Which S&W .357 Magnum revolver for home defense and carry?


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Accord
April 26, 2006, 02:52 PM
I'm looking to get a Smith & Wesson revolver in .357 Magnum for home defense, however there are literally a countless number of different models available and I have no idea where I should start looking.

It will be primarily used for home defense and I would occasionally like to carry it as well.

Which S&W .357 Magnum models should I look at that fit my criteria? I don't want one of those pocket revolvers because I want to use this for home defense, but I also don't want a giant revolver that is too big to carry on my 165 pound 5'11" body.

Thanks

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Dollar An Hour
April 26, 2006, 03:11 PM
Maybe find a used K-Frame model 19 or 66?

Otherwise the steel-frame 3" stainless model 60 sounds like a good compromise since you want to carry.

If the 5-shot model 60 is too small, maybe a model 686 L-Frame 6-shot in a 2-1/2" barrel?

Vern Humphrey
April 26, 2006, 03:19 PM
I'd say the ideal choice for you would be the Ruger SP 101 with the 3 1/16" barrel. This is a very practical gun for an outdoorsman, has enough heft to soak up recoil, and is small enough for concealed carry.

MikeK
April 26, 2006, 03:28 PM
If only carried occasionally my vote would be a 4" 686. I have one and it has a great trigger. I also own a 2 1/4" Sp-101. Also a great gun, but shooting 357's gets a little rough after 30 rounds or so.

MikeJ
April 26, 2006, 03:28 PM
I suggest you take a close look at a 3" model 65. 3" .357's are IMO the best all around defensive revolver.

Cosmoline
April 26, 2006, 03:34 PM
The K-Frame Smiths are ideal, but I believe S&W in their wisdom have stopped making them. A combat magnum model 19 is hard to beat. The only drawback is finding one in stainless. At least around here the 13's and 19's outnumber the 66's and 65's four to one or more. This gives the Ruger SP-101 or Security Six the edge because the SP is only made in stainless and the Six was mostly made in stainless. Both are about K frame size, though the Six gives you an extra round. I really like my SP for home use because there's always problems with condensation and moisture when carrying back and forth from outside to inside or even in the bathroom. The SP is fine with a monthly break down and cleaning, but an old blue Smith will suffer. The new S&W 619's and 620's are NOT K frames but L. I personally find the thicker frames annoying and not worth the 7 shot feature. They're too big for CCW. And of course S&W's new ultralight CCW J frames tend to be absurd for use with .357's.

cookekdjr
April 26, 2006, 03:35 PM
I'd look at the 60, the 640, and the Ruger sp101.
The Ruger will probably need a trigger job (the ones I've tried had heavy trigger pulls). Otherwise, its a great gun. The recoil on it is much lower than you'd expect.
I have a S&W 60 in .357. Its one of the newer ones on the J-magnum frame. Its the 2" barrel variety, with fixed sights. I recommend it as well. The 640 is the same gun, but on the hammerless j-frame. Some ATF agents here have started carrying the 640 as a back-up. An agent friend of mine showed me his 640 yesterday, and said he had ordered one for his trainee.
The S&W's are easier to carry, but the sp101's seem to soak up recoil better. They are both very accurate.
You really can't go wrong with any of the three.
-David

RON in PA
April 26, 2006, 03:41 PM
I'll second all those that have already suggested a 3" revolver. you have the choice of various Smith K frames and the Ruger SP101 and GP100. Also I'm going to suggest a slight alternative, don't overlook the possibility of a 3" K-frame in 38 special such as a model 10 or its SS equivilent the model 64. Loaded with the +P FBI load such a revolver is not to be sneezed at and is very controllable with less noise and flash.

kngflp
April 26, 2006, 04:00 PM
I'll second the 686. My dad has a 4" and it has the best single action trigger I have shot. I see 4" 686's used all the time for $350-$400. You should be able to find a 3" model if that's what you really want.

dbarale
April 26, 2006, 04:01 PM
I suggest you take a close look at a 3" model 65. 3" .357's are IMO the best all around defensive revolver.


That would be my choice too! A Ruger Speed Six 2 3/4" would also be a good choice, the GP 100 is a little bulky for CCW.

WT
April 26, 2006, 04:45 PM
A 3" Model 65.

