I first laid eyes on this little/big gem while on a prairie dog hunt in the great state of Montana. It took just one shot at a distant prairie dog for me to know I had to get one in my hands. Big, heavy, long and beautiful, its performance on varmints was astounding.
The Smith & Wesson 647 Varminter is a product of the famous Smith & Wesson Performance Center. That’s where souped up guns, with lots of extra design features, and tender loving care come from. While you can discern the Performance Centers roots from the engraving on the side, this gun looks the part. Brushed stainless steel finish, shrouded and fluted barrel and beautiful wood stocks make its premium status pretty obvious.
In the box
This revolver arrives in pieces so to speak. You can think of it as a modular platform with a bunch of goodies inside the box that you can configure to your personal taste.
The revolver itself arrived naked. It had an adjustable rear site and the built-in rail, but nothing else mounted. The rear sight is a standard black notch design with windage and elevation adjustment screws. Included in the box is a front sight that clamps onto the exterior of the barrel, just forward of the fluting. This sight is a flat black, partridge style blade. The edges and corners are sharp, so you can get a crisp sight picture. If you want to go irons only, just pop this on and you’re ready to rock.
While we’re talking about sights, you’ll find a UTG 6” Commando red dot sight in the box too. This model comes with a Weaver / Picatinny mount that installs on the machined-in rail on the 647 Varminter. The optic offers adjustable red and green illumination and a sun shade up front.
You’ll find a stainless steel Picatinny rail segment that’s about 1 ¾ inches long. This screws onto the base of the barrel shroud just forward of the ejector rod. This is for the included UTG Shooters Bipod. This Bipod comes with a Picatinny rail clamp to mount directly to the Smith rail segment. The legs are about 4 ½ inches long with wide rubber feet for stability. The bipod legs lock into the up and down positions and release with a gnurled sliding knob. It’s an easy, quick, and positive locking action. The mount itself has a limited swivel movement, so once the legs are planted, you can traverse the revolver side to side. This traverse plate has a friction adjustment, so you can loosen the swivel action or lock it down according to your personal preference. The UTG Bipod comes with its original packaging, so there are extra goodies in there like a swivel stud mount. You won’t need this for the Smith & Wesson 647, so just know they’re there in case you want to use the bipod for other guns.
Also in the box are the obligatory extras including cable gun lock, owners manual, and fired cases. You’ll also find two keys for the internal lock present on most (or maybe all) of new Smith & Wesson revolvers. Because lawyers.
At first glance, you might think the 647 Varminter is a slightly scaled down version of the 460XVR, except the cylinder is a heck of a lot smaller. A barrel shroud with machined-in rail extends forward of the frame, then transitions to a long and elegant looking fluted barrel. On the 647 the shrouded section extends almost 4 ½ inches from the frame. The fluted barrel segment is an additional 7 inches, part of which is covered by a locking ring. Overall barrel length is 12 inches. With a satin stainless finish all around, this is one attractive revolver. You’ll notice a shallow beveled crown on the muzzle which helps protect from nicks and dings.
The shroud completely covers the ejector rod until you release the cylinder. One note here. There are about 1 ½ inches of clear space between the front of the ejector rod and the bipod mount which I found to be plenty of room to operate the ejector rod without interference.
The cylinder itself is fluted. As the .17 HMR is a rimmed cartridge, the chambers are inset into the cylinder, so cartridge bases line up flush when inserted. The ejector star is inset likewise.
Both hammer and trigger are chromed. The trigger has an adjustable over-travel screw, accessible with a small Allen wrench from the back side. When I received the gun, it was properly set with no detectable over-travel, but you can adjust according to your preference in seconds. While we’re talking about the trigger, I tested single-action pull weight at exactly 4.25 pounds. In single-action mode, there is hardly any movement prior to a crisp break, perhaps somewhere between 1/16 and 1/32 of an inch. The double-action trigger press exceeded my 10 pound Timney Trigger scale, but my educated guess is that it’s around 12 pounds. This is one of the few revolvers I would almost always shoot single-action anyway. I for one am not going to go all revolver purist and take precise long distance shots through a magnified optic using double-action. The hammer has aggressive checkering and has a positive feel, so cocking for single-action shots is easy and sure.
The stocks are two-piece wood. They are mounted using pins that lock them into position on the frame and an additional pin that secures them to each other. A single screw keeps them in place. Unlike other two-piece handgun stocks I’ve seen, these are incredibly secure. There is what I would describe as “soft” checkering on the sides of the stocks. This is appropriate as there is not enough recoil to make a super-sticky grip surface a necessity.