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Old March 14, 2019, 05:36 AM   #1
Shooter2675
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Best choice for first modern revolver

I am by no means a new gun owner, and I have a few handguns, but I do not own a new revolver. My only revolver is a Nagant M1895 revolver, and while I enjoy it, I want something more modern so I do not wear it out.

I am not sure about which caliber to get. I am a reloader, and from what I have read, revolver brass, especially low pressure loads, will last a long time.

Obviously, the 357 Magnum is one of my choices, as is the 44 Magnum. Howbeee, I am also considering an S&W in 460 S&W or a Ruger in 454 Casull, because I can reload .45 Colt pretty cheap. What would you recommend?

Then, I cannot decide between a Ruger or a Smith and Wesson. I am leaning toward Ruger because of the solid frame, good customer service, and no key-hole like the S&W frames. Howveee, I am open to either if there is a major reason for one over the other.

Thanks for your advice,

John
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Old March 14, 2019, 05:53 AM   #2
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You could never go wrong with a S&W 66, 686, 19, 29, etc. as well as the Ruger GP100 or SP101. All are stout, reliable, quality guns that will serve you well.
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Old March 14, 2019, 05:56 AM   #3
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357 offers such immense loading variety... from bunny fart, low pressure HBWC to some full magnum loads. My choice would be a GP100 standard or Match Champion ... can’t go wrong.
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Old March 14, 2019, 07:26 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Shooter2675 View Post
I am by no means a new gun owner, and I have a few handguns, but I do not own a new revolver. My only revolver is a Nagant M1895 revolver, and while I enjoy it, I want something more modern so I do not wear it out.

I am not sure about which caliber to get. I am a reloader, and from what I have read, revolver brass, especially low pressure loads, will last a long time.

Obviously, the 357 Magnum is one of my choices, as is the 44 Magnum. Howbeee, I am also considering an S&W in 460 S&W or a Ruger in 454 Casull, because I can reload .45 Colt pretty cheap. What would you recommend?

Then, I cannot decide between a Ruger or a Smith and Wesson. I am leaning toward Ruger because of the solid frame, good customer service, and no key-hole like the S&W frames. Howveee, I am open to either if there is a major reason for one over the other.

Thanks for your advice,

John
What are you going to do with it, and what do you mean by "modern"?

If "modern" means "double action, swing out cylinder", and "why" is "all lawful purposes", then what mk70ss said.
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Old March 14, 2019, 07:33 AM   #5
Shooter2675
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Ok, I guess I should have been more clear.

By “modern” I meant something other than my 100 year old Nagant, and something is double action, swing out cylinder.

My “why” is mainly for target shooting and having fun at the range. I do not intend to hunt with it, at least for now.

My only other consideration was that I am planning on eventually buying a matching caliber rifle, probably a Henry lever action.
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Old March 14, 2019, 07:40 AM   #6
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It's 686 vs GP100 vs Taurus 66. Despite what peeps say 6" for the range 4" for everything else, 6" is pretty dang long for the range too. I like 6" barrels, but at 25yrds, I don't think the difference is noticeable (myself).

For range, revolvers are great fun. I like mine. Don't get internet illusion though about ammo options. There aren't many, hardly any, that do better than a 9mm and the options are smaller. Luckygunner ammo test results 9mm vs 357. Yes, the weights are hugely different between 147gr vs 158gr bullet--not. The HST 147 does about what every good 357 does, and outperforms many other 357 loads in both 2 and 4 inch revolver barrels.

Price for factory ammo is going to be $20 a box and up. $15 with shipping days are done.
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Old March 14, 2019, 07:44 AM   #7
lee n. field
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Originally Posted by Shooter2675 View Post
Ok, I guess I should have been more clear.

By “modern” I meant something other than my 100 year old Nagant, and something is double action, swing out cylinder.

My “why” is mainly for target shooting and having fun at the range. I do not intend to hunt with it, at least for now.

My only other consideration was that I am planning on eventually buying a matching caliber rifle, probably a Henry lever action.
Not for CCW?

My old S&W 19-4, 4" is a sweet shooter. "Just sayin'." There are a lot of older gun that would also fit your purpose.
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Old March 14, 2019, 07:53 AM   #8
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Also, to the Taurus 66; it lacks refinement, has a better trigger than the GP100 (therefore more accurate in my hands), has more grip options than the GP100 (Thailand Ebay grips are good), etc. The lasting of the timing is my concern, but it is more mental than experiential.

It's up to you if the $350 vs $600+ is worth it.

