By Joel J. Hucthcroft
I’ve been pleased to report on several revolvers that Smith & Wesson has returned to production during the last couple years. This year the company has brought back a cult favorite—the 10mm Auto Model 610.
If you are like me, you probably have a list of guns that you’ve hankered for. Nowadays, my list includes a bunch of guns I’ve always wanted, and it even includes guns that I once owned but traded off or sold and now want back. One gun that I’ve never owned but always longed for is the S&W Model 610.
According to Blue Book of Gun Values, the original Model 610 was first made in 1990, again from 1998 until 2004, and again in 2009. It was built on S&W’s large N-Frame and was all stainless steel. It was offered in various configurations with 3.88-, 4.0-, 5.0-, 6.0-, and 6.5-inch barrels, and the barrels had full-length underlugs. Cylinder capacity was six rounds. Most versions had target-style hammers and triggers, and some had wood grips, whereas others had black rubber grips.
The 2001 edition of Standard Catalog of Smith & Wesson details an interesting version called the Model 610 Classic Hunter. Produced in 1998, this version had a 6.5-inch-long barrel, an unfluted cylinder, a target hammer, a striated target trigger, a red ramp front sight, and Hogue finger groove grips. This is the version I always wanted.
Another interesting variation was the Model 310 Night Guard with a 2.5-inch barrel and a scandium frame that was produced in 2009. This gun had a matte black finish, Pachmayr grips, and an XS Sights tritium dot front sight.
The New 610
The 2019 version of the Model 610 is also made on the N-Frame. It is still stainless steel, and it still has the full-length underlug barrel. Cylinder capacity is still six rounds. Two barrel lengths are offered: 4.0 and 6.5 inches. I ordered the 6.5-inch length for this review. Let’s take a closer look at the new revolver.
The Model 610 is a big handgun. With the 6.5-inch barrel, the overall length is 12.0 inches. The height is 6.13 inches, and the width is 1.70 inches. The revolver weighs 50.1 ounces (3.13 pounds) unloaded. The cylinder is fluted and measures 1.70 inches wide by 1.575 inches long. The charge holes are not counterbored.
The top of the barrel is striated, and the topstrap is drilled and tapped with three holes for installing a scope mount base. The rear sight has to be removed for installation of the scope base. The cylinder release thumbpiece is the newer style, and located just above the thumbpiece is a key slot for S&W’s safety lock system. It’s a key-activated internal lock that prevents the hammer from being cocked and the trigger from being squeezed. Two keys are supplied with the revolver, as is a cable padlock.
The hammer appears to be casehardened, and it’s checkered and measures 0.51 inch wide. The firing pin is mounted in the frame, so there’s no hammernose. The trigger also looks like it’s casehardened. It is smooth and measures 0.35 inch wide. Single-action trigger pull on my sample revolver, according to my RCBS trigger pull scale, averaged 5.0 pounds for 10 measurements. The double-action pull averaged 12.75 pounds.
As I said earlier, my sample Model 610 has a 6.5-inch barrel. It also has a ramped black front-sight blade, and the adjustable rear-sight blade has a thin white outline around the notch. The rear sight’s notch measures 0.126 inch wide. The front sight is 0.29 inch thick and 0.250 inch high. It mates perfectly with the rear sight’s notch.
The revolver’s butt is round because the Model 610 uses the K/L/N-Frame rounded grip frame that all S&W revolvers currently use. Three screws secure the sideplate on the new revolver, with one being covered by the right-side grip panel.
Speaking of the grips, the black, textured synthetic grips are somewhat soft and kind of sticky and have slight finger grooves. They provide a secure hold. The width is just right for my medium-size hands. Grip circumference is 5.25 inches. They have a slight palmswell on both sides, as well as the S&W logo.
The Model 610 comes with three full-moon clips, and the gun can fire 10mm Auto rounds as well as .40 S&W rounds. For anyone who doesn’t already know it, the .40 S&W is the same diameter as the 10mm Auto, but the case is approximately 3mm (0.118 inch) shorter that the 10mm Auto. The 10mm Auto was introduced in 1983 and was originally a law-enforcement round. The shorter and less powerful .40 S&W round (introduced in 1990) was also created for law enforcement to purposefully have less recoil (approximately 10 percent less than the 10mm Auto), making it easier for policemen and policewomen to shoot. Today, the 10mm is a popular handgun hunting cartridge (good for everything from coyotes to whitetails to black bears), and while the .40 S&W is an effective defense round (and was an extremely popular duty round for many years), it’s not nearly as popular as it once was.
At Home on the Range
I test-fired the Model 610 with 10 10mm Auto factory loads and five .40 S&W loads, and its overall average accuracy for five-shot groups at 25 yards with the 10mm Auto ammo was 2.75 inches. That’s for shooting it from a sandbag benchrest. With an average of 2.38 inches, top accuracy honors went to Federal’s 180-grain Trophy Bonded JSP. I was a bit surprised by that because out of my 10mm Model 1911s, Springfield XDMs, and Glock 40 MOS, that loading usually is middle of the pack in terms of accuracy. The average velocity it churned up in the Model 610 was 1,236 fps, which produced 611 ft-lbs of energy.
The 10mm load with the highest velocity was the Winchester 175-grain JHP, but the SIG SAUER 180-grain JHP was just 1 fps behind. The 10mm load with the highest energy was the HSM 200-grain Bear Load. It averaged 742 ft-lbs of energy.
I fired several of the 10mm loads with and without using the full-moon clips. They functioned perfectly both ways, and accuracy was not affected. When fired without the moon clips, cases had to be ejected manually.
The average accuracy for the .40 S&W ammo was 3.32 inches. The best load was the Hornady 175-grain FlexLock, and it turned in an accuracy of 3.00 inches, a velocity of 1,050 fps, and an energy of 428 ft-lbs. Using the moon clips is required when shooting .40 S&W ammunition because their shorter cases allow them to go too far into the charge holes, preventing the firing pin from striking the primer.
The big Model 610 is definitely at home on the range. It’s also a good home-defense gun. It’s a bit too big in my opinion for a comfortable carry gun, but it excels as a hunting handgun. For anyone who missed the chance to snap up a Model 610 when S&W previously produced it, now’s your chance.