Value for $money$


September 13, 2005, 09:26 AM
Good Day Fellas,

I'm looking to buy my first serious firearm (and it might be my only firearm from now on since I sold a beat-up snubby when I got laid off last year) and I've decided that it will be a revolver chambered in either .357 Magnum or .38 Special rated for +P ammo.

The problem is that I don't live in the US and the only two gunshops in my country do not keep any revolvers in their inventory. In other words, if you want a wheelgun, they're going to have to special order it in for you and with that comes the midddleman fees, customs clearance, govt licensing fees...that will jack up the stateside MSRP by at least 20%. :uhoh:

I guess the issue here is that I want you guys to give me a model and maker recommendation that will be value for money. I'm looking at:

1)medium frame revolver with a 4" barrel
2)6-shot capacity
3)ability to accept a lifetime of cheap +P .38 special LRN ammo
4)preferably stainless steel
5)decent grips
6)adjustable sights (may accept fixed sights if price is right)
7)tough and stone cold reliable (civilian gunsmiths here charge an arm and a leg)
8)Able to keep a 5.5" grouping at 25 meters when shot offhand single action by your average shooter.

I've considered the following models:
a) Ruger GP-100 .357 Mag stainless with 4" barrel
b) Taurus tracker .357 mag with 4" barrel in stainless steel
c) S&W Model 67 .38 Special +P
d) S&W Model 619 .357 Magnum

The ruger is looking kinda attractive because is cheaper than the S&Ws and has a tough as nails reputation that Taurus does not have.

Any advice on what I should get to maximise my funds?

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September 13, 2005, 10:19 AM
8)Able to keep a 4.5" grouping at 25 meters when shot offhand by your average shooter. the average shooter can't keep a 4.5" group at 10 yards, much less 25.

is there any sort of used gun market available to you?

September 13, 2005, 10:26 AM
I personally own the Taurus tracker .357 mag with 4" barrel in stainless steel.

1)medium frame revolver with a 4" barrel

Got that covered except that it also has factory porting.

2)6-shot capacity

7 shot.

3)ability to accept a lifetime of cheap +P .38 special LRN ammo

No issues here

4)preferably stainless steel

A nice matte finish.

5)decent grips

Some love the ribber grips, and some hate them. They are a bit small for me, so I got a Hogue replacment which is still a tad too small.

6)adjustable sights (may accept fixed sights if price is right)


7)tough and stone cold reliable (civilian gunsmiths here charge an arm and a leg)

Yep, same here too. I was able to change the springs without any trouble.

8)Able to keep a 4.5" grouping at 25 meters when shot offhand by your average shooter.

Honestly, I can't shoot that well, but from a rest I can put all seven in a ragged hole at 10 yards.

September 13, 2005, 10:46 AM
i feel like you described a ruger gp 100

September 13, 2005, 11:03 AM

All of the alternatives you are considering are good sound firearms that will not disappoint, but for value and guaranteed longevity, it is just hard to beat the Ruger. It is built like a bank vault and should last many lifetimes....


September 13, 2005, 11:18 AM
I agree that you listed winners - each and every one. My choice is the 4" stainless GP-100.

September 13, 2005, 11:20 AM

I've amended my post if the standards seem too high but I've only started formal revolver lessons recently and have untill now fired less than 400 .38 Special 158gr +P LRNs. Shooting offhand at 25 meters using single action only, I have been able to land about 60% of my shots within a 5.5" radius of the 10 ring. The rental gun that is use is a beat up M67 S&W but I hope to get better in the months ahead.

Regarding used revos....yes there is a market but it is very limited as only the old timers among the shooting community own revolvers. Buying 2nd hand would thus entail 10-30 year old medium frame S&Ws with a minimum of about 8000 rounds fired through them.... I much prefer a brand new specimen as it will be my primary piece for a long time to come.

September 13, 2005, 11:26 AM
The GP-100 fits your request perfectly. Although opinions are like "elbows" as everyone has one, the GP-100 offers everything you've mentioned you're looking for. The Ruger will last a lifetime plus especially under the light loads you're looking at.

September 13, 2005, 12:08 PM
+1 for GP100, I have one and its far more accurate than I can be.

But there isn't anything wrong with the smiths or taurus. I think the GP-100 will be easy to work on since you mentioned there is only 2 gun shops close by. It has less parts and many of the ones that might break can be mail ordered and replaced easily.


