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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
If you could own but one revolver, which would it be?

For me, a lone revolver would have to

  • be capable of cleanly killing deer and black bear,
    defend against human attackers,
    be small and light enough for concealed carry,
    and be easily handloaded for maximum performance and economy as needed

For me the choice is clear- a S&W Model 19 or 66 .357 Magnum with 4-inch barrel.

Looks like the advice of Bill Jordan and Skeeter Skelton from decades ago still holds true at least for me.

Paraphrasing the credit card commercial, "What's in your holster?"
 

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Hello. The revolver I "use" the most is my Model 642; well, "carry" is a better term than "use". It's certainly not my choice for shooting at more than close range.

Hmmmmmmmmmm? Based on the criteria you posted, I reckon I'd have to go with a Model 19 w/4" barrel.

Best.
 
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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
Another M66 4" vote. Second choice would be a M19. After that I'd be thinking M65 or M13 but would rather have the adjustable sights.

Steelheart
 

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I see two votes for the Model 66. Why the 66 over the 686? Is it the half-lugged barrel?

The first gun I purchased was a S&W 686 4" and I still have it. I like the full-lugged look, but wouldn't mind having something lighter. The 4" .357 Magnum is a great all around gun, no matter who makes it.
 
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Discussion Starter · #5 ·
No, the 66 isn't just a half lug 686. The former is built on the K-frame, the later on the somewhat beefier L-frame. The L-frame was engineered to reflect the shift in .357 ammunition trends during the late 1970's-early 1980's. The fire-breathing 125's became very popular during that period and with extensive use of these loads, some K-frames began to have serious throat erosion and topstrap cutting. So the L-frame was born, adding metal in the needed places to make everyone happy. The full lug barrel was also a popular conversion during that same era, with Colt Python barrels being mated to S&W K-frames to create a Smython. S&W knew a good thing when it saw those dollars going to custom 'smiths, so the new L-frame incorporated a heavy barrel as well.
 

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Thanks for the clarification, Bill. When I think of K frames, old blued guns come to mind, not stainless. I forget that S&W is still making K frames... :)
 

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Bill;
That sort of gave me a pause. We all hear the question but it is usually which one gun or which one handgun.

This is tough. Are you sure we couldn't make it two or say, five :-/

OK, one. Hmmm. Lots of stuff to figure in there too like ammo availablility.

Fortunately I have just the revolver but I would modify it some if it were the only sidearm I could keep (if I could have an auto in addition then I would leave it alone).

It is a S&W 25-2 which I rechambered for .45 Win. Magnum and for which I can add a cylinder for .45 Colt (I already have a 1955 target that is not rechambered that is fitted with an extra .45 Colt Cyl.). I would shorten the barrel to from 4 to 5 inches...probably 4.

I certainly cannot fault the choice of a .357 for the ability to use common ammo and a K-frame round butt is fairly concealable (I do carry both a 4" and 5" N-frame concealed from time to time so that is not really a prob lem). However I have seen the .357 used on both deer and wild boar (not on a bear) and, while it will certainly kill the critters, I am not totally happy with it (none of them dropped to the shot as I have seen with the .45- but that could be luck of the draw). Neither am I totally confident with it for defense but then all handgun rounds are less potent that I would like for that too.

Of course if I had to a 4" .44 mag would also suffice and use specials fordefense but there is much more suitable ammo for the .45 Auto cartridge than the .44 spl.

Handloaders of course probably don't pay much attention to ammo supply but I have found that 100% reliable ammo for a DA revovler is not an easy thing...my 1911s were much more reliable with my ammo in the early days than my .45 acp revolvers, or my .38 revolvers for that matter.

Are you really sure we can't have two?


Roll on!
Jim
 
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Discussion Starter · #9 ·
Hey! It's my thread and I can make it whatever I want.


Seriously though, the vast majority of centerfire automatics just aren't suited to anything except anti-personnel defense. An argument can be made for the Desert Eagles, but I doubt there are many who could use it as a CCW short of the Terminator. Some would say the 10mm fills the bill but I look on that cartridge as a poor substitute for the .41 Magnum as a game cartridge. The JHP loads won't penetrate deeply enough for anything but a lung shot on deer. Which is as it should be, since they were designed for use against people. There are a couple of wide meplat, 200-grain cast bullets available that would perform on medium game, but I don't know how well they feed.

You mentioned seeing medium game killed with the .357 Magnum, but without "drop in their tracks" performance. If the shots were well-placed, I'd wager the animals were shot with JHP's or (gulp!) JSP's out of shorter barrels. Use a hardcast WFN or LFN slug in the .357 and things change dramatically.
 
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Discussion Starter · #10 ·
If I was forced against my will to have one, and only one revolver it would be an Old Model Ruger BH in .45 Colt.
Reasons:
Simplicity. With simplicity comes ease of maintenace. Few parts to wear or break.
Durability. They just keep on going. Unless a Ruger is deliberatly abused you won't break them.
Reliability. They almost never break and just plain work.
Weight. They are reasonably light and easy to cary.

The .45 Colt cartridge can be loaded from light bullet target loads to the +P+ magnum pressure hunting loads. Therefore it can do whatever job is required of it.

