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Old July 13, 2011, 12:58 PM   #1
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Best 'older' revolvers for cheap

So I bought my first gun a little less than a year ago now. It is a Moss 702 and since my family and I are now up to five guns. My most recent gun is an old Iver Johnson 22 revolver. It is old and awesome.

I'm looking for another old revolver to purchase, but being green to the gun world still I don't know which to look in to buying. .357 is probably my ideal load, but am really open to anything that is quality and for a working mans price.

Any imput?
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Old July 13, 2011, 01:07 PM   #2
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In .357 mag ... there are a lot of S&W revolvers out there ...some with holster wear / some very clean ....model 19's ( were blued or nickel) and model 66's are stainless...4" guns are pretty commonly available - both K frames - good solid guns.

Prices are probably in the area of $ 450 - $600 depending on condition in my area.

I think they're a very good buy.
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Old July 13, 2011, 01:34 PM   #3
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Depending on what you want it for, you might also consider a used S&W model 10. They are 38 special instead of 357, but can be found for a bit less than the 357s. Last time I looked you could still find ones in 80-90% condition for less than $400.
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Old July 13, 2011, 01:38 PM   #4
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Look at the Russian Nagant, about $100 bucks and J&G Sales.

Just kidding (although its a heck of a lot of fun to shoot)

If you want a 38 that can shoot +Ps, you might consider J&G Sales Model 64 Smiths, Excellent gun, many for under $300.

I use one in ICORE competition, its smooth, fast and accurate.

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Old July 13, 2011, 02:26 PM   #5
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1st, welcome to TFL... nice moniker BTW

2nd, you collecting or are you shooting? If collecting, look for S&W breaktops in good condition. (no .357's there tho', that cartridge came along later in '35 IIRC) If you've got the money, and a lot of it at that, S&W's first .357's the Registered Magnum, built on their N-frame (largest frame at the time) is a fine choice to collect and maybe shoot a little every now and then. Big bucks tho.

Early S&W M&P Hand Ejectors built on their K frame can be had in good condition and could be shot every now and then as long as you keep power levels down (no +P which really aren't much + over older .38 loads)

S&W Victory models built during WWII, good to collect and shoot. They come in .38 spl and .38 S&W (Brits called that a .380-200 IIRC).

Old Colts... worth collecting, really worth collecting, but parts can be hard to find or good knowledgable smiths to work on them, so shooting them a lot is a gamble. Look for a Colt 3 5 7 which was the forerunner to the Python and share the same innards but will cost less (shhhh! don't tell too many people as the price is creeping up on these) than the Snake and you can shoot them with the above caveat (parts/smiths availibility).

A wheelgun man from your inaugural post. Good on ya! If you want to learn about old S&Ws look up Tamara's blog for some great reading.
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Old July 13, 2011, 02:37 PM   #6
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Nice K-frames are what I'd suggest.

If it doesn't have to be a 357, you can't beat the J&G sales S&W model 64's .38 trade ins.

Alot of gun for the money. Good luck with your search. Regards 18DAI.
S&W Model 19 Combat Magnum. Everything you need in a revolver, and nothing you don't.
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Old July 13, 2011, 04:02 PM   #7
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A S&W model 10 DAO in .38 can be found for very reasonable prices. Plus, it is still a quality gun not just a cheap one.
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Old July 13, 2011, 04:04 PM   #8
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I bought a S&W 64 just like the one Kraig pictured above. It turned out to have cylinder latching issues. Pressing forward on the cylinder release would not reliably release the cylinder.

I would not buy a revolver sight-unseen unless you have a lot of faith the seller is willing to make it right for you.

S&W Model 10s are going for under $300, and can be great guns.

I think a lot of people figure 357 Magnum is their ideal caliber, until they shoot a bit of it and find out how punishing it is in all but the biggest revolvers. I shoot 38 Special level hand loads in 357 cases. In the rare cases when I come down with Magnumitis, I get out the 44 Magnum and really make some noise.
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Old July 13, 2011, 04:37 PM   #9
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Dan Wessons can be had for cheap if you can find the right seller. I bought my 15-2 357mag w/ an 8 in barrel for 250 a little over a week ago... Its a real pleasure to shoot and if I want to I can buy a shorter barrel. The Dan wessons have interchangeable barrels that take about 5 minutes to swap. You can go from a carry gun 2.5 in barrel to a nasty hunter with 15 in barrel in nothing flat. I've heard of people getting the entire pistol pack in the $600 range if you want a full set of barrels grips and a belt buckle.
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Old July 13, 2011, 06:32 PM   #10
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Smith & Wessons are always a good are Rugers, Dan Wessons, and, if you're lucky enough to find one that's priced well, Colts.....

You can find some good deals on older Taurus or Rossi revolvers.....but you really have to check them over.....refer to the "Revolver Checkout" link above...
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Old July 13, 2011, 06:35 PM   #11
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Thanks for the input. I really just want to be able to shoot them. Nice things never seem to stay nice for me unfortunately. I have tried to have nice things, but **** happens. So what I am looking for is a quality shooter. If it happens to be beautiful gun, then awesome. If not, just as awesome. I want an older gun mainly out of personal preference.