September 13, 2005, 12:55 PM
Maybe the best value for revolver in the history of great values for revolvers. You will not be able to shoot it loose in your lifetime with .38 spec+p loads. No way, never. Your grandkids might, but you won't.
Mine was used, in near new condition, for $335 out the door. I have kept a round count on all my other guns, even a log for my rifles, but the with the GP, I have no idea. I asked my friend, a long-time Ruger DA shooter, and he said, simply, "You can't afford to outshoot that gun. You don't reload, and you're not a millionaire."
I find it shoots heavy 180 grain magnum loads VERY well, with 158 grain loads coming in a close second. 38 Special rounds shoot fine out of it, and the recoil is negligable.

September 13, 2005, 01:58 PM
I see that Rossi revos are quite economical. Is it a good idea to buy one in .357 mag? It will save me a large chunk of change. :confused:

September 13, 2005, 02:27 PM

Rossi revolvers are probably good for some purposes, but they are not even in the same ballpark as the others being suggested here. You may save a bit of money up front, but I believe you will shortchange yourself big-time over the long haul if you buy a Rossi.

There will be no regrets with the Ruger; my guess is that you would quickly regret the purchase of the Rossi, your circumstances considered.


September 13, 2005, 02:31 PM
GP100 or S&W 686.

September 13, 2005, 02:40 PM

September 13, 2005, 03:59 PM
GP100, Taurus or Rossi might be serviceable, but you are more likely to have a problem with them than with a Ruger. In your case where it will be your only revolver and you will be shooting it for a lifetime, Ruger is the best choice.

September 13, 2005, 04:08 PM
Your criteria #3 - ability to accept a lifetime of cheap +P .38 special LRN ammo IMHO would argue for choice "c" S&W Model 67 .38 Special +P. I don't like to shoot a lot of 38 spl LRN in a .357 Magnum, because you get burn rings which crud up the charge holes in the front of the cylinder. If you were shooting jacketed .38 spl., I wouldn't have a problem with most any of your choices. And that M67 is a total tack driver with that type of ammo, one of the most overlooked and underrated wheelguns you will find.

September 13, 2005, 04:16 PM
I went through the same decision process last month, except I wanted a 3" with fixed sites . . .

I ended up with a gp-100 and I'm very fond of it already.

September 13, 2005, 04:39 PM
Another vote for the GP100. If something were to go bump in the night, that's the gun I'd reach for. Smiths are excellent as well, but I believe the Ruger is the best value for your hard-earned money.


September 13, 2005, 08:36 PM
Good Lord man, don't keep us in suspense. What country are you in, already?

My vote's for the GP-100.

September 13, 2005, 09:18 PM
I'm a S&W man all the way. With that said, I would vote for the GP-100 in your case. Why?? As one of the other posters said, "unbreakable" :cool:

September 13, 2005, 09:28 PM
I would tend to think the GP-100 for extreme long term durability...but it is one big, heavy gun and the reason why mine doesn't get out much. The M67 is a very, very nice gun also and a lot handier. The Ruger will probably go for three normal lifetimes whereas the M67 may need a trip to the factory in as little as, say, 50 years if shot often.

September 13, 2005, 10:40 PM
For a low cost revolver, the GP100 is unbeatable.....I just recently picked one up and it is an excellent gun for the money, which in my case was well under $300.00.......tom

September 14, 2005, 03:09 AM
All opinions duly noted gentlemen!

Next month, when I have enough funds, I shall approach the local pistol merchant and get him to quote me the price on a stainless steel GP100. :)

Of course, if any futher opinions are forthcoming, I shall still welcome them.

Ala Dan
September 14, 2005, 03:33 AM
Other good choices:

Used Market: Ruger Security-Six (forerunner to the GP-100) as it has
adjustable sights as well. Or, the fixed sighted S&W model 10.
However, in the S&W model 10 .38 Special, I would look for a bull
barrel version. Neither should cost you an arm or a leg! :uhoh: :D

September 14, 2005, 04:29 AM
Being a die hard Colt and older S&W man I too think the Ruger best suits your criteria.

You will NOT wear out the Ruger. At 8,000 rounds it would be just getting broken in.
Grips, speedloaders, holsters and other accessories are readily available from almost everywhere.
It may cost you more initially but it will be very cost effective in the long run.
You'll never be sorry you bought it.

