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Old November 26, 2008, 05:05 PM   #1
VonFireball
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Recommend me a good 3 inch DA revolver

Was thinking about a Ruger SP101 seeing as how they want a fortune for a Speed Six.

I just want something reliable, tough, and accurate, as well as coming with a decent fit and finish regularly. I want a three inch barrel and an exposed hammer.

I like .32 H&R mags, .357 mags, haven't tried the .327 federal, .44 special is good, .45 Colt, etc etc. I have most of those dies. I like to reload what I shoot.

I just want to make the best choice on this one, and being a heavy single action guy most of my life, I'm kind of without a clue as to what my options would be.

So far, I know of the SP101, the Smith 686 (I think), a Rossi 720 (no longer made), and that's about it.

Help me out. I can't start shopping until I know what's available.

Max price, about six hundred bucks whether new or used.

Thanks in advance.
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Old November 26, 2008, 05:31 PM   #2
stevieboy
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More information would be helpful. Are you looking for something you can carry and conceal? Or, are you looking for something a little more all-round, something that would be fun to shoot at the range. If it's the former, then, the next question is how light do you want to go? I believe that you can find the Ruger SP model in 3" iterations, but that's a fairly heavy gun, not something you can carry in your pocket. Smith and Wesson makes a Model 60, which is a relatively small revolver (more or less in the same ballpark as the SP and which, I believe, may come in 3").

I'm not sure that there are revolvers that are lighter than the two I mentioned that come in 3" lengths except, possibly, some of the Smith & Wesson Night Guard series (check their website). These are fancy and very pricey guns.

As for bigger revolvers, it's pretty much catch as catch can. I don't believe that Smith is currently making most of its K and L frame revolvers in 3" barrel lengths. The one possible exception is the Smith 586 L-Comp, again, a Performance Center gun, which may come as a 3-incher. It, too, is a very pricey gun.

Several of the older model Smiths were from time to time issued in 3" versions. I wouldn't be quoted on this, but I suspect that the Smith Model 27, a large-frame 38/357, may have been issued in 3" So also for the 686 and its predecesser, the 586. For a good overview of what's out there and available, go to the Gunbroker website, then link to "Revolvers." On the opening page of their revolver sales, is a window in the upper right hand corner that will link you to every example of any given gun that is currently up for auction. So, for example, if you type in "Smith & Wesson Model 686" you'll see all of them. If there are any 3" guns for sale on Gunbroker you can quickly find 'em that way.
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Old November 26, 2008, 05:33 PM   #3
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Yes, more info. If you're leaning towards a CCW/self-defense gun, I would say the SP101. For a range gun or hunting, the 686 (although if you have some single-actions, you may have target shooting and hunting covered).
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Old November 26, 2008, 05:39 PM   #4
VonFireball
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Quote:
More information would be helpful. Are you looking for something you can carry and conceal?
Yeah, IWB in particular. Weight means little to me. I want something I can load up with hotter rounds if I choose and not have the gun crap out on me.

Whatever I decide on will get two or three thousand rounds a year through it.

And I forgot to mention that I prefer stainless steel whenever possible.
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Old November 26, 2008, 05:40 PM   #5
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Another thought: If you're NOT looking for a concealment gun then I'd think about looking for a 4" revolver. While 3" guns are relatively hard to find there are innumerable 4" guns for sale at any given moment, some of them very reasonably priced. Over the weekend I acquired a Smith & Wesson Model 66 at a gunshow, a 4" .357 magnum that may well be the classic S & W double action revolver. If you go to Gunbroker and check out what revolvers are up for sale, you'll see what I mean in an instant. Here are the models to check out for great medium and large size 4" guns: (1) 38s: Smith & Wesson models 10, 14, 15, 64, 67; (2) .357s, Ruger Security and Speed Sixes, GP100s, Smith & Wesson models 19, 27, 28, 65, 66, 627, 581, 586, 686; (3) .41 magnums, Smith & Wesson models 57, 58, and 657; (4) 44 Specials, Smith & Wesson models 24 and 624, (5) 44 magnums, Ruger Redhawk, Smith & Wesson models 29 and 629; (6) 45 ACP, Smith & Wesson models 21, 25, 625.

And, there are others!
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Old November 26, 2008, 05:42 PM   #6
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If you want a stainless 3" gun for concealment I'd start by looking at the Ruger SP and the Smith model 60. Both stainless, both relatively lightweight but not featherweight. I'd look at some of the 4" guns just for comparison.
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Old November 26, 2008, 05:52 PM   #7
VonFireball
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Quote:
If you want a stainless 3" gun for concealment I'd start by looking at the Ruger SP and the Smith model 60. Both stainless, both relatively lightweight but not featherweight.
Which of the two is a more durable gun?

