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Old June 15, 2015, 03:18 AM   #1
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Best Revolver 357magnum/38special

Hi all, I'm looking at maybe getting a revolver in 357 magnum, and thought I'd get some opinions, in terms of type, barrel length, etc.

It would not be used for concealed carry. Primarily for when hiking, camping, and just fun on the range.

I'm thinking of getting either one of the following (let's see if I can recall from memory):

-Smith and Wesson 686

-Taurus tracker 627

-Ruger GP100

I'd like feedback on which you like, why you like it, etc. I appreciate all comments!


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Old June 15, 2015, 04:03 AM   #2
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I'd look for a pre-lock S&W 686. The actions are incredibly smooth.

2nd choice from your list would be a newer 686 with a 5" barrel.

3rd would be the GP-100. They are nearly indestructible, but have heavier triggers than the 686 and I don't like the grip quite as much.
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Old June 15, 2015, 04:40 AM   #3
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What's the difference between the pre-lock and the normal?

Also, I've read mixed reviews of the Taurus, in terms of reliability, but I don't know how accurate that is. I also wasn't sure if buying a Smith and Wesson would be that much different from the other two except the brand name.
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Old June 15, 2015, 05:34 AM   #4
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I am also a fan of the S&W Model 686 with a 4" barrel. I can not speak to the other two you mentioned. Personal experience is superior to other's preference. Go check all three out.
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Old June 15, 2015, 05:45 AM   #5
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"used for concealed carry"

Think small and light. GP100 is not so light.

For range work, target or occasional hunting, think big..

How do you plan to carry it? Shoulder holster?

Its hard to conceal more than 3" barrel.

Perhaps this, a 3" model 36?
It now wears smooth targets.

OR a 2.5" 44 special Bulldog
More to be carried than shot.

I also have a 4" model 15, an adjustable sights 38 but no pic to prove it.

Need 357? The 586 or 686 are hard to beat, most all of them are quite accurate with a smooth action.

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Old June 15, 2015, 05:47 AM   #6
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This is one of those questions that you probably will get answers right down the middle. Some like Smiths, some like Rugers. I like both. The main reasoning for me wanting a pre-lock Smith is so I don't have to see that unsightly hole in the side. Rugers are built like tanks and you can feel the heft in your hand. Best advice I can tell you, go to a range that rents each of these and shoot both of them.
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Old June 15, 2015, 07:15 AM   #7
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Either the 686 or the Ruger are good choices. Don't be put off by the lock on the Smith. I've owned S&W's for 50 years now and have both types. I've never had a problem with the lock. You'll forget about it after a cpl of range sessions anyway. All of my Smiths have been good guns, all were very accurate, and you can count on great customer service if you ever need it.

I've used Smiths CS twice in all those years, both at no personal expense.

Ruger builds strong handguns...ones that you can depend on for a lifetime of service. I've only owned the single action ones, so can't comment from personal experience on their DA guns, but note that they have a strong, dedicated following here on the site. Too, their CS ranks right up there with S&W.

I'd forget about the Taurus for their hit or miss quality control problems, and CS that's also hit or miss.

