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Old June 24, 2012, 03:59 PM   #1
Ale GOlem
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Ruger GP100 vs. S&W 686+ (Sheer Durability)

Based on personal aesthetic preference, price and reviews I've narrowed down my very first handgun purchase to either of the aforementioned revolvers. I have an NRA handgun training course scheduled in VT on August 4th which will allow me hands on experience with, hopefully, one or both of them. At bare minimum I'll be able to fondle them in the shop if not fire them in the course. So my question for the day is which of them will hold up for sheer durability? I'll mostly be using this as a range gun but one never knows what the future may hold and I always like to be prepared.
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Old June 24, 2012, 04:04 PM   #2
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Since no one has taken numerous samples of both and fired 10's of thousands of rounds thru them under controlled conditions to test for a durability advantage, any answer you get will be an opinion.
They are pretty much equal guns so get the one you like best.

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Old June 24, 2012, 04:04 PM   #3
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Sheer durability I will have to cast a vote for the GP100. I think the 686+ is a better firearm overall though. The GP100 IMO will hold up to more shooting of the full power .357 rounds. The Smith is no slouch though they are durable and IME have much better triggers. Either will last a lifetime.
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Old June 24, 2012, 04:13 PM   #4
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Too Subjective !!!

I always have a problem with posts dealing with "This Vs. That". In most cases, the subject is just too subjective. I have owned and appreciate both. Both have exceeded my expectations. ....

That being said and falling into the subjective trap, if I "had" to sell one, I'd sell the 686. .....

Be Safe !!!
'Fundamental truths' are easy to recognize because they are verified daily through simple observation and thus, require no testing.
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Old June 24, 2012, 04:21 PM   #5
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I've owned several Ruger .357s and they have all been excellent. They're both great guns so get the one you like best. You won't go wrong with either one.
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Old June 24, 2012, 04:23 PM   #6
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people say ruger is stronger but I have yet to wear out any of my S&Ws
IMO id rather have the better gun and trigger not a brick with a handle
which IMO ruger is
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Old June 24, 2012, 04:32 PM   #7
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Granted this is just hearsay but I have always heard that if you want a fine shooter to shoot every once in awhile pick a S&W, if you are gonna shoot the heck out of it pick the GP 100. I don't think you can go wrong with either.
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Old June 24, 2012, 05:36 PM   #8
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They're both solid well made guns. Either one can be shot out of time or suffer forcing cone damage from lots of 110-125 gr. +P high velocity ammo. (yes, even the Ruger). The main difference is the S&W will have a better DA pull and can be made even better.
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Old June 24, 2012, 09:19 PM   #9
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I lean toward Rugers...but the 686 is a fine handgun..I really don't think you would wear either out..
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Old June 24, 2012, 09:32 PM   #10
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Good luck wearing either of them out.

I own a GP100, a couple friends have 686's. I never liked the finger groove grips their guns came with (they don't fit my hands) but I haven't noted any mechanical issues with their guns. We've put quite a number of "stout" rounds through them over the years.

Which ever one you find that you like better is the one to buy. Put as I do in the Rem. 870 Vs. Moss 500 questions... Ford / Chevy.....chose one.

Edit to add: A Ruger trigger can be cleaned up better than most people suspect.
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Old June 24, 2012, 11:09 PM   #11
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You shouldn't worry about this at all, BUT.. I'd be more worried about the loss of $10-15,000+ spent on the ammo it would take to wear either of those two revolvers out then about which $600-700 dollar gun will break first.
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Old June 24, 2012, 11:45 PM   #12
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The Smith is a better gun. It is machined forged steel. The Ruger is cast steel. The L frame Smith was designed to take a steady diet of Magnums and address the weakness of the K frame in that regard.

