October 25, 2019
Once left for dead, the 10mm Auto cartridge is going gangbusters today. The resurgence started in the 1911 platform, and the round is now moving into striker-fired guns. But wheelgunners aren’t being left behind, thanks to the Smith & Wesson Model 610 revolver.
Built on the legendary N frame, the Model 610 I received for testing has a 6.5-inch barrel; a four-inch version is offered as well. The barrel is a one-piece affair and sports a full underlug.
The rear sight is fully adjustable and has a white outline on the rear notch. The front is a ramped blade, plain black, that’s pinned to the barrel, and the flat barrel top is grooved to reduce glare. The barrel, frame and fluted cylinder are stainless steel.
The grips are black synthetic. I have a Model 629 Classic .44 Magnum, also an N frame. My 629 is several years old and came with a Hogue Monogrip, which doesn’t fully wrap around the frame’s backstrap. The 610’s grip does. Also, the finger grooves on the 610 are much more subtle, and the indentations don’t extend back on the grips.
On the one hand (pun alert), I like the 610’s grip better because the shallow grooves allow me to position my hand and fingers exactly where I want them, and the full wrap prevents the bare metal of the frame from stinging the web of my hand, which can happen with full-power .44 Magnum loads in the 629.
But on the flip side, the deeper, extended grooves on the 629 essentially produce a smaller grip circumference. I have medium-size hands, and the 629 fits me a little better. In other words, whether the grips on the 610 suit you depends on your hands. Fortunately, the grips are easy to change if you don’t like them. Turn out an Allen screw on the right side, and the two halves of the grip can be separated.
Double-action trigger pull was 11 pounds, 15 ounces, and it was consistent with almost no stacking. Single-action pull averaged four pounds, five ounces, with about five ounces of variation over 10 pulls. There’s a safety mechanism just above the cylinder latch. Turning it with the provided key blocks the hammer, preventing unauthorized use.
It’s a six-shot revolver, and Smith & Wesson includes three moon clips to accommodate the rimless 10mm.
Twenty-five yard accuracy was great, as indicated in the accompanying chart. These days there are plenty of 10mm loads to choose from, and the Model 610 liked all the ones I tried.
I got the tightest groups with Winchester’s 175-grain Silvertips—an excellent hunting load I’ve used in other calibers—and the average would’ve been better except for a few flyers. Those may have been me, or maybe they weren’t, but unless I definitely call a shot out it stays in the calculation for the average.
As you would expect for a large-frame revolver with a long barrel, it’s a hefty piece of hardware and weighs 50.1 ounces. Between the overall weight and the full underlug that puts more mass out front, recoil of the 10mm is tamed to what I think is the perfect level. You know you’re firing a serious cartridge, but you’re not being punished for it, and shooting the gun double action was a ton of fun.
Winchester’s USA load in particular was a real pussycat in the 610, and that’s great because it’s relatively inexpensive and makes for excellent practice. I should note here the gun can also handle the .40 S&W cartridge—essentially a shortened version of the 10mm Auto—which would produce even less recoil. And .40 S&W ammo can be had at lower prices.
The only thing I didn’t like about the revolver was the plain black front sight, which got lost on some targets. Yes, it’s easily changed because it’s pinned, but I think Smith & Wesson should’ve gone with at least an orange insert in the ramp or, better yet, a fiber optic—especially if the gun was to be used for hunting.
We don’t cover hunting per se in Handguns, but this would indeed be an excellent choice for medium-size game such as deer and wild boar. With its 6.5-inch barrel you’re going to wring out every bit of velocity the 10mm is capable of. The aforementioned Winchester load generates just under 570 ft.-lbs. of energy, which while not on the level of, say, a 240-grain .44 Magnum is still serious medicine.
And although you would lose some of that velocity and energy with the Model 610 with a four-inch barrel, that version would be ideally suited as a defensive tool for home or trail—against two-legged and four-legged threats alike.
It’s great to see Smith & Wesson offering the newly popular 10mm Auto in a wheelgun. And depending on your needs (or, be honest, wants), the fact the Model 610 is available in two barrel lengths means there’s something for everyone.
SMITH & WESSON MODEL 610 Revolver Specs
- TYPE: double-action centerfire revolver
- CALIBER: 10mm Auto
- CAPACITY: 6; 3 moon clips included
- BARREL: 6.5 in. (as tested)
- WEIGHT: 50.1 oz.
- OAL/HEIGHT/WIDTH (AT CYLINDER): 12.25/6.0/1.7 in.
- CONSTRUCTION: stainless steel.
- GRIPS: black synthetic
- TRIGGER: double action, 11 lb., 15 oz. pull; single action, 4 lb., 5 oz. pull (measured)
- SIGHTS: fully adjustable white-outline rear, black ramped blade front
- SAFETY: tool-operated trigger block
- PRICE: $969
- MANUFACTURER: Smith & Wesson, smith-wesson.com
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