S&W 3566: An IPSC Game-Changer that Didn’t

This pistol (and its ammunition) is lot #2401 at Morphy’s April 2019 auction.

In 1994, Smith & Wesson began shipping the Model 3566, a double-stack, single action pistols tuned for high-level USPSA competition. It was a pistol that was going to dominate the new Limited division, with the capacity of a standard 9x19mm handgun but enough power to qualify for Major. And then in February 1995, the USPSA Board revised their rules to require a minimum bullet diameter of .40 inch for any Major caliber. Was S&W unfairly screwed by USPSA? Or was S&W trying to exploit a rule loophole contrary to the spirit of the game? Either way, the victim was the .356 TSW cartridge, which had a lot of potential but was basically dead on arrival because of the USPSA rule change.


  1. Thanks to Ian for bringing us this niche in firearms with some of its intricacies. Since I know next to nothing about pistol shooting competitions I limit myself to saying how I visually like this particular product – it really looks great.

    I wonder, what happened with SW pistol line in following of Model 39. As I understand, SW is currently oriented towards striker types and wheel guns. However, their pistols do not seem to do well against Glock brand. Again, I wonder why.

    On general note though, I observe that competition/ tuned guns can be very expensive. It’s a sport for few dedicated ones, I guess.

    • Owned a 39 and have shot plenty of Glocks and 59s. Prefer the Glocks as they seem to be more accurate (probably me). But a big difference is the Glock is less sensitive to the ammo going through it. The SW 39 and 59 were very temperamental about the ammo. Used to stovepipe frequently.

      Ended up dumping the 39 and going with a 92F simply because it would feed reliable.

      All is imho.

    • “do not seem to do well against Glock brand”
      Actually after quick search, it looks for me that S&W fares reasonably well, at least in terms of number sold.
      According to https://www.fool.com/investing/2017/12/17/the-5-best-selling-handguns-of-2017.aspx in 2017 year Smith & Wesson M&P 9 Shield ranks 2nd, only below Ruger LCP and is said to be most common “best-seller of month” in that year.
      According to https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/12/16/the-5-best-selling-handguns-of-2018.aspx in 2018 year Smith & Wesson M&P9 Shield ranks 3rd below Kel-Tec PMR-30 and SIG Sauer P365 Nitron Micro-Compact.
      According to https://guncarrier.com/top-selling-handguns-august-2017/ in August 2017 Smith & Wesson 9mm Shield ranks 1st.
      So while not totally dominating sales, said automatic pistol seems to steadily ranks in top part of charts of best-selling handguns.

      • Yes, but he was referring to the S&W M39 and M59, two first-generation S&W 9mm autopistols. The M39 dates to the late 1950s, and the M59 was first released in 1971.

        The M&P series are completely different mechanically, largely due to nearly half-a-century of complaints about the reliability or lack thereof) of the first-generation S&W autos. (Which were in no way improved upon by the cranky S&W Sigma.)

        For the record, I at one time carried a 645 on duty, but replaced it with an HK USP due to its predilection for ammunition finickiness.

        I was involved in the testing of the Sigma in .40 S&W for my former agency, and we all came away distinctly unimpressed by either its accuracy (poor), its reliability (indifferent at best), or its trigger (worse than the average .380in Enfield No.2 Mk 1* DA-only revolver from Albion Motors c.1939.) No, we didn’t buy it.

        I also carried a Beretta M92SF at another time “as per regs” (requiring 9 x 19mm, DA trigger), but it broke the trigger return spring on me, effectively disabling the weapon. Fortunately, it was on the range during a practice session. I got a replacement spring (free) from Beretta USA, replaced it myself, made sure it worked properly- and then sold it. I only give a service sidearm one chance to f**k up on me, then it’s history.

        Automatic pistol design is an ever-continuing evolution. But there are quite a few reasons I still use a Browning HP in 9 x 19mm.



        • “S&W M39”
          I was misdirected by mention of “(…)Glock brand(…)” which are build with wide usage of polymers and therefore direct competitor to S&W M&P.

