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Pisticus Veritas
Very Prepared!!
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Twenty five years ago, when I first got out of college and didn't have a pot to pi$$ in nor a window to pour it out of, my uncle gave me a mid 80's manufacture S&W 586 as a wedding present. My collection at that time consisted of a $100 Chinese SKS, a Marlin semiauto 22 rifle, and an 870 12 gauge. It was my first handgun. He has since retired, gotten back into shooting, and I'm gifting it back to him as he's begun collecting various Smiths and the blued pre-locks like that one aren't just laying around anymore. And likely, hopefully no time soon, I'll inherit it back some day. The question is, what to replace it with? It's my only 357 revolver.

I'm only looking at 357 revolvers in this thread. I already own HKs, Glocks, a few Rugers, heck even a High Point (which is IMO a fine tackle box gun that works like it should and won't break the bank should it fall in the lake, but that's a whole different thread that's been done way too many times). I don't really have a need for a 357 revolver per se, but want one in the safe.

My thrifty side says get a Ruger GP100 and move on. They aren't necessarily refined, but they are built like tanks, look pretty good, and are readily available most places. However, if I could find one for 1500 or so, my less practical side thinks one of the new generation Pythons would be nifty.

What sayeth SB? Thrifty or "new shiny thing" cool? Or some choice in between?
I think you hit the nail on the head when you said: Ruger GP100. I owned one for years and if I were to get another one that's what it would be. Like you said, "built like tanks" and you can hardly beat the Ruger quality. But as is always the case ... it boils down to personal choice and nobody can choose for you.
 
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Why do you ask? 2 Dogs!
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I've got a "no dash" 686, I wouldn't trade for it or sell it!

If it was me, I'd buy another like you had but then again, if it was me, I'd have bought my uncle something else and kept the one that I had!

Pythons are nice but way overpriced and the timing issues are a concern. There aren't too many gunsmiths alive that are competent on those.

Rugers are nice too, but they are no S&W.
 

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I know it's already been mentioned, but I have a GP100...and it is built like a tank. I've run every thing through it that I could find from really hot loads to cheapie .38 hand loads with no problems at all. It's more than accurate enough for anything I or most people will need for it to be. Those Colt snake guns may be better, but are they really worth the extra $$$? Are they really that much better than a GP100 to make it worth double, or more, the cost? I just don't see it.
 

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Always Loaded
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It all depends on your plans for use. If you plan to really shoot it a lot, I suggest a Ruger. Like you said, they are built like tanks. If it's as a safe queen, the refined action and beauty of a Smith is well worth it. I like both, but for diffrant purposes. For general use the GP100 is fantastic. Mine has probably 5,000 rds through it and it's like new.
 

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What hell, pay attention
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The Rugers are good solid guns. I just grew up with S&W's and the Rugers just always seemed clunky and didnt seem to have the right balance to me. They werent as slick either.

Of late, the Rugers arent all that cheap or that great a deal anymore either, at least not around here anyway. Everything is going up. The last Security Six I saw was a nice 2.5", and it was priced at $700. It didnt sit long either. The same shop currently has a couple of new GP100's for $750.

The older S&W's have really shot up in price the past couple of years too. I still like them the best though, and Im willing to pay the premium if its something I want. Just a few years back, I paid $450 for a nice 28, and the last one I saw recently, was close to $1K. Same goes for the 2.5" 19's I have. One was $450, the other just under $1K.

This is the last 19 I bought this past year...

on top


686+


This is a Model 65 3". I think it was around $650, but I got it in a trade and cant really remember.



and the old 28 :)



All of them are good shooters with nice, smooth actions/DA triggers.

While the K frames are my sweet spot, if youre going to put a lot of hot stuff through them though, I think the L or N frames will probably be your better choice.
 

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If you can swing the price of a model 19/66 or 586/686 go that way. I never cared for Colts. I thought they were over rated and over hyped but maybe thats just me. I have two Ruger GP's, a 4" and a 6" and both are great revolvers. I also have a Security Six 4" along with a model 65, model 28-2 and SP101. All are quality guns but if I had to pick just one for the remainder of time it would be the 4" GP-100 followed by the 6" GP-100.

They weren't the smoothest out of the box but with just a little work they can be close to S&W trigger feel. Not all the way but close. The strength and durability are what make the final decision for me. My 6" GP was my falling plate gun for a couple of years and is my most shot handgun. It has at least 5,000 rounds through it and is slick as snot on a door knob and shows no wear at all. Just a mirror shiny bore and solid lock up with just the tiniest bit of wiggle in the cylinder that I like better than a hard lock up.
 

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My 66 has turned in years of good service as a carry piece, field gun, and target shooter at various times. Lots of rounds through it and it's very smooth without being loose. I do take care of my tools though I don't baby them. For a more modern gun, I'd go with a 686 with a 4 inch barrel.
 

