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Old September 10, 2012, 01:48 AM   #1
FLChinook
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S&W 686 vs Ruger GP100 Revisited

I found a 5-year old thread discussing relative merits of the S&W 686 and Ruger GP100. Forum members pretty much lined up on the two sides of the valley (S&W devotees on one side and Ruger devotees on the other) and let fly It was a fun read.

I was going to reopen it and decided to restart instead. Here's my question: Would a mid-80s 686 have the Hillery Hole and cylinder binding issues many responders brought up. How would that gun compare today with a new GP100?

I'm sorely tempted to stay with SS for this gun but I must admit to truly liking the look of the great old blue jobs in those older guns...

Thanks
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Old September 10, 2012, 03:16 AM   #2
freebird72
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I do not think the lock came out for the S&Ws until the 90s(I could be wrong).

Now when it comes to the finish on a gun, I prefer blue myself. However, I am coming around to the idea of SS. I think blue looks right on some guns, and SS looks good on some guns. I do not like the look of a SS GP100, as I think it looks really nice with blued. I do like the SS on the 686; with that being said, I really like the blue on 586s.

As to which one is better. Well, I will let the others on here speak for themselves.
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Old September 10, 2012, 09:41 AM   #3
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I vote for and own because of these reasons a 6" SS Ruger GP100;

1: Three point cylinder lockup that does not involve the ejection rod.

2: No sideplate disassembly to strip the gun, can actually be field stripped thanks to the subassembly design.

3: Transfer bar is better than internal lock and firing pin block.

4: Cheaper while being at the very least as accurate and durable.

5: Ruger's trigger for the GP100 is just as good as a Smith's in recent years.

6: Stainless steel is easier to maintain.

7: Thanks to the grip peg design, no exposed backstrap on grips.



Honestly though, you should be served well by either gun in either finish.

Last edited by Revoliver; September 10, 2012 at 11:25 PM.
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Old September 10, 2012, 03:06 PM   #4
drail
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Transfer bar and internal lock have nothing to do with each other. While recent S&W triggers are not very good (they actually are all over the charts and not consistent but so are a lot of Rugers) a S&W trigger can be worked to a much higher quality than a Ruger because the action geometry is completely different. Ruger DA triggers can be improved a great deal but they will never come close to a properly tuned S&W. This is not just my opinion, ask any smith who has done a lot of revolver tuning.
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Old September 10, 2012, 04:52 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drail
Transfer bar and internal lock have nothing to do with each other.
I believe you are mistaking what they are with how they function. They are both internal safety devices, and though they provide safety in different ways, this does not change what they are.

Quote:
Originally Posted by drail
While recent S&W triggers are not very good (they actually are all over the charts and not consistent but so are a lot of Rugers) a S&W trigger can be worked to a much higher quality than a Ruger because the action geometry is completely different. Ruger DA triggers can be improved a great deal but they will never come close to a properly tuned S&W. This is not just my opinion, ask any smith who has done a lot of revolver tuning.
Some people may be of the opinion that a smith's trigger is easier to work on, others may be of the opinion that the ruger's trigger is easier to work on. I have seen arguments for both.

What I have also seen is that the ruger's trigger is able to be worked on by the gun's owner while a smith's trigger is to be only worked on by a gunsmith.
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Old September 10, 2012, 07:08 PM   #6
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Ruger uses a transfer bar, S&W uses a hammer block. Those are the weapons internal safeties in terms of firing function. The S&W side lock is a device to secure the weapon from being capable of being fired until disengaged, nothing more than an internalized trigger lock.

The directly comparable features are transfer bar vs. hammer block. Those are the devices that keep the hammer from contacting the firing pin unless the trigger is held fully back.
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Old September 10, 2012, 07:46 PM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by gwnorth
Ruger uses a transfer bar, S&W uses a hammer block. Those are the weapons internal safeties in terms of firing function. The S&W side lock is a device to secure the weapon from being capable of being fired until disengaged, nothing more than an internalized trigger lock.

The directly comparable features are transfer bar vs. hammer block. Those are the devices that keep the hammer from contacting the firing pin unless the trigger is held fully back.
Again, I am not trying to say or imply that they function the same, only that they are the both internal safety devices, and directly related or best comparison or not, as they are features on each revolver, they are relevant and subject to comparison.


Somethin that this has reminded me off that I completely forgot before is that there is one safety feature for the Ruger versus two on the S&W can go either way depending on what the buyer's requirements or desires are.
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Old September 10, 2012, 07:56 PM   #8
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Every Ruger ships with a keyed padlock for the gun, which serves exactly the same function as the S&W internal keyed lock does (disabling the weapon completely when in storage).

So again, comparing apples to apples, in my eyes, there is no real distinction.