        • Glock’s superiority over the most of well known striker pistols like SW, HK, SigSauer pistols lies on İts patented trigger/Striker costruction having the ability of carrying the chamber loaded gun with a half compressed mainspring secured against all kinds of impact and droppage. Similar liked pistols in this carrying mode, have all fully compressed mainsprings with triggers of same pull and weight measures through inferior security features. Newer models like Ruger, CZ, Mossberg and Stoeger are all knock offs of Glock trigger system made after the Glock patent expired.

  2. thats why i only shoot stock/production. tired of all the cheaters. its about the indian, not the arrow.

  3. “Was S&W unfairly screwed by USPSA? Or was S&W trying to exploit a rule loophole contrary to the spirit of the game?”
    This reminded me about .221 Askins center-fire cartridge:
    it was created by Charles Askins so COLT WOODSMAN automatic pistols could be relatively easily converted for firing it. As .221 Askins was center-fire cartridge, it means that it could be legally used in 1937 competition requiring any centerfire caliber against other sportsmen using .32 and bigger calibers.

  4. Back in the late 1990’s a shot a lot of USPSA, was on the board of my local club, am a lifetime member, etc. There was always, I think, a tension between the “game” approach and the “practical” approach. The sport started/evolved from the “leather slap” matches created by Jeff Cooper et al. (and the Colonel was part of the founding of USPSA itself in 1976) and it does have “Practical” right there in the name.

    The “gear race” aspect has contributed to real-world firearm development, for example the use of optical sights on a real-world carry pistol is now a thing, with direct lineage to those IPSC shooters who started using the (not very “practical”) optics decades ago.

    Somewhere along the way the game/practical split became so intense that the International Defensive Pistol Association (IDPA) was created by people who wanted to really focus on the defensive aspects and really squelch the game and gear race (they even have a rule that imposes a penalty for “Failure to do right”) and I’ve shot in a couple IDPA matches and it’s a fine thing – check it out. https://www.idpa.com

    A few years after the USPSA/IDPA split the USPSA created “Production” division (there are now about 6 Divisions) which is like the older “Limited” but are always scored as “minor” power factor regardless of cartridge (must make the minimum for Minor which is 125, and minimum of 9×19 or .38 caliber anything less cannot score) must be double action on at least the first shot, and have almost not modifications (you can add grip tape) no more than 10+1 capacity. etc. https://uspsa.org/rules

    USPSA has grown in the past couple decades by welcoming shooters who don’t want the gear race (I think IDPA really put a scare in) and today is (I think) doing well.

    Lessons: Have fun, learn stuff, be safe, and don’t take yourself too seriously!

    • USPSA rules were mainly set up to perpetuate the Hatcher/Cooper theory of “stopping power”, which basically says “never use a caliber that doesn’t start with ‘four'”.

      Those rules consistently ignore the fact that ultimately, kinetic energy decides the “stopping”, or more accurately killing, power of any cartridge. And there is a fairly narrow range from approximately 400 to 700 foot-pounds (c. 550J to 950J) which will get consistent results on human-sized targets.

      Above 700/950, blow-through often occurs, resulting in the projectile wasting its energy on the landscape beyond the target and endangering bystanders, an important consideration in defensive/law enforcement shooting scenarios.

      If the projectile delivers energy in that range to the target, penetrates the body cavity, and stays in same, releasing its energy only in the target, it will get the job done, and its initial bore diameter is largely irrelevant.

      9mm/.35 caliber cartridges are simply more convenient to build high-capacity autos around than the bigger-bored ones. They also tend to have less recoil, making immediate follow-up shots easier. (This is the one thing the “gamesmen” got right; the need for rapid fire and multiple hits in the vitals in an actual combat situation.)

      The .356 TSW round was pretty nearly an ideal police or military service round in most respects. So for that matter are the hotter loadings of the 9 x 19mm (standard U.S. military load today delivers 465 FPE/630J at the muzzle), or the older 9mms such as the 9 x 23 Largo or the 9 x 25 Mauser Export. The latter was essentially recreated in the early 1980s with the 9mm Winchester Magnum in the Wildey gas-operated automatic; the problems with the gun itself doomed the caliber, which would have more sensibly been used in a 1911-type action.

      A Glock-type auto in 9 x 25 aka 9mm Win Mag would probably be the ideal police service pistol, delivering .357 Magnum killing power and 9 x 19mm firepower.

