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Old March 8, 2011, 09:12 PM   #1
HowDueYouDue
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Lost In Research: Advice on First Revolver Purchase

For many years now I have wanted a 6 shot, .38 caliber snubbie, like the Colt Detective Special. Now that I can purchase one, I am having a hard time finding one I like as most these days are 5 shots, don't have an external hammer, or just don't feel right in my hand (Taurus), and I don't want to buy used.

I have done much research (especially on here) and have decided to get a 357 so I have the option to shoot .38 as well and think I have landed on the S&W 686, 2.5" barrel. It wont be a personal carry, it will be for home defense and the range.

That all being said, I am wondering if this is the better model to get (vs. Rossi, EAA, Charter Arms,) and if a 4" or 6" barrel is the better choice, as I have read that 357s snubbies are difficult to control.

Thank you for any advice you can provide.
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Old March 8, 2011, 10:00 PM   #2
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Can't understand reluctance to buy used...

Besides the lower prices, the majority of the best revolvers are only found in the used market, as they have been discontinued.

Revolvers are fairly easy to check out, even if you don't have a lot of specialized experience. Check out the sticky thread for what to look for, and what to avoid if you find it.

What I would not recommend is buying a used revolver sight unseen.

There are still many good revolvers in the new market, but not as many as there used to be, if you believe the Internet. Also, my personal opinion is that a lot of what is made new today does not have the same quality as what used to be made, and this is especially true with S&Ws. But that's just my opinion, and no doubt others will disagree.

S&W still makes some very good revolvers, but I feel there aren't as many in their line as in the old days.

That being said, the 686 is an "L" frame revolver, not the biggest frame they make, but larger than the "k" and "j" frames. Since you are not going to carry the gun concealed (where size really matters), why opt for the 2.5" barrel? A 4" or 6" barrel has several advantages for a home defense and range gun over the shorter barrel.

First, the longer barrel adds weight to the gun, making it easier to control in rapid fire. Also, it moves the muzzle further from your face, reducing the effect of the muzzle blast on the shooter (and the .357 has a lot of blast). Another advantage is the longer barrel means more distance between the sights, (longer sight radius) making a higher degree of accuracy easier to obtain for most shooters. And, the longer barrel means that more of the available power of the round is delivered.

As to the other brands you mentioned, even though I am not a big fan of current S&W production, I feel that S&W is still a better gun than Rossi, EAA, Charter arms, etc.
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Old March 8, 2011, 10:24 PM   #3
garry owen
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Get what ever you are most comfortable with, be it new or used. I agree with 44 AMP that the Smith & Wesson is the best option for what you want, since you have decided on a new revolver. It will have better resale value if you decide to trade for a 4 or 6 inch later. BTW recoil in a 357 snubbie isn't that bad, but the muzzle blast and report may take some getting used to. Wear ear and eye protection when practicing.
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Old March 9, 2011, 02:03 AM   #4
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I would get the Charter version over a Taurus or Rossi. I would get a steaming pile of dung before I scored an EAA Windicator.
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Old March 9, 2011, 03:54 AM   #5
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Shop around for a S & W Model 19. These are arguably the best .357 mag ever made and will hold or go up in value. Colt .357 Combat Masterpiece is equally as fine of a revolver as the Smith 19 but will cost more.
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Old March 9, 2011, 05:26 AM   #6
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For home defense and range use I would go for the 4 inch barrel. Ruger gp-100 is a good affordable 357.
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Old March 9, 2011, 05:45 AM   #7
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Double-ditto on what Bossman said. You simply cannot go wrong with a Ruger GP-100. They are super-tough and more affordable than most, plus there are no side plate screws or cylinder release latch screws to come loose.
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Old March 9, 2011, 09:01 AM   #8
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I agree. For home and range work a 4" or a 6" is a better choice than a shorter barreled revolver. As far as makers go, any thing by Ruger and S&W, even typically used, is a better choice than Rossi or Taurus.
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Old March 9, 2011, 09:25 AM   #9
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1. Used Smith & Wesson 686 or 586 4" (pre-lock).
2. New or used Ruger GP100 4"

I lean towards the Smiths but would pick a Ruger GP100 over a smith with a lock.
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Old March 9, 2011, 10:00 AM   #10
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44amp is on the money.

But you are getting away from your dream gun.

Do you want a new 4" six shooter, or a nice used snubby?

For your stated purposes, a newer 4 or 6" 686 or GP100 would be good.

But you'll still want the vintage 38 snubby in the end.


Also, I'm of the opinion that 38 is usually a better choice than 357 for most folks. We get lured in by this idea that more is better. But remember that they weigh more, kick harder, wear out faster, have more muzzle flash, and if you shoot a lot of 38s, you'll burn a ring in the chambers.

Don't rule out a new five shooter either. Or eight shooters.
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Old March 9, 2011, 01:28 PM   #11
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Get a used - but in like new condition S&W model 19. There are plenty out there used but not abused to choose from.

You will probably pay less than you would for a "brand new" production gun, but you will have a superior revolver. Then instead of doing volumes of research you will be out shooting - and grinning! My 0.02. Regards 18DAI.
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Old March 9, 2011, 01:45 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 18dai
Get a used - but in like new condition S&W model 19. There are plenty out there used but not abused to choose from.
One thing to watch out for on these is that they were designed for occasional use with 357 Magnum. If you found one that has been regularly shot with 357, it may be loose. Still, it is a great compromise gun* and if you see it and check it out before buying, you will have a nice gun!

* - Compromise between a small & light 38 Special and big & heavy gun that will shoot 357 all the time. I bet most of us who have 357s only shoot 357 occasionally, so this was a pretty good idea by S&W
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Old March 9, 2011, 01:47 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by pilpens
1. Used Smith & Wesson 686 or 586 4" (pre-lock).
2. New or used Ruger GP100 4"

I lean towards the Smiths but would pick a Ruger GP100 over a smith with a lock.
Worth noting is that the Ruger has a stronger lock-up and inherent cushioning of the grip, while the Smith has the superior trigger from the factory. To me, this makes the Ruger superior for longer range sessions and heavier loads, adn the Smith superior for all-out accuracy.
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Old March 9, 2011, 02:21 PM   #14
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Personally, I like the 4" guns better than the snubbies ....but the snubbies are fine out to 30 feet or so as well...

Personally, I like the S&W model 19's or 66's - in 2 1/2" or 4" ...and there are a lot of good guns out there for under $ 700 in excellent condition. The S&W's have far superior triggers - in my opinion - over most of the other options you're considering - and to me, that's a really big deal.
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Old March 9, 2011, 08:31 PM   #15
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I was in your position five years ago and opted for a S&W 686+ w/4" barrel as my first centerfire handgun. It's been a great piece to learn on, and, in retrospect, I would make the same purchase again.
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Old March 9, 2011, 09:52 PM   #16
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A 686 snubby won't be hard to control. Get it.
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Old March 9, 2011, 11:27 PM   #17
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Ruger GP100 4", or SP101 3" depending which feels the best to you.
Both are good quality guns for the price.
Smith & Wessons are great guns, and you pay a great price for them. Nothing wrong with that if it is what you want and is in your budget.
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Old March 9, 2011, 11:33 PM   #18
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Quote:
One thing to watch out for on these is that they were designed for occasional use with 357 Magnum.
I've done a lot of reading on this subject (since I own both an M19 and an M66) and have come to the conclusion that it is Internet lore.

My M-66 has seen very few rounds of 38 Spl, is 37 years old and is still in great shape. I shoot it regularly and carry it occasionally. Stay away from large quantities of ultra hot 125 gr loads (a cylinder or two every now and then won't hurt it).

FWIW, I practice with 158s and carry the hot 125s.

I had an M586 that was a fine shooter but sold it because the K-frame fits so much better (IMHO).
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Old March 10, 2011, 10:14 AM   #19
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I've bought a few S&Ws in the past year. For a new gun the 686 is good. I bought a 620, seven shot, with the 1/2 lug. I like that look better. i've bought new and used, with and without the lock. They tell me new Smiths may drop the lock. It's not an issue for me.

I like 4" sight picture, some like the 6" better.