ChristopherG
April 26, 2006, 04:57 PM
When you say 'carry occassionally', do you mean licensed concealed carry, or open carry in wild places, or just walkin around the range? If concealed carry is in the picture, then the 3" guns are a good compromise. If you do not plan on regularly concealing it, then a 4" model 619, 620, or 686 is what you're looking for. They are outstanding revolvers and a great way to learn how to shoot a wheelgun.

Stainz
April 27, 2006, 10:04 AM
I sold my 3" 65 some time back. I found a 2" 10 with the 'FBI load', +P 158gr LHPSWC .38 Spcl, more to my liking - and more accurate. Shooting .357M's indoors isn't wise... the supersonic 'crack' will disorient you at the very least; perhaps damage your hearing - those 'FBI loads' are fine - and have a proven track record.

A better choice might just be the 65/66 replacement - the 619/620. I'd go for the 620, due to it's adjustable sights. It weighs 37.9oz vs the 4" 66's 37.0 oz. It is an L-frame - with a frame that is .015" wider at the barrel attachment than the K-frames (My measurements from my 6" 66 and 5" 686+.) to permit a larger forcing cone on the barrel, the so-called Achille's heel of the K-frames. The taller frame opening means the 7-shot cylinder is possible as well. The K & L frames even share the same grips. The beauty of the 620 over the regular 686 or 686+ is the partial barrel lug on the new 620 - which makes it handle like the partial lugged K-frames - and look like them as well. I like the 'retro' look, opting for the half lugged 5" 686+ 'Stocking Dealer Exclusive' several years ago over the usual full lugged 686's. I would have bought a 620, had they been available - still have one on my 'short' list (awaiting funds...). go to a well-stocked dealer - see which one feels better to you.

If recoil is a problem, when you have to shoot .357M's, consider one of the S&W .500 Magnum Hogue grips (SKU #29467 only available from S&W Accessories - $35.) - they fit X, N, and K/L frames - and really help with the recoil, as they cover the backstrap. Buy both proper sized .357/.38 bore and chamber brushes. Clean those chambers well after shooting .38 Specials before loading .357 Magnums. Shoot all of the .38's you want - lead/clad - just enjoy whatever you get. Consider those 'FBI loads' - Remington R38S12's, for example (~$20/50) - for defense.

Stainz

Deanimator
April 27, 2006, 05:12 PM
I suggest you take a close look at a 3" model 65. 3" .357's are IMO the best all around defensive revolver.

I'm not a big fan of stainless steel, but either the blued Model 13 or the Model 65 would make a good home defense/carry gun. I'll get a used Model 13 some day.

I've got a 3 1/2" Model 27 as a home defense gun. Shoots great with the Federal 158gr. LSWCHP "FBI" load.

bpisler
April 27, 2006, 05:39 PM
Take your pick from the following
Smith and wessons

3" model 13 or 65
2" model 19 or 66
2" 686

Rugers

3" SP-101
3" GP-100
2" service or speed 6

I don't know what taurus makes in a
3" revolver if anything.
All of the above except the SP-101
can be found with a 4" barrel.

miko
April 27, 2006, 06:31 PM
There exists 3" S&W Model 66.

miko

Gixerman1000
April 27, 2006, 07:08 PM
I own a 5.5” 627-0, 6” 686P-5, 4” 586-4 and a limited run 3” 66-4 with factory mag-na-porting, if I had to pick one for home defense and CCW it would be the 3” 66.

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v238/Gixerman1000/Handguns/SW66.jpg

gwalchmai
April 28, 2006, 07:38 AM
The best S&W .357 Magnum revolver for the prospective buyer who thinks there is "literally a countless number of different models available" is a 4" K-frame in .38 Special.

Why? As noted, .357 Mag is not really well suited to home defense, and if used for anything else it requires more training than most new shooters have. .38SPL, OTOH, perfectly fills the "indoor bad guy shooting" role, plus is gentle enough to encourage a new user to practice, which will tell him whether buying a .357 is worthwhile later.

revo
April 28, 2006, 07:55 AM
Tough decision, I know. I went with the 686 Plus 4" at first thinking all my woes would be settled with one purchase. BZZZZZZT -- wrong again... :)

I found the 686 awesome for at home, but a bit bulky (for me) for concealed carry. For open carry, no problemo.

Next, I started checking out the model 60s. The frame was small and easy to conceal, but it was still pretty heavy for my tastes. I stuffed it in my pocket and felt my pants were always falling down.

