Smith & Wesson Performance Center M60-7

By David Tong

Smith & Wesson Performance Center M60-7
Smith & Wesson Performance Center M60-7. Photo by David Tong.

I am perhaps one of the least qualified revolver guys among the Guns and Shooting Online staff. Not only do I not rely upon them for my personal protection, I do not find them gratifying to shoot, at least at close range where my self-defense thought processes mostly dwell.

I think of the small-framed, snub-nose revolvers as largely quaint, 19th Century contrivances that play a seriously secondary role as a back-up to a more proper, or at least more modern, semi-automatic pistol. Generally, their grips and grip frames are diminutive, to keep their profile slight so as not to allow them to print through covering clothing. This makes them hard for even small-to-average sized hands to grasp firmly with all three fingers. If one adds stocks to broaden the ease of grip and recoil control, one loses the small size that endears them to their wearers.

The size also works against you to a lesser degree in the reduced trigger reach most of the snubbies have. One’s trigger finger is often wrapped past the first distal joint when positioned for a double-action shot.

Sights on most of the 2” barreled revolvers are also quite small, though not as bad as some sub-compact auto pistols. Snubby revolver drawbacks include a heavy DA trigger pull (especially compared to the relatively lightweight of the arm), small grips, short sight radius, short barrel that reduces velocity and only five or six shots before reloading is required. The standard velocity .38 Special cartridge normally used in snub-nose revolvers is only moderately effective for self-defence, roughly comparable to the .380 ACP auto pistol cartridge. In addition, a snubby revolver is among the more difficult handguns to master. (Of course, in fairness, exactly the same drawbacks apply to most sub-compact .380 auto pistols. The main difference being that small frame revolvers are usually more reliable and more accurate than small .380 autos! -Editor.)

There has been some movement in the marketplace for a slightly longer 3” revolver. Ruger offers the neat SP101, Colt built a few Detective Specials this way and Smith & Wesson has built a fair number of 3" barreled revolvers over the years. None of the latter were better than the example that is the subject of this article, which my local gun shop acquired a while ago.

Retaining the round butt profile, but adding smooth rosewood stocks, this particular Model 60 was built by the S&W Performance Center. Besides a smoother action and trigger, correctly timed cylinder rotation and consistent barrel to cylinder gap, this Performance Center gun also has a 3” barrel with an integral compensator. The latter's exhaust slot is in front of the highly visible ramp front sight.

The DA stroke felt about 40% lighter than a standard J-frame. Not hard to believe, as most stock S&W's come with an atrocious 15+ pound DA trigger pull. The SA pull was less than three pounds, excellent for a self-defence pistol. The rear sight is a fully adjustable, S&W Micrometer click with a white outline rear blade. This sight combination has graced many K and N frame target revolvers over the decades.

Shooting this revolver was fun. One can hang onto the grips and the light trigger pull enhances accurate shooting, as do the highly visible and fully adjustable sights. The compensator minimizes muzzle flip. Even Winchester +P 158 grain LHP (“FBI load”) ammo is not unpleasant to shoot. (DO NOT shoot +P loads in J-frame S&W revolvers not specifically rated for this ammunition! -Editor.) Add to that a nearly full-length extractor rod and stainless steel construction that reduces cleaning and maintenance time. This Performance Center snubby is the complete package.

I could see owning this revolver. It would be handy as a trail gun. You could use it to dispatch an unwanted snake, drop a squirrel out of a tree, or plink at pop cans with wadcutter loads. For self-defense use, you could load it with full power JHP loads. In 98% condition, with custom factory tuning and features, the asking price of $440 seems very reasonable. In addition, it is one of the last of the “old style" Smiths, in that it lacks the MIM trigger, hammer, thumb latch and extractor star that have cheapened the product in the last 15 or so years. Yup, I could live with this one. It shoots straight and is a pleasure to use.

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Copyright 2011, 2016 by David Tong and/or All rights reserved.