Why should I get a Ruger...


August 21, 2006, 06:57 PM
instead of another Smith. I am thinking about getting a model 66 as a hunting companion, woods knock-around gun. I ran across a good deal on a Ruger GP-100. Can someone give me the pros and cons of each. I already have several S&W's, and I know the Ruger functions slightly different (cylinder turn, cylinder release). WHat about a weight comparison in 4inch. Why should I get the Ruger over a Smith?

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Panthera Tigris
August 21, 2006, 08:15 PM
Rugers will take the hottest .357 loads you can dream up and never have any issues, while Smiths (and Colts) will eventually blow up using hot loads.

And my wheelgun collection is 2 Smiths and one Colt, no Rugers, so I'm not just partial to Rugers. For a woods gun, I think Rugers are the best.

Weight-wise, I don't think there's much difference between a 4 inch Smith and a 4 inch GP100.

August 21, 2006, 08:26 PM
Ruger GP 100 is a very stong gun. You cant realy hurt it. Like the other poster said you can load it hot for outdoor use. I dont know about blowing up a colt or a S&W but at least it may shoot 'em loose way before the Ruger. I used one last year on my hog hunt and even in 6" it was easy to tote. Accurate too. Didnt take a hog with it , I used my Marlin 35rem for that.

August 21, 2006, 08:44 PM
I absolutely love my old Smiths but if you've never owned a Ruger you owe it to yourself to bring one into the fold. GP100 is great and in my judgement a Security Six is even better. Like all revolvers and all men, they all get better with proper use and care as they age.

August 21, 2006, 08:54 PM
I am just bit bias when it comes to picking a revolver. I look at others, :scrutiny: but I seem to end up buying the RUGER. :)
They just seem to have a bit more 'heft' to them. :rolleyes: My last RUGER revolver was a Bisley in .45 Long Colt 5.5 inch barrel, Stainless Steel. :D When you grap it, it feels the part of having one heafty six-shooter in hand. Try it, You may like it. ;)

Deer Hunter
August 21, 2006, 09:35 PM
I believe most of the internet theories of "smiths blowing up" are not very factual. In older smiths, people using very hot loads would eventually wear down the gun after pounding it trip after trip to the range with their hottest loads. Nowadays, the Smiths are stronger. I believe you couldn't afford to blow up a Smith and Wesson with full-power loads. Even if you handload and make them hot, the gun wont wear out anytime soon.

Ohen Cepel
August 21, 2006, 09:37 PM
I prefer the Smiths. However, if you're going to shoot A LOT of hot ammo go with the Ruger.

Keep in mind though, the 66's are not being made anymore. So if you want one don't wait too long.

Old Fuff
August 21, 2006, 09:48 PM
In terms of size and weight, Smith & Wesson's 586/686 revolvers are similar to the Ruger GP100. S&W's model 66 is a lighter gun. Obviously a Ruger GP-100 will stand up to abuse and heavier loads better then a S&W model 66. However a model 686 would be an even match. Once we get past that it's a matter of picking whichever revolver you like best. You won't go wrong with either one.

August 21, 2006, 09:58 PM
If you're going to go hot all of time, Ruger is your man. Almost any brand will survive what the average shooter will dish out. All modern brands are strong enough. Ruger however produces handguns with stronger than they need to be. Look in just about any reloading manual. Many have loads meant to be used in Rugers only.

August 21, 2006, 09:59 PM
I have to agree that finding a good stainless Security-Six would be the way to go. The little Rugers today are tough, but they're hard on the hand. I wouldn't worry too much about getting a good 66, though. The tech guys at the NRA years ago told me that a good K-frame Smith would take about 1,500-2,000 full throttle magnum rounds before needing serious work but (and here's the rub) if you then put another 1,500 rounds through it, the frame would actually warp to the point where it couldn't be adequately repaired.

Now in contrast, Skeeter Skelton said in an article he published, that he knew of three Ruger Security-Sixes, each of which had in excess of 30,000 magnum rounds fired through them. Only one of them is a little out of time, he said at the time, and could be fixed by putting in a new cylinder hand (pawl). Once fitted, the Rugers should keep on going for as long as you can. Eventually they'll need a new barrel, but that's true with any gun. Because of its solid frame, there's no warping to worry about.

You can get Security-Sixes, Speed-Sixes, Service-Sixes in stainless and for good prices. I looked at one of mine today. It had a B/C gap of .004 and the cylinder was solid as a rock when cocked and even more so when the trigger was pulled. It was one of the finest revolvers ever sold and Ruger replaced it with an ape of a gun that no one really needed except target shooters, and they'd have been better off with a Smith 686.