      USPSA and IPSC competition is fun, but it shouldn’t decide what will or won’t work in real life. There’s a reason that in the last decade, police departments that adopted the .40 S&W two decades ago have replaced it with 9 x 19mm. Simply put, a 9mm 124-gr. JHP at 1150 or higher gets the job done, and it’s easier for most officers to actually hit something with. (See Newton’s Third Law of Motion.)

      The Hatcher/Cooper theory was borne of a fundamental misunderstanding of basic physics, and a mistaken belief that momentum was a primary requirement for effect on organic lifeforms. Sorry; kinetic energy rules the actual universe, and momentum is a subsidiary effect of it.

      I started out carrying a .45 ACP (Colt MK IV Series 70)on duty precisely because I was a “believer” in the “Theory”. Once I’d learned more about actual physics, and seen actual PM results, I went to the .357 and then the 9 x 19mm.

      Reality bites. The trick is to make sure it’s not your backside that gets bitten.



      • “Those rules consistently ignore the fact that(…)”
        And at some time ignore history of which cartridges were actually adopted for military service through 20th century in Europe. Most countries actually behaved exactly opposite to that, i.e. used cartridge which are below 10 mm. With exception of Norway (c.f. Colt Kongsberg) and partially Great Britain which used .455 but more due to inertia (its usage was established in 19th century) and anyway switched to .38-200 as default handgun cartridge. Some European countries were prompted to change their default handgun cartridge after extensive combat experience from World War II (not only automatic pistols but also sub-machine guns) but none chose “.40 or bigger” (for example France switched from their own 7,65 mm to 9×19 mm Parabellum).

        • The dirty little secret of the 0.455in Webley was that its big 265-grain bullet, traveling at a sedate 600 F/S (i.e., black powder velocity), delivered only 210 FPE at the muzzle- considerably less than the U.S. standard .38 Special 158-gr. RNL “police load” at 850 for 250 FPE.

          Its replacement, the 0.380in aka .38/200 (U.S. .38 S&W) was of the same vintage as the .455 (both dated to the 1880s), but due to higher muzzle velocity (800 F/S) delivered the same energy to the target as the .455- about 210 FPE.

          In other words, the 0.380, far from being a “step down” in killing power from the old .455, was essentially the same power in a lighter, more convenient package.

          I’ve often wondered why the British Army didn’t just go ahead and chamber their new revolver for 9 x 19mm, using half-moon clips as the U.S. Army did in the M1917 Colt and S&W in .45 ACP. It would have been just as light and convenient, would have had the advantage of using the same ammunition as their Sten and Lanchester SMGS, and had about twice the muzzle energy of the other two.

          Plus, ammunition resupply in the field was simply a matter of shooting a German armed with a 9mm pistol or SMG, and taking his.



          • The UK introduced the .38/200 in 1922, when it wasn’t interested in submachine guns. The Lanchester was a Navy affair, not needed in large numbers and outside the Army supply train. The Sten was a crash wartime program and laggards could not be choosers; the revolvers were hardly relevant by then.

            Now, buying up those US M1917 .45 moon-clip revolvers would have made sense since the Army had introduced the Thompson before the Sten and .45 ACP was already in their supply chain.

          • I recall the UK only widely adopted the 9×19 Parabellum because (1) they captured a huge stock of Italian 9mm ammunition in Libya and (2) the Lancaster chambering was because it was the easiest solution for the reverse engineering. The British Purchasing Mission even commissioned the unfortunate Smith & Wesson Light Rifle, which eventually led to another revolver cartridge. Maybe these are rumors, but the interregnum UK small arms choices have always puzzled me – aircraft machine guns mostly in .303, but tanks with 7.92 Mauser or .303 and the various Vickers .50 caliber cartridges. The crash buying of Thompson only underlines the confusion.

          • Pete;

            The TSMG buy by the BPC is another of the “dirty little secrets”. The myth is that the “Tommy Gun” was “the gun that made the Twenties roar”, in fact there’s even an “historical” book with that title.

            In 1921 Auto-Ordnance Corporation, which was a “paper corp”, a stock holding company with no actual manufacturing capability, contracted with Colt to make 10,000 “parts sets” for the new Model 1921 Thompson, which were delivered by Colt within 90 days. (They had plenty of excess capacity at the time, due to no longer having as many U.S. Army contracts.)

