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View Poll Results: Which gun to make the "perfect" winter carry revolver?
Taurus 65, cut to 3" 3 16.67%
Taurus 66, cut to 3" 2 11.11%
Taurus Tracker/627, cut to 3" 2 11.11%
4" Taurus 65, live with the extra inch 4 22.22%
4" Taurus 66, live with the extra inch 5 27.78%
4' Tracker/627, live w/ the inch and porting 2 11.11%
Voters: 18. You may not vote on this poll

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Old September 26, 2012, 09:21 PM   #1
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Time to make the "perfect" cold weather carry revolver

I love my S&W 65LS and have long thought the .357mag 3" K-frame the perfect carry revolver (at least for fall-early spring when clothing styles allow concealment of a bigger gun). However, .357mag has long been (always been) one of my favorite calibers, often my outright favorite, and my 65LS is my 1st .357mag. For sentimental reasons I want to keep it stock.

Stock is OK for CCW, but for my "perfect" CCW revolver, I want a bobbed hammer and probably the addition of a tritium dot night sight (at least the front dot, maybe both front and rears).

Since I don't want to cut up my 65LS, and I am carrying a lot more than I used to (I spend a lot more time in VA, WV and PA than I used to), I am considering buying a gun to take to a smith to do the transformation.

It would be nice if someone made a 3" K-frame .357mag as a base gun but that doesn't exist anymore. S&W stopped making K-frames a few years ago, the L-frame is noticeably beefier. Ruger stopped making a K-frame sized gun nearly 2 decades ago (the GP100 is more like the L-frame plus). Taurus makes K-frame sized (the "medium" frame) and even slightly smaller guns (the "compact" frame Tracker) in many calibers, but they start at 4". Used 3" Taurus revolvers are quite rare, and used 3" S&W revolvers are quite expensive.

So, unless I come across a great deal on a 3" used gun soon, I'll probably buy a new Taurus, which gives me a few options.

I like that the medium frame 65 and 66 and the compact frame 627 (the Tracker in .357mag) are set up for 7 rounds. That extra round gives it a little more firepower than my 6-shot J-frame sized Rossi 461, and the larger and heavier frame means I can use magnums without giving up as much control with quicker follow-up shots.

I don't like that the shortest barrel length is 4". This gives me two options: I can spend extra money (still well under what most used 3" S&Ws go for) and get it cut to 3", or I can put up with the extra unwanted inch and keep it at 4" and save that money for other mods or more ammo. Those of you who carry revolvers, how much will I actually notice that extra inch? I suspect it will make a big difference IWB (usually my favorite carry method), but now that I'm getting older I'm not as willing to put up with the relative discomfort of IWB with a larger gun. When I carry medium frame revolvers and the larger compact autos (like the SIG 229), I plan to usually go with a belt holster from now on. In that case, as long as the holster has an adequate cant, I suspect that the extra inch will pose little difference. However I have never carried this way to date so I am only guessing.

If I go with the 65 (fixed sights) or 66 (adjustable) it will be cheaper than the Tracker, but the Tracker is over 9oz lighter (28.8oz v. 38oz). The 65/66 will be easier to get aftermarket grips and it will be easier to find holsters that fit. One thing I don't like about the Tracker is the ports, not an issue if I cut down the barrel, but if I keep it at 4" I would have them and I don't like them in a defensive gun.

So, which way would you suggest? Also, does anyone have any carry suggestions when carrying a medium framed revolver (I haven't done it much, except around the house)? Last, any holster suggestions? What holster designs work better for belt carry with a medium frame revolver?

Last edited by chaim; September 26, 2012 at 09:31 PM.
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Old September 26, 2012, 09:51 PM   #2
Dave Chuppa
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I carry a SP101 AIWB and back it up with a LCR357 in the off hand pocket. Ten rounds of 357 ready to go plus 3 speed strips for reloads. Every day all day. The SP is a DAO and has the XS Standard Dot Night Sight, Hogue Grip, and 2" barrel.
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Old September 26, 2012, 10:04 PM   #3
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Dave, I already have a few J-frame sized revolvers:
-A Rossi 461- a 26oz, 6-shot small framed .357mag revolver.
-A Taurus 85CH- a steel framed DAO 5-shot J-frame sized .38spl.
-A S&W 442- a "hammerless" DAO 15oz aluminum framed actual J-frame .38spl.

