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The best all-raound handgun

Discussion in 'The Wheelhouse' started by LApm9, Jun 16, 2012.

  1. LApm9

    LApm9 Silver Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    South Louisiana
    After a fair amount of fiddling around, I feel confident about making an absolute statement.

    By "all-around", I address a user group that includes persons that are "average". They are not going to go to the range once a month, much less strip down, clean, and lube a weapon on a monthly basis. They have average size hands and don't really like flash and recoil that much. They don't want to buy $100 worth of premium ammo to make sure their handgun functions well with it.

    They want something that waits patiently for them to use it, and then works as intended.

    Autoloaders are the BEST handgun in the hands of someone who practices regularly and likes fooling with handguns. They hold a lot of rounds and are fast, accurate, and fast and simple to reload. BUT, if you don't clean them enough they will not work. The modern ones are very reliable...but some weapons "don't like" certain brands of ammunition, so you have to spend about $100 ( :shock: )testing the ammunition you wish to use for defense. If the brand flunks the spend $100 more!

    With revolvers the cartridge brand and loading are almost irrelevant to function. You buy a box of the right caliber (match the words on the side of the barrel to the words on the box) cartridges and off you go. You can also, after giving them a modest oiling, leave them in a drawer for years and they will still be ready to go.

    As the K Frame and the grips...they just feel right. This basic design has been around since 1899, when fit was as important as function and far more important than manufacturing efficiency. This design just feels "right"...and I think the "average person" wants a weapon that fits him/her rather than having to adapt to something that feels foreign.

    The balance and size of the K frame is just better that that of the Rugers, the L frame S&W, and the J frame S&W. The K is narrower than the first two, above, and seems to better concentrate the felt weight in the center of the hand. The first two seem to concentrate the felt weight above the forward knuckles of the gripping hand...this about 3/4" different. IMHO, this centering of the weight, plus the narrower frame, makes the weapon "snuggle" right into the hand.

    The J frame has the same beneficial weight properties, but it is just a little too small and cramps things up just a little too much. Good, but not quite right. Especially the trigger reach. The smaller frame also impedes the easy use of a speedloader.

    Please note that the above is conditioned upon the use of the old-fashioned "Dymondwood" grips!


    I have experienced the modern rubber S&W grips, and high quality rubber after-market grips, and find them excellent. However, they fill the hand completely and seem to be made for man-sized hands. The same for the S&W "target" grips. The traditional style, seen above, seems to fit easily in the hand, and would accommodate a smaller hand better. I have large hands... and it still feels great...they just sort of "snuggle" right in there. The downside of the Dymondwood grips is that they will not absorb recoil as well. But, if you are going to be using .38 Specials in a steel framed weapon, recoil shouldn't be punishing.

    The K frame handguns are only furnished in .38 Special caliber. This round, introduced in 1902, is "enough". The modern 9mm is more powerful, and the .40 S&W, 10 mm, and .45 ACP even more so. But the .38 is "enough". Less power means less kick (recoil), less noise (blast), and less flash. I LOVE shooting my .357 because I like the power and the flash, but I suspect the "average person" likes a minimum of that kind of thing! With a .38 Special, you can get a strong "+P" load, or the milder "regular" loads. If you STILL find that bothersome, one can get the tame "wadcutter" target loads...which have some surprisingly good ballistics.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  2. Kentucky Shooter

    Kentucky Shooter NRA Life Member

    Jun 12, 2009
    I cant argue with a word you said about the S&W K Frame being the best all around. You can definitely make and justify this position. However, i feel the next guy can also make the same argument about the Glock 19, the 1911, the Ruger Blackhawk, etc. and it is hard to argue with him either. The best all around handgun is what works for YOU, not someone else.

    I grew up on revolvers and was 40 years old before owning a semi-auto of any type, rifle, shotgun or handgun. I grew up on double barrel shotguns, lever and bolt rifles and revolvers. These were all traditional and seen as the most dependable.

    But since i started with my ruger mark 2 in 22-45, and from there gradually acquired a couple of 10-22's, a couple 1911's, a glock 19 and 26, and a browning silver shotgun, i love semi-autos and realize they are a blast and can be extremely dependable.

    Life is full of choices and options. There is a time, place and use for all my guns. I still have my older guns and they still see range time and use, but a good semi- auto is also a pleasure to shoot.
    Last edited: Jun 17, 2012

  3. Gary1911A1


    Jun 14, 2005
    Ohio for now
    The best all around S&W revolver would also be a S&W Model 19 with a rounded butt. I have one in 4" I had custom made with hard chrome finish. Wouldn't mind finding it's 3" cousin though. I don't handgun hunt so for my needs the 4" works.
  4. I feel the same about my G26. It's sloppy clearances make it very forgiving of dirt or lack of maintenance when I get lazy. It's my EDC because if it's size and weight. So far it has proven reliable with the cheapest ammo and it's more accurate than my AK47 even at 50 yards. It's Tenifer finish and stainless innards make it forgiving of our salty atmosphere along the coast here in Florida. But I'll agree. The revolver is even more simple and easy to use. Definitely easier on the eyes.
  5. copo9560


    Feb 21, 2012
    While I like my Glocks I truly miss my old Colt Python in 357. With Pachmeyer grips it felt perfect, was far more accurate than any autos I own and 357 allows a ton of ammo choices including 38.

