Smith & Wesson Model 4506 - .45 ACP 3rd Generation Auto
The Smith and Wesson 4506 is a full-sized, stainless steel, 3rd generation DA/SA automatic chambered in .45 ACP. It was produced from 1988 to 1999, and was the replacement for the 2nd generation 645. Pictured is my 4506-1 that features a rounded trigger guard and three-dot sights. Earlier versions had a squared trigger guard. Adjustable sights were available as an option.
The 4506 is a "traditional" double-action, recoil operated,
locked-breech pistol, that uses a Browning High-Power type locking lug that is integral to the barrel.. It uses 8-round magazines
that are specific to it - the 4506 will not accept 1911 magazines (see pic 5).
It has a 5" barrel and a slide-mounted ambidextrous decocker/safety. Mine has aftermarket Hogue wrap-around grips.
The original polymer, one piece wrap-around grips are a little bit thinner, but they're hard and sort of slippery.
The Hogue grips add to the bulk, but who cares? Due to its enormous size and considerable weight, the 4506 is not a very
practical concealed carry gun. It is, however, a great house or range gun; and not that picky either.
This one has eagerly digested every sort of ammo that I could fit into the magazine. When I was learning
to reload .45 ACP; this pistol was my "garbage disposal".
I read somewhere that the reason for the 4506's extra bulk was that this pistol was based on the 10mm 1006 slide and frame design (which was itself over-built - even for a 10mm). I fire .45 ACP "+P" loads through it without a second thought. With a few special springs, the 4506 can even fire the potent .45 Super ®.
Like all 3rd generation S&W's, there's no removable barrel bushing on the slide. Instead, there's a rounded bulged area integral to, and at the end of the barrel (you can see this in pic 3 above). The diameter of this area is sized to precisely match the pressed-in bushing in the end of the slide. This provides for excellent accuracy while still maintaining a high degree of reliability, even when the pistol is dirty. Since the barrel bulge is radiused, there's a only very small bearing surface that contacts the slide, allowing any collected crud to be more easily displaced than in traditional arrangements.
I installed the 14lb spring which was much harder to compress than the one that was in the pistol when I bought it. I don't know where the previous owner got a spring that weak, but I think that somewhere, a ballpoint pen is missing a spring. Back at the range firing the same WWB ammo, the slide hammering stopped, and the spent cases landed in a nice pile about 6 feet from where I was standing.
The double action trigger is very light and very smooth, if a bit long. It is very easy to like. However, the single action trigger is a different story. Like most DA/SA 3rd generation S&W autos, the single action trigger on the 4506 has about 3/8" of "crunchy" slack to take up if you release the trigger all the way. Some people never get used to this. It doesn't bother me because I don't release the trigger all the way all the way. It's got a fairly short (1/8") reset and a crisp break, and I release it only until it resets.
The only tricky part about getting it back together is reassembling the guide rod and recoil spring back into the slide. The recoil spring is long (REALLY long - see pic 3 above) and powerful, and it can be quite difficult to hold the spring in its compressed state while trying to align the front tip of the guide rod with the hole in the front of the slide. I wish that S&W had used a captured spring/guide rod assembly like the one in the Glocks.
Another thing I've noticed on some 3rd Gen S&W autos (but not on this particular example) is that sometimes the edge of the guide rod that engages the recess in the barrel gets rounded over. This recess is quite shallow (see pic 4 above) and the edge of the guide rod in the tiny recess is all that holds that long and powerful recoil spring in place. If the guide rod gets rounded over, it can spontaneously disengage from the shallow slot in the barrel as soon as you pull the slide off the frame. When this happens, the guide rod is launched across the room by the recoil spring. This happened to me once when I was examining a 4006 at a gun shop. The shop owner looked at me like I was an idiot, but when we finally found the guide rod and he tried to put the pistol back together, he couldn't get the guide rod and spring to stay in place.
It's something to keep in mind when you pull the slide off because it could probably put your eye out.
Here's a cool image of a 4506 I found posted on the web:
The photo was taken just as the bullet was exiting the barrel! Note the puff of smoke coming out of the ejection port. Unlike mine, the one in the photo above has the adjustable sights.
Report by EddieCoyle - 12/18/2007