You did say:

Quote:
3: Transfer bar is better than internal lock.
But the internal lock is in no way comparable to the transfer bar. The transfer bar is always there and always in use to be able to fire the weapon. No one keeps a S&W revolver out for home defense, or holstered for a ccw with the keyed lock engaged. How would you use it? Are you going to draw or grab your weapon and ask the BG to hold back for a minute while you fumble out your key, get it into that little keyhole and disengage the lock? The S&W keyed lock never gets used in the normal operation of the weapon - it is only relevant to a stored weapon sitting in a safe or storage box somewhere.

The only feature of a S&W revolver at all comparable to the transfer bar on a Ruger is the hammer block safety, which again is always in use for the normal operation of the weapon. One can completely remove the entire keyed lock mechanism and never notice its absence (many do just that), just as one never touch the padlock that comes with a Ruger, or throw it out altogether.

Last edited by gwnorth; September 10, 2012 at 08:09 PM.
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Old September 10, 2012, 11:11 PM   #9
Revoliver
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The padlock that Ruger revolvers are shipped with, are they an internal safety feature?

No, they are not.

As such, it is not relevant in any way to the internal lock safety feature (used to prevent unintended firing of the gun), the internal firing pin block safety feature (used to prevent unintended firing of the gun) and the transfer bar safety feature (used to prevent unintended firing of the gun) that are built into the guns.

I also don't see how my external lock can fail while in the junk drawer in the garage causing my revolver to be unusable, quite unlike S&W's internal lock.

Last edited by Revoliver; September 10, 2012 at 11:28 PM.
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Old September 11, 2012, 02:11 AM   #10
stuckinCali
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4' GP100


my 11 year old daughter lovin it!

I dont think there is anything I like better than the look of a GP100..

I will say however, the very broken-in rental S&W.686 that I was using at my local range has an easier/smoother trigger pull than my GP100. I seem to be less accurate with my GP too.

Im sure it's just a matter of getting used to the Ruger.
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Old September 11, 2012, 04:04 AM   #11
warningshot
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Revoliver

If Ruger DA revolver triggers were anywhere nearly as good as a S&W triggers, then Ruger would have put S&W out of business 25 years ago.
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Old September 11, 2012, 08:43 AM   #12
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I bought the SP101 over the weekend (to replace my CW9) and my next is either the GP100 or 686+ both in 3" or 4". I'm leaning towards the 686+ for the 7 rounds seeing as I like to do bowling pin shoots but it seems the GP100 is better built for the hot 357 rounds. Am I on track with this line of thought?
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Old September 11, 2012, 09:07 AM   #13
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Either will be fine. Both the GP and 686 were designed with the .357 in mind.
What do you like better and what can your wallet handle?

Back in March I chose the GP with a 3 inch barrel. I handled both, trigger pulls and balance seemed very similar to me, just could not justify the extra money for a 686.
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Old September 11, 2012, 09:08 AM   #14
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Our family has both a 686+ and a GP100. Both are great guns. The triggers are both very good, and the workmanship on both is excellent. I would be hard-pressed to say that one revolver is better than the other. A few thoughts:

1. 686+ has 7 shots versus 6 for the Ruger.
2. Ruger front sight is user-switchable with no tools other than a punch. Not so with the 686.
3. Both are as accurate as all get-out.
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Old September 11, 2012, 10:07 PM   #15
warningshot
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If I had to arm an agency with revolvers it would be Ruger hands down. When I, The Great One, would like to show World Class Pistol shooter Rob Latham how the Bianchi is really done, I'd use a S&W.
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Old September 12, 2012, 12:05 AM   #16
lowercase
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I'm a dyed-in-the-wool S&W fiend, but I have a 3" GP100 and absolutely love it. So much, in fact, that I ran across a used one at my LGS and put it on layaway to be used as a 'beater".

The triggers on current production GP100s are pretty darned good. I can't fault my GP100 at all. It's an overbuilt beast, and that's just the way I want it.

Here's a pic of my 3" GP100. I added the old-style rubber grips (compact size) with some cocobolo inserts. I really like the looks of the old grips vs the Hogues.

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Old September 12, 2012, 08:00 AM   #17
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I own a blued GP100 and like it pretty well. A mid 80's 586 if in good condition would be a little smoother but I would only get it if it was cheaper than the new Ruger. The blued finish is not that great though.
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Old September 12, 2012, 08:30 AM   #18
aimtrue
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For many years I considered the 4” S&W 868 to be my favorite revolver. That changed after I had my 4” Ruger GP100 for a while.

Although the 686 is finished in a smoother and more polished manner than the GP100, I find the 4” GP100 to be a sturdier and better built revolver than the S&W. In addition the GP is every bit as accurate. In fact, I am as accurate with my two GP’s as I ever was with my finest custom made 1911 pistols.