I don't count them as my "perfect" carry revolvers for a couple reasons:

-The light weight of the 442 makes even .38+P quite snappy and makes for slower follow up shots. The Rossi and other .357mag small framed revolvers are even worse when using magnums. The medium frame revolvers would allow me to use just about any ammo I wish while still being reasonable on recoil and follow up shot speed.

-With a 2" barrel, .38spl (the round I usually carry in these guns, as +P anyway) are notoriously spotty when it comes to expansion. There have been specialty rounds specially made for short barreled guns for a few years now, but that again limits ammo selection and I'd like more flexibility.

-A 3" or 4" barrel on the medium framed revolver has a longer sight radius, making it easier (along with the lighter recoil) to be accurate on the first (and follow up) shots.

These factors make the bigger gun my "perfect" CCW revolver for colder months, but with caveats. First, notice I keep putting "perfect" in quotes. There is no perfect gun, just one that is perfect for me, and one for you, and one for... Second, in summer months when concealment is tougher, the J-frame sized guns come into their own and are definitely the "perfect" summer carry revolvers (IMO the 442 is perfect in the pocket, while the 85 or 461 is perfect IWB).


That said, it doesn't have to be a 6-shot or 7-shot revolver (though I definitely like the extra capacity). Your post about the SP101 did just remind me that Ruger makes it with a 3" barrel (27oz) and looking at the website I see they also have a 4" barrel (29.5oz). I would like the extra round of the K-frame (or 2 rounds of the Taurus options), but I may consider the SP101 as well (and with the 3" version from the factory, I wouldn't need to have it cut down).

Last edited by chaim; September 26, 2012 at 10:11 PM.
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Old September 27, 2012, 12:17 AM   #4
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I may add one more to my list, though I am a bit hesitant. I know a lot of people have very strong feelings about Taurus (and many have never owned one). If I put something else on my list, the Taurus options may not get the vote just because they are Taurus. I've owned several Taurus handguns, mostly revolvers, and to date all of them have been good guns. Please, consider the other options on criteria other than who makes them.

I may add the S&W 386 Nightguard to my list. On the positive side, it is a 7-shot .357mag, it already has the night sight as the front sight (XS 24/7), and it is alloy so it is very lightweight for the size (24.5oz). Owning an early S&W 1911SC that has been flawless, I am quite comfortable with scandium. Unfortunately, it only has a 2.5" barrel and not a 3" so I would have to be just as careful about ammo selection as with a 2" snub (though that makes it a little shorter and more concealable). It is also a larger L-frame and not a K-frame size so it is a little bulkier than the Taurus revolvers would be. Already having the shorter barrel and not needing to be cut to 3" (should I choose to do so with the Taurus guns), and already having the night sight would make up a substantial portion of the higher premium for this gun (from what I've seen online, I could get it for a little over $800 with shipping and FFL fees, significantly more than any of the Taurus revolvers, but it would need far less work to set it up the way I want it- possibly none if I chose to keep the traditional DA/SA revolver hammer).

I also might add to my list the S&W 396 Nightguard or 396 Mountain Gun or the 2" , 22oz Taurus 445. Only 5-shots in any of these, but in the low recoiling but relatively powerful .44spl. The Taurus is their compact frame so like the Tracker it may be a bit harder to find holsters or aftermarket grips. The S&W 396's weren't made long so holsters specifically for them may be hard to find, but they are L-frame revolvers with 2.5" barrels so I assume any holster made for any other 2.5" L-frame would work, and the 386 is current and the 686 has been made with a 2.5" barrel for quite a long time now. Finding holsters for the 3" 396 Mountain Gun may be a bit tougher though.