Joe
 

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Bill;

The failures I have seen with .357 sort of cover the map. The boar (4 hits trhough the heart - 3 exited but left good holes) were a hot lot of Winchester 158 JHP that clocked about 1325 from my partner's 4" 66. It was an amazing performance with my buddy actually having time to speedload before the critter went down for the count.

One of deer was a 6" Python with a 125 at about 1650fps (a bad combination as it was an old Speeer "magnum" JHP), as you surmise, low penetration. Others have included 158 JHPs but I don't recall a barrel of less than 6".

I also had a failure on a 15 pound woodchuck, 6 hits with 158 SWCs that clocked 1450 out of my M-19 (Mind you I had a 12 hit failure with a .30 carbine, those critters are underated!). Also I could not hear for a week!

OTOH I have taken 7 deer and seen 3 wild boar killed with the Federal 230 Hydra Shok (not my favorite by any means) in .45 ACP. Some exited but most were found under the skin of the off side (personally I like an exit - but they all worked). The Winchester Ranger 230+P works even better and my handload - a 230 Win JHP laoded to 1040 drops boar and exits on broadside shots.

It takes no effort at all to make a 1911 into a .45 Super (230 at 1250 fps). It takes only a $270 conversion kit to make it a .460 Rowland which will match the 4" .44 mag easily (admittedly you can only go up to about 275 grs on the bulllet and 325 would be nice).

If you just have to have more the LAR Grizzly will easily launch a 345 gr bullet at 1200 fps and it is a lot handier than a Desert Eagle. It is however too big for me to be comfortable with (a rather large friend does conceal one however).

Just random thoughts. A good sturdy bullet and excellent placement should suffice with about anything, I am probably splitting hairs here :) It is just that I would rather suffer just a little in the hunting field than get killed on the street.

As Steve says, there is only a little difference between ballistic performance (unless one really messes up - like the FBI did once) but that little difference becomes very important when someone has you in their sights.

BTW, none of this means that I don't love revolvers and as often as not I carry one in the hunting field...but only because I just like them not due to any ballistic advantage. Most often they are not pushing bullets any faster than the autos do.

Very best regards,
Jim Higginbotham
 
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Discussion Starter · #12 ·
One choice-I currently [email protected] 629 .44mag. MANY CHOICES OF AMMO -gives you different uses for different environments.Four inch barrell makes it concealable.Deer will fall relatively easy with a proper hit. I also hunt with a Ruger .480 for deer but that would be very difficult to ccw with -but funny. ???
 
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Discussion Starter · #13 ·
I have given this some thought in the past and the one handgun that I would prefer if I could only have one would be a 4" Ruger GP-100. Tough enough to load hot and a reasonable size to carry. My pick for most versatile handgun even if I do carry and shoot the 3" GP's more.
 

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Always hate to think on these type of threads, to many to choose from.

My 3 1/2" 27 would be the first pick,as long as I could handload for it,my 200 grain loads have worked great on pigs and smaller black bears. But if restricted to commercial loads, I would then want one of the 3" 29's, for self defense it would be winchester 200 grain silvertips, and hunting would be either the heavy Cast-Core, or any of the Buffaloe loads
 
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Discussion Starter · #15 ·
i have a hard time picking only one .that said i would choose a .357 4/6 in. s&w,most likely a modle 19 .
loaded with 158 gr. hollow points for ccw carry and 158 gr lfn for huntting.
over the years i have killed deer and hogs with a .357 with a lot of success.most kills were 1 shot at close range,i also seen folks loose game from poor hits or have to shoot multipe shots to stop it.
i preach practice,practice,practice !
if you are not confident in your weapon or your skills you are asking for trouble!
 
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Discussion Starter · #16 ·
I have a love/hate relationship with these threads. I hate them because there are so many good choices, but I love them because people usually make choices for reasons that would never occur to me. Good chance to learn.

My choices in descending order, all with 4" barrels:

1, 2. As much as I like the 686, I'd let the 66 audition for the role of First Choice as well. So, one of them.

3. 629.

4. 625.

5. 610. (There, Bill, I said it. Neener neener neener.)


But the idea of an SA Ruger is very very interesting, and will require more thought...


D.
 
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Discussion Starter · #17 ·
A really tough choice as mentioned already.
I'm tempted to say my M-19 in four inch that I've had many years and shoot very well.
I have to vote for my 629 in 3 inch as it's the one I've carried and shot most the three years I've had it.
Since this is the only gun it has to be concealable so it wouldn't be one of my 5 or 6 inch N-frames.
The little 3 inch is much more accurate than I would have figured and I wouldn't have a problem taking a whitetail out to 25 yards with it, longer with more practice at those ranges and a good rest.
Matter of fact I do carry this one while deer hunting and will take a deer with it when the conditions are ideal.
The biggest drawback is the loss of energy over a longer barrel.
 
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Discussion Starter · #18 ·
5. 610. (There, Bill, I said it. Neener neener neener.)
AARGH! The forces of darkness have robbed you of your soul. Dave, move closer to the .41 Magnum light...the warm, beautiful .41 Magnum light...step into the .41 Magnum light.







But the idea of an SA Ruger is very very interesting, and will require more thought...
Ask John about my old .45 Colt thumbuster and the fun we had with it at Trees Hall's range.
 
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