HTH's Rod
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Old June 15, 2015, 08:38 AM   #8
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I just recently came back into the World of "Wheel Weapons" and was faced with a similar dilemma. Mine was S&W 686 or Ruger GP100. Smith had the rep but over the past few years it's CQ and innovation slipped (IMHO). It seems that Ruger has won more awards lately. $$$ had nothing to do with my choice and I bought the Ruger and never looked back. Good luck.
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Old June 15, 2015, 08:55 AM   #9
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Let me offer you a different option. You mention hiking and camping. When I'm walking around in the woods, having a "brick" on my side isn't always comfortable. The GP100 is an excellent revolver. However, it weighs right at 40 oz empty. The 686 is similar. However, the 4.2" Ruger SP101 is only 29 oz empty. Granted, you loose one round but that 11 oz you save sure does make up for it.
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Old June 15, 2015, 09:02 AM   #10
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You might look around for a used Smith model 66. Built on a lighter frame than their full size .357s and stainless so you don't have to worry as much if you get rain or sweat on it.
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Old June 15, 2015, 09:26 AM   #11
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Hiking and camping, vs. fun at the range, tend to favor different guns, particularly with .357 magnum. I'd go rent them all if I could, and see what you think.
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Old June 15, 2015, 09:41 AM   #12
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For many of the reasons given, I have a 6" 686-4 and a 5" GP100. I also have a Dan Wesson 15-2 (with three swappable barrels). Don't overlook a Dan, if you believe buying used is part of the fun.
Doubting groupthink since 1984.
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Old June 15, 2015, 10:07 AM   #13
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My .357 is a six inch barreled Colt Python, these guns are ridiculously priced now. So I would go for the Smith&Wesson, either L or K frame. N-frame is good but extra bulky.
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Old June 15, 2015, 10:12 AM   #14
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Ruger or S&W. I have the GP100 and it's a pleasure to shoot.

I have no experience with Taurus and probably will never have experience with Taurus.
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Old June 15, 2015, 11:53 AM   #15
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I like the model 686 a lot better than your other choices...primarily because the trigger is much smoother in double action that most any other alternative / and your 2 other choices.

I'd suggest a 686 in either a 4" or a 6"...coming out of a holster the 4" is a lot easier to draw - and easier to carry in the woods / the 6" is obviously 2" longer but it means holsters that are a little longer and restrict bending down a little around camp, crawling over logs in woods, etc..where you hardly know the 4" is there.

I have .357 Mag's in 2 1/2", 4" and 6"...both the 4" and 6" guns are great range guns...the longer sight plane on a 6" makes it a little easier to shoot...( the 2 1/2" is easier to carry than the others...but short sight plane makes it a little less effective beyond 7 yds. or so). I prefer the pre internal lock system guns on the S&W's but there isn't really anything wrong with the locks except appearance.
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Old June 15, 2015, 12:37 PM   #16
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Also, I've read mixed reviews of the Taurus, in terms of reliability,
Lee, you are correct, Taurus has a spotty history with quality and warranty service. I have one Taurus that's been great, but I would not buy another, nor suggest someone else does.

I'm a died in the wool Smith and Wesson guy, but their Q.C. has been lacking for several years now. Ruger has always made avery sturdy and reliable firearm. Not as nicely finished as the Smith and Wesson line. As you need a woods gun, as much as I hate to admit it, I would suggest any of the Ruger revolvers that feel right to you. Good Luck
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Old June 15, 2015, 12:46 PM   #17
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Personally I have no experience with smiths or taurus, but I have a 6" gp100 and love it. I bought it used but in like new condition. I installed a Wilson Combat spring kit and a set of fiber optic sights and it shoots like a dream. I've got less in it with the modifications than I've seen used smiths go for and I personally like the looks of the gp better. Mine is also the full underlug model, which is my favorite. Good luck with whatever you decide.
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Old June 15, 2015, 02:35 PM   #18
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Thanks guys for all the responses!

I'm gonna be heading to the range soon to actually test fire them all.

Also, is it better to buy used when it comes to a revolver? Especially for a gun like the GP100 where it's like a tank, I can't imagine previous owners would've mistreated it... Would used VS new save a quite a bit of money?
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Old June 15, 2015, 02:56 PM   #19
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If you do look at a used revolver, educate yourself first on how to inspect them. Even then, there can be hidden flaws but at least you'll be able to spot obvious ones. There are a few good videos on Youtube on how to inspect a revolver.
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Old June 15, 2015, 03:22 PM   #20
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David R - not to nitpick but I think the key word in the op's statement was NOT as in:
not be used for concealed carry
For checking out a used revolver our very own sight has a revolver check list you can use:

As to Taurus, S&W or Ruger, I think any would suit your needs.

Taurus-I make fun of them and have commented on their quality control but I really think they make way more good guns than bad and they are not a fly by night outfit, that is, their customer support would probably make good on it if you got a lemon.