Last edited by chaim; September 27, 2012 at 12:22 AM.
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Old September 27, 2012, 12:40 AM   #5
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None of the above is my choice. Not because you only listed Taurus guns. I have no problem with that. In fact my choice is from another maker that gets some of the gun snob hatred as well. Charter Arms bulldog 44 Spcl.
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Old September 27, 2012, 01:31 AM   #6
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I've shot the 66 and found it to very pleasant. Other than the extra inch, it strikes me as being what you're describing. I vote 66 and live with 4".
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Old September 27, 2012, 03:10 AM   #7
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None of the above is my choice. Not because you only listed Taurus guns. I have no problem with that. In fact my choice is from another maker that gets some of the gun snob hatred as well. Charter Arms bulldog 44 Spcl.
I have a Charter as well. I've been carrying my .357 Mag Pug around lately, and like the thing. I'm a .357-a-holic.

It took some fiddling (filing down the front sight), but it carries like a champ and has excellent ergonomics, especially with Pachmayr Compac grips.

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Old September 27, 2012, 08:45 AM   #8
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Any Ruger or S&W. If you choose a Taurus make sure it'll work, shoot it quite a bit before carrying. They have pretty poor quality control. I saw more than a few Tauri that didn't work brand new.
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Old September 27, 2012, 08:51 AM   #9
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None of the above... Year around it is the same : Charter Arms bulldog 44 Spcl.
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Old September 27, 2012, 10:39 AM   #10
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+ 1 None of the above.....
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Old September 27, 2012, 11:59 AM   #11
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3" GP-100
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Old September 27, 2012, 12:15 PM   #12
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2.5" mod 19 or 66..... two of my favorites....
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Old September 27, 2012, 05:33 PM   #13
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I have always found the size of the GRIP, makes much more of a difference than the barrel length. I would suggest keeping the 4" tube, and getting as small of a grip as you are comfortable with.
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Old September 27, 2012, 06:36 PM   #14
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When I am home in the winter, the perfect carry is either my S&W 940 or S&W 640 in the pocket of my parka.
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Old September 27, 2012, 06:42 PM   #15
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I no longer own a revolver with a barrel shorter than 4". However, I own and carry 4" K and N-frames through the winter months.

After buying/trying a number of holsters, I have found the 4" barrel to be only "marginally comfortable" with an "ordinary" IWB holster.
IMHO, this is the perfect match for a 4" barrelled K-frame.

Note that the design of this holster places the cylinder above the line of your belt. If you have a good belt, it is very stable and comfortable. Re-situating the rear belt loop into the rear fastener's hole spreads the weight (much like a Milt Sparks Versa-Max) and makes the holster more stable and more comfortable.

If you buy one, or are simply interested, and want a pic or two, send me a pm with an email address.

As far as the poll goes...the words "Taurus" and "perfect" do not belong in the same thread, let alone the same sentence. Mark my vote as "None of the Above". Plenty of good used S&Ws available at Taurus prices or better.

Last edited by orionengnr; September 27, 2012 at 06:55 PM.
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Old September 27, 2012, 07:12 PM   #16
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A 4" revolver is NO more difficult In my opinion to carry IWB than a 3" provided you have a good quality holster made for the gun, and a sturdy belt.

A K frame is also not difficult at all. I have no difficulty with a much larger revolver with just a T shirt for a cover garment, and I'm just an average size guy at 5'10 and 190ish. The key is a holster that holds the grip (hardest part to conceal) nice and tight to the body.

I actually find my longer barreled revolvers (4" and 5 1/2") more comfortable IWB than my snubby in a 3 o'clock position.

Pass on the chop job and spend that money on a really good holster.

I use Simply Rugged holsters my self with very good success.
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Old September 27, 2012, 09:06 PM   #17
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I won't buy a Taurus.

Why you only have Taurus revolvers listed, I have no idea.
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Old September 27, 2012, 09:33 PM   #18
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I like the Taurus Model 415 (s/s version), chambered in .41 Magnum. This revolver (which I think has been discontinued) has a 2 1/2", ported barrel. Plenty of "whomp" from a relatively compact sidearm.
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Old September 27, 2012, 09:58 PM   #19
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I'd rather carry a shovel than a Taurus.
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Old September 28, 2012, 06:24 AM   #20
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A perfect revolver needs to be reliable, Taurus to me, and I am a former owner, isn't what is generally described as reliable.

