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Smith & Wesson Model 651 - .22 M.R.F. (.22 WMR) Revolver

There were two different S&W 651 Kit Guns:   The "Service" version was built on the round butt J-frame and had a 3" heavy barrel, serrated front sight, and square notch (fixed) rear sight.   The "Target" version was built on the square butt J-frame and had a 4" barrel, 1/10" red ramp front sight, and adjustable black (no white outline) rear sight.   I have the Target version pictured below.

Click on a picture for a larger image

The 651 is a double action, 6-shot, stainless steel J-frame revolver chambered in .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire (WMR), but you'd never know it from reading the barrel.   While the rest of the world calls this cartridge the .22 WMR, for some reason Smith and Wesson chose to call it the .22 M.R.F. (Magnum Rim Fire).   The early models were also offered with an additional cylinder chambered for .22 LR.   Unfortunately, I don't have one of these.  

S&W made this revolver from 1983 to 1988, then again from 1991 to 1999.   The one pictured above is a no-dash version from the 1st production run.

Fit and Finish
The one word that best describes the fit and finish of this revolver is "disappointing".   I love S&W revolvers (check out the rest of the range reports), but some of the guns made in the 1980's and 1990's left something to be desired in the quality department.   The older S&W revolvers featured amazing fit and finish, and the new revolvers (since the Saf-T-Hammer acquisition) are very good.   Unfortunately, this revolver is from that "in between" period, and it shows.

Most of the "problems" are little things that do not affect the function.   Here's what I mean:

  • When the cylinder is closed, there's a noticeable "step" between the front of the frame and the crane.
  • There's a noticeable gap between the crane and frame when the cylinder is closed.
  • The ejector rod isn't centered on the barrel when the cylinder is closed
  • There are noticeably uneven polishing marks all over the gun
  • The front sight insert wasn't fitted quite right
  • The hammer is off center in its slot - one side rubs and there's a larger-than-normal gap on the other side
  • The little underlug is poorly finished and asymmetrical
  • The bluing on the rear sight is thin in places

Again, most of these are minor picky little things that don't really affect the function.   However, there is one major problem that does affect the function...

The Trigger
This gun has the worst trigger of any S&W revolver I've ever owned or tried.   If you close your eyes, you'll think it's a Taurus (Calm down... I kid).   The single action pull is long and creepy, and you can feel every little internal mechanical movement on the DA pull.   The trigger reset is slow and really really gritty.   Very soon, I'm going to send this back to S&W for an action job.   This revolver is probably as accurate as a typical 4" S&W, but I won't know until the trigger is fixed.   It's that bad.

The .22 WRF Cartridge
This round was always near the bottom of my list of favorite cartridges.   You can't reload it, and it's more expensive than a lot of centerfire calibers.   After shooting it a bit, my opinion is changing.   The .22 WMR is not just a glorified .22 LR.   It uses real jacketed bullets, and the CCI Maxi-Mag 30 Grain JHP's move along at over 1450 fps out of this revolver.   A one-liter soda bottle filled with water explodes when hit by one of these rounds.   The CCI Maxi-Mag 40gr TMJ bullets chrono out at a still-speedy 1320 FPS, and would probably offer enough penetration to make it a better self defense round than a .22 LR, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, or even the .380.

CCI Maxi-Mag Ammunition

This revolver would probably make a decent HD gun for an inexperienced shooter with smaller hands.   The recoil is light enough to allow flinch-free practice for new or infrequent shooters.   I'll post an addendum to this report after I get the trigger fixed.

Report by EddieCoyle - 12/24/2007