    For autos I do like the Glock 20SF. With 10mm round seems like you can put together a load for just about any situation and have 15 with you.
  6. Berto

    Berto woo woo

    Sep 15, 2003
    By "all-around", I address a user group that includes persons that are "average". They are not going to go to the range once a month, much less strip down, clean, and lube a weapon on a monthly basis. They have average size hands and don't really like flash and recoil that much. They don't want to buy $100 worth of premium ammo to make sure their handgun functions well with it.

    I'm definitely not one of those guys;

    Other than the average sized hands, I go every week, maintain my stuff religiously, don't mind recoil and spend waaay too much on ammo.....Other than for needs where ammo capacity is a serious consideration, I'd still be just fine with a K frame S&W.
    Besides, I can reload if I need to.
    I have lots of auto pistols, incl 1911/Glock20 etc, but I can put lead on target just as quickly with my mod 10, 64NY1, 14, 15 for six rounds at least and hang with the majority of pistol shooters on the reload too.
    There's more important things than which gun wins the most IPSC or IDPA shoots, it's the one that is going to work when things are far less than ideal....and K frames have established solid performance there for about a decade.
    Also, don't underestimate .38sp. With the right loads, it will come right under .357mag and exceed 9mm+P with heavy bullets. It's flexible that way because it's a revolver round.


    Jun 11, 2002
    New Mexico & Michigan
    I agree with your assessment except for one thing. The way you use the term "average", I get the feeling that you think anyone who chooses to use a revolver is not as good as someone who chooses an auto. I have carried and used both revolvers and autos in my career and I choose revolvers because I like them, plain and simple. I know that I can out shoot most "average" auto shooters with my average K frame and I'm happy with that.
  8. LApm9

    LApm9 Silver Member

    Apr 3, 2006
    South Louisiana
    I meant to convey something slightly different, that a person who is not as involved with firearms might prefer a revolver. A revolver user may be of any level of competence.

    "K" users are the Mensa of handgunners, though!
  9. CDR_Glock


    Apr 1, 2010
    For the masses, it's hard to refute the Glock 19. Recoil is manageable. Maintenance is easy. Very reliable. Capacity is there, too. I have a Glock 23/27/30/36 and SA XDM 9mm compact.

    Revolvers are great but for the average person, double action doesn't bring a lot of confidence to the average. I have the Ruger GP100, S&W Performance Center and Pro Series 627, a Colt Python, and a couple of snubbies. There is a lot of skill required to do a reload with a speed strip or speed loader.

    Single action autos are great and are very accurate for the average but some can be finicky with ammunition. I have a few 1911s but they're not exactly affordable for the average and are a little more complex for maintenance.

    Many people feel comfortable shooting an AR15 but maintenance and cost is not for the average person. Places to practice are limited, too.

    Shotguns are a great firearm but places to practice and skill on doing reloads are limitations. Recoil and dispersion is specific to each load and each firearm.
  10. nathanours

    nathanours Texan

    Most of what you are saying makes sense in regards to the whole "revolver because it can eat any ammo and is simple to use", but after that things really fall apart as most of the rest is all your personal preference.
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2013
  11. Except for the Models 13, 16, 17, 18, 19, 53, 65, 66, and 617.
  12. Hugo R

    Hugo R Gaff G26 User!

    For YOU that might be right. A lot of what you said is true but not for everyone. I prefer the Pachmyers on all my S&W Revolvers.

    Many people that I teach choose the G19 as the keeper.

    As for me, I love the K Frame and wouldn't feel underarmed with one (I especially love my M14 Target Masterpiece) but it cannot compare to all of the firepower, speed and reliability of my 2nd Gen G17 who has been a constant companion since 1993.

    Truly, to each his own.

  13. tango44


    Jun 16, 2005
    Miami Florida
    A Glock 19 will be my choice!
  14. bac1023


    Sep 26, 2004
    I'd say you need to check your sources, my friend. ;)

    There are many K frame models in 357mag. I have a Model 19 a few feet from me right now.
  15. S9Man


    Feb 15, 2005
    Farm country
    4" 686 Houge grips
  16. desertdisciple

    desertdisciple CLM

    Jul 30, 2003
    Since it doesn't mean I only have to have one brand, model, or size...
    I definitely agree.
    Revolvers are great, regardless of one's level of skill.

    Made the mistake of selling my 686, some years ago...
    But another, homeless Smitty, called my name from the gun case...
    So, I adopted it!


    This one will remain part of our family, regardless of not being a primary carry!
    Last edited: Mar 19, 2013
  17. It seems you answered most in your first post. Autoloaders (even Glocks) need a level of care, albeit minimal that a lot of folks just aren't going to want to do. You have to buy magazines and not loose them, replace springs etc. I've come across several people with an older handgun but had no idea where the magazines were.

    I think for most a Stainless revolver is the clear choice in what ever size / manufacturer you choose. .38/.357 (some 9mm). You load a gun like this and literally forget about it for years until it is needed again. Revolvers aren't the easiest thing for people to shoot but they don't jam, rounds don't come dumping out of magazines etc..

    I think the S&W Mod 686 2.5" is great example of this as is my Ruger SP101. Another option would be the blackhawk convertable that will run both .38.357 and 9mm with a cylinder swap. Only single action but gives you lots of ammo options. Basicilly with a high quality revolver you are pretty set from light target loads to heavy Buffalo Bore kickers. There are no wrong answers but I think wheelguns are comfortable just sitting lying in wait...
  18. AZ_Quailhunter

    AZ_Quailhunter NRA Life Member

    Apr 29, 2007
    the best....(an arcane term)....Ruger Blackhawk in .44 Special. Those that "know" do not need to have it explained to them...