S&W-for range and open carry maybe you want to check out one of their seven shooters.

Ruger-I just like Ruger because their guns are strong and their customer support is really good.
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Old June 15, 2015, 04:11 PM   #21
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I've pulled the trigger on all three revolvers mentioned in the OP. Currently I have in my possession a S&W revolver and two Ruger wheel guns. Here are my general thoughts:

S&W- best fit and finish of the three. Same goes for trigger in both DA and SA. Good CS. Best investment value of the three. A couple negative points for the internal lock.

Ruger- better fit and finish than the Taurus. Better trigger in both DA and SA than the Taurus. Maybe the best CS of the three. Much better investment value than the Taurus. Probably the strongest revolver of the three mentioned.

Taurus- Decent fit and finish. SA trigger is close to the Ruger's. Not sure about current CS; in the past they weren't known for it. Accuracy was never a problem.

A few more specific notes:

I really like S&W revolvers; always have, especially in .357 magnum. The lock thing is annoying, but I have yet to experience any kind of issue with them. The best thing about the S&W is the trigger; in double action it's significantly better than either of the revolvers. In SA it's only a little better than the Ruger, but it is noticeable.

The Ruger really shines when it comes to handling abuse. If you reload, you can handload some pretty high-powered rounds and the Ruger will take it. Repeatedly. The other thing I like about them is how easy it is to do your own 'trigger job.' Of course, I'm not talking about a professional quality job, but anyone with just a little mechanical know-how can switch out the main and trigger return spring in a GP-100 and instantly have an 8 lb. DA trigger pull for less than $20.

I've pulled the trigger on about a half dozen Taurus revolvers. These are my impressions: Not bad fit and finish. Not as good as the otherr two guns mentioned, but not bad. All of the Taurus wheel guns I tried out were reasonably accurate, in spite of the heavy, gritty, stacky DA trigger. The width of the backstrap is very narrow which doesn't help with felt recoil. Definitely the least comfortable of the three guns to shoot.

And finally, two of the Taurus guns that I shot experienced the same malfunction. I'm no armorer, so I don't know what the exact terminology would be, but in both revolvers the cylinder would somehow become stuck while I was pulling the trigger, thus experiencing a failure to fire. In one of them it happened twice in less than 50 rounds.

This was my buddy's gun, not a range rental that never gets cleaned. My buddy is a bit of a clean freak, and I know that weapon was clean and oiled when he handed it to me. My amateur inspection of the gun showed that the cylinder was actually moving slightly forward during the trigger stroke, sometimes coming into contact with the forcing cone. Sometimes there was enough friction when this happened to prevent the cylinder from rotating further, thereby causing the failure. I actually had to release the trigger and turn the cylinder by hand before pulling the trigger again.

The same exact failure occurred over a year later with another buddy's Taurus 627. Now, I know other friends that love their T revolvers and say they've never had an issue. For myself, I have never had that type of failure with any S&W or Ruger in 25 years, so if I were the OP I'd look at those two brands regardless of price point.

As for buying new vs. used: with Rugers right now it looks like new ones are about $100-$150 more than used, generally speaking.
Hope some of that helps.
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Old June 15, 2015, 05:02 PM   #22
lee n. field
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Best Revolver 357magnum/38special
I hear tell them Korths are decent. Ditto Manurhin.

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Last edited by lee n. field; June 15, 2015 at 06:39 PM.
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Old June 15, 2015, 05:50 PM   #23
Capt Rick Hiott
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I just bought the black Taurus Model 66 4" barrel SEVEN shot.

I like it a lot!! I would buy another one.
Capt Rick Hiott
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Old June 15, 2015, 07:47 PM   #24
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686 is a great choice

But a bit heavier than the Model 19/66. It might make a difference on your hip after all day carry.
The Taurus Tracker is interesting but QC has been an issue with Taurus in the past.
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Old June 15, 2015, 08:39 PM   #25
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I'm voting Ruger GP-100,I've had several and a few Smiths as well and the GP is my version of a keeper.
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