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Note the lack of a 'step up' in the frame that the older 4506 has as well as the rounded trigger guard.Also note the straight backstrap to the pistol grip versus the curved backstrap on the older model.Along with its "big brother", the larger Smith & Wesson 4506, it is one of several .45 ACP pistols authorized by the LAPD.It is also available in the "tactical" version (equipped with an accessory rail).The .38 M&P underwent numerous mechanical changes over the years in an effort to upgrade the cylinder locking system.There were numerous hammer safety improvements as well.(It is differentiated from the Smith & Wesson 645 by its rounded butt and its wraparound grips, as opposed to the non-wraparound grips and the straight butt of the 645.) The modern variant, the 4506-1, comes with a round trigger guard instead of a squared 'finger step' trigger guard, stainless steel hammer, and stainless steel trigger.
So well tuned was the mechanism that it failed to cycle when used with standard European 9mm ammunition.
The 4506 series comes with a ambidextrous safety and decocker, and it is a favorite with both law enforcement and private citizens alike.
(1989 - 1999) The Smith & Wesson 4566 is a single-stack "Third Generation" S&W auto pistol chambered in .45 ACP.
The company was under serious financial hardship and close to folding.
An advance of one million dollars from the British Purchasing Commission for a new sub-machine gun seemed to be the light at the end of the tunnel for Smith & Wesson.