Let's face it, if you're going to carry it out in the middle of nowhere, who wants to carry the extra weight. Ruger's medium-frame .357s were as strong if not stronger than Smith's large-size magnums.

A number of years ago, blued Rugers were fairly rare. Now there seems to be more blued models available than stainless. Don't know why that is, but I liked the stainless. They also had 2.75-inch barrels compared to Smith's 2.5-inch models.


Jim March
August 22, 2006, 12:15 AM
As I put it once:

Rugers are so tough that a million years from now when we're all geeked and giant 10ft-tall descendents of the modern cockroach rule the world, they'll be able to dig up GP100s, stick different grips on and shoot each other with 'em.

August 22, 2006, 06:47 AM
OK..the Ruger is tough..I knew that:neener:
What about accuracy?
The load I shoot most is a 125gr bullet over 7.4 grains of American Select (alliant)..would this be considered loading hot? For woods packing or hunting I just uses factory 158gr SP's.

August 22, 2006, 07:19 AM
New Rugers, at least in the last few years, have more QC issues. Additionally, they have nastier triggers. The GP-100 & SRH share the same lockwork and grip. Their triggers will never equal a K or L-frame S&W .357M. I do like the grip on the GP-100/SRH - my .454 SRH was actually quite decent, in retrospect. I wouldn't discount a six shot 686 as equivalent to the GP-100, load wise - they are nearly identical. My preference, for pointability and shootability, is the partial-lug 66, like my 6"-er. Their Achille's heel is the forcing cone erosion from blasting away with 110-125gr hot .357M's - not heavier (158gr) rounds. That was addressed by the increased frame thickness and fc diameter of the L-frame 686.

A great choice exists today in the 66's replacement - the 620. It is a 4" L-frame, with the 686+'s 7-shot cylinder, and a half lugged barrel of their new 2-piece construction. That would be my choice - a new 620 - with a lifetime warranty with an 800 number for pick-up. That'll last a lifetime plus. It'll break-in to a better stock trigger - with some more improvement available from some S&W trigger work. If the recoil is bothersome, their .500 Magnum Hogue grips will fit - and insulate your hand from the backstrap.

Of course, I am biased... my Rugers have been leaving - and more S&W's arrive in their place.


August 22, 2006, 07:32 AM
Hi Carbon. Thanx again for the Ahrends. They are on my 66 no dash, with four inch barrel.

And I also have a four inch GP100. I can shoot either gun with equal accuracy.

True, the Smith has a better trigger pull, but in single action mode, it's a moot point. You're talking about a field gun and target accuracy is not needed. Nor is a 40 oz. trigger.

That's why my "field" gun is the Ruger. It's built like a tank and is plenty accurate for the purpose. Buy with confidence.

August 22, 2006, 07:58 AM
Rugers will take the hottest .357 loads you can dream up and never have any issues, while Smiths (and Colts) will eventually blow up using hot loads.

Wear out quicker, maybe, but BLOW UP? I don't think so.

I'd go Ruger for outdoor heavy load use, but if you're going to carry this thing hiking and such and shoot mostly .38s in it and stoke it with hot stuff for the possibility of getting in a fight with a bear or some such almost impossibility or running across a drug dealer in the ********** hills (more likely), I'd take a lighter gun than a GP100. I mean, I love my blackhawks, but a 66 is 6 or 7 ounces lighter. Now, that don't sound like much, until you're 6 hours into your hike and it's hangin' on your hip. :D That said, I really prefer an even LIGHTER gun than the 66. I'd like to have one of them titanium wonder revolvers, just ain't got the bucks for one right now. A Taurus Tracker would be nice.

However, for light day hikes, short hikes, I've toted a Blackhawk all over the place. I don't do much overnight long hiking anymore. 54 years old and out of shape for that sort of stuff. My hikes are half day at most, or the last time I hiked. Carrying a heavier sidearm like the GP100 isn't that big a deal on a short excursion, just that it gets old after 8 or 9 hours on the trail. Been there, done that. When you're out on a long hike, you gotta carry water, for one. That's the heaviest thing, but it's a necessity. With all the weight you HAVE to carry, the handgun you'd like to downsize, or at least that's the way I look at it. I may never use my frame pack again, though, so a quest for a light weight revolver isn't that big a deal to me anymore.