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Back when I was fairly new to shooting in the mid 1980’s my buddy had a 6” Colt King Cobra and we both shot that gun better than any other revolver. Being a very broke part time collage student I had no means to get my own at that time and by time I did have the means to get my own they were out of production, hard to find and commanding a premium. This new Python puts me in mind of that gun and if I had the mean‘s I’d really like to get one.

The .357‘s I do own are Ruger GP 100’s, a 6” and standard version and a 4“ Match Champion w/ adjustable sights. They’re both great but the trimmer MC is my favorite. I did swap the wood grip that came on the MC to the 6” and the MC currently wears a Crimson Trace grip, but I plan to get Rugers compact GP100 grip instead. Regardless, but ha very highly prized abd shoot very well.
 

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Lot's of good opinions and information on models.. My only advice is to look over any used revolver very carefully before buying because they are much less forgiving about how they are handled and treated and there are a lot of people who have bought revolvers and inadvertently mis-treated them often out of ignorance, like flipping the cylinder closed or spinning the cylinder and working the action before it stopped moving damaging the action in the process.

Some of the key things I look for on a used revolver are:
  • Look at the Pawl and where it engages on the cylinder... Both should be sharp and clean with no burrs, deformation, gouges.. If either doesn't look pristine Pass on it.
  • Do the same for your cylinder lock notches, and the lock itself Same deal.
  • With the Revolver unloaded slowly dry fire it making sure to go through each position on the cylinder. Do this both in Single Action and Double Action firing modes paying close attention to the feel of the trigger and hammer there should be no hard spots, hick-ups and it should be Glass smooth.
  • Also with the hammer cocked in Single Action mode check each chamber position for free play by gently attempting to roll the cylinder, there will be some side to side play but if excessive accuracy may suffer (this one is more subjective).

And I have found used revolvers in shops that had these sort of issues and seen even new revolvers that weren't quite like they should be which may be from rough handling by potential customers.

Thinking about it that's another reason why different folks will Swear by a Ruger or S&W revolver while you don't hear as many saying the same thing about Taurus or some of the other brands. It's not just the name... Both Smith and Ruger have established their reputations for making quality revolvers through the quality they put into them and they aren't the only ones, but the most common. The way I look at it is that in today's world of AR-15's and interchangeable parts a lot of firearms are build more like a machine, where a good revolver is build more like a precision tool... Buy Quality and Treat it with that kind of respect and it will last forever, but treat it harshly and without respect and it's much less forgiving than many other types of firearms. Just my Opinion.
 

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I have owned several .357's over the years. When I was dirt poor my first handgun was a Taurus M617. I later upgraded to a S&W model 66. Super nice gun but I found myself wanting the Ruger GP100 for a couple of reasons. They lend themselves to trigger work very well and you can shoot the daylights out of it without having to worry about cracking the forcing cone (problem with old K frames). Another .357 you may look into but are a bit difficult to find are the Dan Wesson guns. Super smooth actions and way overbuilt for the task. Plus you can switch out barrels (if you can find one).
 

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Depending on your location, you might be able to find a used Dan Wesson .357 (or the same off branded .357 made by DW, the High Standard Sentinel). I've seen them go for $500 up to around $1,600 ish for the pistol pack with a different length barrel or three.

CZ bought the brand so parts are available.
If you see a pistol pac for $500, rip the seller's arm off. lol

I have a few Dan Wesson .357s. I really like mine, but CZ discontinued the revolvers when buying Colt. Barrel assemblies have been going for crazy money. Guess adding a stainless one to my blued ones is probably a lost cause.
 

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The pistol packs run the $1600+ range. But sometimes the High Standard or individual DW revolvers will be ~$500-650. I keep my eye out for barrels too.

If I was in the market and close to something like this I'd grab it. 2, 3.5, and 6 inch barrels. The external nut on the old models looks a little goofy, but they work fine.
ARMSLIST - For Sale: Dan Wesson 357 magnum
 

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There were a couple of Dan Wesson pistol packs on GB a few days ago. They were priced high enough I won't be bidding. They weren't that popular when they came out but now that you can't get them they have sort of a cult status. Kind of like Colt Pythons were just a slightly more expensive 357 back in the 1980s. Now look at the prices.

I have owned a couple of the Taurus 357 revolvers and those were nice guns. Mine were bought in the 1980s and 1990s when I think Taurus was making some of their best guns. Those were the ones that came with wood stocks before they went to the "Ribber" grips. Now ever Taurus model 66's are selling in the $400 range.
 

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I only knew 2 guys that regularly shot full tilt 357's, most folks just shoot 38 Specials. For me if I'm going to put up with the muzzle blast and recoil then I'm shooting my 44 Mags. If you reload your own ammo you can pick your level of performance from 22LR on up. The nice thing with a 357 is it should last forever just shooting 38's even the +P stuff. Not a Ruger fan but they are ok for boat anchor's. Stainless steel with adjustable sights are good features.
 