I have owned 3 or more of each 686, GP100, and Taurus 66. I think the Taurus 66 is an okay choice.

I do DO NOT think the EAA Windictor 4" 357 is a good choice if you are shooting 357. If you look into going that route, start researching the older posts about info on the Windictor model probably starting out a 38spl, stamped a 357, and not much historical changes between the release of the 38 first and then the 357.
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Old March 14, 2019, 08:41 AM   #9
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Double action rules out the excellent revolvers from Freedom Arms, although for merely target shooting, single action does just fine.
Personally, I would prefer a S&W, most likely one of the L frame 7-shot 38/357s with a 5" barrel.
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Old March 14, 2019, 09:08 AM   #10
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Ruger man that I am, the Smith & Wesson Model 586 is in my opinion the best double action revolver to come down the pike yet.

An L-Framed DA revolver in .357 Magnum is about the most versatile hangun yet!


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Old March 14, 2019, 09:47 AM   #11
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Everybody should own at least one 4" medium frame double action 357 magnum
revolver with adjustable sights. Ruger, S&W--whatever. Personally I've got
a weak spot for Pinned and Recessed Smith and Wessons. An older Model 19
fits my needs quite nicely.
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Old March 14, 2019, 10:27 AM   #12
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I am a single-action man myself. I really respect Bob’s opinion.

.357 is small enough to be light and inexpensive to shoot, accurate enough to compete with, powerful enough to hold a fella’s interest, powerful enough to hunt deer with (almost.)

You really can’t go wrong with a top name revolver in .357

Here is what I don’t like about .357...

When loaded to it’s full potential it’s bullet goes supersonic and makes that “crack!” sound. I find that supersonic rounds hurt my ears more so I double-muff... in the ear foam cylinders and great big external “can” muffs. Guys at an indoor range will not thank you for that, either.

Recoil is “snappy”. These high velocity guns “slap” my paw, and “twist” in my hand. I can tolerate but don’t prefer that.

Some people say “oh, just shoot .38 special target loads” and this is very true but I always worried about building up a ring of crud at the shorter .38 special location in the chamber so I just loaded target loads in .357 cases. This is more pleasing because the bullet also seats closer to the forcing cone but I don’t really know if that matters.

Since you are new to revolvers, we know you are going to want to load some up “full house” to see what that’s like. You should! But then you’ll wonder “what about the boys with the bigger house? .44 magnum?”

.44 magnum can also be supersonic, cracky, snappy, slappy AND pushy... but...

You can load some great big heavy bullets to just under supersonic and get a much more pleasant behavior: “boomy”, “pushy”, “lifting your arm each shot” as the energy is happening a bit slower. It’s still a massive amount of energy. You’ll still be shaking dust off the lights at an indoor range, but I don’t need to double-muff (I still probably would unless outdoors.)

You can keep loading down until someone says “oh! You can shoot .44 specials!” But... why? We have .4r magnum brass. Just load down.

Even loaded way light, I would prefer hunting with a bigger bore handgun. Starting with a big hole and heavy weight is more forgiving of my mistakes. It’s bone smashing.

Once you load the .44 magnum to full house, the other big bore handguns, while interesting, are pretty much a novelty unless you plan on hunting buffalo. Having shot the .454 pretty extensively, I backed off to .44 magnum as my hunting pistol. More than enough.

The only downside to .41 is you will wonder what the fuss is about .44 magnum. I would be pleased to own one but I have a .44. A fella that has a .41 is telling me “I been there, done that, and this is my idea of perfect” and it might well be. Once you’ve been there and done that.

Regarding brand:
If you buy a “top brand” revolver it will have top resale value.
If you are patient, shop around, and buy a top brand revolver used, you may well enjoy the revolver for years and if you take care of it, easily sell it for what you paid fot it, or better.

If you buy a revolver that doesn’t have a sterling reputation, you’ll pay less up front. You may well get an excellent product or you might get a clinker and your fun hobby just became an irritating chore. As a new guy to revolvers, you’ll never know the quality you are missing. You payed less up front, but your resale value is more than proportionally reduced.

An experienced revolver guy might pick up one made in South Pakinstein for $127 after an educated inspection , fiddle with a stone and some lube for half an hour and have a great shooter and if it breaks.. hey, it only cost about a couple boxes of factory ammunition.