I work in a hot environment outdoors most of the year as well as being up to my ears in sand.

I'm wondering if I should even bother. Even wearing combat boots, sand creeps in to every crevice and crack. Pockets fill with sand. Sand sticks to my shirt when I'm sweating. It's unavoidable.

I need the gun that can take the most abuse.
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Old November 26, 2008, 07:38 PM   #8
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The SP101 .357 3" is a tank. I love mine.
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Old November 26, 2008, 08:30 PM   #9
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The SP101 is far and away the more durable revolver

Here's an excellent thread on strengths & weaknesses of the different manufacturers' DA revolvers in general:

http://www.thefiringline.com/forums/...d.php?t=317876

I bought a new SP101 for about $460 I believe. Bought the Wilson spring kit, downloaded the IBOK on how to polish up the action and installed the reduced power springs, and it is all good.

Much as I love the SP101, I have to admit that the S&W actions are still smoother. For a defense gun, a S&W would be fine. You'd be shooting 38 Specials or 38+P most likely, and Smiths will handle those OK. They'll just shoot loose sooner. The Ruger will never shoot loose.

OWB with an untucked shirt is a better option in my opinion. SP101s are bigger than the S&W J frames, but smaller than the K frames. Kind of big for IWB, unless all your pants are too big already.
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Old November 26, 2008, 08:32 PM   #10
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Smith and Wesson Model 60-15 357 magnum in Stainless.

Pick one up at the gun store and check it out.

Concealable yet adjustable sights and the three inch barrel.

Accurate and powerful.

Just a great gun.
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Old November 26, 2008, 08:45 PM   #11
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Ruger's SP is a nice piece but if you're serious about heavy loads, and/or doing a lot of shooting, you might consider something a little heftier especially if you're not too worried about the weight while carrying. It'd be more comfortable and fun--shooting--in the long run.
I have a stainless Ruger 4" GP100 in 357 Magnum and love it; she's a shooter and reasonably priced to boot. It's comfortable shooting heavy .357 loads; and I can shoot .38 Specials in her all day long. I'm not a big guy so it's a little big--for me--to CCW, comfortably, but that's not why I bought it. It's a tank and some say a little overbuilt - which would be appropriate for numerous, heavy loads.
For more specifics and detailed, ongoing conversations of both the SP101 and GP100, check out http://www.rugerforum.net/index.php
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Old November 26, 2008, 08:51 PM   #12
VonFireball
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Quote:
Much as I love the SP101, I have to admit that the S&W actions are still smoother. For a defense gun, a S&W would be fine. You'd be shooting 38 Specials or 38+P most likely, and Smiths will handle those OK. They'll just shoot loose sooner. The Ruger will never shoot loose.
So you are saying that the Ruger will take more abuse loadwise?

I was also looking at some S&W's on gunbroker since so many started rattling off numbers.

I found a few interesting Smith's among a couple other brands.

Here is my list of potentials as of this evening:

1. Ruger SP101 (not sure which caliber I'd choose)
2. Rossi 720 (.44 special)
3. S&W 696 (.44 special)
4. S&W 60 (.357 magnum)
5. S&W 686

Is there a 3 inch barrel version of the 686?

Also, what frame style are the smith's I listed?

I'm wondering cause I want smaller grips than they appear to have and need to find out whether smaller grips are available. I'm skinny so chunky grips are readily noticeable under my shirt.
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Old November 26, 2008, 09:53 PM   #13
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I have the SP101 and recommend it highly.
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Old November 26, 2008, 10:26 PM   #14
stevieboy
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Smith & Wesson's website shows a 7 shot 3" 686 as a current model. Take my word for it: you cannot find a tougher gun than a 686. It is not going to "shoot loose" with even a steady diet of magnum rounds. It's heft will soak up the recoil. I know, there are Ruger afficianados lurking on this forum who will swear that their GP100s are stronger guns. But, in fact, there's never been a study published anywhere supporting that assertion. I own a 686 and I'm obviously biased
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Old November 27, 2008, 02:53 AM   #15
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I have a S&W model 60-15. Had it for about 6 years. It's chambered in .357 and will take them with no problem. 3" bbl., adj. sights, light. I carry it, and don't even notice it's there, IWB. It's suprisingly comfortable to shoot with full power loads. I changed the grips from the Uncle Mikes RB to some Pachmayer Compac's with the little finger cutout, and now it's very easy to shoot well. Also a much nicer action to shoot double action than the Ruger, which is a concern to me for defense.
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Old November 27, 2008, 09:28 AM   #16
Smaug
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Quote:
Originally Posted by VonFireball
So you are saying that the Ruger will take more abuse loadwise?
Yes, and not even those who prefer S&Ws will argue with that. Ruger designed them to be able to continuously shoot magnum loads. Trust me, the gun will handle them longer than you will, no matter what grips are on it.

