Gun Digest

Before You Buy: Two Oddball Revolvers

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Oddballs like myself are drawn to oddball guns. Two of the most interesting revolvers I’ve ever shot have been the 40 S&W/10mm Model 610 revolver from Smith & Wesson, which had an MSRP of $661 when I bought one 10 years ago, and a Freedom Arms’ Premier-grade single-action 5-shooter in .41 Magnum, which was listed at $1,673 in 1998.

Various versions of this pair have been listed in GDTM’s pages over the past few months, but never in much volume. That’s not surprising, since both wheelguns are oddball chamberings for revolvers. But to its credit, Smith still lists the 610, though its MSRP has jumped almost 50 percent, to $980 for either the 4- or 6.5-inch-barrel model, the latter of which is like my former gun. The current version of the 6.5-inch gun is No. 150278 in S&W’s catalog.

Freedom Arms likewise still catalogs a 41 Remington Magnum, and its price hasn’t gone up much in the last decade. The Model 97 No. 905-17 comes in three barrel lengths (4.25, 5.5, and 7.5 inch), and all three sell for $1772.

If you’re an oddball, too, and you would consider buying either of these guns, here’s what you need to know.

Ammo Shortage

Though the S&W 610 is a modern single-action/double-action design and the Freedom Arms .41 mag is single-action only, both guns suffer from a lack of available commercial ammunition, despite the 610 shooting both the .40 S&W round and 10mm cartridges. Certainly, these guns would benefit from handloaded ammunition.

Velocities from the .41 Magnum rounds were impressive. The Federal Hunting 250-grain Castcore ran 1,258 fps, but it was topped (naturally) by the lighter Federal Classic 210-grain Hi-Shok jacketed hollowpoints at 1,466 fps and Winchester 175-grain Silvertip hollowpoints at 1,384 fps.

The 40s and 10mms weren’t bad. Winchester 180-grain full-metal-jacket 40 S&Ws traveled 1,035 fps, similar to the Black Hills 180-grain JHP 40 S&W at 1,032 fps. Hornady 155-grain JHP 10mms were the fastest at 1,389 fps, followed by American Eagle 180-grain 10mm lead bullets (1,072 fps), Blazer 200-grain TMJ 10mms (1,045 fps), and Eldorado Starfire 180-grain JHP 10mm, (956 fps).

S&W 610 Details

The 610 was a handsome stainless-steel six-shooter. Despite its 6.5-inch barrel with full underlug, it had a compact, solid feel. The double-action pull was too heavy for rapid-fire situations, but the Smiths are famous for responding to the gunsmith’s touch. The 610 was a moon-clip gun, that is, the ammunition is held together by a steel clip that contacts the cylinder in front of the breech face.

I thought the Hogue Mono-grip with finger grooves was excellent for double-action use. The gun’s front sight was a serrated ramp with orange insert and the rear was a white-outlined rear notch. Together, they could be confusing.

The single-action trigger was excellent. Its feel was heavy but consistent at 4.5 pounds. Fifty-yard groups for the 610 in 40 S&W averaged just below 5 inches. This same gun was, on average, 1 inch per group more accurate when shooting 10mm ammo. Best groups were obtained with the Hornady 155-grain XTP jacketed hollowpoint in the 10mm case. The 10mm and 40-caliber rounds didn’t cause as much recoil as did the 41 Magnum.

Freedom Arms Premier 41 Magnum

Recoil from the 210-grain Federal Classic 41 Magnums was painful. If I hadn’t used gloves back in the day, sharp edges at the top of the backstrap and under the trigger guard would have sliced my skin.

The Freedom 41 Magnum yielded exceptional results at 50 yards. Two out of the three rounds I fired produced groups of less than 3 inches. Federal Classic 210-grain Hi-Shok JHPs shot 5.0-inch groups, but Winchester 175-grain Silvertip HPs went 3.0 inches and Federal Hunting 250-grain Castcore rounds shot the best groups, 2.9 inches.

Elsewhere, the rosewood grips were blended exquisitely into the brushed stainless-steel frame. The cylinder was left without flutes for extra strength, which we think adds to the overall appearance. The barrel was also brushed stainless, and lettering on the side was tastefully executed. I found the sights offered a clean definition of the desired point of aim.

To load it, the shooter pulled the hammer back to a half-cock position and opened the loading gate on the right side. The cylinder rotated clockwise. Ejection was accomplished by pushing out spent shells with the spring-loaded ejector rod riding along the bottom right side of the barrel. The gate can be closed, the hammer pulled back, or dropped into a safe position all with one hand, adding to the impression of a classic firearm.

Attention to detail on this gun was flawless, and the materials were first rate.

My only complaint was that while crisp edges on the gun look good, but they might cut the shooter’s hands. On a gun with such extraordinary machining, breaking the edges on the backstrap, trigger guard, and loading gate would make the gun more comfortable to shoot.

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