Just my thoughts!
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Old March 14, 2019, 10:48 AM   #13
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The S&W 586/686 guns are top notch. The 4" guns are great, the 6" ones shoot great but are a little heavy. I am not a fan of the double action pull on the Ruger guns but I bet you could get used to it. The Rugers are beefier than the S&W, I guess because they are castings rather than forgings, not as pretty to me.
You won't go wrong with either one.
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Old March 14, 2019, 11:31 AM   #14
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Very good information, thank you!

Stinkeypete was really convincing about the 44 magnum. I can cast my own bullets, so really, how much more expensive would 44 magnum be to shoot?
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Old March 14, 2019, 12:37 PM   #15
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Ruger Blackhawk convertibles, .357/9mm or .45 Colt/ACP. Whichever you'd rather have.

I will say I lean more toward the .45's, I just don't like being stuck with 6 shots of .357 when it could be 7. That and there are many double action revolvers in .357 that are better, really only one or two double action .45 Colt revolvers out there worth buying, but aren't necessarily better than the Blackhawk.
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Old March 14, 2019, 12:54 PM   #16
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Buy the one that fits your hand best. Big calibre Ruger revolvers like the Redhawk and SuperRedhawk, etc. tend to fit normal sized hands where Smith N frames do not.
You should be able to try all of 'em on for size in your local gun shop. And consider the cost and availability of the ammo and brass.
"...will last a long time..." Yep. The load does matter. Most of it depends on what you're doing with the revolver. Really hot loads aren't necessary, even for hunting. Even then handgun brass rarely, if ever, requires steps like trimming.
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Old March 14, 2019, 01:49 PM   #17
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How about a Dan Wesson ? Get a Pistol Pac, 4 guns in one, cover everything from concealed carry through formal Bullseye.
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Old March 14, 2019, 02:51 PM   #18
stinkeypete
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@Truthteller... let me tell you a story.

My dad and I used to enjoy shooting together. Mostly this was Cowboy Action style guns, but the old man lives in North Carolina and loved driving in the country with a destination of some ol’ gun shop one of his fellas told him about. We’d visit each other, go to each other’s ranges, shoot our latest toys, chew the fat with the fellas. Good memories.

As a result, I’ve shot all but a few Ruger Single Actions and have even gotten better than passable at slicking a new one up. (On my bucket list: Single Seven and flat top 3-screw.)

As a reloader, the only reason I would get a convertible.45 or .357 would be as potential resale value to a non-reloader. My hand loads for .45 Colt were exactly the components of my handloads for .45 acp but they properly headspace on the rim. Why mess around?

My .357 handloads were whatever I wanted them to be, but tuned to what my gun liked. Sure “9mm is cheap” but not as cheap as making your own and in my gun... they were not grouping well at all compared to my target loads.

I was a .45 Colt man. .45 Colt Blackhawk (stainless Bisley 5 1/2” Talo Exclusive), .45 Colt Ruger Only loads, .454 Casull revolver and lever action rifle. 1911 .45acp.

My dad was .44. .44 Special were his favorites but he ran em often in his Blackhawks and marlin octagonal lever action. While I remained generally faithful to .45, the old man would often pull out the craziest stuff. “Hey, I just got this .308 H&K ultra modern battle rifle! Let’s shoot it! You want some cute little .22 black powder revolvers? I couldn’t resist and bought 4 of em.”

Now, time passes and nobody is getting any younger. My dad gave me his Bowen .44 Magnum. He had more fun driving and visiting with Mr. Bowen, turns out they had a lot in common. This was back when waiting times were only 6 months or so.

In my experience, you could not tell the difference between a ruger Blackhawk .44 magnum or .45 Colt when both are handloaded to whichever purpose suits.

.45 has a rich history but so does .44

The main difference being if you end up needing to buy ammunition in a pinch, it’s a rare gun shop where you can find any .45 Colt at all, let alone a selection. I reckon that’s the one time one might be grateful for that .45 acp cylinder. .45 Colt in double action is for fellas like me that won’t join any club that will have em. Except I’m a .44 Magnum guy now as I use my Dad’s pistol and remember our range sessions and hunting trips fondly.

Hunting? In the woods we used our lever guns and overlooking the marshes he used his dad’s 30-06 and I used my Marlin 30-30 with “Paco Kelly” handloads we can’t talk more about here. Now I have the 30-06 after my dad showed me his purple shoulder saying “I think it’s time to pass this thing along and I’ll tell you what my dad said to me when he gave it to me: “this damn thing kicks like a mule, you take it!”
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Old March 14, 2019, 04:04 PM   #19
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I like the double action Rugers in 357 Mag.


