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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Okay, my knowledge of semi-autos is quite limited but I know absolutely nothing of revolvers and I have never shot one. However, my dad prefers revolvers to semi-autos and I'm doing a bit of research on the subject because I'm planning on buying him a revolver as a present (I still have about six months to do research). I don't need to find "the one and only" but perhaps two or three models from which he can choose according to his preference.

Self defense/home protection and target shooting would be the only things this gun is for. Nothing else. What would be a good revolver for this purpose? I am not going to get him a snub nor one of those Dirty Harry-giants. I'm thinking along the lines of about 3-4" barrels (is that a K frame?). Would an S&W 686 be a good all-around choice? What about other makes/models?

Thanks in advance!

-Chris
 

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Yes, .357 in a 3-4" barrel is generally a K-Frame from S&W. Virtually any model K-Frame with decent sights, a 4" barrel, and a set of grips that fit your hand would serve you well.

A Model 19, a Model 28 would do well. A 686 is an L-Frame gun, which is slightly larger than a K-Frame, I believe.

Alternative choices for a home defense revolver might be a Ruger Security Six or GP-100 with a 4" barrel. A Colt Lawman, Trooper, or Peacekeeper might be another alternative, although harder to located than a S&W. A Colt Python I think would be perfect, but might be a tad too much for someone on a budget.

-Rob
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
I have and carry occasionaly a S&W 646 especially while riding. I cant seem to bring myself to carry an autoloader on horseback just something"Wrong" about it. which is odd because my saddle carbine is a mini 14. L frame titanium cylinder .40S&W barrel is 3.75. I really like this gun seems to strike the perfect balance of weight and size. Fun and easy to shoot small and light enough to carry and conceal. And very accurate. Granted I'm a game shooter and the .40 moonclips make since for me for casual shooter the .357 would be a much better and versitile choice. I would assume something in the S&W line would find something similar in 357
 

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Hi there christian,

For a "all around" six shooter for the home that can do triple duty as a HD/SD/Target shooting pistol, I would heartily recommend a 4" S&W 686 or its heavier cousin the Ruger GP-100. I have owned both and favored the Smith because of its "out of the box" better trigger pull.

Chris
 
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Discussion Starter · #7 ·
Hi christian,

You've already gotten some good advice. Just so you know, the Smith frame sizes start at J- frames(think snubby .38s like models 36,640, 642) K-frames(models 10, 15,66) L-frame(models 686,681) N-frame(models 27,28,29. 625, etc.)
Of course The Rugers are heck for stout and good guns, too, as are Colts. A medium size K frame gun would probably be a good place to start. In the gun magazines a few years ago any time they took a poll of gunwriters to pick their "if you could only have one handgun" the most popular response was usually the 4 inch barreled stainless K frame Smith & Wesson Model 66 in .357 or something very similar. The L frames were introduced in the 80s to stand up to more full power .357 shooting than the K frame .357s like the 65 or 66. The K frame is basically a .38 that can shoot 357s...but a staedy diet of hot loads may lead to timing or "tying up" of cylinder issues. The Rugers are made to fire unlimited 357s with no problem. I have a 4 inch barrel Smith model 66, an old Police Department trade-in gun, in .357 with some slightly customized old Herrett grips. It is one of my most accurate handguns and guns like that can frequently be had for a song with some looking because so many were turned in by PDs in the 80s and 90s for semi-autos. Many were carried alot but shot seldom, like mine, or maintained by department armorers. It is as tight as a new gun. I paid $250 for mine a few years ago. A Ruger GP100 in 3 or 4 inch barrel is another great choice. I have a 3 inch fixed sighted GP100 and like it very much. Good luck in your quest
--Clyde from Carolina
 

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SW 686 is exelent all around revolver. It's a "working horse", and eat's 357's of any kind. But for every day carryng I think that "K"-frame 66 is better.
 

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Good idea to pick a few models and let dad choose what works for his tastes, size, etc.

I have two of the S&W models already mentioned and suggest you consider them for your 'short list'.
First is a 4" M28. Although the N frame is heavier, for me it has a natural point and feel to it and shoots like a dream. Second is a M66 in 2.5". Very accurate for a shorter barrell, smaller K frame (future CCW use??) and the great stainless finish.

Like everyone else, just my 2 cents. ;)

Regards,
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
Ruger, Ruger and Oh, Ruger!

cheaper and somewhat stronger than the K frame smith.
a 4 inch Gp-100 would be ideal for your stated needs.
As for having a better trigger on the S&Ws.

Someone new to shooting wouldn't be able to tell
the difference.
 

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Christian,

Don't overlook the older K-frame 38 specials such as the Model 15 Combat Masterpiece or Model 67 in stainless. Many clean used ones are around and seem to be in less demand than the Model 19s. I believe that the quality of the older Smiths is a bit higher than those in current production, based on examples I have owned. I also second the positive feedback on the Rugers if you must have a 357.