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My most use 357 loads are more like the original 38/44 loads. I like a hard cast 158gr lead bullet in a 357 case pushed by 6.6grs of Unique powder. That gives around 1100-1150fps and is accurate in all my 357s and doesn't lead the barrel in my 357 rifle. And I don't get the blast you get with a full power load.
 

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Most people behind the gunshop counter today are ignorant of revolver mechanics. They just want to sell you the junk they have.

LEARN how to perform a "light technical inspection" or LTI to identify problems which are expensive fixes that make a used gun a "non-starter".

The Basics:


Open the cylinder, keeping the muzzle pointed in a safe direction.

Confirm that all cylinder charge holes are empty and that the bore is clear.

Confirm proper function of the thumbpiece when releasing and opening the cylinder.
S&Ws push forward, Colts pull backward, Ruger pushes inward.

Open and close the cylinder on each chamber, to ensure that the ejector rod is not sticky on any of chamber, due to burring of the tip of the ejector rod and subsequent drag on the forward locking bolt.

With the cylinder open, spin the cylinder and watch the end of the ejector rod for wobble.

Check with the fingers that the ejector rod is tight and not loose on threads. The threads in S&W ejector rods are fairly coarse, so taking the cylinder apart and amateur reasesmbly almost always requires some re-adjustment.

Verify that the ejector rod functions correctly at its full stroke and returns positively.

Inspect the small extractor alignment pins pressed into the cylinder, to ensure they’re not bent/broken/missing and that they properly engage their holes in the extractor.

Visually inspect locking bolt notches of cylinder for peening. If damaged DON"T buy the gun!

Press on the center pin which protrudes at the center of the extractor of an S&W or Ruger at rear of cylinder, to verify free center pin movement and positive return. Visually inspect the front end of the S&W center pin for peening.

Close the cylinder, grasping it with thumb and forefinger. The cylinder must not strike the barrel when closed! This may be caused by the yoke/crane screw being damaged, worn, loose, or from the gun having been shot loose by firing too many +P or +P+ loads, which produces excessive cylinder end shake, or in a gun being mis-assembled with a cylinder/yoke assembly from another gun [common in ex-foreign police imports now been seen on the surplus market].

Confirm that both front and rear of the center pin on S&W or older Ruger Six series lock positively fore & aft as the cylinder is closed. Inspect crane lock function lock on later Ruger DAs.

Visually inspect fit of yoke/ crane at front of frame for gaps, which indicates misalignment.

Visually inspect the barrel forcing cone for cracks! Especially check 6:00 region, where a barrel flat was milled on S&W to clear the cylinder gas ring, which commonly occurs after about 3000 full-charge .357 rounds. Anything strange here DON'T buy the gun!

Inspect the firing pin hole in the recoil plate/frame bushing for peening or burrs. On light alloy frames a ring peening of case rim diameter around the firing pin bushing is indicative of the revolver having been fired with more than a few +P loads, and is a clue to check end shake, etc. and correct as necessary.

If the yoke/crane doesn’t pivot freely, in opening and closure, inspect the race for the yoke/crane screw for galling or rub marks, indicating the screw is a trifle long and should carefully shortened before installing and tightening again. An easy fix usually, but use it to haggle the price. Often this occurs when side plate screws are shuffled around and the correct yoke screw doesn’t get into the forward hole, and one of the side plate screws gets inserted instead. Corrected in many cases by swapping the sideplate screws into their correct positions!
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Perform the 4-way cylinder stop function check. With cylinder open hold the revolver in your firing hand. Pull back the thumb piece and hold it to the rear. On the Ruger GP/SP rock the cylinder release forward and hold. Or on the Kimber/Ruger LCR use a punch to push the tip of cylinder locking piece back into the frame and hold.

Pull the trigger double action and watch the cylinder stop, it should drop below the frame top surface and pop back up, slowly release the trigger and the stop should move forward towards the muzzle and the back to the rear. Down, up, forward and back. Visually check bolt or cylinder stop function at every charge hole and finger-wiggle cylinder for side-wobble at each charge hole.

Check SA timing, making sure that the revolver is unloaded. **** each chamber SLOWLY in SA with the weight of gun resting in the palm of hand for drag. Note any failure to "carry up" and for bolt or cylinder stop to engage locking bolt notches prior to full ****.

Check hammer for push-off from full ****. If gun fails this test DO NOT BUY IT!

Drop hammer, hold trigger back and check cylinder for wobble both sideways and fore & aft

With hammer down and trigger held back again check cylinder wobble, observe hammer nose driven protrusion and retraction below flush with recoil plate as trigger allowed to rebound forward.