The Taurus is in second place. It would depend on which country you are in as to getting it serviced.
The good thing if you decie on the Taurus is that they are basically a S&W action so the good gunsmiths in your country probably already know how to work on them. They are very simple and you can even learn to do your own work.

September 14, 2005, 05:57 AM
I watched what the shooting league guys buy for their PPC revolver competition. Magazines and advertising aside, this is my way of seeing what holds up for overall endurance and competitive accuracy in the real world.

None of the guys shoot Rugers or Taurus'. They all shoot Smith & Wesson in the PPC leagues where I live. You might see an occasional Colt, or Dan Wesson on the line, but S&W clearly dominates the field like Leupold does to hunting scopes.

I would pick any S&W .38 or .357 that best fits your size hand, in a 4-6" barrel.

September 14, 2005, 01:30 PM
I love the guns made by S&W and Taurus, but I'd get the Ruger in your case.

September 14, 2005, 09:41 PM
You awnsered your own question . go with the ruger gp. I have two gp's. It fits everything you asked of it.

October 31, 2005, 04:19 AM
Get an S&W. You'll appreciate the refinement.

October 31, 2005, 07:19 AM
The S&W 619 is a fixed sight - the 620 has an adjustable sight. Both are .357 Magnum seven-shot L-frames. The 67 you mentioned comes with an Uncle Mike's squared combat grip set, as does the 619, a great deal more comfortable to me than the usual open back Hogue rubber grips on the 620, 686, etc. The 67 will digest a lifelong diet of +P .38's - and why get a .357M if you won't ever need it. The fixed sight blued version, the infamous M&P 10, is still a viable choice - and a few bucks less, too.

About QC.... every Ruger I have bought new has been a 'work in progress', my new Redhawk even having to spend a month back in NH. My S&W's, and I have bought more new ones than Rugers, have had one fault - and that could be the result of 'meddling' somewhere in the retail 'chain' before I bought it. S&W's will break in to a very good trigger - better than a tweaked GP-100/Super Redhawk. The GP-100 is a bit heavier - and full lugged. It has to be heavier - it is made up of cast components, the S&W is forged and heat treated. I have not had a good experience with Taurus - yet. Rossi's are inexpensive... Buy a S&W or Ruger.


Dollar An Hour
October 31, 2005, 07:32 AM
GP-100 </thread> ;)

Doug b
October 31, 2005, 08:13 AM
Good choice on the Ruger.And as BergO1 stated unless you are ready for some heavyduty cleaning of the chambers don't shoot .38 spl. in it.Crud will build up to were you can't chamber the longer .357 round.

Old Fuff
October 31, 2005, 08:20 AM
Having owned and/or used most of the revolvers on your list, I would also favor the Ruger GP-100. Besides the reasons expressed by others, this revolver is designed to be owner-serviced. In many cases repairs or modifications can be made without the services of a professional gunsmith. I presume that you or a dealer would be allowed to mail order parts from the United States. That said, this revolver is built like a tank, and has an excellent reputation for not breaking down. The only objection I would see is a minor one - it's a bit heavy to carry around, especially if it is concealed. But this may not be an issue in you're situation.

November 1, 2005, 07:00 AM
When you compare the two, a 4" six shot 686 and a 4" GP-100, the Ruger looks bigger. It's the fullness of that lug... they are the same length. And, the GP-100 weighs in at an ounce more - 41 vs 40 oz. Keep in mind that, as I said before, the Ruger uses cast components, while the older design S&W still employs forged/treated components. I would also look at the 620, the adjustable sight version of the 619 you mentioned. They are the replacements for the 66 models, which have been dropped. They share the 66's partial lug - an aesthetic feature I appreciate, but it also makes for a more easily pointed revolver. With the life of .38 LRN ammo you suggested, any of the listed revolvers would be fine. A 67, or it's fixed sight brethren 64 or 10, would be perfect.

About .38 Specials in a .357 Magnum - they work quite well. Their residue can be easily cleaned - just use a proper gun cleaning solvent and allow time for it to penetrate. A proper bronze bore and cylinder brush would be perfect. As to dissassembly, the most dangerous component in a revolver is a compressed helical spring - like the hammer spring in a GP-100/SRH - and, to a much lessor extent, the trigger return spring in an S&W. While removing the grip and hammer spring & strut is easy in the Ruger, that trigger group can be a bear. Removing the cylinder and yoke from a S&W requires removal of only the front sideplate screw, leaving the cylinder in your hand for detailed cleaning. Removal of the sideplate is easy, should you need to get at the lockwork - and the leaf style hammer spring is pre-loaded by a strain screw, very safe and easy to change. Whichever one you buy, please use the appropriate sized hollow ground screwdriver/bits when removing/replacing screws.

