Seeking Advice on a Revolver Gift


.45 Cal
August 16, 2006, 05:13 PM
Here's the scenario: my best friend took a handgun safety course but didn't get to actually fire any guns in the process; I guess they had some sort of training pistol, but that was it. For his purposes (woods gun, home protection, plinking) he wants a revolver. So, I spent several hours orienting him to safe handling of my two: SP101 and Smith Mountain Gun in .45 Colt. Then we went to the range. He loved the Mountain Gun, but since he doesn't reload and is a new home owner, the cost of .45 Colt rounds is prohibitive for regular practice.

I think a .357 magnum would suit him great. He didn't like the snubbie at the range, but fired a GP100 with success. However, he's a big Smith fan (stockholder!) and I'm therefore trying to decide which Smith to gift him of on his birthday.

I've never fired any Smiths in .357, so I thought I'd see what folks' experience is here.

Thanks in advance for your help...

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August 16, 2006, 05:43 PM
.45 Cal, I have a Smith 686 6" 357 Mag. and I think it is a joy to shoot. I never figured that I would like a revolver, but my wife got a SA 357 Mag. and after shooting it, I had to get my own quick! I have found that the 357 Mag. is very easy to control, and the Smith, being a DA, is capable of very quick and accurate follow up shots. I practice with mine at 30 feet, and now can hit six 4" x 8" hanging steel plates with six shots, reasonably quickly. For home defense, I am thinking that a .357 Mag. would be very adequate. (and very loud indoors) Also, .38 specials can be used for practice. .38 specials are a bit cheeper, and at 30 feet or so, the point of impact is about the same as the .357 Mag. A 686 Smith is a rather large revolver to conceal. Smaller versions are available, but may have more recoil. Beware though.....357 Magnums multiply rather quickly.....first one...then another....before you know it, she gots a rifle in .357 and so do you. She gets a CCW...You get the picture. Did I mention that they are fun to reload.... Good Luck
Regards, NailGun

.45 Cal
August 16, 2006, 06:40 PM
Thanks, NailGun. The 686 might be the right one. I'd probably opt for a 4" version because he is interested in carrying during work (remote location in wilderness with potential critters, BGs, etc.). Plus I think a stainless revolver would be easier for him to maintain.

August 16, 2006, 10:11 PM
For carry -- an SP-101. He'll get used to it.

August 16, 2006, 10:55 PM
Wow. You're going to give him a .357 for his birthday?

Can I be your friend, too?

Very nice gift.

August 17, 2006, 12:09 AM
I like my model 620--7 shot, L-frame, .357, 4", adj. sights, SS. Might be big for CCW, but for just "carry"---out in woods or whatever, as listed, it'd be just about perfect. Very managable recoil with the .357 loads--comes with Hogue on there. And, if he's just getting started, I don't think he'll care about pre/post lock (personally, I don't--never had an issue). Just my opinon.

August 17, 2006, 12:37 AM
I would suggest that he start out with a 22. Smith 617 (I believe). Learn shooting skills first.

An alternative is to go with a 3" Ruger GP100 (357/38spl). I have one and like it a lot. Smith triggers are better. But, if you are not going to conceal the gun, it is a good choice. The 4" Smith 686 is hard to beat if you want to go S&W.

August 17, 2006, 12:40 AM
Small frame guns can be a turn off for some new shooters, at least as a pistol instructor, that has been my experience. I would stay with guns in the middle frame sizes...(ie: S&W K and L, Ruger Sec 6 and GP100 series, etc.). Your friend could do much more with those.

You consider a K-22? Inexpensive practice there, but not best for home defense, of course.

August 17, 2006, 09:02 AM
45 Cal.

Even though I like the SP101 (as you might remember :) ), if he's stuck on a Smith, I would look at a the 620 over the 686. The 620 doesn't have a full underlug barrel so weighs a bit less for toting.

If you can steer him to a Ruger, then I agree with 22-rimfire on the 3" GP 100.

Regardless of what you chose though, you're gonna have to talk to Rob, cause you can't give the gun without the leather :D !