Check DA indexing, closing the cylinder and slowly pulling the trigger through double action. The cylinder stop should pop up into the stop notch and have a slight resistance after it is in the notch as the trigger is pulled to the rear before the hammer falls. This carry-up test needs to be done slowly, as a rapid pull can mask a “DCU” (factory term for doesn’t carry up) problem.

With revolver un-loaded, pulling the revolver action through vigorously DA while watching for positive trigger return and positive lockup of cylinder stop/bolt at each charge hole, before the hammer drops. Note any failure to "carry-up," or any "throw-by" i.e. over-rotation of the cylinder failing to lock up and rotating past a chamber, or sideways wobble.

Make sure the bolt or cylinder stop engages each locking notch the cylinder in place before the hammer falls. If locking skips on any cylinder then the cylinder stop and its spring needs to be replaced and a new cylinder stop fitted. Throw-by test should always be done by a rapid DA pull; because many times an empty cylinder lacks the rotational momentum of a much heavier full cylinder and will not show a throw-by unless the trigger is pulled quite rapidly.

Check cylinder fore & aft for longitudinal movement. On Colts this check should be made with the trigger held to the rear in the fired mode, then cylinder lockup should then be rock-solid.

Check barrel-cylinder gap with feeler gage inserted completely through the frame opening between cylinder and barrel.

PASS is the dimension when a feeler gage is protruding out both sides of frame window between barrel and cylinder, which does not impair a complete rotation of the cylinder by pulling trigger through DA six times.

Minimum PASS dimension is 0.003", because a tighter barrel-cylinder gap will bind the cylinder when a gun gets hot or if shooting "dirty" ammo, particularly reloads in which the bullets are too hard, undersized and inadequately lubricated...

HOLD is the dimension when the feeler gage is protruding out both sides of the frame window between the barrel and cylinder, binding rotation so resistance is felt in a DA trigger squeeze.

Maximum hold dimension is 0.008" on a new gun when measured with "rear gage" or fired brass in cylinder.

Customer service maximum is 0.009" after correction of any felt cylinder end play.

Today S&W accepts and will ship a 0.010" cylinder gap in a new gun. You don't want this. In my day the factory repair procedure was to fit a new “plus” [0.005" longer] cylinder. Gunsmith method requires setting the barrel back a thread and to refit cylinder after removing end shake, stretching the crane arbor on S&W or Ruger if necessary, or swaging a Colt cylinder bushing. A $200 repair job you want to avoid.

Guns having barrel-cylinder gap over about 0.010” should not be fired without being repaired, because they are prone to “spitting” and “bullet-in-bore” malfunctions, especially with jacketed ammunition.

End shake is measured by comparing the HOLD dimension measured twice, with and without empty brass or "GO" headspace gages in the chambers, or alternately with a 0.059" blade gage inserted between rear of cylinder and recoil plate or frame bolster. You can buy a “blade” gage from Brownells.

The least cylinder movement most people can “feel” is about 0.002.” If an S&W or Ruger and the cylinder "feels solid" with empty brass in the chambers, the gun is OK. Colt maximum end play is 0.003, so if you feel ANY end shake the gun is out of spec.

Most important on an S&W is that the strain screw in the front of the grip frame is tight, and that the screw has not been shortened excessively by Bubba to lighten his trigger pull! Skillful shortening as confirmed by 50+ ounces on a trigger pull spring gage is OK. Less than 50 ozs. may cause misfires.

Off-center firing pin indents which are off by more than ½ the diameter of the striker point are cause for concern, due to increased risk of misfires.

Learn the above and you will know more than 90% of people behind the gunshop counter.
 

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The pistol packs run the $1600+ range. But sometimes the High Standard or individual DW revolvers will be ~$500-650. I keep my eye out for barrels too.

If I was in the market and close to something like this I'd grab it. 2, 3.5, and 6 inch barrels. The external nut on the old models looks a little goofy, but they work fine.
ARMSLIST - For Sale: Dan Wesson 357 magnum
Yeah, I figured. I got lucky to get mine for $900 way back when. Buddy was hot to buy something else and needed to liquidate.
Those early "porkchop" barrels and are not compatible with the later models. I kick myself for passing on one at one point. Collectors don't really love them, so the prices used to be lower. All mine are the later barrel style. My first Dan Wesson I stumbled into and unknowingly beat a DW collector buddy to it. Was a 2.5 inch Model 14 with the barrel wrench for $350. LOL Still have it..

So if the OP could come up with one and a few barrels, it might be a good all around gun. 2.5 inch to carry, 4 6 and 8 to target shoot. They actually made a 15 inch in the later styles. It is a hoss to try to even hold up.
 

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Semper Fi
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I have had a Ruger GP100 next to my bed for well over 30 years. Accurate and as others pointed out, built like a tank.

Smith's are prettier but if you shoot them a lot or with hotter loads, they don't stand up to the use like the Ruger.
 
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