I settled with a "one for this, one for that" approach: a 340PD for carry and 686 for home. I just couldn't find a happy medium in one gun that worked for me in both capacities. It's a very hard decision to make for most, and so subjective as to be near impossible to get spot-on advice. What works for one is way off for another.

But -- if I were to choose just one:
S&W model 60 3" bbl. A compromise of frame size, weight, bbl length, and adj sights. However, you only get 5 shots.

Enjoy your search though, that's the fun of it.

only1asterisk
April 28, 2006, 08:04 AM
Why? As noted, .357 Mag is not really well suited to home defense, and if used for anything else it requires more training than most new shooters have. .38SPL, OTOH, perfectly fills the "indoor bad guy shooting" role, plus is gentle enough to encourage a new user to practice, which will tell him whether buying a .357 is worthwhile later.

If a .357 is "not really well suited to home defense", what would be?

David

ChristopherG
April 28, 2006, 08:36 AM
The suggestion is that a .357 is a bit of overkill for HD. Too much bang and flash, too much penetration, a driver where a wedgie is needed.

I don't know if it's true or rational; I mean, I've been in a hot shoothouse without ear protection (my mistake), and I'm here to tell you NO defensive handgun caliber is fun or painless on the ears when you box it in--and, I know .38's will penetrate walls, too. But something in my gut just hates the idea of shooting a mag in the house where my family is. So, my 4" model 66 stays loaded with the old FBI load in the little instant-access safe by the bed.

Yeah, a 4" k-frame .357 is a beautiful gun.

gwalchmai
April 28, 2006, 08:37 AM
If a .357 is "not really well suited to home defense", what would be?

David um, a .38 Special, maybe... ;)

I'm picking nits just a little here. When you say "a .357" you're probably referring to a revolver chambered in .357 Magnum. When I said ".357 is not really well suited to home defense" I was talking about full-house .357 Mag loads. Full .357 Mag loads have a lot of blast and recoil and are difficult for most shooters to use effectively. Also, they would tend to overpenetrate, which is not desirable when shooting in your house.

So OK, a .357 Mag revolver loaded with .38 Special ammunition would be fine. Bear in mind though, that if someone goes to Wal-Mart and asks for "the best ammo for defense in my .357" they're likely to get full-house 125gr JHPs.

miko
April 28, 2006, 10:05 AM
You would want the longest barrel possible and no porting for HD. Good chance you will be shooting in a low-light conditions and there is no point in blinding oneself with your first shot. Weight of the gun is not an issue for HD, so it should be as heavy as possible.

For carry, shorter barrel and light weight may be unavoidable, so ports may be justified - but I am not totally sure on that.

miko

only1asterisk
April 28, 2006, 10:12 AM
Full .357 Mag loads have a lot of blast and recoil and are difficult for most shooters to use effectively. Also, they would tend to overpenetrate, which is not desirable when shooting in your house.

That's a bunch of bunk! Most people can learn to fully control a medium frame .357 revolvers if they want. Penetration has as much to do with bullet design as velocity.

David

gwalchmai
April 28, 2006, 10:29 AM
That's a bunch of bunk! Most people can learn to fully control a medium frame .357 revolvers if they want. Penetration has as much to do with bullet design as velocity.

David I disagree. Most THR members spend the time necessary to become proficient with their weapons and can indeed learn to control a medium frame .357 if they want. Most gun owners who buy a revolver for home defense shoot a third of a box of rounds when they first get it and stick it in a drawer. All the more so if those first rounds are fire-breathers.

Regarding penetration and bullet design - considering that we who spend our lives immersed in the study of such things are constantly arguing about it, how do you expect the casual user to make an informed choice of a home defense .357 Magnum round?

btw, I own an M-13 and an M-19 and shoot around 100 rounds (my reloads) per week in them. I keep a 1911 loaded for my HD use, and an M-64 with +P GoldDots for my wife's.

Pistol Toter
April 28, 2006, 11:08 AM
There have been many many good suggestions made here, much wisdom and experience, but there is one thing tha I would add, and that is: IF YOUR GOING TO CARRY THAT GUN ---- GET THAT PERMIT ---- AND GET IT BEFORE YOU CARRY IT!!! :banghead: My friend, there is a lot of heart ache to be had if caught with out proper credentials. Some good qualified training would not hurt either. Regards Pistol Toter

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