August 17, 2006, 09:16 AM
Ever notice how a gun purchase one day isn't just buying a gun? When debating the purchase details you automatically think, "reloading dies, holster, cleaning jags and brushes, speed loaders, magazines, sights, ....".

That's when you know you are a dyed in the wool firearms enthusiast!

August 17, 2006, 11:32 AM
He loved the Mountain Gun

I'd suggest the Mountain Gun and a $65 Lee Classic single stage press.

He'll love the gun, but will be forever gratefull for introducing him to the hobby of reloading.

Good Luck...


August 17, 2006, 01:50 PM
if he's stuck on a Smith, I would look at a the 620 over the 686. The 620 doesn't have a full underlug barrel so weighs a bit less for toting.Sweet. Someone agrees with me about a 620.

Reloading would be something helpful to introduce him to, though---only reason I don't is because I'm on a student budget (i.e.--shoestring), can't afford the presses, and because they won't let me reload in my dorm room--so for the remaining years, reloading is out :( . But if you swamp him too much, it might push him away from shooting.

.45 Cal
August 17, 2006, 02:02 PM
Thanks everyone for your helpful input. Yeah, he's my brother, albeit not biologically, so he gets a .357.:)

And I really like the idea of getting him a press so he can start reloading: hell, he has a double garage! I don't have the room...

Thanks again, and I'll seriously weigh all your advice before I decide on the final choice.


August 17, 2006, 02:13 PM
Hey Cal
What a NICE thing to do for a Friend ! I see ammo expense is in question as he does not reload. I also take it this is his First revolver experience? I given these fact's would start him off with a K-22 as this was Why they were invented in the first place was to give revolver fan's a chance to practice and get sharp on their Ten ring skills before jumping up to larger calibers.The 617 is a great first revolver and curently available New, ammo can be bought cheap and is available every where, and he will quickly fall in love with the lower Non Existent recoil of the .22 Long rifle ammo showing him many ten ring hits as a beginner amplifying his revolver lust, and need for Larger caliber's. If he desires a used one, there are a ton of them out there being made since 1931 as well. I would go for one of these, and when you see he really has a big interest in revolver shooting, then bring him into the .357 or large caliber's. If revolver's are not his thing, a man can not have Too many K-22s and this would be a nice revolver to have him return to you if he chooses another style hand gun.;) Just a thought, Hammerdown

August 17, 2006, 02:31 PM
Does it have to be a Smith?

I have a Taurus 608, 4inch stainless and love it. It is the same frame they use for the .44 mag so if he wants to get into reloading he could make some hot loads for it. That and I never feel under gunned with a shots of .357

.45 Cal
August 17, 2006, 03:17 PM
I suppose is doesn't necessarily have to be a Smith. In fact, he fired a GP100 and liked it fine, and it'll leave me with a few bucks left over for ammo for him, or a press!

August 17, 2006, 04:02 PM
Smith has excellent customer service--I sent in a broken 65, got my 620 in return. Nice folks.

Besides, there's more avenues open for a "S&W collection" than a "ruger collection". Start him off right:D .

Brian Williams
August 17, 2006, 10:05 PM
find a nice used mod 10 and go with it from there, it is not a 357 but will work and be inexpensive to shoot to boot.

August 18, 2006, 02:25 AM
I've fired a 686 and it is a great gun! Smith is the best there is (IMHO). Considering the cost of ammo, how about a Smith 625? It fires the .45 ACP. That is a cost competitive round, and a large bore.

.45 Cal
August 18, 2006, 03:52 PM
I'm liking the 686 idea. One reason I'm leaning .357 for him is that he can practice with little .38 WCs but have the feel of the same grip and frame weight for full .357 loads.

However, *I* would like a 625 in .45 ACP! :D I already have a 1911 and really like the idea of the same ammo for a revolver.

August 19, 2006, 06:14 AM
Well since he's a stockholder, a S&W is a very good choice.
But why a new one?
Why not a classic so he'll know what made S&W great?

