Smith & Wesson Model 648 Review: Classic Rimfire Magnum

The Smith & Wesson Model 648 is an iconic piece of Americana, like a trusted friend who stands by your side no matter what. It’s the kind of revolver that has been around for generations, passed down from father to son and embraced by hunters, lawmen and competitive shooters alike. With its classic lines, reliable construction and superior accuracy, it’s become a symbol of rugged dependability in the eyes of some Americans.

author shooting the M648 for this review

Like any good storyteller worth his salt, this gun and it’s predecessor, the Model 48, have been spinning tales since before most of us were born – stories about standing up for what you believe in, defending those we love and protecting ourselves against anyone or anything that threatens our way of life. Its history reads like a classic Western novel – full of daring adventures on horseback through uncharted terrain, showdowns with deadly outlaws and thrilling escapes into the sunset.

barrel of 648

It’s easy to see why so many have grown attached to this legendary firearm; not just because it looks cool or packs a punch – but because it embodies something much deeper: a sense of honor, courage and integrity that we all strive for every day. Whether you’re using it as a tool for recreation or small game hunting, the Smith & Wesson Model 648 will never let you down.

where to buy the smith and wesson 648

Where to buy the S&W 648

If you are interested in buying a Smith & Wesson Model 648, I recommend checking with your local gun shop and checking the prices at the sites below. Links on this page are affiliate links meaning my family does earn a small commission if you choose to buy something through one of our links. We only partner with companies we do business with ourselves.

What Is the 648?

The Smith & Wesson Model 648 is an iconic handgun. It’s a classic revolver with a history that goes back to its introduction in 1989. In that year, I was already an adult and building on my handguns skills as a novice shooter. In a way, this gun and I have grown together, so I feel like I can give you a good review of it.

smith and wesson 648 photographed on blue for this review

Chambered for the .22 WMR, this model has been used by hunters, target shooters and just about everyone else over those three-plus decades. Its dependability and accuracy are well-known throughout the firearms industry.

Model 648 6-inch barrel with 22 WMR markings

It’s no wonder this gun has stood the test of time – its robustness and reliability have secured its place at the forefront of firearm technology today.

Why You Can Trust My Review

I’m no stranger to guns, and I’ve been shooting for more than four decades. During that time, I’ve been a recreational shooter, firearms instructor, police officer, survival instructor, hunter and dad who’s had to protect his family.

right side view of the m648 revolver

Less importantly, I’ve reviewed guns professionally for nearly 20 years here and in many other publications. I know what works and what doesn’t when it comes to firearms.

Features Of The 648 Revolver

The Smith & Wesson 648 is a double-action revolver, manufactured with a stainless steel frame and barrel. It features a 8-round cylinder with adjustable rear sights and an ergonomic rubber grip.

model 648 9-shot cylinder

This rimfire handgun has been designed to be reliable for hunting small game as well as hitting the bullseye at longer ranges. Here’s a few things that make it special:

  • Accuracy: Smith & Wesson builds the revolver with a 6” stainless steel barrel, a crisp single-action trigger and a set of target sights. These factors combine to give you excellent precision and accuracy.
accuracy results of model 648
  • Durability: Constructed from heat-treated stainless steel, this revolver is built to last through even the toughest elements and conditions.
stainless steel frame and cylinder on the M648
  • Powerful Caliber: Smith & Wesson chambered the 648 for the .22 WMR cartridge. Also known as the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire, the round packs a lot more punch than standard .22 LR caliber rounds. This means flatter shooting at longer distances. It also means you have enough energy for hunting small game. While it would not be my first choice, it can even serve as a home defense tool against intruders.

Specifications List

Here are some of the key specifications for the S&W 648:

  • Width: 1.45”
  • Overall Length: 11.13”
  • Barrel Length: 6.00”
  • Height: 5.85”
  • Weight: 46.6 oz (unloaded)
  • Caliber: .22 WMR (aka .22 Magnum)
  • Capacity: 8
  • Action: DA/SA with exposed hammer
  • Grips: black synthetic
  • Sights: Patridge-type, adjustable rear
  • Finish: silver tone
  • Barrel: stainless steel
  • Frame: stainless steel

Range Testing

Smith & Wesson kindly sent me a 648 for review. There were no promised made regarding how I would test the gun nor about the outcome of the review. You get my honest opinions, and they are what they are.

shooting the Model 648 on the range

I shot the gun at several different ranges of the course of a few months. My feedback is based on all of them.

First off, the gun was 100% reliable. While there are plenty of folks who will remind you that wheel guns can fail, the fact is I’ve always had better reliability from revolvers than semi-auto pistols. This gun was no different.

accuracy testing the model 648

I tested the gun on paper targets at varying distances. For my eyes, 25 yards is a good place to be when using this gun for hunting, though ethical shots can be made at 50 or more yards if your vision is up to snuff.

