Smith & Wesson Brings Back the 10mm Model 610 Revolver

 

by Jeff Quinn

photography by Jeff Quinn & Boge Quinn

December 31st, 2007

 

 

 

Click for video!

After missing from their sixgun lineup for a few years, Smith & Wesson has reintroduced the Model 610 stainless steel revolver chambered for the 10mm Auto cartridge. The 10mm has never achieved the status deserved in auto pistols, often overlooked by handgun purchasers. However, in an auto pistol, the 10mm is much more powerful than its popular little brother; the .40 Smith  & Wesson.  While the .40 S&W is an okay cartridge, the 10mm is better. Much better. The 10mm also has more power than the beloved .45 ACP cartridge. One of the earliest proponents of the 10mm Auto cartridge was the legendary Jeff Cooper. Chambered in a close copy of the CZ75 pistol called the Bren Ten, the 10mm cartridge was good, the gun was good, but the management and manufacturing capabilities of the company were not. The FBI showed an early interest in the 10mm, but soon wanted a milder load for their autos, which led to the development of the .40 S&W. With the .40 S&W fitting into 9mm-sized weapons, the popularity of the 10mm faded.

About ten years ago, Smith & Wesson introduced a revolver chambered for the 10mm cartridge. It was a six-shot, built on their .44 sized N-Frame. The sixgun was produced for a few years, and proved to be one of the most accurate revolvers that I have ever fired. Other shooters noticed the same thing, and the 610 has developed somewhat of a cult following. Used Model 610s are seldom seen for sale, as most shooters who own them tend to keep them. On the combat revolver competitive circuit, the 10mm is well-regarded, as using full moon clips, it can quickly be reloaded, using either 10mm or .40 S&W cartridges. Its excellent accuracy is also an advantage to competitors.

Accuracy is one of the big things about the 610. All of them that I have ever fired have been very accurate. Now, after being gone for awhile, Smith & Wesson has started producing the 610 again, and it is the same as the earlier guns, but with the addition of the S&W key lock system. For review, I received both the four inch and the six and one-half inch barreled models. The four inch actually measures closer to three and seven-eighths of an inch, which is no big deal, unless your state regulates hunting guns to at least four inches. If so, technically you could be in violation of hunting laws, but any sensible rabbit sheriff would not make a case out of it, if he even measured it at all.

The 610 wears an excellent set of sights. The rear sight has a white outline and is fully adjustable, and the front is a ramped black blade that thankfully has no colored insert. The sights are very easy to see well for target shooting.  The 610 has a round butt grip frame, and comes with a set of black synthetic rubber finger groove Hogue grips.  The grips point naturally, and help control the recoil of the 10mm cartridge. The 610 wears a checkered target hammer and a wide smooth trigger. Both revolvers had excellent trigger pulls, with the double action having that smooth, big Smith & Wesson feel, and a crisp single action. The front of the cylinders are beveled for smooth holstering. The 610 can be fired with or without the aid of moon clips, but unless you use the moon clips, the empty brass will have to be poked out with a dowel rod or something similar. With the moon clip in place, extraction is quick and easy. The best benefit of the moon clip is the speed at which six cartridges can be just almost dropped into the chambers. Depending upon the bullet shape, it sometimes takes a bit of wiggling, but it is still the fastest way to load a revolver. Just pop open the cylinder and drop them in. If you have a high speed Internet connection, watch the video of the loading and unloading of the 610. It is quick and easy.

The trigger pull weights and critical dimensions are listed below. Dimensions are listed in inches and fractions thereof.

  4" Gun 6-1/2" Gun
Double Action Pull  8 lb. 5 oz 8lb. 6oz.
Single Action Pull  4 lb. 5 oz. 4lb. 2oz.
Barrel Length 3.86 6.44
Overall Length 9.125 11.705
Barrel Diameter @ Muzzle 0.766 0.768
Cylinder Diameter 1.713 1.713
Cylinder Length 1.576 1.576
Weight 42 oz.  49.2 oz.
Barrel/Cylinder Gap 0.005 0.005

 

For testing the two sixguns, I gathered an assortment of fourteen different types of factory ammo from three sources. I fired all loads over the screens of my PACT chronograph at a distance of six feet from the first screen. Actual muzzle velocity will be a bit higher. Air temperature was around forty-two degrees with a humidity of near seventy percent. The velocities are listed in feet-per-second (fps). Bullet weight is listed in grains. JHP means jacketed hollowpoint. GDHP is a Speer Gold Dot hollowpoint. FMJ is a full metal jacket bullet. PB is Cor-Bon PowRBall ammo. DPX is Cor-Bon ammo that uses a Barnes X all-copper hollowpoint bullet. The two Model 610 revolvers were each clamped into my Ransom Master Handgun Rest to eliminate all human error from the accuracy results. The group sizes are for five shots, measured center-to-center, fired at a distance of twenty-five yards. The chronograph and accuracy results are listed below.

