Smith & Wesson is one of the most well-known American firearm manufacturers — and it’s not hard to see why. The Springfield, Massachusetts-based company has been in the business for nearly 170 years, giving them ample time to perfect their firearms designs. The company does offer several lines of semi-automatic pistols as well as rifles, which are well regarded for quality manufacturing, but Smith & Wesson’s revolvers are some of the best commercially available today.
One of Smith & Wesson’s notable revolvers is their Model 648, which is built into a K-frame medium-sized revolver frame that is large enough to handle .38 Special as well as more powerful .357 Magnum cartridges. At first blush, the Model 648 is quite similar to other Smith & Wesson K-frames — though its chambering is not.
The Model 648 is chambered in the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimfire cartridge, a small but flat-shooting rimmed cartridge. Winchester developed the .22 WMR in the late 1950s as a more powerful alternative to the iconic .22 Long Rifle cartridge. The .22 WMR bullet is similar in weight and size to the .22 LR bullet, though the .22 WMR offers shooters more kinetic energy at 100 yards than the .22 LR offers at the muzzle — up to 50% more depending on cartridge and firearm combinations. It should be noted however that although the .22 LR could fit in the Model 648’s cylinder, under no circumstances should the shorter .22 LR be fired from the revolver.
By using a 6-inch barrel, the Model 648 is able to take better advantage of the .22 WMR’s additional propellant, and thanks to the cartridge’s small size, can accommodate 8 rounds in its cylinder, offering great cylinder capacity. Thanks also in part to the Model 648’s frame size, perceived recoil is minimal.
Currently, the Model 648 is offered with a synthetic black grip with finger grooves as well as adjustable sights with all components made of stainless steel, making clean-up and maintenance a breeze.
Compared to some of Smith & Wesson’s other offerings, the Model 648 is relatively modestly priced on the Smith & Wesson website at $722.00, making it one of the company’s more affordable revolvers. To top it off, the Model 648 — like all Smith & Wesson firearms — is backed by the company’s lifetime service policy.
Though the .22 Winchester Magnum Rimmed is by no means the most powerful cartridge that Smith & Wesson offers, the Model 648 strikes no compromises. The Model 648’s combination of high cylinder capacity, relatively long barrel, as well as an attractive price point, make it a good option for plinkers, new or weekend shooters, or those looking for varmint revolver.
Caleb Larson is a Defense Writer based in Europe. He holds a Master of Public Policy and covers U.S. and Russian security, European defense issues, and German politics and culture.