My suggestion would be to find a nice Model 19 or stainless Model 66
- Four inch barrel, K-frame
- .357 which also shoots cheaper .38 Specials
- Light enough to carry around the woods (or the asphalt jungle)
- Big enough to absorb recoil
- Extremely accurate - adjustable sights
- Powerful enough for Home/Self defense
- Dozens of grip styles are available

A true classic in every aspect.

And they are still somewhat affordable.

Or you could go with a Model 586 or Stainless 686.
Smith & Wesson's answer to the Python.
Same features as the 19/66 except built on the only slightly larger L-Frame with a full underlugged barrel.

With only minimal care either will outlast several generations and provide untold hours of enjoyment and peace of mind.

August 19, 2006, 12:52 PM
+1 to Bluesbear. Model 19 is also a great choice. look on Guns America to find a good deal.

August 19, 2006, 01:38 PM

A .357 is NICE . . . but I'd strongly recommend you give your brother instead, the LOVE of shooting!

Specifically, give him a "K frame" 617 S&W .22 revolver with a 6" barrel and a ten shot capacity. Also, give him a packet of targets and a "brick" of 500 rounds or more of .22 ammo and a set of muffs and eye protection.

The .22 won't kick, and he won't have to reload the cylinder as often. What he WILL do is quickly learn to love the hours of cheap shooting afforded by the .22!!!

He'll also develop flinch-free shooting skills . . . and his excellent marksmanship will carry over to his later, centerfire S&W revolvers.

IF YOU GIVE HIM A .357 . . .

1. The darn thing will "kick like a mule" to a novice shooter. He will probably develop flinching and poor shooting habits.

2. The costs of shooting many rounds will be prohibitive and he'll probably never become an avid shooting sports fan.

3. He'll thus probably not enjoy shooting the revolver much . . . and end up having an un-used revolver locked in a box somewhere that he never masters. He'll also never become a great marksman.

Yep . . . give him a 6" K frame .22. They are cheap to shoot and "funner" than a barrel of monkies!!!

He'll fall in love with it . . . and will soon be bitten with the "centerfire bug" that all of us who love to shoot handguns develop!!!

Food for thought!

August 20, 2006, 02:33 AM
Sage old advice, take him shopping. Go to all the local gun stores and look at all the new and used models. See what catches his eye and fits him. Then determine if it's worth the price or not.
You really can't pick out a gun for someone else. While you think a 4 incher may be better he may find the 6 inchers balance better for him. Stainless may be more practical, but he may prefer the look of a blued model. The bottom line is the gun isn't for you so he should be the one making the choices. You just provide pertinent information about his choices so he can make up his mind. Guns are personal and the more he is pleased with his choice the better the chances of him shooting it more and becoming proficient with it.

I do agree with the others as the .22lr revolver is the best route for a new shooter to take. Here's an idea since you also don't have a .22 is to get him to go in with you on getting a nice .22lr DA revolver. Everyone should have a .22 as they have a lot of uses and qualities that many shooters just don't think about.

August 20, 2006, 05:56 AM
1. The darn thing will "kick like a mule" to a novice shooter. He will probably develop flinching and poor shooting habits.

2. The costs of shooting many rounds will be prohibitive and he'll probably never become an avid shooting sports fan.

For one thing look at what he's already fired;He loved the Mountain Gun, but since he doesn't reload and is a new home owner, the cost of .45 Colt rounds is prohibitive for regular practice.

I think a .357 magnum would suit him great. He didn't like the snubbie at the range, but fired a GP100 with success.
Hell's Bells™, he LIKED the .45 Colt so he can dang sure stand .357 recoil in a K-frame. YOu can always sttart him out on light .38 Special loads. And unless you live in Bumflax, Egyptina you can probably find remanufactured .38 ammo for $5-6 per box/50.

Remember he also wants it for home protection.
Sorry but, in my book, that eliminates the .22.

As an NRA instructor I have taught a LOT of people to shoot.
And yes, I usually start them out on a .22 when I'm teaching them to shoot for the very first time. But usually by the time they buy their own guns they're ready for something bigger.