The use of any potential gun for me is to shoot it and if the Zombie Apocalypse ever comes I want to have something by my side that is reliable. Ideally the gun will have a 4 to 6 inch barrel, but for the right gun, there is always an exception. Again, the caliber isn't to big of an issue so long as the ammo isn't too expensive (though most all of it is).

The things I like about the guns I own now, they were all cheap to buy, cheapish ammo and they are reliable shooters. None are very pretty and I am very okay with that.
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Old July 13, 2011, 06:48 PM   #12
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And I do like the idea of the interchangeable barrels on the Dan Wesson revolvers. Very nice, but how are they as guns? And what is a fair price?
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Old July 13, 2011, 10:37 PM   #13
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Keep your eyes open for the previous generation of Ruger DA revolvers, most of them in 357, known as the "Six series".

There was the Security Six, Service Six and in my mind best of all, the Speed Six - fixed sights, factory round butt grip and usually a 2.75" barrel. These were discontinued mainly because they were too expensive to make! They were basically Ruger's answer to the S&W K-frames, but they were stronger than a K and lacked the K's weak spot at the bottom of the barrel's rear end.

It used to be that you could grab these for a song but the word is out that they're damned good guns. Still, some people assume "older and out of production means junk".

There's also great deals on older S&Ws. The K-frame 357s can still work well, just don't feed 'em a lot of hot 125gr 357 loads.

What you don't want is a Taurus or Rossi. And while they were excellent guns, I'd also say "avoid Colt" unless you really know the breed and are collecting. Basically, the Colt DAs were excellent quality but with complex innards. None have been made for a long time now and the gunsmiths that know how to wrench on them are retiring or even dying at an alarming rate.

There's a stickied post this thread on the "Revolver Checkout" process. This lets you spot a gun in good mechanical shape even where it has some holster wear or the like.
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Old July 15, 2011, 06:28 PM   #14
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Anything to avoid?
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Old July 15, 2011, 06:42 PM   #15
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I've had a few DW's and loved them, currently have a 357max and will not get rid of it. DW's were built like tanks, very heavy and able to handle hot loads all day long, the Monson made ones are the best of the older ones, they had QC problems with the Palmer ones, but many good ones are around, the last lot made, the Norwich ones are the best and most expensive, made with modern CNC machining. The 357's go for $300 to $400 at auction and CZ; the new owner of DW still carries the parts for the older ones and they are interchangeable. Check at for more info on DW's.
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Old July 15, 2011, 09:45 PM   #16
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Anything to avoid?
Go back and read post #13.
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Old July 16, 2011, 01:15 AM   #17
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Personally, my top things to avoid are: RG, EEA Windicators, Charter Arms, any old Spanish copies of S&W's. I think the RG's and Spanish copies pose serious safety risks, and the Winicators and Charter Arms just don't have the smoothness and refinement of the Smith & Wessons and Dan Wessons. AND, there is truth in Post #13 (Taurus)- the list of folks with bad luck and buyers remorse is getting mighty long.
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Old July 16, 2011, 12:03 PM   #18
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Personally, my top things to avoid are: RG, EEA Windicators, Charter Arms, any old Spanish copies of S&W's.
Don't forget the Llama Comanche line. I'd rather have a Comanche Indian in my holster than one of those revolvers. They have a terrible reputation although I don't know anyone who owned or has owned one.

Supposedly the early Charter Arms revolvers from the first factory are good. They were trusted by Mark David Chapman and David Berkowitz, and sadly, worked when they were supposed to.
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Old July 17, 2011, 05:15 AM   #19
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S&W "Pre-models" can be a heck of a deal. In the last 12-18 months I've picked up a K-38 and M&P from the late 40's for under $425.
The police/security turn-in's from J&G are a heck of a deal too. Get some polish and replace the grips and DAO hammer and you'll have a great looking and basically little used revolver. They've only been carried alot, not shot alot.
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Old July 17, 2011, 08:36 AM   #20
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Hard to beat an old S&W or Ruger, hard to wear one out as well. If you read the thread mentioned above you'll avoid the ones that have been abused. I've put well over 100,000 rounds through a small handful of L-Frame S&W's (most thru one gun!) and had minimal wear-related issues. If you're buying ammo .38 is hard to beat for cheap and a .357 revolver will shoot it and the noisy stuff.
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Old July 17, 2011, 01:33 PM   #21
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This place has model 10s between $220-$275:
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Old July 17, 2011, 05:04 PM   #22
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I've always had an affinity for Colt Detective Specials and S&W Model 10s.
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Old July 18, 2011, 08:26 AM   #23
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Since everyone else has suggested all manner of Smith & Wesson's, and Rugers, and those are good choices, I'm going to throw in Colt. Everyone thinks Colts are expensive and delicate. Well, the Pythons and Diamondbacks are expensive...delicate, I don't know about.

But I have found several decent to nice Colt Official Police 38's in the 250-400.00 range. Actually, less than $400.00. I hope to get the chance to shoot them enough to try to wear them out.

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Old July 18, 2011, 09:08 PM   #24
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I love my 1926 Colt officers model. I've owned it for over 40 years now, never had a problem.
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Old July 20, 2011, 09:51 PM   #25
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So far I have no complaints about my dan wesson... fun to shoot and affordable if you can find the right seller.
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antique , cheap , inexpensive , revolver

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