            In 1928, AOC ordered 10,000 more of the updated M1928 from Colt, and again Colt was quick off the mark to fill the order.

            Then Auto-Ordnance sat back and confidently waited for orders.

            In 1940 the British Purchasing Commission bought the remaining unsold stock of M1921 and M1928 Thompsons from Auto-Ordnance, with U.S. Government financing under the Lend Lease Act. Total; approximately 18,000 TSMGs, out of the original 20,000.

            The single largest user of the TSMG prior to 1940 was the United States Marine Corps, which issued over 1,200 to its forces, notably for use in the Nicaraguan police action (1922-37).

            Curiously, the U.S. Army only issued a very few TSMGs to its forces in the Philippines, in spite of their nearly constant “problems” with the Moros (local Muslim tribesmen).

            (As you can see, Vietnam wasn’t our first “Vietnam”, and troubles with Islamists are not new, either.)

            Next to the USMC, the biggest “consumers” of TSMGs from 1921 to 1940 were- Warner Brothers Studios and RKO, who used them extensively in their “gangster” movies. According to Stembridge Gun Rentals, who bought their stocks in the 1950s and 1960s, Warner owned over 50 TSMGs and RKO owned about 40.

            The remaining 700 or so were mostly bought in twos and threes by everything from prisons to sheriffs’ departments to armored car companies. When the FBI was allowed to have weapons in 1933, they bought approximately 60, so as to have one or two at each major field office.

            The only “gangsters” who used “Tommy guns” in real life were John Dillinger and Al Capone. Dillinger “borrowed” two M1921s from the sheriff’s office in his infamous “fake gun made of soap” escape. (In fact, it was a real .32 Ortgies automatic smuggled in to him by a bribed turnkey.)

            As for “Snorky”, the two TSMGs used in the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” were the only two his mob had. He bought them from the Cook Co. (IL) sheriff’s department, and normally kept them hidden behind a false wall… in a closet in his mother’s house in Cicero.

            The TSMG really only made a name for itself, for real, in World War Two. And that only because the British government, and its army, were so desperate for infantry weapons that they would even take what they had previously sneeringly referred to as “gangster guns”.

            Well, about the only “gangsters” who used “Tommy guns” worked for Hollywood film studios. And they were shooting blanks.

            I leave you to draw your own conclusions as to how Hollywood affected the National Firearms Act of 1934, and successive gun legislation down to the present day.



      • eon, you stated,”Above 700/950, blow-through often occurs, resulting in the projectile wasting its energy on the landscape beyond the target and endangering bystanders, an important consideration in defensive/law enforcement shooting scenarios.”

        “Overpenetration” is only a political consideration for police departments, and only b/c said departments investigate themselves after missing the miscreant and hitting someone not found guilty yet. I challenge you to find a non-police civilian defensive shooting in which a round passed through the miscreant and hit someone else.

        • You’re correct, it rarely happens, largely due to the use of hollow-point ammunition.

          But prosecuting attorneys who (a) don’t like armed civilians, (b) don’t like police, and/or (c) don’t like the Second Amendment often use “overpenetration” and “excessive power” as excuses to hammer a defensive shooter or police officer in court.

          I’ve also seen it happen in frivolous lawsuits filed by the suspect after conviction- or on the deceased suspect’s next of kin’s behalf by “social justice warrior” type lawyers.

          Let’s not even get into the journalistic prefoession’s reactions- and delusions- on the subject.

          Also, the hard fact is that more power=greater recoil=most shooters who aren’t IPSC competitors or etc. have greater difficulty controlling the sidearm to achieve rapid-fire multiple hits. And no, I don’t put much stock in the “one-shot stop”, based on a number of PM’s in my past experience.

          A medium-power round that hits in the vitals, along with two or more followers, is always going to be more effective than either a higher-powered single hit that may or may not hit a vital organ, and/or a miss.

          Incidentally, RE “one-shot stops”, the only one W.E. Fairbairn ever saw when he was chief firearms instructor for the Shanghai Municipal Police was with a .32 ACP FMJ that happened to hit the target squarely in the heart. He stated (in his book Shooting to Live) that in his considered opinion, the best defensive pistol was the one which most closely imitated a light machine gun in capacity and rate of fire.