August 20, 2006, 09:02 AM
The 10 would be a great inexpensive intro - and reasonable to keep plinking away with, as .38's are widely available and relatively cheap. You could always get a SS 64 or 67, if the SS is more to his likes. The 620 would be optimal, in my view - but I like partial lugs.

As he liked the big-bore .45 Colt 625MG, perhaps a more frugal .45, as mentioned earlier, might be the answer. You just cannot beat a 4" or 5" 625 in .45 ACP for 'big-bore' fun at a realistic cost, both for the ammo and the recoil. My most recent one, actually a 625JM, is a fine shooter. You can buy .45 ACP ball ammo anywhere - for a little more than lead .38 Specials. The moonclips, a bit tedious to load/unload for some, are a fast reload, that's for sure. Used, the 5" variants are out there - generally at better prices, due to some handgun competitions limiting barrel length to 4". The 625JM is just a few bucks more new - and comes with a Miculek wood stock. The only person I know who was unhappy with his 625JM, actually selling it after just a few days from new, was a left handed semi-auto competitor who couldn't master LH-ed reloads. One fellow immediately bought a new Taurus 5-shot 4" version - which just didn't fare so well, trigger or accuracy wise. He is waiting for a 625, too.

The 'up' side of the 625 purchase... if he doesn't like it, you'll have that 625 you wanted!


August 20, 2006, 09:55 AM
A lot of this will depend on what you want to spend on the gun.

Under $300- Get him a nice used Model 10, 13, 15 or 19.

Between $300 & 500- Get him a nice used Model 26, 27, or 686.

Over or around $500- I agree with S&Wfan. Get him a nice used K-22 or Model 17 or 18 ( Give him the joy of shooting, and a tool to build marksmanship with ( as well as an appreciation of the older, finer Smith & Wessons. Let him buy his own .357 magnum. Most shooters do not appreciate the value of the K-22 until a more experienced shooter steers them towards it. There are still a lot of wheelgunners out there who wonder why the Smith .22 revolvers are so cherished. They are usually the ones shooting wide groups.

This is not poppycock. If he wants to learn to shoot double action revolvers accurately in double action mode, then he must invest some time and ammunition building trigger control. He can spend hundreds of dollars trying to do that with .38 specials in a .357 while battling a flinch. Or he can spend a heck of a lot less, shoot a heck of a lot more, and build trigger control and marksmanship a heck of a lot quicker with a .22 caliber double action Smith & Wesson revolver. The skills he learns with the K-22 trigger transfer over to everything he shoots. As an NRA instructor, I too, have taught a lot of people how to shoot. Many of them have struggled for years wondering why they cannot hit squat, and going to the range alone so their marksmanship does not embarrass them. Invariably they moved to large calibers before learning trigger control. If you like your brother, you will buy him the .22. It's a quality revolver he will appreciate greatly, yet is unlikely to buy for himself at this stage of the game. That is the essence of a fine gift.

Tell your brother to get a 12 gauge pump shotgun for home defense. It's more effective and safer than a .357 anyway.

August 20, 2006, 03:13 PM
Hi, interesting thread with LOTS of great ideas. Here is my humble opinion.
As long as he likes the gun, and he can afford to shoot it either via your reloads, his reloads, or rimfire ammo, the other characteristics are immaterial. If you want him to love shooting, buy him a gun AND THE TWO OF YOU GO SHOOTING REGULARLY TOGETHER. Shooting is an activity that increases tremendously in importance when it is shared with someone you love, and connected to hours of fellowship with that person. If your brother and yourself shoot together regularly, he will love shooting for a lifetime. Regards.

August 20, 2006, 06:49 PM
I can't wait to see the next post.
But unfortunately I have more bullets to deliver.
I'll check back in here in a few hours.

.45 Cal
August 21, 2006, 03:30 PM
Just have to thank everyone again for the great information and all your thoughts and recommendations. I'm really liking the idea of a 19 or 66, both for quality, history and shootability. And the more I think about it the more I want one myself!'s...birthday!:D I have till November...

August 22, 2006, 03:45 AM
get an SP101 revolver in .38 or .357, or maybe a GP100, or whatever the full size are called.

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