I'd look for a Ruger SP 101 or GP 100. They are pretty common, well built and reliable. They might not be the size you want but they are reliable.
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Old September 28, 2012, 09:27 AM   #21
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+1 on the 3" SP-101

I carry one in the fall / winter woods when I don't want to pack a larger gun. At only 25 oz you can just about forget it's there. At the same time, you'll appreciate the heft when firing full house magnums in it.
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Old September 28, 2012, 03:26 PM   #22
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I would just get a used S&W 3" Model 65. The non-LadySmith models aren't rare or expensive. Grind off the hammer spur, and you're done.
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Old September 28, 2012, 07:55 PM   #23
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That's like having to vote for the sext president. Neither.
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Old September 29, 2012, 04:41 AM   #24
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SP101 or S&W M66

Either one of these are great, although I would most times opt for the M66 to get that 6th round. Hogue Bantam grips on the round butt model would make it very concealable with a light jacket.
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Old September 30, 2012, 02:08 PM   #25
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There have been enough posts since my last post, that I will respond to a few general themes as opposed to specific posts...

Taurus sucks:
No one used quite those words, but a few said basically that. I have Taurus on my list because I do not think they suck. In fact, of the 5 Taurus handguns I own or have owned (all but one a revolver), I have had fewer problems in any of them than I have from my S&W 65LS (timing issues and lead shaving) or the SIG 226 I used to own, and I consider both the 65 and the 226 to have been quite reliable handguns overall. I have had far fewer problems in all my Taurus handguns combined (and multiplied by 10) than I had in the POS Ruger KP345 I used to own. I trust Taurus because I have had multiple repeat positive experiences with them, and most of them have had thousands of rounds through them (the post-Taurus buy out Rossi 461 doesn't have many rounds yet, but so far so good).

As for why only Taurus handguns are on my poll, I addressed that in my original post- ideally I want a 3" K-frame sized handgun, and only Taurus still makes new production K-frame sized handguns, and used S&W's (especially the 3") are getting pretty expensive.

If you don't like Taurus, please ignore the brand and address the revolver types (65= medium frame with fixed sights, 66= medium frame with adjustable sights, Tracker= ports, adjustable sights, and slightly smaller and lighter than a K-frame).

Ruger GP100

Well, there hasn't really been a theme of these, but I want to address it. I'm staying away from the GP100 because for me, it is bigger and heavier than I want for this purpose. Though with a 3" model in production, it is tempting to give it a try anyway, I'd probably go with the smaller 3" SP101 if I go with Ruger (I already have plenty of range guns, one of the main purposes of this purchase would be carry, both CCW and woods/camping).

Keep it 4"
Maybe. I have tried a 4" K-frame IWB when I had one, and it dug into my leg when I sat down. However, I never tried it with a canted holster, and I haven't tried it OWB. Either way, it may work (and with a canted OWB holster it probably would). So, if I go with a 4" gun, I may buy a holster and try it for a few hours before I make the choice to cut off the barrel. Certainly, if I go with the 28.8oz Tracker I'll try it, if I go with the 66/65 which are much heavier, lopping the inch off the barrel will also cut a couple ounces so I still may just cut the barrel.

Suggestions of various other guns:

Some of these seem interesting.

The Charter Arms in .38 or .357 don't interest me, but the .44spl Bulldog does. The Taurus 415, not as much (I love .41mag, but I've moved away from it and sold mine due to ammo and component costs and availability).

I wouldn't mind trying the SP101. However, it weighs about the same as my Rossi 461 so it probably won't help recoil v. the Rossi. The Rossi has one more round, but the Ruger is available in a 3" barrel. Seems kind of a wash. The Ruger has a better reputation, but I already have the Rossi so I'm not sure it really would do much that I don't already have covered. Still, choice is always good .

I'm becoming more interested in the S&W Nightguard series. Either the current 386 or the discontinued .44spl 396. They have an XS front night sight, and they are scandium so they weigh under 25oz which may help counter that they are L-frames (not the trimmer K-frame) and only have 2.5" barrels. They're kind of expensive, but they already have almost all the mods I'd want (and I might forget about the bobbed hammer/DAO conversion), so it may not be any less than the whole package once I got another gun to the smith for the work.

Last edited by chaim; September 30, 2012 at 02:14 PM.
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