I like the K frames the best, shoot mostly very light .38 Special hand loads.

I'm not too worried about the cost of a gun. I always shoot more $ in ammo, even reloading, through the gun than it cost.
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Old March 10, 2011, 11:02 AM   #20
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The Ruger sp101 is a good choice, with hogue it's a dream. My wife has been packing this gun around for 16 years and it is our primary home defense gun. 25oz and handles recoil better than most at this size. Really smooth with .38's and manageable with .357's.

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Old March 10, 2011, 02:13 PM   #21
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Quote:
Quote:
One thing to watch out for on these is that they were designed for occasional use with 357 Magnum.

I've done a lot of reading on this subject (since I own both an M19 and an M66) and have come to the conclusion that it is Internet lore.

My M-66 has seen very few rounds of 38 Spl, is 37 years old and is still in great shape. I shoot it regularly and carry it occasionally. Stay away from large quantities of ultra hot 125 gr loads (a cylinder or two every now and then won't hurt it).
Its been common knowledge since the K frame .357s came out that the intent was to make a lighter duty gun for police use. With that came the understanding that they would not take the steady diet of magnum loads that an N frame gun will. Its been accepted lore since long before the Internet.

And it is a fact. The smaller gun will just not last as long under max loads as the bigger one. But it will last a long time (relatively) with magnum ammo. The 158s were the standard load for decades, and K frame .357s have no problem with them, other than not being able to stack up the round count an N frame will, before needing a tune up. And its not a one or two boxes and its worn out, its more like 1 or two cases of ammo (or more).

A serious problem did show up in the K frames when the hot 125gr ammo became the common standard. Flame cutting of the top strap worried some, but it turned out to be a self limiting "problem" and really only cosmetic, not affecting the strength of the gun in any material way.

The problem was the forcing cone, and the particular cut S&W made on the barrel to fit the frame in the Model 19 class guns, leaving part of the forcing cone weaker than the rest. Many guns that had given no problems with the 158gr suffered cracked forcing cones after being switched to the 125gr as a duty load and some fairly extensive shooting. And, of course, this problem never showed up in any .38 special guns, which are much less stressed.

As far as I know, its been fixed, one doesn't hear much about it recently, anyway.

get that snubby .38 when you can, and spend the money on a Colt or S&W. The really good older ones are only going up in price. I've got a Colt Agent (alloy frame .38Spl, +p rated), and I was amazed to see what the gun shows wanted for them and similar guns recently.

Ruger is a good, and for the quality, a very good value. Avoid foreign guns, even though they are cheaper. besides buying American, if something screws up, its more hassle (sometimes A LOT more) getting it fixed. Not worth skimping a few bucks to me. I get more money every week. I expect to be buying the pistol ONCE.
See my reasioning?
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Old March 10, 2011, 05:18 PM   #22
Smaug
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Rugers are good, I have an SP-101 in 357 3" myself.

But the OP specifically asked about six-shot 357 snubbies. SP-101s are five shot.

S&W 686, you can get with a shorter barrel, but they're HUGE guns, compared to the Colt he was mentioning originally. That's why (as Ichiro said) the recoil is not bad. Not at all in the same class.

Classic S&W snubbies are nicer-looking and nicer-finished than Rugers, EAAs, Tauri, and Rossi.

Classic Colt snubbies are even nicer-looking yet, and have even better triggers than classic S&Ws. But harder to get worked on, since Colt is so limited these days. All they make now are ARs/M16s, 1911s, and cowboy revolvers. It is a shame; they made a damned fine DA revolver.
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Old March 10, 2011, 09:43 PM   #23
HowDueYouDue
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Thank you all very much for the advice and feedback. I found a 686 with a 2.5" in stock at one of my local stores and got to look it over. On the S&W site, the pictures make it look comparable to the Colt I mentioned, clearly not the case when I "tried it on". Smaug hit it on the money, its a huge gun.

I will keep practicing with my 92FS till I figure out what revolver I want and the last few days of "one a month" is up.

Thanks again everyone.
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Old March 10, 2011, 11:24 PM   #24
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Try out a S&W Model 10 snubbie
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