I think the Ruger GP100 is a champion revolver in every way. Most surprising to me is the GP trigger action. Although my 3” and 4” GP’s triggers have different tactical feels, each in its own way is superior to that of my S&W 686.

It is not my intention to denigrate the 686. It is a very fine revolver. If not for the GP100, I would continue to consider 686 as the most outstanding revolver in my collection.






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Old September 12, 2012, 11:14 AM   #19
tomrkba
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I like both brands and have revolvers from both manufacturers.

The S&W revolvers look better. I won't buy another S&W revolver with THE LOCK. Triggers can be worked on, but should be done by someone who knows what they're doing.

The GP100 lacks the stupid lock (maybe it has one somewhere) in an obvious location. If it does, then it doesn't activate when firing heavy loads. The GP100 trigger can be easily cleaned up by the owner with a trigger kit from triggershims.com and a 10 minute video. The quick change front sight is an obvious advantage that saves the owner gunsmithing fees.

Both may need additional work. Charge holes should be chamfered. Grips may need to be changed. The forcing cone may need to be recut and the cylinder holes (whatever they're called) cut for uniformity when shooting lead bullets.

If the only difference were appearance, I'd choose S&W.
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Old September 12, 2012, 04:15 PM   #20
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There has been a S&W/Colt/Ruger/Taurus debate posted recently... I posted the original for information/suggestions on these handguns.

It basically came down to : - Colt = way too expensive but excellent, Taurus = don't bother, S&W vs Ruger make your own mind up debate for which I am thankful to all the posters who input on this subject.

http://thefiringline.com/forums/showthread.php?t=500246

Cheers
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Old September 12, 2012, 04:37 PM   #21
Gaz_in_NZ
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On reading this post one thing that I find a little worrying is this : -
Quote:
What I have also seen is that the ruger's trigger is able to be worked on by the gun's owner while a smith's trigger is to be only worked on by a gunsmith.
I think I would feel a lot safer with a gun that had been worked on by a reputable, authorized technician with years of experience than one worked on by someone who did it because it was easy to do.

No disrespect intended to people who do work on their own guns, just that all amateurs are not equal in their abilities.
It's a bit like buying a car with a fully stamped dealer service book to buying one that the guy has serviced himself... And while I agree that most amateur car enthusiasts can do a far more thorough job than a dealer, this doesn't apply to all of them.

Just a point that sprung to mind.

Cheers
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Old September 12, 2012, 05:01 PM   #22
tomrkba
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Gaz,

There are no angles to mess with or metal hardness to worry about. Only springs are being changed. Shims are added around the trigger and hammer pins. The only time I touched the sear was to lube it with grease. Ruger designed it to be easy. It is so simple that anyone who can do an oil change can watch the video and copy what was done.

The same can be done with APEX Tactical J-Frame trigger kits. The J-Frame is a bit more complex, but the video walks you through installing the springs and firing pin. They cover the common problems. If you can change your car's oil, change the filters, clean the battery connections, and check the air in the tires, you're good to go for the APEX trigger kit installation.

Last edited by tomrkba; September 12, 2012 at 05:08 PM.
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Old September 12, 2012, 05:14 PM   #23
Gaz_in_NZ
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Quote:
Only springs are being changed. Shims are added around the trigger and hammer pins. It is not difficult; Ruger designed it to be easy. It is so simple that anyone who can do an oil change can watch the video and copy what was done.
Thanks for clearing that up, I was rather worried about buying a used gun and wondering if someone had been sat with it, under a bench light with a load of files and screwdrivers.

It's living in NZ for 5 years that made that scenario spring to mind because All Kiwis believe they have the ability to fix anything provided you use the right size hammer. They are great believers in "percussive maintenance" i.e. beat the crap out of it 'till it starts working again, if it still doesn't work get a bigger hammer.
The worst Kiwi phrase that when said you know it's had a botch job done on it is "No worries, she'll be right mate".

They will never use screws on wood, cost to much, they still use nails for everything.

Cheers
G
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Old September 13, 2012, 09:07 AM   #24
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These two revolvers have been compared time and time again on gun forums. Both are good mass produced medium frame revolvers. But both are nothing special. I have owned two S&W 686s and two GP100s. I still have one GP100. Both are good for shooting factory 357 magnums. But both will wear out sooner if one pounds either revolver with lots of 125 gr "flame throwers". These rounds erode the forcing cones faster.
Which one of the two are the best? Neither. It comes down to user choice.
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Old September 14, 2012, 12:11 AM   #25
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warningshot wrote

<< If Ruger DA revolver triggers were anywhere nearly as good as a S&W triggers, then Ruger would have put S&W out of business 25 years ago. >>


lol


If S&W revolvers were so much nicer than Ruger revolvers (as so many S&W fans claim), Ruger would have been out of business 22 years ago.
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