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Featured Firearm Friday – The Smith & Wesson Model 61 “Escort”

On Featured Firearm Friday, I will tell you all about a firearm I either own and love or don’t own (yet) but covet. I’ll tell you about what I shoot in competition, carry, and just take to the the range for practice. As time goes on, I hope to also be able to tell you what’s new and awesome. Please feel free to ask any specific questions about what I review. I’d also love to hear your suggestions for what I should be trying and talking about on Shooting In Lipstick. Today, I will be reviewing the a very special pistol, my father-in-law’s Smith & Wesson Model 61.

I hope you’ll find this review as much of a special treat as I do. This little pistol is a very cool little self defense piece. It belongs to my father-in-law, who was kind enough to let me take photos to share with you. I will be share another of his wonderful firearms, a revolver, in a few weeks as well. Stay tuned for that.

The History of the Smith & Wesson Model 61

Photo shows the Smith & Wesson Model 61
Isn’t she lovely? Isn’t she wonderful?

The Smith & Wesson Model 61, also called the “Escort” was made from 1970 to 1973. It was an attempt by Smith & Wesson to create a very small self defense pistol that was easy to conceal. It is chambered in .22lr and was announced a full two years before it was actually made available to the public. Most believe the pistol was initially expected to appeal largely to women but it also grew popular as a backup gun for law enforcement. My FIL is a retired police officer, so his use case was the latter.

There were four versions of the Smith & Wesson Model 61: 61 (March 1970), 61-1 (May 1970), 61-2 (September 1970), and 61-3 (July 1971). The updates were in response to issues with the firearm and each sought to make the Model 61 better and safer to use. I believe FIL’s is the 61-3.

In total, just under 65,000 of the Smith & Wesson Model 61 pistols were created during its 3 years of production. This limited run makes these little guys a sought after item and a very interesting and unique addition to any firearms collection. You can pick them up used in various conditions from about $300 up to $900 for Escorts with papers and the original pouch.

For more information on the Smith & Wesson Model 61, I recommend the article here and here.

Specifications of the Smith & Wesson Model 61

Check out this super cool photo I found to show you!

photo shows an original print of the specs for the Smith & Wesson Model 61
Photo credit: firearmstalk.com

That’s Great, Erin…but How Does it SHOOT?

I love this little guy. Despite its minuscule size, I wouldn’t recommend it for a newbie or inexperienced shooter. For one, its a bobdarned antique! Also, its so small and light you have to have some major control to hit the broad side of a barn at any distance. But yes, it is super fun to shoot.

I don’t think I’ll be winning any marksmanship awards with it, but I do enjoy trying to be as precise as possible with such a small frame and short barrel. Shooting it also makes me feel really cool.

I think there is room in any firearms aficionado’s collection for some unique and cool antique pieces. This one is special because it is not something that could NEVER be made today (small guns make certain kinds of people just as nervous as big ones) but also because it belonged to my father-in-law who proudly served his community and has so many incredible tales to tell.

Photo shows the Smith & Wesson Model 61 with the magazine removed
Here is the Model 61 with the magazine removed

The Drawbacks

It is hard to rate the tactical pros and cons of a pistol like this one. The Smith & Wesson Model 61 isn’t made to be a primary carry pistol. It definitely wouldn’t be much use in competition. And I don’t think I would use it to teach a new shooter, even if the size is tempting.

In a pinch, I would definitely strap it to my ankle and I am super pleased I’ve had the chance to shoot this nifty little piece of Smith & Wesson’s history.

I think this one will stay in our family for generations to come.

You can find my other Featured Firearm Friday posts here.