Okay, ladies, admit it. The miniscule revolver pictured above is just so darned cute! Today’s Revolver Week article is on a gun that Smith and Wesson specifically marketed toward women, the Lady Smith variant of a S&W Model 60, change 7. And there’s quite a history behind the Model 60, as it began life as a Model 36 “Chief’s Special” which, as you may have guessed by that name, was designed in 1950 as a small-framed concealable revolver suitable for plain clothes police duty.
The first thing you’ll notice in observing the differences between the Model 36 shown above and Model 60 is that the former is blued and the latter is made of stainless. The Model 60 presented today was probably made in late 1994, which would place it near the middle-to-late range of 60-7 production (1990 to 1996). These were the last Model 60 revolvers made before Smith and Wesson changed the line to the J-Frame magnums, which were able to take the much hotter .357 Magnum load in addition to the milder .38 S&W Special (hereafter the .38 Spl).
Once again, when dating any Smith & Wesson revolver, the serial number is the key. This example falls in the BRS range:
Change 7 is considered by many as the apex of the Model 60 design, so there is a demand for them. There are a couple of reasons for that. First, change 7 brought about a different heat treatment that strengthened the gun. Next, it was the last of the Model 60 revolvers to be chambered solely for .38 Spl. Why is that a factor? Because, let’s face it, does a .357 Magnum load in a compact, light, small-gripped, five-shot revolver really make sense to anyone? It doesn’t to me, especially when you’re throwing lead from a barrel that measures under two inches in length. So, why bother?
Smith & Wesson Model 60-7 “Lady Smith“:
- Length: 6.38 inches/162 mm
- Barrel length: 1⅞ inches/47mm
- Height: 4.41 inches/112 mm
- Width (at cylinder): 1.30 inches/33 mm
- Width (at grips): 1.22 inches/31 mm
- Width (frame): .55 inches/14 mm
- Weight (unloaded): 19.92 ounces/565 grams
- Caliber: .38 S&W Special
- Capacity: 5
- Trigger pull (single-action, average of five pulls): 2 lbs. 10.4 ozs./1.2 kilograms
- Trigger pull (double-action, estimated): 11 to 12 pounds/5 to 5.4 kg
As you can see from the specifications above, handgun is small, light, and adequate. It’s easily concealable in either a holster or a purse, although I tend to steer people away from off-body carry. Purses can to snatched; guns in retention holster, not so much. The grip is a tad small for the .38 Spl. My pinky has minimal purchase when I hold the Model 60, and my fingers wrap completely around the gripto meet my palm just below the thumb. But Ursula’s fi9ngers seemed better positioned when I asked her to hold the “Lady Smith.” I’ve yet to fire this example, but I doubt either I or Ursula would have trouble controlling it. But if it were a later .357 Magnum variant loaded for bear… well, that would probably be pretty painful
And then there’s that superb Smith & Wesson double-action/single-action trigger which I described in Monday’s article on the S&W Model 10-5. The trigger on this smaller J-Frame is not much different. Indeed, the single-action pull is even lighter than what I measured on the larger K-Frame. But in double-action there is a slight difference. Whereas the Model 10 had no take-up upon initiating the pull, the Model 60 has an odd millimeter or so of travel followed by a barely audible “click” before the trigger engages. After that, the double-action pulls are nearly identical between the two revolvers — smooth all the way to hammer trip. This clicking may or may not be related to the hammer spring, as the Model 10 uses a leaf spring, and the Model 60 uses a more modern sprung strut:
By the way, ever wonder about the actual difference between a “medium” K-Frame and a “small” J-Frame? You’ll recall on Monday I wrote about a K-Frame S&W Model 10-5 in .38 Spl. Today we’re looking at a J-Frame S&W Model 60-7 in the same caliber. So, let us compare. Both being .38 Spl, it made since for this comparison to line up the back of the cylinders in the below image. Mentally subtract the barrel and disregard the grips and you’ll note that there really isn’t a whole lot of dimensional difference between the 6-round Model 10 and the 5-round Model 60. The difference in cylinder widths is noticeable, as one would expect — 1.46 inches/37 mm (K-Frame) vs 1.30 inches/33 mm (J-Frame). But the real difference shows up in the height of the weapons, which is most impacted by the grips. It’s on that measurement that the J-Frame wins the concealability race by .71 inches/18 mm.
As I noted on Monday’s article, to check the Model and Change numbers on a Smith and Wesson revolver, just open the crane and check. Below you can see that this is a Model 60-7:
In the above photo of the Model 36 “Chief’s Special” you’ll see Smith and Wesson’s tradition checkered wood grips. The “Lady Smith” on the other hand sports smooth rosewoods in a deep, rich, reddish hue:
Gun sights are as you would expect for a weapon made for short range defense — fixed front paired with a channeled rear “sight” running along the top strap:
Put the two together and this is what you’ll see, which is probably adequate for ranges out to about ten to fifteen yards or so:
The “Lady Smith” variant of the Model 60 first appeared in the 60-6 in 1989. Indeed, all -6 revolvers where so marketed. It was only with the Model 60-7 that both “Chief’s Special” and “Lady Smith” variants were marketed under the same change number umbrella.
I hope you enjoyed Ladies’ Day here on Revolver Weeks. Friday I’m going to present a fake. A fraud. An outright rip-off. But it’s a rip-off with a lot of history behind it, made by some of the most ingenious gunsmiths on the planet. Gunsmiths who operate furnaces in their backyards, manufacturing their own parts on a scale you simply will not believe. Until then, here’s today’s gallery of additional Model 60-7 “Lady Smith” images: