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Help picking a .357

Discussion in 'General Firearms Forum' started by nathanours, Mar 5, 2013.

  1. nathanours

    nathanours Texan

    Hey everyone, one of the last "holes" so to speak in my gun collection is a nice 357 revolver. I've got a S&W 642 and plenty of 38 special practice ammo. To be honest I've never fired a .357 and find it intriguing. I am not recoil sensitive at all (I can fire a couple of +p boxes through the 642 without much discomfort), but is 357 somewhat comparable to 45 through my 5" 1911?

    I think I've narrowed it down to something in a 4" barrel platform as it seems to be good to carry, but still plink with when out camping. I really don't want to go shorter than that as I've already got quite a few small CCW guns. I'd like to be able to bounce around coke cans with it at 50 yards, so it needs to be somewhat accurate. Is 4" much harder to shoot well than 6"? I'd like an all steel framed gun preferably in stainless as sometimes I am camping for a week straight with no chance to clean while I am fly fishing.

    I like the looks of full-lugged guns, but for some reason I can't shoot the older style of revolvers to save my life. To clarify, the guns that have the high arch where the middle finger rests really mess me up. I can't stand the feeling of having my middle finger behind my trigger finger if that makes sense. I think it has something to do with my hand geometry. I'd like something with adjustable sights that is somewhat easy to carry while hiking. I've got $700 to spend, but would rather not go above that.

    What do you guys recommend? I've looked a little at the Smith 686 and the Ruger GP100, but when searching for the differences between the two all I can find is people saying that both are good :dunno:

    What are the advantages to the Smith over the Ruger or vise versa? I am not as much interested in responses like "I've got a Smith/Ruger and love it" as I am in hearing what you love about it.

    I know the cylinder release is different between the two guns, and that the Rugers are "built like tanks", but can't both easily handle very high round counts? Are there issues I should know about with either gun? I know the 686+ holds 7 rounds, but I'd rather have 6 if the gun is substantially thicker with 7.

    I'd love a Python, but don't want to double my budget. I know Smith makes other revolvers in 357, but there are so many different model numbers I am at a loss. Are there any other brands I should consider?

    Thanks for helping me sort this all out.

  2. p246


    Jan 30, 2013
    I've owned two (Python/686) and shot the snot out of a GP100. I liked the Python the best. That said 700 would buy you a rag. The 686 would be my preferance but only because I'm not a big fan of the Ruger cylinder release. That being said I would be comfortable with either. Both the 686 and GP I've been around have 10,000 + through them with nary a hic cup. Good luck

  3. Mixednuts


    Apr 9, 2011
    Willis, TX
    I'm of an opposite opinion as p246. I had a chance to buy a 686 or a GP100 and went with the Ruger for a few reasons.
    First, they are cheaper. In some cases substantially so.
    Second, while the Smith usually has a better trigger out of the box, it isn't a deficit that can't be overcome with some polish and a $9 pack of springs.
    Thirdly, the "Hillary Hole". I know there are thousands who have no issues what so ever but the simple fact that just shooting it can lock up the gun is something I can't get over. Plus its ugly.
    Forth, as you mentioned, Ruger's are bank vault stout. Smith's definitely feel more refined , but at the same time they also don't feel as robust. My GP100 feels like I could beat a Rhino to death with it and it would still run perfectly.

    Ultimately I ended up with a Wiley Clapp GP100 and have been supremely happy with it. Eventually I will get an older 686 (without the stupid lock), but for now I have absolutely no regrets.

    Edit - honestly it comes down to preference. What you need to decide is "do I think the Smith is better?" and if so "is it $100-200 better".
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  4. Glock40man


    Feb 1, 2011
    The Midwest
    You can't go wrong with a S&W 686 or, a Ruger GP 100 IMO.

    I've never had a problem with either one of them. S&Ws are going to be a little "smoother" out of the box.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  5. dsa1115


    Sep 22, 2010
    Suburban Chicago
    Don't think you can go wrong with a 686 or the Ruger. In regards to recoil, a .45 ACP is a *****cat compared to a .357 revolver.
  6. Ol' Dirty

    Ol' Dirty

    Jun 26, 2006
    Houston, Texas
    I have a 642 and a 4" 686, both have wonderful DA triggers and the SA on the 686 is a thing of beauty. The 686 also pulls IWB duty from time to time. It's big but actually carries pretty well.

    The gp100 isn't my favorite but yes, it is a nice piece as well. For something a little different check out the chiappa rhino. I've never shot one but would like to get the chance. It should be around the $700 range.
  7. nathanours

    nathanours Texan

    Thanks for the info guys, I got to check out a blued GP100 recently in the local gun store. I liked it, but would prefer a stainless gun. Their price for the blued gun new was $540. I don't really want to buy something though until I can check out all my options to know I made the best choice.

    Also, the blued GP100 had scratches on some of the cylinder faces from the forcing cone. I'm pretty sure it isn't supposed to do that. It makes me wonder if the gaps were uneven and they were definitely tighter than the .003 minimum I like since it was only on some of the cylinders. I cannot find a 686 locally right now to compare the GP100 to.


    I agree about the Smith lock, I'd like to get an older 686 without it if I can if I go that route. I just missed getting to look at this one. I contacted this seller a couple of days ago, but have not heard back yet. I'm guessing it's sold and the ad hasn't been removed yet.

    Also, it'd be great if anyone could post a GP100 and 686 comparison pic, since it seems I won't be able to find both together to compare weight.

    I also wanted to add that I wouldn't mind buying a used gun as long as it is in great shape. What would the value of a used 686 and GP100 be?
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  8. LuckyNemo


    Dec 12, 2012
    GP100 is nice and on my list. .... but waiting til prices go back to normal.
  9. Berto

    Berto woo woo

    Sep 15, 2003
    It's tough to compare recoil impulses between calibers in different pistols just don't feel like revolvers and vice-versa since autos usually have lower bore axis and reciprocating mass vs the more forward weighted and higher bore axis revolver and it's bbl/cyl gap, which can amplify the boom and perception of recoil -esp in a .357mag.
    They're just different.
    The 1911/.45acp is most often epitomized as a rolling hard push to the hand whereas a .357mag revolver more a booming snap- if that makes any sense- with more pronounced barrel impression, anyways.

    As much as the L frame S&W or Ruger GP100 in a 4" are really excellent choices, I'm actually thinking based on your wants, a K frame S&W actually might really make you something like a nice cond. used model 66 in a 4 inch.

    1) It's a great carry gun, slimmer, lighter and faster in action vs the heavier guns.
    2) Has the best (IMO) trigger geometry for DA shooting and overall great trigger, period.
    3) Can have any grip shape you want, though it sounds like the 'coke bottle' factory stocks would be ideal based on your preferences.
    4) They are shooters, good reputation for accuracy.

    The downside is often mentioned with regards to forcing cone wear/cracking when run hard with full power 125gr ammo, but it seems like your needs aren't centered around high mileage defense ammo use and more outdoor application...and, the gun will still last forever if used as 99.9% of people use a .357 revolver, splitting .38sp and general watered down remfedchester .357mag range ammo.
    The K frame .357 is also still just fine with typical 145-180gr .357mag ammo, along with med vel (like Rem Golden Saber) 125gr defense stuff. You're not going to break it.

    I own a few .357mag guns, including the Sp101, GP100, a Bond Derringer and K, L frame S&Ws......but the mod 66 really sounds like a good idea for what you seem to want in a .357 revolver, IMO.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  10. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    Just get an older pre-lock 686. I've got a stainless GP100 as well, but the Smith is much nicer, in my opinion.

    Here's my 4" 686-1 built in the 1980's. Its an awesome revolver. :cool:



    For sake of comparison, here is my 6" GP100.


  11. Bruce M

    Bruce M

    Jan 3, 2010
    S FL
    Of the two I would opt for the 686.
  12. GP100. Built on the design of the Security Six, it has become the quintessential .357 DA revolver. You can't go wrong with this one.
  13. Bullman

    Bullman Deranged Deputy

    Oct 11, 2003
    SW Virginia
    You can also find some nice N frame .357 Smiths out there too if you look around, like an old Model 28. You might even find a 27 in your budget range, but it is doubtful. They are big guns though, not something you would want to conceal carry but they manage the recoil very well.

    I own the Rugers currently and they are excellent choices. My first law enforcement gun was back in the revolver days, I still have my GP100, bought it when it was the new thing in the revolver world so it is 20 plus years old, bought it in 1988 and it is still going strong. the only issue I ever had with it was a holster issue. One of the hot holsters then was the Hoyt, it was a spring powered clam shell front break holster. With the cylinder locking mechanism being off set in the GP100, reholstering the gun tended to pop the cylinder out of lock and rotate it backwards. If you were shooting strings of two at requals your 3 shot would often be a click. There were times I wished for a 686 instead, and I wish I had one now. I briefly owned a 586 with a 6 inch barrel, and like all the Smith revolvers I have had, should have kept it. In my younger days I was such a tradaholic. The 6 inch barrel just wasnt my thing though. Don't really have any experience at all with Colt revolvers, but the King Cobra, while not the equal of the Python, is still a great revolver as well. Again you would probably have to hunt for one a while to make your budget.
  14. JBL13


    Oct 24, 2010
    Northern Utah
    I have no experience with the 686, but I've purchased three new GP100s over the last five years or so. In my case, the newer the GP, the better the trigger feel is. Not sure if that's the luck of the draw or if Ruger has made specific improvements there.

    Like others have said, you won't go wrong either way.
  15. You could get a Ruger security six and have plenty left for ammo (if you can find any) and a holster.

    They haven't made them in many years, so it would be a used one, but they're built like tanks and can withstand hot .357 loads.
  16. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    Yeah, I much prefer the GP100's predecessors over the GP itself.
  17. mgs

    mgs Always Carrying Millennium Member

    Dec 21, 1998
    cogan station, pa, usa
    686 would be my choice for stainless. I have a blued 6" Colt Trooper Mark III that is very nice and shoots great. 6" I believe would be great for what you want to do.
  18. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    How do you figure that?
  19. I've owned a lot of 357's over the years. Smith & Wesson, Colt, Ruger, even a Taurus. IMHO, there isn't a big advantage one over the other. They're just different. I probably like Smith & Wesson better, but I've owned more of them so I've got more experience with them. These days, I've only got two. A Colt Python, and a Smith & Wesson 65-5.

    You mentioned the cylinder latch. I doubt there is any practical difference between them. It's just a matter of what you get used to. I doubt the average shooter would ever wear one out, no matter the make or the model. If you ever do, you've got something to brag about. You did some serious shooting.

    Just pick the one you like best/can afford best, and enjoy it.
    Last edited: Mar 6, 2013
  20. Zombie Steve

    Zombie Steve Decap Pin Killa

    May 31, 2007
    Old Colorado City
    In the 686 vs GP100 fight, I'll take the 686 - better ergo for me... smoother trigger...

    But does it have to be a double action? Blackhawks are loads of fun.


    (second cylinder fires 9mm - 3 cartridges in one wheel gun... cool, huh?)

    They take some getting used to, but I like shooting these more than any DA gun these days...