By Luis Valdes
The S&W 4566 TSW was the last of the 3rd Gen .45 Autos. Solid hunks of stainless steel with a levem of craftsmanship that rivaled custom guns. The Ruger P345 was the last of the classic P Series guns. Internally, it is a classic P97 .45 ACP with the cluttered sharp ergonomics of a brick removed.
Both had everything that would have been in demand in the 90s. Loaded chamber indicator or witness holes, magazine disconnect, 8rd capacity, slide mounted decocker/safety, accessory rails for weapon mounted lights, slick no snag sights, and stainless components. And of course they were hammer fired DA/SA guns.
In an era of high capacity striker fired 9mms averaging 18rds now. A single stack 8rd .45 ACP with a DA/SA trigger just wouldn’t fly. But in the 90s, they would have been quite popular, especially since the Clinton Assault Weapons Ban was in full force. 1911s regained popularity because of the ban, but some still had an aversion to carrying cocked and locked. So manufacturers like Sig, Colt, Ruger, and S&W all came out with DA/SA .45 ACP guns to replace the 1911. (The Colt was the “Double Eagle” a 1911 converted to DA/SA offered in .45ACP and 10MM-Editor)
The S&W Model 4506 (8 rds & 41.6 oz), Ruger P90 (7 rds & 34 oz), SIG P220 (7 rds & 30.4 oz), and the Colt Double Eagle (8 rds & 41.52 oz).
All were horribly antiquated by their release due to GLOCK. But again, remember the AWB took away from the civilian market one of GLOCK’s biggest strengths. A double stack magazine with a double digit capacity. Suddenly, much like the 1911, the DA/SA Single Stacks were popular.
Ruger continued with the P90 line and made the P97, polymer framed version. Colt shuttered the Double Eagle. S&W took the 4506 and evolved it into the 4506-1 and the ever popular 4566. Sig did well with the P220 and still produce it to this day.
But S&W and Ruger went on different paths with theirs. Ruger streamlined the P97 and made it i to the P345 and gave it everything someone would’ve wanted in 1999 or 2000. The problem is, they instituted these upgrades right before the ban the ended. The P345 suddenly found itself out of place in a world of now legally available Double Stack .45s and Wonder Nines. Production ended in around 2011-2012 time frame.
S&W did something similar. They took the 4566 line and made the Tactical Smith & Wesson line (TSW for short). It too was designed at the tail end of the AWB and faced an uphill battle and clawed a small but loyal market share in law enforcement circles due to older established relationships between S&W and Police Departments. The final iteration shown above was produced in 2011 and that was it. The line was closed after that.
Both guns share similar traits, but on the opposite side. One oozes quality with machining and steel making while the other oozes affordability due to experienced with casting. Both though are the best of their product lines.
But again, the AWB end (thank God) and any market for these guns dried up. They are fantastic shooters and when I have the time, I definitely plan on doing a head to head review of them.
Though neither of these guns are fairly old. The mindset and ideas that led to their developments are rooted in the past. Over 30 years now if we go back to when the DA/SA craze started taking over in the 80s and early 90s. They are guns of a bygone era.