just a few yards away. While the overall fit and finish on the Model 60 Pro was excellent, the barrel/cylinder gap measured eight one-thousandths of an inch (.008"), which to me is excessive. It is within S&W specs, but I would prefer a barrel/cylinder gap of about half that. A tighter gap spits less burned powder, increases velocities, and usually enhances accuracy. That is why I always look for a tight gap when shopping for used guns. For a revolver used strictly for social work, a two inch barrel with fixed sights, such as the S&W Model  342PD I carry daily as my preferred pocket gun, is adequate. That is why I had high hopes that the three inch Model 60 would be a tack driver, as was the five inch version tested in 2005. As is, the accuracy exhibited by the test gun rules it out as an all-around “Kit Gun”, but it is still a very good choice for home defense as a bedside weapon, or carried concealed in a good holster. Depending upon your intended use for the gun, the Model 60 Pro .357 Magnum could be a good choice, and perhaps I was expecting the gun to be something which it is not. The revolver’s all-stainless construction makes controlling the weapon under recoil much easier than with one of the ultra-light revolvers, and it should prove durable for extended use. The grip is very comfortable in my hand, and the excellent sights are easy to see, with the tritium front sight especially appreciated at night.

For a detailed look at the entire line of Smith & Wesson handguns, rifles, and shotguns, go to www.smith-wesson.com.

For the location of a Smith & Wesson dealer near you, click on the DEALER FINDER at www.lipseys.com.

To order the Model 60 online, go to www.galleryofguns.com.

To order one of Rob Leahy’s Simply Rugged holsters, go to www.simplyrugged.com.

To order the high performance ammunition listed here, go to www.buffalobore.com and www.cor-bon.com.

Jeff Quinn

 

For a list of dealers where you can buy this gun, go to: To buy this gun online, go to:

 

 

 

Simply Rugged Pancake holster is a fine choice for a variety of carry positions.

 

 

 

 

An inexpensive, but less concealable, alternative is Uncle Mike's Kydex Paddle holster.

 

 

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Smith & Wesson 3 Inch Model 60 Pro .357 Magnum Revolver.

 

 

 

 

Gun comes with a hard plastic case.

 

 

Model 60 Pro (top) compared to Jeff's Model 342PD.

 

 

 

 

S&W's key locking system.

 

 

 

 

The Model 60 Pro's wood grips are the best Jeff has ever felt for a J-Frame revolver.

 

 

 

 

Night sights are a very valuable addition to any fighting handgun, and S&W did not neglect this on the Model 60 Pro.