  5. I think the “minimum of .40 caliber for Major” was a result of those who pushed 9mm and .38 super too far trying to make Major with them.

    There’s even a term for the injury caused by the case head failure “38 Super Face” or just “Super Face”

    • There are some interesting trade offs in automatic pistol performance.

      The first one is between case capacity versus case head integrity.
      A larger case capacity requires a thinner case head web, but allows slightly greater mv and me at the same chamber pressure.

      Increasing pressure requires a thicker case head website to remain safe.

      Related to this is feed reliability. Back in the mid 2000s, there seemed to be a thing with a certain very popular plastic pistol, that was supposed to have wonderful feed reliability, blowing up, and embedding plastic into the firers.

      What it looked like to me (and I might be absolutely wrong), was that the emphasis on reliable feeding had resulted in a more generous bevelling of the feed ramp into the chamber, hence less support for the case head web.

      Clearly, not every pistol did it, and many pistols would fire many thousands of rounds without incident,

      But that one in however many thousands of pistols with the max tolerance chamber bevel, and that one in however many thousands or millions of rounds with the weaker case head web and perhaps a little bit higher pressure, did seem to find each other, just a little bit too frequently.

  6. Reminds me of the BMW M-1 sports car, which was engineered for Group 5 racing, but never got to race in Group 5 because of a change in the homologation rules that took effect just as the car went into production.

      • Unlike .356 TSW .38 Super is semi-rimmed cartridge, which is not issue in single-stack magazines but might cause some problem in double-stack magazines.

        • 9 x 23 Bergmann-Bayard Long aka 9mm Largo is basically identical to .38 Super except for being a true rimless round that headspaces on the case mouth.

          In my experience, it works very well in .38 Super-chambered 1911-type automatics, with slightly better accuracy than the .38 Super due to more consistent locating of the cartridge in the chamber. Remember,.38 Super headspaces off the semi-rim, which has always given it consistency problems.

          Conversely, it generally takes some gunsmithing to make .38 Super work in a 9mm Largo chambered pistol, notably the extractor. Also, the magazine generally requires some relieving around the back end of the feed lips due to the semi-rim.

          The best solution is to just shoot 9 x 23mm Largo in both.

          The biggest problem is that the much more powerful and higher-pressured 9 x 23mm Winchester (not the same a 9mm Win. Mag.) will chamber and fire in both- usually with unfortunate consequences for the gun and the shooter.

          If they’d made the Winchester round a 9 x 24, we wouldn’t have these problems.



  7. There’s a piece kicking around by Ross Seyfried (one of the very few gunzine writers whom i respect).

    Where he describes the boost to his own confidence, when he saw fellow competitors showing up with the latest fancy gear.

    Seyfried says that he realised that they were trying to buy ability, rather than develop it through practice and self improvement.

    That doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t some good business opportunities, making products to appeal to the equipment fetishists.

    I’m extremely rusty on the twentieth century history of S&W.

    For much of that century, S&W seem to have been producing guns with excellent design, materials, quality of construction and finish.

    While most people will claim to want those qualities, the data from actual sales, suggests that few of those people are willing to pay for them.

    Add to that, the late 1960s through to well into the 1980s was a period during which central bank counterfeiting, invisibly robbed a lot of businesses and individuals.

    It was also a period of very sharp business cycles, suddenly a lot of new competitors would spring up, then even more suddenly all of the buyers would disappear.

    S&W ended up in poor shape, with quality slipping, and owned by a British conglomerate, who didn’t seem to know much about shooters; they lobbied the ?Clinton regime to introduce legislation requiring gun locks.

    Never a good move!

    This gun was released right around the time when S&W had somewhat clueless corporate owners.

    Colt, also seemed unable to get anything right in this time period as well.

    • Colt still can’t get anything right. They’ve basically abandoned production of anything except Peacemakers for the cowboy action shooters, .45 1911s for the Cooperites, and M16s for the U.S. military.

      A look at any recent issue of Gun Digest</em. would tell them that there's a terrifically large market for double-action revolvers out there, that Taurus and its subsidiary Rossi are cashing in on, by delivering good-quality S&W clones at about half of S&W's inflated prices.