Also, the stock grips on SP101s are not too big, not too small, and do an excellent job of absorbing recoil. The grip panels are interchangeable. Of course the grips themselves are interchangeable too.







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Old November 29, 2008, 09:07 PM   #17
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S&W makes the Model 686+ with 3" barrel. It's a seven shot six shooter. It also has smaller grips than the regular grips included on the 686 with 4" barrel. There's also the 586 L-Comp and a few others.

Why don't you go down to the gun store and pickup an S&W catalog?

You can also get various S&W revolver variants made for the Lew Horton distributor company. For example, they made a "retro" version of the 25 with square butt and 3" barrel. There's also a version in 44 Magnum (M29) and one in 44 Special (M24).

http://www.lewhorton.com/m242529.html

Additionally, they have the "new" Registered Magnum with 3.5" tube. This is one heck of a gun. I have one and I really like the 8 shot cylinder.

http://www.lewhorton.com/regmag.html

Don't let people tell you they're not concealable. That's bogus; I'm sitting here with a 625 with 4" barrel on my side. Just get a holster with lots of forward cant.
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Old November 29, 2008, 09:22 PM   #18
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Old November 29, 2008, 09:37 PM   #19
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If I were you I would look around the gun auction sites for a vintage S&W K-frame. The major sites always seem to have at least a couple up for grabs at any one time. Four years ago I scored a 3" S&W 65-2 (Pinned and Recessed) on GunBroker that had never been fired since leaving the factory in the late 70s. This year I found a 3" S&W 13-3 in excellent condition on Auction Arms. I could not be more content with any handgun than I am these and I've owned numerous handguns over 30+ years.
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Old November 29, 2008, 09:42 PM   #20
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I hadn't heard the 3" model 65 mentioned, so I will.
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Old November 29, 2008, 10:03 PM   #21
Wolfeye
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I've been curious about Smith's 3" model 629 Carry Comp, and the similar model that comes with their emergency survival kit. For a carry gun, I've had my eyes on their 3" model 60 Pro.

I'm sure the 3" SP101 is good; I have the 2 1/4" model and am happy with it. If I wanted something similar to shoot more and carry less, I'd have gone for the 3" GP100. The problem with that last one is the factory "compact" rubber grips are no longer made. I found them at Brownell's, but to get the nice wood inserts you have to get them custom made these days.
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Old November 29, 2008, 10:25 PM   #22
Gun 4 Fun
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If anyone is interested in a m-66 3" or m-66 2.5" let me know. I know where two nice ones are sitting, for a decent price. PM me
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Old November 30, 2008, 12:43 AM   #23
skoro
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Recommend me a good 3 inch DA revolver

The S&W Model 36 is an all steel j-frame that comes in a 3" version. I have one and like it very much. Accurate, easy to handle, and compact. It's like a little gem. Check it out, I think you'll be impressed.
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Old November 30, 2008, 01:17 AM   #24
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Quote:
If I were you I would look around the gun auction sites for a vintage S&W K-frame. The major sites always seem to have at least a couple up for grabs at any one time. Four years ago I scored a 3" S&W 65-2 (Pinned and Recessed) on GunBroker that had never been fired since leaving the factory in the late 70s. This year I found a 3" S&W 13-3 in excellent condition on Auction Arms. I could not be more content with any handgun than I am these and I've owned numerous handguns over 30+ years.
+1 on the Smith K. I have a 65-5 Ladysmith that's the best of the bunch IMO. Didn't take me long to get over the moniker, and the only way I know of to get a fully shrouded/lugged fixed-sight K - 3". Satin stainless, great gun. Now discontinued and on the rare (and hence pricey) list, they came with hammer-mounted firing pin, then transfer bar, then - alas near the end I think with lock - (some of the later ones may have had a different suffix number?) but those were the exception compared to the entire 65 run. If you can find one of these (non lock) K's grab it. I happen to like the fixed sights, but you can also find the same configuration in the 66 - also relatively rare in 3" (but not asrare). My next choice would be a variety of regular, non-lugged 65's - as someone else has mentioned.
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Old November 30, 2008, 01:45 PM   #25
Old John
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Ruger GP100, 3".............

Ruger makes a Great 3" Stainless GP100.
It has the same grip size as the SP101, IIRC.
It has fixed sights. It's a Great Concealed Carry Gun.
I've had mine about 18 months.
It's a 6 shot, vs. the 5 shot SP101.
It is bulkier & heavier though.
I love it.
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