When the Border Patrol issued wheelguns, we had way more problems with GP 100's than we did Smiths. But the BP is only a small agency, and we only shot 1000 or so magnums a year through them. When they took my 686 from my sweaty palms I had over 10,000 rounds of mostly 125 grn magnums through it.
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Old June 24, 2012, 11:52 PM   #13
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I'm in the market for a 686 too. I know how good S&W service is, how is Rugers?
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Old June 25, 2012, 12:08 AM   #14
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just as good as S&W. on the CS.

if money isn't a factor I'd go 686. Not sure bout the 686+ because of speed loaders and such. im sure they are out there. plus six shots mean one less cylinder to clean.
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Old June 25, 2012, 02:02 AM   #15
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They're both good guns. In my opinion there's two specific use cases that might steer you towards the GP100:

1) Because the cylinder on the Ruger locks up at both the crane and the rear, in certain very nasty over-charge situations the GP100 might survive where a 686 wouldn't. Maybe. It's not a huge difference but basically the GP can retain the cylinder in place rather than dislodging under a really nasty excess handload or the like. So...if you're going to learn to handload with it, I'd go with a GP100.

2) Because the GP100 is meant to be field-stripped by the user, it has an edge in places like backwoods carry, carry around saltwater or other situations where the ability to do a total stripdown with minimal tools might be vital to keeping it running. The Ruger manual shows how to field-strip it to a level that S&W says "go see a gunsmith". Ruger includes the take-down tool you need under one of the grip panels, and even publishes a complete video on how to do it on their website for free. There's no voiding of any warrantee should you do so. The S&W is much harder to take apart and needs more and specialized tools to do so. A Ruger can be taken down wth a Swiss Army Knife or multi-pliers - you just need to get the one grip screw out.

That latter thing also means it's easy to do a home-brew spring kit and internal fluff-n-buff on the cheap that can usually take the GP's trigger feel up to the level of the S&W and often up to the standards of a good gunsmith or S&W's custom shop. See also:

So all that plus the lower price? I'd get a GP100. No question. I *do* use a Ruger 357 as my daily-carry-without-fail but I'm a weirdo packing a New Vaquero .
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Old June 25, 2012, 02:19 AM   #16
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Old June 25, 2012, 06:49 AM   #17
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Pick the one you like the best,either will last most people a life time. I prefer the K frame S&W over the l frame, they just balance better (for me) and i don't shoot many magnums any way.
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Old June 25, 2012, 07:51 AM   #18
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Well, the Ruger is probably the stronger gun, but I can tell you that don't hear of 686Ps being shot loose real often, so unless you're really planning to test it with tons of maximum loads (which would test you as well), for practical purposes, the 686 will last you a lifetime.
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Old June 25, 2012, 09:22 AM   #19
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Get the one that feels best in YOUR hands or points best for YOU. Between the two guns I would call it a win/win. They're both excellent!
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Old June 25, 2012, 06:07 PM   #20
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Both guns will out last you with proper care. Don't get wrapped up that the Ruger is stronger than the S&W or vice versa. Both are excellent guns so simply buy the one that feels best to you.
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Old June 25, 2012, 07:11 PM   #21
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If you're worried about how strong you gun is then your ammo is TOO HOT!
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Old June 25, 2012, 07:14 PM   #22
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99.99% chance that you'll never hurt either gun.

Exhibition quality 1911 grips!
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Old June 25, 2012, 08:16 PM   #23
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most information you will read points to the ruger being a stronger, more utilitarian gun, and the smith to be a bit more pricey, finer finished piece but all these folks are right. If the gp's extra strength as its percieved were to come into play then maybe a .357 isnt the right calibre. I went with the gp myself due mostly to the price and simplicity, Plus I love the look. I love the look of both guns, but I like the gps that much more, and I could not bring myself to pay +800$ for one when theres one for 600& flat thatll do the same thing just as well.
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Old June 25, 2012, 08:44 PM   #24
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Shoot Todd Green's "2,000 Round Challenge" and evaluate each gun at 1,000 and 2,000 rounds.

My guess is that both will pass with flying colors and you won't notice enough of a difference between the two to matter.

Don't forget to take photos and post the results on that forum.
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Old June 25, 2012, 10:31 PM   #25
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I have owned two 686s and two GP100s. I still own a GP100. I give the durability to the GP100. Jim March explained it well. Front and rear lockup system. Also the trigger group parts are stronger. The trigger will usually be better with the S&W. Both will shoot factory 357 magnums everyday. Like Drail said, both will suffer forcing cone erosion with constant use of 110 to 125 gr high velocity 357s.
Get the one you like and get the best deal.
Good luck,
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