      Colt introduced an updated version of the Detective Special in .38 Spl a couple of years ago, designed for fast and economical CAD/CAM production. And then forgot all about it, content to peddle Peacemakers and 1911s to gamesmen and nostalgia buffs.

      They don't make 9mm autos, they don't make .357 or .22 revolvers except for Peacemakers, and they don't even make a .44 Magnum hunting revolver since they dropped the short-lived Anaconda (1991-98). They don't make .38 Special revolvers, period. To judge by Taurus, Rossi, and Charter Arms' sales, there are a lot of people who like .38 Special revolvers even in this day and age.

      Colt needs to launch a new, CAD/CAM built .357 Python, a similar .357 King Cobra and .44 Magnum Anaconda, and a "bread and butter" 4" fixed-sight .38 Special with a 2" fixed-sight "sibling". The Magnums should not cost more than $500 retail, the .38s half that.

      As for a 9mm auto, buying the rights to make something like the CZ-100 here in the States would solve that problem quickly and simply. And it shouldn't cost more than $400.

      Colt also badly needs an up-to-date pocket auto in .32 or .380 ACP, if not 9 x 19mm. There are any number of suitable designs floating around Europe, they should "adopt" one.

      As for Smith & Wesson- they need to either reduce their prices or get out of the handgun business.

      In both companies' cases, what's really needed is new ownership and a new board of directors, who actually believe in being in the business of selling firearms to Americans other than government employees.

      clear ether


      • “Colt also badly needs an up-to-date pocket auto in (…) .380 ACP”
        Is there something wrong with Colt Mustang XSP? It is or not “up-to-date”? If not why?

        • It’s a single-action, 1911-type, basically a reiteration of the old Colt Pony, which BTW was actually a “captive import” from Spain.

          Generally, single-action requiring Condition One (cocked and locked) carry is not a good idea on a “pocket” pistol. There’s too good a chance of that safety being “rubbed off” in the pocket, with unfortunate results in an emergency draw. “Beating yourself to the draw” isn’t just a saying.

          A true pocket pistol should not require the manipulation of a manual safety to use. Nor should it depend upon such a safety for safe carry.

          As such, a pocket automatic should either be a “traditional” Walther/Menz type double-action, a pure trigger-cocker like the (non-pocket) HK VP-70Z, or a “safe action” like the Glock and its clones. Ideally, the only “safety” required should be keeping your finger off the trigger until your sights are on the target.

          And unlike the S&W M39/59-based “DAOs”, it should not require a tap-rack-BANG to “reset” the trigger to allow a second strike on a dud primer. The trigger-cocking system should be like a double-action revolver’s, completely independent of the slide’s activity or lack thereof.

          A pocket revolver should have some provision to prevent the hammer snagging inside the pocket on the draw. The S&W Bodyguard .38 Special or the Colt .38 snubs with hammer shrouds were probably the ideal arrangement. The S&W Centennial or even the old Iver Johnson Safety Hammerless had their good points, as well, but I prefer to be able to thumb-cock if the target is beyond 50 meters with a “snubby”, or any other revolver for that matter.

          Remember, the snub or any other “compact” pistol is for unexpected problems, and those problems may be farther away than you anticipate, especially in this day and age.

          FTR,my on-duty “pocket” pistols at one time or another were an FEG R-61 in 9 x 18 Makarov, a Colt Lawman MK III 2 1/2″ in .357 (yes, it fits in a pocket), and early on, a Mauser M1934 in 7.65mm Browning. It was the only one with a manual safety, but at least it had one that was less likely to be accidentally released due to the “pushbutton” setup. Conversely, it could easily be released with the right thumb in assuming the correct firing grip. Still, I was never entirely comfortable with it, and replaced it with a DA as soon as I could.



          • Colt had a DAO 9mm pistol in ’99, the “Pocket 9”, and the new Pony in .380acp, along with the single action Mustang. They quickly disappeared due to being sued for patent infringement, by Kahr, IIRC. Those could now be put back into production, I think, but a Colt manager I talked to wouldn’t even acknowledge the suit had occurred. They have no parts for the guns, and are unable to work on them, apparently. The Pocket 9 has re-strike capability, but I don’t know if the Pony did, as I never found one to buy at that time.
            Colt has a history of mismanagement from day one. It appears to be a management culture that has replicated itself. An ongoing culture can be seen in many companies, and seems to be nearly impossible to eradicate when it has bad aspects such as this. This is a company that lost money during WW2. How is that even possible?