The recoil on this gun is very minimal, so managing the muzzle rise for follow-up shots was easy and fast.

smith and wesson 648 accuracy test

Using Smith & Wesson’s Model 648 was an absolute pleasure for me as a shooter. Its design quality and performance make it stand head and shoulders above many other rimfire handguns. Now let us turn our attention to ammunition performance…

Ammunition Performance

While a rimfire magnum doesn’t have the same impact that a centerfire will, the .22 WMR is clearly packing a lot more heat than the .22 LR. Using a ProChrono chronograph, I measured five different loads when shot from the 648 revolver.

SW Model 648 with the ammo I used for testing

Normally, I will average the results based on five shots. However, rimfire cartridges are sometimes known for having looser tolerances, so I averaged my measurements from 10 shots for this review. This gives us double the sample size for each load.

Armscor 40gr JHP1,092 fps1,251 fps1,170 fps122 ft-lbs
CCI with Hornady V-Max 30 gr JHP1,426 fps1,570 fps1,472 fps144 ft-lbs
Hornady V-Max 30 gr JHP1,444 fps1,576 fps1,509 fps152 ft-lbs
Winchester Super-X 40 gr FMJ1,174 fps1,244 fps1,198 fps127 ft-lbs
Winchester Super-X 40 gr JHP1,126 fps1,233 fps1,196 fps127 ft-lbs

Who Is The Gun Designed For?

One of the best use cases for the Smith & Wesson 648 is small game hunters. The .22 WMR delivers on both accuracy and power making it suitable for rabbits, varmints and similar sized animals. For putting dinner in the cooking pot or keeping pests out of the vegetables, the S&W 648 is a good choice.

perfect rimfire hunting revolver

But it is not a one-trick pony. It is also good for recreational shooting and plinking.

While the Smith & Wesson Model 648 is suitable for both novice and experienced shooters, the ammunition – .22 WMR – tends to be more expensive than .22 LR. If you are looking for a revolver just to plink with, or one to teach someone new the basics of the sport, a gun like the Model 617 might be a better choice.

Final Thoughts

Well, it’s been a pleasure getting to know the Smith & Wesson Model 648. It’s certainly an outstanding handgun that is well-suited for many different users.

left side view of model 648

The Model 648 truly demonstrates Smith & Wesson’s commitment to craftsmanship and quality. The gun has impressive accuracy, balance, and durability, which makes it one of the most reliable handguns on the market today. It also boasts features such as adjustable sights and a smooth trigger pull that make it enjoyable to shoot with.

In short, the S&W Model 648 is sure to please even the pickiest shooter out there. Whether you’re looking for a hunting handgun, a home-defense revolver with minimal recoil, or simply want to have some fun at the range, this pistol will do just fine! So, if you’ve got your heart set on buying a new rimfire firearm, then I’d strongly recommend giving this one a look. You won’t regret it!

Frequently Asked Questions

I typically receive a variety of questions about guns that I review. I hope to answer most of those for you in this FAQ.

How Much Does The Smith & Wesson Model 648 Cost?

Currently, the MSRP of the Model 648 is $869. However, I have found it cheaper here and here.

Is the Smith & Wesson Model 648 Easy to Use for a Beginner?

The question of how easy it is for a beginner to use a particular handgun can be daunting. In my experience, the 648 is easy for a beginner to use. Like any firearm, I strongly encourage you to get hands-on training and exercise reasonable caution when learning how it operates.

What Type of Holster Is Recommended for the Smith & Wesson Model 648?

The S&W Model 648 is a special handgun, so holsters are a bit tougher to find for it. However, any rig designed for a 6” barrel and K-frame Smith & Wesson revolver should work. Your activity will determine what kind of holster you will want.

For hunting, a chest rig may be your best option. It securely attaches the gun to your body while keeping the firearm within immediate reach.

Another option is the shoulder holster. This style of holster gives you easy access while allowing you to keep your hands free. It can also be good for hunting.

A belt holster is a good option for many people. It will likely be the easiest kind of holster to find for the Model 648. However, the gun is too large for most people to carry concealed.

By Richard Johnson

Richard Johnson is a gun writer, amateur historian and - most importantly - a dad. He's done a lot of silly things in his life, but quitting police work to follow his passion of writing about guns was one of the smartest things he ever did. He founded this site and continues to manage its operation.

One reply on “Smith & Wesson Model 648 Review: Classic Rimfire Magnum”

Just picked up a #648
Like all S/W fit finish
And accuracy are off the
Your article helped sway my decision. not that it took much.

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