  4" Gun 4" Gun 6-1/2" Gun 6-1/2" Gun
Ammunition Velocity Group Size Velocity Group Size
Cor-Bon 140 DPX 1339 4.125 1435 2.625
Cor-Bon 135 PB 1326 1.568 1436 2.75
Cor-Bon 135 JHP 1451 1.58 1513 2.06
Cor-Bon 200 FP 1062 1.375 1101 1.5
Cor-Bon 165 JHP 1281 2.0 1323 0.687
Cor-Bon 180 JHP 1195 2.5 1327 5.5
Buffalo Bore 180 GDHP 1332 1.5 1385 1.375
Buffalo Bore 200 FMJ 1167 1.5 1220 2.0
Double Tap 180 JHP 1154 1.187 1302 1.568
Double Tap 200 FMJ  1181 2.25 1243  1.675
Double Tap 165 JHP 1275 1.38 1424 2.25
Double Tap 155 GDHP 1426 2.375 1481 1.387
Double Tap 135 JHP 1488 2.0 1599  2.0
Double Tap 200 XTP 1170 3.625 1238 1.0

As can be seen in the chart, many loads were very accurate in the revolvers. Others were not. The largest groups were all vertically strung, indicating that the velocities were not consistent, and this would later bear out with the chronograph testing. Consistent ammunition was all very accurate in the two revolvers. This is why it is a very good idea to test a variety of different ammo in a new gun, before pronouncing it inaccurate. Different guns like different loads. Thatís just the way it is. You can also see that some ammo was very accurate in both guns. I am anxious to try some good handloads in the Smiths to see just how accurate they can be, but besting the excellent groups fired with some of the factory loads will be difficult to do. Also note the velocities of the loads listed. Even with the barrel/cylinder gap of a revolver, the 10mm is a pretty hot cartridge. The 10mm from the four inch 610 posted velocities almost as good as and sometimes better than a Glock 20 with a 4.6 inch barrel that I tested a couple of years ago.   The six and one-half inch gun did even better.

After testing for accuracy from the Ransom Rest, I selected a load to sight the six and one-half inch gun in for hunting.  Holding the gun offhand standing on my two hind legs and using no rest, I aimed at a target at twenty-five yards and proceeded to five off five rounds, all of which grouped into a nice tight cluster of only one and one-half inches, and I ainít nothing like an expert shot. This Model 610 can shoot! A slight adjustment on the rear sight brought the group up to the point of aim. It should make for a dandy deer hunting gun. It has the power, accuracy, and flat trajectory needed to get the job done out to about seventy-five yards for me. For shooting at greater distances, both 610 revolvers are drilled and tapped to accept a scope mount.

For carrying on the hip, I packed the four inch 610 around in my Simply Rugged Sourdough Pancake that has served me well with other N-Frame revolvers. It is a well-crafted, hand-tooled holster that offers good security and protection to the sixgun, and can be worn either on the strong side or crossdraw.  For hunting, I carried the 610s in a pair of Grizzly Tuff nylon chest holsters.  With either barrel length, the Grizzly Tuff rig is a good choice. It carries the weapon across the chest within easy reach, and keeps it secure and out of the way of a rifle, backpack, or anything else. It is a very comfortable and handy way to carry a hunting handgun, or a defensive firearm while enjoying other outdoor activities like hiking, fishing, or just bumming around the woods. The holster straps keep the gun securely in place, but within easy reach.

I really like the 610 revolvers from S&W, and will most likely buy at least one of these; probably the longer barreled version if I have to choose just one. The 10mm cartridge packs plenty of punch, and the moon clips make it awfully handy to load and unload.  The revolvers come packed in a hard case with three moon clips, and extra clips are readily available and inexpensive.  While high capacity autoloaders can be purchased chambered for the 10mm cartridge, and they are excellent weapons, the S&W revolvers are also a good choice. They are accurate, reliable to the extreme, and they donít throw your empty brass on the ground.  If for some reason six rounds wonít get the job done, the 610s are very quick to reload using those moon clips. Constructed primarily of stainless steel, they are tough, durable, and low maintenance.

Check out the entire line of quality American made handguns along with other Smith & Wesson products online at www.smith-wesson.com.

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

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

Jeff Quinn

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

 

 

 

 

Ransom Master Model rest was used for accuracy testing...

 

 

...as was a good variety of factory ammunition.

 

 

Cousin Butch assisted in testing the 610s.

 

 

Best groups show that consistent ammo, plus a quality gun, equals accuracy!

 

 

When fired offhand, the 610s are still very accurate.

 

 

Dirty or clean, the 610 keeps right on shooting.

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Click pictures for a larger version.

 

Smith & Wesson's newly-reintroduced 10mm Model 610 revolvers.

 

 

Sights are typically S&W - that is to say, excellent.

 

 

For precision long-range shooting, the Model 610 is factory drilled & tapped for a scope mount.

 

 

Front of cylinder is beveled for easy holstering, and also gives a very nice appearance.

 

 

Wide checkered hammer (top) and wide smooth trigger (bottom) make shooting comfortable.

 

 

 

 

The Model 610 features a very nice-feeling Hogue rubber Monogrip.

 

 

 

 

The only mechanical difference between the earlier 610s and the new version is the Key Lock safety. Like them or not, key locks are here to stay, and Jeff doesn't let their presence deter him from appreciating a fine gun like the 610.

 

 

Moon clips are a very useful aid for fast loading & unloading.

 

 

Simply Rugged's Pancake holster is one of Jeff's favorites.

 

 

Grizzly Tuff chest holster is a practical and comfortable field rig.

 

 

Grizzly Tuff rig features cartridge storage on the holster.