So, if excess weight doesn't matter to you, go with the stronger GP100 and be assured your great grandson will enjoy it (future politics not-withstanding). If you don't wanna tote around 40 ounces all day, think about the 66 even if it's not as strong a gun.

Just my $.02

August 22, 2006, 08:08 AM
OK..the Ruger is tough..I knew that
What about accuracy?
The load I shoot most is a 125gr bullet over 7.4 grains of American Select (alliant)..would this be considered loading hot? For woods packing or hunting I just uses factory 158gr SP's.

My experience with Ruger revolvers is they're just as accurate as any comparable Smith and Wesson or any other revolver. Sure, the DA trigger is not the quality of a Smith, but don't tell me you're going to shoot the thing DA at a 50 yard target...:rolleyes: I carry Blackhawks afield, myself. I got no use for DA in the great outdoors and if there's anything stronger than a GP100, it's a Blackhawk.

I only stoke my .357s with 125 grain bullets for self defense. I carry either 158 grain SWC gas checked bullets from a Lee mold over 14.5 grains of H2400 (hot, but in the book) or a 180 grain Hornady XTP load that's even hotter I will not give the weight of AA#9 I use. That load I reserve for my Blackhawk, but would likely be okay in a GP100. Nearly 800 ft lbs from a 6.5" barrel. I want at LEAST 158 grains of hot handload if I'm to go against a fanged critter like a bear. I feel better about it even against a cat. If I'm going against something like that, I'm face on with it and I'm going to have to penetrate some flesh if I can't make a head shot. I also find those two loads exceedingly accurate in my Blackhawk, 100 yards accurate on deer size game.

August 22, 2006, 10:19 AM
Before jumping on the Smith trigger bandwagon, actually compare the triggers. An older Model 19/66 will probably have a better trigger pull than the GP100. The new 620 will probably not.

I've got two Model 19s and a GP100. I like my Model 19s because they're pretty and a lot of fun to shoot .38s through at the range. I like my GP100 because it makes shooting hot loads easier on me and it's extremely accurate with a wide variety of loads. I'd dump the Model 19s before the GP100.

Ben Shepherd
August 22, 2006, 11:40 AM
The ruger is MUCH easier to field strip when you fall in the mud/snow/stream/whatever. And you WILL do this eventually.

Jim March
August 22, 2006, 12:38 PM
The Ruger triggers smooth out with use. New (or used!) Rugers DO need to be run through "the checkout" new but I can say the same for S&W. "The checkout" will spot any glitches. The newest pieces actually seem quite good - my year-old Ruger New Vaquero was cosmetically very good and mechanically superb: tight gap, good lockup, good timing, great accuracy. She'll pull 2" groups off the bench at 25yds with a factory load I've found to date, and it's a load that would work real well for personal defense (Speer Gold Dot 135gr JHP 357Mag "lite load").

(Only reason I rate that gun down a bit on looks is that the fake color-case-hardening was a bit cheesy lookin' - all smoky gray all over, pretty much no reds or blues like real case hardening. No big deal to me, looks OK in it's own right but doesn't look "period".)

For some reason Rugers seem to "shoot fast" - in other words the barrels generate good velocity. Some (but not all) of the newest S&Ws seem to share this trait. One place you can see it is in the published velocity data from real guns at Buffalo Bore under the 357Mag loads:

1. 3 inch S&W J frame

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard cast LFN = 1302 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC (jacketed hollow cavity) = 1299 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 1398 fps
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 1476 fps

2. 4 inch S&W L frame Mt. Gun

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard cast LFN = 1375 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr JHC = 1411 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 1485 fps
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 1603 fps

3. 5 inch S&W model 27

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard Cast =1398 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC = 1380 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 1457 fps
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 1543 fps

4. 6 inch Ruger GP 100

a. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 1707 fps

5. 18.5 inch Marlin 1894

a. Item 19A/20-180gr. Hard Cast = 1851 fps
b. Item 19B/20-170gr. JHC = 1860 fps
c. Item 19C/20-158gr. Speer Uni Core = 2153 fps---- Can you believe this?!!!
d. Item 19D/20-125gr. Speer Uni Core = 2298 fps---- Or this?!!!


Note the difference between 5" S&W and 6" Ruger - there shouldn't be a 150fps boost from 1" of barrel. More like 50fps would be normal. Something else is going on - 100fps or so of that would be attributable to barrel quality. The S&W 4" barrel listed is in the same ballpark as the Ruger (100fps loss on 2" of barrel, that makes sense) but the 3" S&W is again not holding up...doing better than the 5" though.

