Smith & Wesson Model 1006 – A Review: The 10mm Auto handgun cartridge is arguably on the borderline between a niche caliber with a loyal cult following and a truly “mainstream” caliber like, say, 9mm Parabellum, .357 Magnum, or .45 ACP.
However, back in 1990, it was all the rage, with Shooting Times Magazine going so far as to boldly proclaim “Forget The .45 ACP: The 10mm Takes Over!”
At the time, such a claim didn’t seem entirely unreasonable, as that was the year the FBI adopted the 10mm cartridge in combination with the Smith & Wesson Model 1076 as its standard-issue caliber and sidearm.
The proclamation on the cover of Shooting Times turned out to be premature. The .45 ACP holds a much bigger share of the private citizen, civilian law enforcement market.
The “Fat Boys Institute” has long since shelved the 10mm and actually gone back to the once-maligned 9mm.
Military markets followed suit. However, some noteworthy 10mm handguns came out during that cartridge’s brief heyday, among them the aforementioned FBI M1076, the S&W Model 610 double-action revolver … and today’s topic of discussion, the S&W Model 1006.
Smith & Wesson Model 1006: Brief History
The S&W 1006, produced from 1990 to 1995, was part of Smith’s four-digit Third Generation autopistol series, bearing a strong superficial resemblance to the manufacturer’s .45 ACP chambered Model 4506. It had traditional double-action (DA/SA) trigger lockwork with an ambidextrous slide-mounted hammer-dropping safety – in contrast to the decocker-only lever on the 1076 – a 5-inch barrel, an overall length of 8.5 inches, a width of 1.5 inches, a height of 5.875 inches, an empty weight of 38 ounces, and a single-stack magazine with a capacity of 9+1 rounds.
The pistol’s slide, frame, and barrel alike were constructed entirely of maintenance-friendly stainless steel.
Other variants of the pistol included the Models 1026, 1046, 1066, and 1086.
Personal Shooting Impressions
My lone hands-on shooting experience with the Smith & Wesson Model 1006 was way back in September 1990, when I was 15, at the now sadly defunct Santa Anita Firing Range – where that hilarious range scene with Mel Gibson and Danny Glover in the original Lethal Weapon movie was filmed – in Monrovia, Calif.
I admired the appearance of the pistol, as I’ve always thought that First- through Third-Generation Smiths are among the handsomest-looking pistols ever made (right up there with my ever-beloved Beretta 92F/M9).
And though at the time I was a mere 5’6” and 120 lbs. with a corresponding hand size, I didn’t find the ergonomics to be intimidating nor did I find the felt recoil to be overpowering, even though full-power 10mm ballistics are well above that of a .357 Magnum and not too far from the .41 Magnum. The Wayne Novak three-dot sights made for an easily acquirable sight picture.
Yet I could barely hit the broad side of a frickin’ barn with the damn thing, even at a close distance of seven yards. It was feast or famine, wherein the few hits I did score were solidly centered. I chalk it all up to the fact that at that point in my life, I had less than a year of shooting experience under my belt, and I hadn’t yet honed the crucial aspects of trigger control skills, more specifically (1) squeezing the trigger rather than jerking it and (2) surprise break, and (3) natural respiratory pause. The accuracy problems were likely more the fault of the shooter, not the gun.
That said, as far as 10mm pistols were concerned, I was more partial to the Colt Delta Elite that I fired both that same day and two months prior.
A Friend’s Shooting Impressions
Due to my admittedly limited hands-on experience with the 1006, I consulted a friend who’s actually owned one and loved one for many years (over three decades actually), namely my good buddy and classmate Kevin Freeman. Freeman had this to say about his experience:
“My Smith 1006 is a fantastic, well-made, and incredibly strong firearm.
I wanted a 10mm because everyone had 9mm and at the time, the FBI was switching to the 10mm. I was a young kid starting reloading. I screwed up and double-charged a few 10mm loads.
I blew up my 1006 twice. The result was ruined grips and a bent extractor. Both are easy fixes. No barrel, slide, or frame damage: this is a strong gun. It never really felt like it fit my hand well but still a very fine gun. Modern Smiths just don’t feel like they have the same quality.”
Christian D. Orr is a former Air Force officer, Federal law enforcement officer, and private military contractor (with assignments worked in Iraq, the United Arab Emirates, Kosovo, Japan, Germany, and the Pentagon).