Two of Smith & Wesson's '90s Stainless Metallic Fantastics


S&W’s Model 625-5 on top and the Model 4506-1 on the bottom.

Ahhh, the 1990s, a decade of good and bad.

When The Rachel was the haircut that all the women wanted, Grunge replaced Metal in the music world, and the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban happened.

Wait, err…. I said good things happened in that decade too, right? So what were the good things you ask? Well, other than my beloved Florida Marlins coming into existence and winning the 1997 World Series along with the 16-bit console wars happening. The 1990s brought us two guns, well, kinda.

In reality, the 1990s was leeching off the last little bit of awesomeness that was the 1980s since the two guns we’re talking about today were both developed and released in the late 1980s. They just happened to really hit their stride in the 1990s much like the tv show Baywatch.

Today, we’re talking about two totally bodacious stainless steel wonders, Smith & Wesson’s Model 4506-1 and the Model 625-5.

Both are massive chunks of stainless steel, both are chambered in .45 ACP, both have five inch barrels, and both are awesome guns from Big Blue before lawyer locks and polymer took over the product lines.

December 1988 issue of Shooting Times magazine showing S&W’s new Model 4506 .45 ACP automatic. Notice the “step” in the frame just above of the trigger guard.

The S&W Model 4506-1 is the evolutionary offspring of the Model 645 of Miami Vice fame. The third iteration of the company’s full-size five inch .45 automatic, the Model 4506-1 is a Third Generation pistol that shares its roots with the 10mm.

Original S&W print ad for their 10mm Auto Model 1006 pistol and Model 610 revolver. Notice the pistol frame doesn’t have the “step”.

When Big Blue decided to make a 10mm automatic lead slinger, they took the Model 4506 as the starting point but reworked and strengthened the frame. They beefed it up and got rid of the “step.”

And since the desk shackled white collared bean counters in management liked saving money, they figured why make two separate frames? It’s easier and cheaper to use one universal “large frame” for both the .45 ACP and the 10mm Auto. So that’s what they did, and the Model 4506-1 was born.

A traditional double/single action design, the Model 4506-1 has a capacity of 8+1 of good old American goodness.

Eight round dispenser of .45 ACP goodness.

Made completely out of stainless steel, this gun is HEAVY and weighs in at over two-and-a-half pounds.

But that’s good and bad. Good because it soaks up recoil and if you run out of ammo you can bludgeon your attacker to death. Bad because it is a boat anchor and will kill your hip if you wear it all day, or it’ll simply drown you if you fall into Biscayne Bay.

Anyway, the Model 4506-1 served in a number of agencies across the country including the Los Angeles Police Department.

Commemorative Model 4506-1 made for the LAPD.

Production of the five inch .45 automatic boat anchor ended in 1999. The commander sized Model 4566 stayed in production for much longer.  But overall, while heavy, no one really complained about the gun having issues. As a mater of fact, the LAPD still authorizes their officers to qualify with the Model 4506-1 and carry it to this day.

The other gun we’re looking at is the Model 625, a gun with a proud and storied ancestry. The Model 625 is a N-Frame wheel gun that is the spiritual successor of the Model 25, which is a commercialized version of the WWI Combat Revolver, the US Army Model 1917.

S&W M1917 on top with the Colt M1917 on the bottom. Yes, the LAPD even issued the S&W M1917 after WWI.

The Model 625 was Big Blue’s answer to a capable and accurate revolver for International Practical Shooting Confederation in 1988. This wasn’t their first gun made for IPSC; the Model 745 Automatic was a IPSC inspired gun, too.

Original ad of the S&W Model 625.

What made the Model 625 a really in-demand gun was its adjustable sights, stainless finish, a full under-lug on the barrel for better balance, the great trigger you’d expect from a S&W revolver, and it was a six shot .45 ACP blaster with the ability to use moon-clips for quick reloads.

Weighing in just under two-and-a-half pounds, this gun wasn’t a featherweight. But as a competition inspired gun it wasn’t meant to be: weight was seen as a positive in the gun games since more weight meant less recoil. But the Model 625 didn’t just become popular in the gun golf leagues. It became very popular in police circles, too.

A double action revolver in .45 ACP with a stainless finish is something that wheel gun carrying beat cops were happy to have. Back when hollow point ammunition was still not 100% capable, the .45 ACP chambered revolver was a very popular gun, especially since the Model 625 can fire loads that would choke a 1911.

Much like the Model 4506-1, a number of police departments allowed their officers to qualify with and carry the big brute. Even in the 2010s, the Model 625 was on the approved roster of duty guns with agencies like the Whately Police Department in Massachusetts.

Unlike the Model 4506-1 and the Third Generation automatics in general, the Model 625 is still being made to this day in one flavor or another.

Model 625 Jerry Miculek Special, courtesy of Smith & Wesson.

Except now it has been cursed with a lawyer lock.

My two ’90s Stainless Metallic Fantastics.

This particular Model 625-5 was made in 1998 and purchased around 1999 at a gun shop that I honestly can’t remember anymore. I do recall it was near or off Le Jeune Road in Miami, FL. The -5 shows that there’s been some upgrades to the gun since its original release. But it is still before the dreaded lock was added. I’ve spent the past two decades enjoying this gun and I’ll continue to do so.

This Model 4506-1 was born in 1994. I found her at Lou’s Police Supply in Hialeah, FL. She was sitting there, alone and unwanted in the used handgun counter over a decade and a half ago priced for the minty sum of $200. I just had to give her a good home, how could I say no to such a good looking gal?

Both are great shooters and wonderful home defense guns.

While these guns are easily outclassed for general duty use and even concealed carry, they’re still more than capable of defending hearth and home along with being up to the task of outdoor defense from some four legged predators.

With a simple spring swap, the Model 4506-1 can shoot .45 Super and that gives you some great self defense loads against critters you might run into on the trail. The Model 625 can also shoot some potent loads and .45 Super is also doable in that gun. Plus, you can even shoot .45 Auto-Rim and .45 GAP in the Model 625 if .45 ACP is hard to find or you’re just a weirdo.

I have mine defensively loaded with Speer’s .45 GAP 200gr Gold Dot since I found that ammo dirt cheap and collecting dust in a local shop.

Out on the range at Talon Range in Midway, FL, both are great shooters as you can see here.

The groups and targets speak the truth.

All in all, these are two great guns from a bygone era. Back when Big Blue didn’t just make the striker fired M&P, 1911, and AR-15. These were guns from an era when they stood out from a crowded industry and tried to forge a path based on their own design and not simply do what the herd did.

While S&W today is still in the gun game making some great 1911s, I wish they brought back the Third Generation of automatics and I wish they made revolvers like mine. No lawyer locks, no two piece barrels, and just all around smoothness in the trigger.

If you stumble across either of these guns, snag it. You won’t be disappointed.

Luis Valdes is the Florida Director for Gun Owners of America.





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