We see this fairly consistently across all ammo tests and different Rugers...some of Stephen Camp's testing shows this pattern. Ruger barrels shoot fast. Others sometimes keep up but Rugers are consistently fastest.

Essex County
August 22, 2006, 01:13 PM
I've owned both and it's a toss-up. We may argue about durability but I'd like to have the ammo to wear either out.....Get the one that fees best in your hand...........Essex

August 22, 2006, 03:03 PM
Smiths shoot nicer, but Rugers last forever.

Ben Shepherd
August 22, 2006, 03:55 PM
Hows this:

A certain relative of mine lost his blued gp100 late in the fall(October) up the canyon. Said certain relative recieved a call the folowing spring(April) from the police.

Seems some cross country skier found it in a melting snow bank and turned it in.

Bluing isn't so good in spots. But after a good clean up it still shoots as good as ever. I know- I shot it before and after.

Bore still looks good, internals are ok.

Jim March
August 22, 2006, 04:28 PM
I'm tellin' ya. Cockroaches. Eons. Won't matter. :)

August 22, 2006, 07:29 PM
Thanks for all the input guys. I think I am going to try to find either a 19 or 66 at the next local gunshow. I have a 6in 66, 19 and 27, and a 4in 67 and pair of model 10's. The reason I dont want to carry one of the 3 .357's I have in the woods is weight and in some cases collectable value. I have a bum right leg from a car accident and every ounce counts. I don't have a need to shoot nuclear handloads either. not many bears here in SC, The only critters I would likely face would be wild boar (my hunting grounds are INFESTED) and various wild cats.
I REALLY like the GP-100 grip, and I was hoping you guys could make me change my mind, but I guess I'm just a vintage Smith-aholic. A P&R 66 or 19 in less than mint condition should be prefect.

P.S. anyone personaly worn out a S&W???:scrutiny:

August 22, 2006, 08:56 PM
"Rugers will take the hottest .357 loads you can dream up and never have any issues, while Smiths (and Colts) will eventually blow up using hot loads."

This is absolute internet bull*****. As long as you are using SAMMI spec ammo a Smith &Wesson will last as long or longer than a Ruger, and so will a Colt.

Rugers are bigger than they have to be because they are cast and not forged. That doesn't make them any stronger than a Colt or a Smith & Wesson just bigger and heavier.

Now I'll clue all you internet readers in to a fact that the custom ammo manufacturers don't tell you, when they say "for Rugers only" its just advertising bull*****. As long as the rounds they are selling are within SAMMI specs for that caliber, they are safe for and gun in good condition chambered in that caliber. This nonsense just makes their rounds sound more powerful. If their rounds are outside of SAMMI specifications you shouldn't be using them in the first place regardless of the manufacturer of gun you are using.

Ruger makes a decent gun for the price but its no better and won't last any longer than a Colt or a Smith & Wesson.

August 22, 2006, 09:23 PM
I've had Ruger's, S&W, and the Colt Anaconda in 44 magnum. Last year I was diagnosed with breast cancer (I am a man) and with the surgeries, chemo and radiation, I had to liquidate most of my guns. But back to the point. I love the S&W's and I loved the Anaconda, but would I shoot the hottest 44 magnum loads through them? No.

The Ruger is clearly made for the 44 magnum. The N frame was never designed for the 44 magnum, if my reading is correct. They are tough guns and they aren't nearly as weak as internet posts suggest. I just wouldn't shoot the hot loads through the Smith's or the Anaconda.

Look at it this way. If I was going off roading I wouldn't go in a corvette. I would go in a truck. The Colt's and Smith's are corvettes. Buck the Ruger's are trucks.

I was lucky enough to run up on one of the new Ruger Alaskans in 44 mag last week used. The guy that bought it returned it because the of it's size and recoil. I love the gun!

One other thing to consider in the Smith vs. Ruger debate is how often are you really going to shoot hot loads? When I go to the range a half a box of 44's start making the hands tired and I switch to 44 specials.

August 22, 2006, 09:30 PM
The only S&W pistol I own is a 686-1. :) It is one heafty pistol, bar none. It is a great shooter as well. :what: I do carry it as an alternate to my GLOCK 21 for personal carry. :D

Jim March
August 22, 2006, 10:24 PM

In 357Magnum you're mostly correct. The toughest Rugers in 357 starting with the GP100 and most esp. the various 357s Ruger has built on 44Mag-class frames (Redhawk, Blackhawk post-1973, Old Vaquero) will not give you anything extra *except* (compared to some guns) protection from very stupid way-past-SAAMI handloading.