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Old March 14, 2019, 05:41 PM   #20
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The only common double action revolvers I would really call "modern" are Dan Wessons and Rugers. Most other revolvers commonly available are simple variations on either Colt or Smith designs that are about 100 years old.

Even though I don't consider many revolvers "modern", some of them are still fine revolvers.
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Old March 14, 2019, 06:05 PM   #21
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I've owned Smith's (686+, 629, 36 and 637) before--now I own Ruger's (SP101, GP100)----I like the Ruger DA revolvers more --really can't put my finger on as to why because the Smith's were just fine.

REALLY dislike the "lock" on the Smith's and won't own another that has one.
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Old March 14, 2019, 06:42 PM   #22
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The K frame S&W and current-production Colt double-actions are compact, light, and easy to carry while still shooting much better than J frames, LCR's, and Kimbers which are too light and awkwardly small to shoot easily and comfortably. The little guns are ok if you back off on the power factor, but you're expressing an interest in range-time and not carry, so I would suggest stepping up even from a K frame/Colt Cobra.

The two big advantages you get stepping up to a L frame or GP100 is weight and barrel length. The weight is important when shooting a higher power factor. When the barrel length exceeds 4" (to 5", 5.5", 6" and beyond), even the .357 produces big energy for a handgun. My 5.5" .357 can produce more than double the energy of that of popular 9mm self-defense loads commonly shot out of autoloaders with reciprocating slide mass and recoil springs that reduce the recoil velocity. In a revolver, the only thing reducing recoil velocity is the gun's mass.

S&W doesn't currently produce a K frame with more than a 4.25" barrel, and while the current K frames are easily stout enough in all ways to handle a high volume of maximum .357 Magnum loads, their ~36 oz. weight doesn't make this a pleasant endeavor. The full underlug on L frames and the GP100 not only add mass, but they also add it where it tends to reduce muzzle flip the most. Porting or compensating a K frame can also reduce muzzle flip, but it won't add the mass the reduces recoil velocity.

.357 Magnum in particular is benefited tremendously by increased barrel length. I've measured a consistent 40 fps difference just between a 5" and 5.5" barrel (same b/c gap). Going from a 4" to a 6" barrel can add hundreds of fps with no additional pressure. If power factor or energy doesn't mean anything to you, then just shoot a 4" K frame .38 Special. It can't be beat. But if you do care about power then there's no replacement for a longer barrel and you'll appreciate a gun with more mass.

Venturing into the big bores, your ammo and component costs will increase substantially. I would suggest a .38 or .357 to learn the double-action trigger and reloading and then a big bore should you wish. While there are L frame and GP100 sized guns in .44 Magnum and 10mm, big bore double actions are generally N frames or Redhawks. I can't speak from enough experience with these to offer good advice, but I would suggest that a .454 Casull or .460 S&W is a poor platform to learn double-action revolver on, even if you shoot more economical and lower recoil .45 Colt. The mainsprings on those guns have enough strength to strike rifle primers and that makes the triggers even harder than what you'll have to overcome to shoot any double action.
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Old March 14, 2019, 07:37 PM   #23
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I am right on with post #2. Personally, I won't buy a new pistol with the keyhole lock. Ruins the looks of the gun and I don't leave mine sitting on the counter at the local day care.

Really like the older Smiths. I do own a 642 with keyhole ONLY because if the deal I got on it and wanted an Airweight. I carry an SP101 quite a bit. Installed trigger springs and a Tritium front sight/buffalo grips. Love that gun.

I like the looks of Rugers more than Smiths, but like shooting the Smiths more - go figure. I've got a 1969 3 screw .44 mag and a 29-2 in excellent condition. A few others.

If I were buying new I'd get a GP100 and an SP101 all over again. New it would be Ruger. Used I'd look at Smiths expecting to spend some time to get exactly what I wanted but be happier in the long run. Maybe a Dan Wesson, wouldn't count those out.
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Old March 14, 2019, 07:46 PM   #24
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For a first modern revolver, I would suggest a .357 Smith and Wesson N frame.
60s through early 80s vintage model 28, or 27 six shots, and built like a bank vault.
I own a four inch Model 28, and a three and a half inch Model 27.
Load up, or shoot was cutter .38 special, you have a great shooter.
6 inch bbls are available too.
Prices are in my opinion, a little elevated, but are still affordable.
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Old March 14, 2019, 08:42 PM   #25
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I would go for the Super Redhawk 454. Also, I am prejudiced as I have a couple of them.
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