The first Smith & Wesson Model 48 came out of the factory in 1959 chambered in .22 WMR—a rimfire with added punch that Winchester introduced earlier that year. It didn’t take long for enthusiasts to discover the gun's performance, and its popularity continues to this day. Last year, it made the top-10 list of revolvers sold among retailers using the services of GunBroker.com.
It’s been a tough go for this wheelgun, though. In 1986—when semi-auto pistols were getting the firm grip on the stranglehold on the handgun market they still hold to this day—bean counters decided there wasn’t enough consumer demand to justify its existence. Production came to a halt.
There was no shortage of requests to bring the gun back, and three years later, Smith & Wesson reversed course. That year, a stainless-steel model named the 648 was introduced. A second version (648-2) appeared in 2003, although its internal lock became the target of a lot of criticism.
Still, neither were quite the original. The company recognized the timeless look is part of the popularity and today offers 48s in its Classic line. They retain all the best features, but include improvements only made possible by modern manufacturing. All are chambered for .22 WMR and are external hammered single/double action revolvers.
There are two 48s in the Smith & Wesson Classic line. Both have wood grips with the signature company logo inset, six-round capacity and blued frame and barrel. A pinned Patridge sight gets you on target up front and windage is micro-adjustable at the rear. The 6" barreled model has an MSRP of $1,017 and the 4" comes in at $976. Weights run 41.2 oz. and 38 oz., respectively.
The stainless steel Model 648 has an MSRP of $772. It comes with a 6" barrel and has the same sights as its blued cousins but, unlike them, has an eight-round capacity. The synthetic grips contrast nicely with metalwork, although it’s far from the look of the original Model 48.