I've been asked to recommend a low-cost ($200-$300) .38 or .357 revolver. I realize that this won't get you a new Smith & Wesson or Ruger, and that most Taurus models will be above or at the very top of this range. I also know that you can sometimes find used big name revolvers in this range, but I'm interested in how NEW revolvers in this price range (especially below $250) compare.
If you HAD to choose between a current production Armscor (Philippino), Rossi (Brazilian), EAA Windicator (German?), or Charter Arms (U.S.A.) revolver, which would you choose and why? Do any of these stand out as being particularly good deals, or poor choices? Are there others I'm forgetting?
I realize that, as gun enthusiasts, many will be tempted to say "save a little longer" or "buy used" to get a big name brand, but I'm wondering if $250 or so can buy a new revolver that will be reliable and reasonably accurate - cosmetics and "pride of ownership" don't carry much weight in this particular equation.
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October 11, 2006, 06:16 AM
Limited to *NEW* as in brand new factory production in a gun store? Taurus would be my choice. I've heard some of the Charter Arms aren't horrible, but I wouldn't trust them.
Can I ask why this restriction on new production pieces? There's a vast market of excellent service revolvers, most all in .38 and .357. I'd take a S&W P&R'd K frame magnum over any new production revolver from any company.
October 11, 2006, 09:31 AM
I've got a model 19 that is a joy to shoot. I'm looking at a GP-100 used for $325 at the LGS.
October 11, 2006, 09:47 AM
Honestly, there are no new revolvers in the $250-300 range that I would recommend. I would question their reliability as a defensive weapon.
Trying to compare these revolvers to the higher priced ones is unfair. They do serve their role, and I would rather carry a Charter Arms revolver than a Lorcin, but that is about the only good thing I can say. I do not know if H&R still makes revolvers, but if they did, I might consider them.
Ruling out used S&W revolvers in that price range rules out the best gun buying option available. The used S&W revolvers from 1984 and before just get better through use. They are actually better than new S&W revolvers. Better triggers, more durable, better fitted. It is as though you will consider a new Geo, a PT Cruiser, and a Ford Pinto, but are ruling out a used Bentley in the same price range.
October 11, 2006, 10:38 AM
I saw a "new" Security Six on GunBroker. Does that count? :evil:
October 11, 2006, 10:43 AM
Aren't the Rossi revolvers made by Taurus?
Anyway, back home, there was only one decent gun store within a hundred miles. Decent used revolvers were rare.
You can't always find one. A lot of them have dried up over the last few years.
You can go through Gunbroker, but then you're buying sight unseen.
lee n. field
October 11, 2006, 10:48 AM
Rossi is owned by Taurus. There are some visible differences bettween Taurus and Rossi branded revolvers. I suspect the manufacturing is seperate.
October 11, 2006, 11:09 AM
ROSSI OR TAURUS!!!!
My Taurus M85 is a fantastic gun and it was about $285 some years back. It's got a better trigger than most J frames I've fired, Smith, whatever. It's MILES better than the SP101 trigger out of the box. It shoots straight.
I've owned 7 Rossis, still have the two best ones. Rossis are good little guns, accurate, reliable. The fit and finish might not be up to a Smith and the DA trigger is usually a little gritty and stiff, but hey, for the money they work! Don't be a gun snob, go TRY one! I've got an older M68 that's a little gem in the rough. It's a 3" barrel and puts 'em into 2" off bags at 25 yards. My Taurus M85UL is one of my carry guns. The DA trigger on that thing is wonderful.
In my experience Taurus is very high quality for good prices. I have a M66 that is a fantastic 4".357. I got it for $197 used at a gun show. It can't have retailed for much more'n $350, but don't know. That gun is every bit as quality as the M19 Smith and Wesson I once owned. It shoots better, I know that! That's why I've kept it, its accuracy, and that's why I sold the Smith.
October 11, 2006, 01:11 PM
I have a newer Rossi 357 (mod 971) and it's been perfectly reliable without any problems for over 1K rounds. Like McG said, great accuracy, good SA trigger, DA trigger a bit stiff.
I also have a S&W model 10 (38 spec), also a reliable, accurate gun. Both SA and DA trigger pulls are very nice.
They cost about the same, the Rossi can shoot either 357 mag or 38 spec, which I consider a plus. I would say the S&W is the better made gun but limited to just 38 spec rounds. FWIW the Rossi has a lifetime warranty on the gun, though I've never had to use it and can't comment on Braztech's service. I like them both and suggest either would be a good way to go.