  8. 1911 Mafia strikes again! The .45 ACP is obsolete as a service cartridge.
    Practical pistol should revolve around the modern (and factory stock) 9mm service pistol.

    • there are no obsolete weapons, only obsolete tactics. the 45ACP works just fine when used properly, the same as any other pistol caliber.

      if I defend myself with a slingshot, would you cry time out and scold me about how a rock propelled by rubber bands is obsolete? if I used said rock and rubber bands successfully, is it actually obsolete?

      • “(…)when used properly(…)”
        I think that you missed important part as a service cartridge. Note that bullet-resistant vest are today much common than in 1905. Slow and big-diameter .45 bullets of .45 ACP are poorly suited for going through said vest.

    • You forget, or are unaware, of the wartime experiences of stopping power of .45acp BALL ammo vs 9mm BALL. If restricted to BALL ammo, you want .45 in your gun. That was the reasoning for our special forces types to go back to the 1911 (and the HK23?) for cave hunting forays in the Middle-East, and other uses that tended to mandate a pistol.

      Also bear in mind that the vast, vast majority of stockpiled and training ammo will be BALL, in both calibers.

  9. If I recall correctly, the original “power” rating spec of the .45 ACP was to stop a man on a horse. I like my old 1911 because ammo is cheap and available, it shoots well and reliably, and I already own it. Works for me….

    • Yeah, the pistol is technically a cavalryman’s weapon, for potting the enemy horseman or shooting the enemy’s horse out from under him. The horse generally does NOT wear bullet-proof armor.

  10. Love your site Ian. Keep up the good work.

    I own two 3566 pistols and load ammo for both in .356TSW.

    Ian is incorrect in stating the longer .356TSW case allows for more case volume for additional powder.

    Both 9×19 and .356TSW are loaded to the same OAL. This means the case volume is the same and actually a bit less in the TSW because the web of the case is beefed up significantly over a 9×19 case.

    It is a shame he didn’t disassemble this pistol. The fit on these is increadibly precise, both my 3566 pistols are easily as accurate as my S&W PPC9 (a bullseye type pistol). One inch groups are routine at 25m.

    Parts on these pistols are numbered AND WILL NOT INTERCHANGE with another pistol.

    The trigger on these pistols are fully adjustable for take up and reset. When set up properly there is barely any perceptable take up and a ridiculous short reset. My two 3566s triggers both adjust via different methods, apparently S&W modifid the design slightly during the production run. Both ways work just fine.

    I have never been able to figure out what S&W did to allow such high pressures to be run in the 3566 series pistols since I cannot see any real differences between the 3566 series and other performance center 9x19s being manufactured at the same time. S&W also manufactured a 5 inch 5906 that came with three different barrels including one in 356TSW, so I have a sneaking suspicion that the 59XX series is strong enough to shoot 356TSW with maybe just a spring change. S&W offered several different handguns in 356TSW including a revolver.

    • You make a good point about the capacity and case web thickness, and it is probably better to state the cartridges maximum average pressures, the 9mm Luger +P being 38,500 psi, and the 356 TSW being 50,000 psi, but he did a great job as usual presenting an interesting piece of firearms history. I like how he detailed the quality of the 3566. It was interesting as well what he said about the 9mm barrel option as I tried to get S&W to make these years ago and they would not do it. I got Briley to do it though, and even ended up selling some of them on GB. Briefly speaking with Ian at this years SHOT show I got the impression he is a true gun aficionado.

  11. Very cool. Some of your information is a bit off but it is great that you finally did a segment on this, thank you! If you would like to review any of the other versions I have examples of all six models that S&W manufactured in this caliber.

  12. sirs:

    1911 colt in 9x23mm winchester, 124 grain hollow point. or, a 1911 shooting 165 grain enclosed plastic hollow point. (greatly reduced recoil, good accuracy and dependable feeding.)

    i favor the commander length 1911, just easier for me to handle.

    “practice. practice. practice.” (joe “willy” namath on another topic, but very good advice for proficiency w/ a handgun.)

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