Since they are a personal choice, feel assured that whether you get a GP-100 or a 686 - or the 64/67/619/620, I'll predict you'll find your choice is perfectly fine for .38 plinking... and more! Best of luck.


November 1, 2005, 09:16 AM
I'd get the Ruger. The smiths are nice, but since you are paying a premium, save a bit on the Ruger. The trigger sucks on it though, but so do the others.

November 1, 2005, 10:52 AM
When I was searching for my first revolver I also wanted a solid, mid-frame gun to be used mostly with .38 specials. I originally wanted a .357 magnum, considering it was backwards compatable, but realized that when the time came for a magnum I'd want a frame dedicated for it.

I eventually chose a model 67 (purchased off gunbroker) after handling a couple Rugers at the pawn shop. The Smith is a smoother gun, and after sending it back to S&W for a tune-up I'm even more pleased.

I appreciate the robustness of the Ruger and will consider one when I want a magnum gun, but I rarely have a chance to shoot anything at all and there's only money to be wasted until I get better.

Here's an awkward picture of my gun. I simply can't imagine ever outgrowing a revolver like this. (

November 1, 2005, 11:04 AM
'nother vote for the GP-100

November 1, 2005, 06:08 PM
I am a big-time ruger fan, but I also have really come to love Taurus so I don't think you can go wrong either way, though the Taurus offerings are generally a bit less expensive, and I personally prefer the Taurus matte finish.

November 1, 2005, 06:13 PM

Just out of curiousity, are you the unluckiest guy, ever? I am certainly not trying to slam you or anything like that, but I have yet to have a bad experience with either a Ruger or a Taurus, in any instance. Matter of fact, I have yet to have anything that I would label as a bad experience with any handgun, although I have certainly had minor issues with some. The only truly bad experience I have ever had with a gun was a Browing BP2000 automatic shotgun, which I could hit the broadside of a barn with only if I took my time and aimed carefully from a bench from a range of about 4 feet. I actually am curious as to what your experiences were!

Working Man
November 1, 2005, 06:45 PM
+1 on Ruger GP-100.

My experience has been good out of the box.

1 GP-100 .357, 6" bought new
2 GP-100 .357, 4" (sold one to a friend) 1 bought new the other used.
1 Redhawk .44, 7.5" bought used

All good to go with never a problem.

November 1, 2005, 08:50 PM

IMHO, these DA only GP100 PD trades are the best deal going on the used none. They can be found for less (sometimes much less) than this one posted on GA. Even with your dealer add-ons, you're around $300.

November 1, 2005, 11:38 PM
This type of question seems to come up every couple of months. There is no right answer only what is the best option for your intended purposes. All the guns you mentioned are worth considering. Everyone who has posted a reponse brought up good points you should consider.

I can not comment on the other guns, since I have no experience with Taurus, Rossi and limited experience with S&W revolvers. I only have held a few 686s and 629s but never shot them. My friends S&W's that I have handled where well used older models. They seem to be holding up very well. THey all had excellent triggers. But, that is not the only consideration when buying a new gun. You should consider all aspect of the firearms you are considering.

The only gun on your list I have had experience with was a GP-100 6" SS that unfortunantly meet an untimely demise. Before the accident, I was happy with the gun, it was solidly built, well designed, it was very accuracte in SA, and easy to maintain do to the modern design, though a little utilitarian in looks. The gun was easily to dissasymble, but I could never remember how to properly assemble it. When it was new it did have a lousy, gritty DA trigger that became slightly better with some use. The SA was good from the start. The Wolff springs helped a little with the DA, I was able to get it down to 8lbs, and the single was at about 1.5 lbs. But, grittyness never went away, and with the reduced trigger return spring caused the trigger not to fully return, I then had to push the trigger forward before firing. I replaced the factory grip with a more confortable Hogue that fit my hands better. I replaced the factory rear sight with a Millet target model.

Overall I liked the GP-100. It really is a good gun when the price is considered. The 6" model had great balace. It does have some quirks, like the trigger, that can be addressed. But Since I now have to start over again with a new gun, I am leaning towards a used S&W 6" 686 since I like the look over the Ruger's.

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