I am not aware of any 357 loads shipping as "Ruger ONLY!"

Blackhawks in 357 have been known to survive handloads where the shells have to be pounded out with a hammer and punch, with no damage. A K-Frame S&W would likely have been shrapnel under the same circumstances.

(Note: the 50th Anniversary Blackhawk 357 and the New Vaquero are built on a new mid-frame size that is approximately equal to an L-Frame S&W or Colt SAA 2nd/3rd gen in strength.)

When you're talking about the 45LC however, "Ruger ONLY!" loads are NO JOKE. Ruger has built 45LC guns on 44Mag frames and produced guns that can take factory ammo that is way, WAY past SAAMI in that caliber. "45LC+P" can mean factory loads that are literally over double SAAMI. Buffalo Bore has a 325gr hardcast that does 1,300fps in 45LC+P. The usual +P rule of thumb is "10% over SAAMI" for most calibers but in 45LC+P you can throw that right out the window. The Colt Anaconda in 45LC can take these loads, ditto the Thompson Center/Encore single shots, and Rugers built on 44Mag-class frames...or of course any gun chambered in 454Casull.

In my opinion Ruger has recently screwed up. They shipped the New Vaquero mid-frame in 45LC. This gun is NOT compatible with 45LC+P "Ruger ONLY!" loads, it's the only "standard strength" 45LC gun Ruger has made to date. My opinion, they should have made it a 44Spl.


Rugers such as the GP100 and the rest are strong in two ways:

* "Raw blowup resistance" is high even for their size as Ruger metallurgy is a damn fine advanced casting process with very few "weak spots" ever recorded. The GP100 is probably equal in this regard to most N-Frame S&W 357s.

* "Lockwork strength" under fast firing. Back when PPC was popular where people would shoot high volumes of low-powered 38s, the "super strong" N-Frame 357s were not the guns of choice because lots of fast firing would wear out the action. The heavy cylinder moving at high speed in rapid fire would wear out the star, pawl and similar "innards" in a hurry. In this sort of use the K-Frames were actually lasting much longer than the N-frames. Rugers retain the "blowup resistance" without creating a weak spot in lots of rapid fire or rapid dry-firing.

That is a damned respectable accomplishment on Ruger's part. When you combine all that with easy field stripping and generally high reliability (so long as the specimen didn't have a "birth defect" that running a Checkout could have caught) you have to give 'em credit.

While "malformed Rugers" do sometimes ship, and can be spotted, the one defect that is virtually unheard of is a metallurgical defect - a brittle spot or similar. Therefore, the bad ones that do ship (and it happens sometimes) can be identified pre-purchase.

August 23, 2006, 02:38 AM
Ruger makes great guns. My dad bought a 4" GP-100 last year, and its beautiful and functions perfect.

August 23, 2006, 01:02 PM
Rugers are also every bit as accurate as comparable Colts and S&W's. I shot my Security Six at 7, 10, 15, 25 and 50 yards, double action during Action Pistol competition. We outshot guys wth Pythons and 686's. And we got spanked by great shooters with nicely built Smiths and a couple of Colts and a few tuned Rugers. So pick the one you like, as Carbon 15 has already done and have fun!

By the way, I have bench rested targets with this gun's favorite loads that are 3/4", 1" and 1.25". The thing shoots like that all day long. Wish I did :banghead: I shot that gun consisitantly, couple times a week for several years. The origonal barrel was refaced and set back twice and the revolver is now on its second Ruger barrel. If you shoot alot of hot loads, go with powders which don't eat up the barrels and just load slightly lower than top end loads. Any truly magnum revolver will eventually show barrel breech face and forcing cone wear with hot loads.

I own a few Smith revolvers. Sold a couple as well as couple of Rugers to get my battery where I want it. My impression is as others with both makes have indicated. If I shoot alot of heavy loads, its the Ruger. My Smiths are for limited competition and occasional usage at this time.

Panthera Tigris
September 1, 2006, 01:03 PM
Smiths can blow up. I know a man who worked at S&W in Massachusetts. They did blow up one. I don't know which model. They used a Ruger GP100, a Colt Python and one of the S&Ws and put the hottest hand loads they could make through them. The Colt was the first one to blow, followed by the Smith. They never could get the Ruger to fail, and I don't know how many rounds through each before the first two did fail.

Lucky Derby
September 1, 2006, 04:46 PM
In the three years I worked at an indoor range, I only saw one gun blow up. It was a Taurus .357 magnum. The load was a HOT reload.

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