Strongest .357?


January 17, 2003, 09:55 AM
I am just a year into the "addiction"! My first revolver is a S&W MP .38; I've fired several other wheelguns and am looking to get a medium frame .357 in 3-5" Bbl. soon. I've borrowed a buddy's S&W 686 LOOOONG barrel and loved it! However, a fellow with way more experience with this caliber says, "If you shoot a lot of .38 Special, the Smith & Wessons are fine, but you can shoot the hotter 125g .357s all day in a Ruger."

Does this ring true? I really enjoyed the two or three Ruger .357s that I've fired, so, I plan on adding some of them to the collection: is the Ruger THAT much stronger than the S&W? Thanks!

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January 17, 2003, 10:33 AM
I believe that in either case, if you can afford enough ammo to wear either of them out, you will certainly be able to afford another one! Getcha one and have fun!

January 17, 2003, 11:08 AM
Ruger is stronger. I don't think the issue arises with factory loads. It comes up with super hot hand loads. Either way, GP-100 is my favorite hand gun of any hand gun I've ever fired.

January 17, 2003, 11:46 AM
I have a problem defining "strongest". I think the 6-round S&W N-frames and the Ruger Redhawk in .357 Magnum would have to be considered "strongest", simply because of the amount of metal in the cylinders and on the frame: but they're big, bulky and heavy. The GP100 and the S&W L-frames are probably pretty evenly matched in terms of strength, if one considers only 6-round cylinders: but the 7-round L-frame cylinder is probably less strong, due to less metal around the chambers. The K-frame S&W is certainly less strong than either of these two. In snubbies, I don't think anyone would argue that the Ruger SP101 is far superior to any S&W offering (or Taurus, or Rossi, or...) in terms of strength.

Mike Irwin
January 17, 2003, 12:00 PM
If I'm going to be sending really brutal reloads down range, and a lot of them, I'd be more inclined to do it in a Ruger.

The Mighty Beagle
January 17, 2003, 12:06 PM
Satisfaction among owners is VERY high with both brands. I chose the 686 and couldn't be happier. It represents the upper limit of weight I would ever want to carry in a holster.

The truth is, Smith hasn't had problems with .357's since the early 1970's, when cops really starting practicing alot with Magnums in their light-framed M 66's and cracked/eroded the forcing cones and topstraps. While I believe these early guns had manufacturing flaws, and that Smith has made great strides in engineering, including upgrading the K-frame. It seems gun people as a whole, prefer to remember one bad incicent and ignore subsequent decades of improvements in metallurgy and design.

Only in gun-dom would these rumors generalize to "all Smith and Wesson revolvers". The 686 is a VERY durable revolver unless you hotload it.

And it always bothers me, who DO some people like to hot-load the .357? It's not as if .44 mags. are rare. Do they just like pounding their ejector rod against a table to remove stuck casings?

January 17, 2003, 01:08 PM
Only in gun-dom Out of all the guys who have smirked to me on this very topic I've never seen them put one of those "blue whistlers" thru their gun. Mainly a case of mental masturbation I guess.

There is metallic silhouette shooting where they need big knockdown power but a 357 ain't got it from what I hear tell. :confused:

January 17, 2003, 01:38 PM
And, as one of the previous posters indicated, will serve equally well as long as factory loads are concerned. But, if one is going to use hotter reloads (a practice that should be approached with some obvious care) then the Rugers are probably a better choice. They are an exceptionally strong handgun. Good shooting:)

January 17, 2003, 05:14 PM
I'm with Preacherman, neither of those guns is the strongest 357. That's going to fall to: Ruger Redhawk for double actions and Freedom Arms 353 for single actions. Between the 686 and the GP100 I belive the GP has a strength / durability advantage but you'll have to fire many thousands of rounds to tell. I've been shooting a GP for 10 years, a buddy has been shooting his 686 just as long, neither one shows any signs of wearing out in the next 100 years and both have seen many magnum rounds.

Jim K
January 18, 2003, 12:00 AM
Because Ruger frames are cast, they have to be more massive to have the same general strength as the forged S&W frames. I consider them equal in strength given the same general size. (No way is an S&W J-frame .357 equal in strength and durability to the Blackhawk, for example.)


Robert inOregon
January 18, 2003, 12:33 AM
Both guns will shoot 40000 CUP loads till you either get tired or run out of money trying to feed them. No point in a stronger firearm! That is, unless its going to double as a hammer. Or, if this is going to be an adventure beyond 40000 CUP and into Jethro Bodine territory.

January 18, 2003, 09:48 AM
In a medium frame i like the security 6 over the 19/66,between the GP-100 and 686 it's a toss up for me.IN a large frame i'll take a N frame smith over the redhawk just because they's more choice's in barrel length and finish.

January 18, 2003, 12:04 PM
My Redhawk and GP's are pretty strong; before that my Security Sixes worked good.

I'd prefer a 5.5", but there's no shortage of 'finish' choices.

Swamp Yankee
January 18, 2003, 05:58 PM
Food for thought.

Model 15/715
Same frame size as a S&W "L" frame. Very rugged, will take all the factory ammo you can afford to give it. Will stand up to some really hot handloads too.

Model 360/7360
.357 Mag in their Large Frame series. Larger and heavier than a S&W "N". Frame is one piece, no side plate. This is the revolver size that dominated early IHMSA matches in .44Mag, and they did load up those .44Mags.

Model 40/740
SuperMag series. Very large, very strong. Replaced the large frame in IHMSA matches. This revolver was designed to handle hot loads, and lots of them. It is largeand heavy. Shooting .357Mags out of mine has about the same or less felt recoil as .38 Specials in the Model 15/715.

Take Care

Kahr carrier
January 19, 2003, 07:01 AM
The Ruger Redhawk in 357 looks pretty tough ,to bad they dont make them any more.:(

January 19, 2003, 09:10 AM
I've seen load data that states "For use in Ruger or Freedom Arms only". Not sure if FA makes a .357.

January 19, 2003, 10:22 AM
Just purchased a Ruger GP100 357 mag. and it appears to be built like a tank. I don't think that I have to worry about shooting the hotter loads in this revolver.


January 20, 2003, 01:20 AM
I don't think anyone has mentioned this. GP100s have crane locks 686 Smiths don't. This might be an advantage as far as strength. I have both Smiths and Rugers. My favorite is my Ruger GP100. My GP100 triger is not quite as good as my 686 Smiths but not bad enough to need work. Smiths seem to light when shooting full blown mags. Either would make a good choice but both would be even better.

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