PGM
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
Christian,

I'd consider caliber first. Will your dad actually shoot .357? In general, .38 special is easier to shoot than .357. .38 special is an adequate self defense round. (In fact, tests have shown than Speer's 135 Gold Dot +p, actually designed for snubbies, delivers terminal performance similar to a heavy 9 mm when fired through a four-inch barrel.)

If the answer is "no, he won't shoot .357," it's hard to beat a S&W Model 10 or 15. Both are available with 3" or 4" barrels. The difference between the two: the 10 has fixed sights, the 15 has adjustable sights. These are wonderfully balanced firearms with triggers smooth as silk. Each is supremely accurate.

If the answer is, yes, he'll shoot .357, then a Model 13, 19, 66 or 686 would make a good choice. The 13 and 19 are blued. The 13 has fixed sights, the 19 adjustable. Smith's prefixed with a 6 are stainless. A 66 is a stainless 19. The L-frame 686 is a bit heavier duty than the other models (K frames.) It will withstand a steady diet of .357 better than the others. Remember, though, that a steady diet of shorter .38 special rounds fired through a cylinder designed to accomodate longer .357 cases will require more vigorous cleaning.

The difference between S&W and Ruger is a beauty versus brawn sort of dilemma. I much prefer the refinement of the Smiths. Give your dad one with a lustrous, deep blue finish and one of those legendary S&W trigger pulls and your poppa will be proud indeed.

BTW, an earlier poster said trigger pull doesn't matter to a new shooter. I disagree. The better trigger pull equates to easier to shoot. That's beneficial to any shooter regardless of experience.

Max
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
Will your dad actually shoot .357?
Most likely, yes. We went to a range together once where you could rent guns and he preferred the .45APC to the 9mm.

By the way, I took a look at S&W's website and I couldn't find a model 66 in there. Am I going blind?

So far it looks like the SW 686 and the Ruger GP 100 would be pretty close to what I'm looking for. The M66 sounds promising as well as long as I could find the damn thing...
 
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Discussion Starter · #14 ·
.357 is a differenst story from .45 ACP.

.45 is subsonic. This means that it gives a hard, straight shove into the hand.

.357, on the other hand, is as super-sonic as it gets in a viable self-defense caliber; it tries to bury the hammer in your forehead with muzzle flip.

Type of recoil is just as important as -- if not moreso than-- volume.

I'm not saying that he won't still prefer .357, but there's a chance that what he liked about .45 was that its subsonic velocities didn't tend to upset his sight picture as much as 9mm.

In my experience, it's generally people who can get on a more general target quickly who like 9mm, and it's generally target shooters, who prefer to be able to take several shots at a specific target without really needing to realign their sights, who prefer .45 ACP.

In general, the way it goes is that a 9mm shooter thinks "get on center mass, then shoot. Repeat process until target is no longer a threat." For someone that knows what their doing, this process takes less than a second.

For a .45 shooter, it's generally, "Get on center-mass, double-tap, check target. If target is still a threat, repeat." This process takes a tiny bit longer than the 9mm process, (say 1.5 seconds, maximum) but it's just as effective.

With revolvers, it goes mroe like this:

.357: Center mass, fire, check, center mass, fire again. Once again, it only takes a bit more than a second, once you're used to the gun's recoil.

.38: .38s are similar to the .357, but with less time between shots.

You see, the minimal amount of pain associated with recoil might be somewhat frightening to some people, but recoil management is more of a function of how you prefer to deliver your shots; one at a time quickly, or several at once, a bit more slowly.

Of course, your mileage may vary. I've seen guys whose grips were so rock-solid that they could empty a .357 with no evident muzzle flip.
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
Sorry, Christian. I left out a significant and sad point: S&W quit making K frames except for the Model 10. The others are readily available in the used market.

Max
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
I'm thinking along the lines of about 3-4" barrels (is that a K frame?). Would an S&W 686 be a good all-around choice? What about other makes/models?

Thanks in advance!

-Chris
The model 66 (K frame) is a good choice and the 686 (L Frame) you mentioned is also a good choice, but slightly larger than the K frame. I own an assortment of both, they are superior guns.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
Hey, Chris. Thanks for pointing that out. If I have to be wrong, I guess it's better to be wrong about Smith not producing a good model and find out they still are rather than vice versa.

Max
 

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Hi Max,

Actually, I wasn't sure, but glad I checked.

They might have decided to kill off the rest of the K-frames from production at Friday's S&W staff meeting.


You never know and I have 3 /2005 catelogs that have different models listed in each one.

The L-frames seem to have weathered the most changes over the years and probably will be available for several more years.

I would love to them come out with an L-frame without the full lugged barrel! That baby would sell!!! ;)

Chris
 
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Discussion Starter · #20 ·
Chris,

I totally agree. No doubt the 686 is a fine gun, but the full-length lug spoilssit for me.

Max
 
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