October 11, 2006, 01:24 PM
Jeez, I had a 971 I traded in a deal I HAD to do (how I got my .45 Colt stainless Blackhawk), nice little gun. It was pretty accurate, nothing great, but best loads with .357 and .38 would go inside 2.5" at 25 yards. It was light and easy to carry afield. I killed a Javelina with it, nice boar, and quite a few camp meat rabbits with it. I was hunting a west Texas lease a lot at the time. That is one I had some trouble with, snapping the firing pin off it twice. It was an interarms gun back then, sent it back, got it back, took it to the range and the new firing pin snapped. A local gunsmith fitted one on it and I never had a problem with it after that.
I also have an old model 10. Don't shoot it much, but it was my Grandpa's gun. The trigger is sweet, but not any better than my two Taurus revolvers and not near as good as my M85UL trigger.
October 11, 2006, 01:58 PM
Thanks for the comments (and please continue). Regarding the suggestions (inevitable, I guess) that we look at used guns, I know that's a good option that most avid shooters would prefer, but I'm asked occassionally to recommend guns for people who just want an inexpensive gun for home defense and occassional recreational shooting. The brands I mentioned are available new from local dealers, so I thought that if any or all are decent, reliable revolvers, it would be nice to be able to recommend them (with the understanding that they are "low end" guns). In general, the people who ask me this aren't interested in spending a lot of time looking in pawn shops, used gun cases, or on-line trying to find a good deal on a used S&W, and often they wouldn't know how to evaluate it if they found one. It would be nice to be able to point them to an Armscor, Rossi, EAA Windicator, or Charter Arms revolver with some confidence that it will work satisfactorily.
And I do know that Taurus makes good guns, and I often recommend them (even when price isn't a big issue), but some of these others are available for considerably less than a Taurus, so I'd like to know how they stack up.
Anyone have experience with Armscor .38s, EAA "Windicators" (what a stupid name), or the new Charter Arms revolvers?
October 11, 2006, 03:48 PM
I have had both the Rossi and The Charter Arms. My daughter carries a Charter Arms that I used to carry right now. They have been both reliable and servicable guns. I wouldn't hesitate to own either one. The Rossi is an almost exact clone of the old S & W mod. 36 and is a fine little weapon. The Charter Arms is a little bit smaller but is a well made little revolver.
October 11, 2006, 03:56 PM
I don't know what everyone's problem with Charter Arms is, but I really like mine. It's a stainless Undercover that I picked up for under $200. It is very accurate, fit and finish are better than any Rossi I have seen.
October 11, 2006, 04:14 PM
Gotta buy new? Rossi.
Don't have to buy new? Get a S&W or Ruger. You can find a great used S&W or Ruger any day of the week for under $300, with plenty of money left for ammo.
October 11, 2006, 04:18 PM
In general, the people who ask me this aren't interested in spending a lot of time looking in pawn shops, used gun cases, or on-line trying to find a good deal on a used S&W, and often they wouldn't know how to evaluate it if they found one.
A few points/counter points.
1) In my experience used S&W Model 10s are everywhere. You don't have to look hard for them because no other revolver comes close to the M10 (post 1957)/M&P (same gun, pre-'57) in numbers made. The prodution numbers also keep the prices down even though they're some of the finest revolvers ever made.
2) Evaluation of a used revolver is very easy. Go to the top of this forum and click on the stickied thread entitled "Jim March's Used Revolver Checkout." Print out a copy. I was an autoloader guy, but reading that allowed me to properly evaluate my first revolver purchase back in Feb of this year. The old wheel gun was holster worn, and had a few rust spots, but it was great mechanically. Applying the info in Mr. March's revolver thread anyone can evaluate a used revolver.
As for the other brands you mention, I only have experience with Rossi. A good friend back home has one that he bought new several years ago, before either of us knew how to evaluate used revolvers. With a wife and three children to support while in the early stages of running his own business it remains his only handgun, save a 22 SA revolver who's make I cannot remember. That little stainless Rossi 357 Mag has served him well. The SA trigger is quite nice, the DA is good but not great. It's seen many a deer and hog hunt, a good bit of range time, and has been totally dependable the whole time. If they insist on a new gun at that price I'd go with a Rossi. Otherwise a good used S&W is my hands down favorite.
October 11, 2006, 04:28 PM
Hear him! That's right on the money. The market is still full of excellent ex-service revolvers. I'm not talking about getting some ancient Colt from the 30's that may have timing problems, I'm talking about issued sidearms from the 60's-80's that were turned in and replaced with semis. A good Model 13, 19, 28 or similar S&W, Ruger Security Six, or Mark III generation Colt will not be hard to find. They're at every single gun store, not just obscure pawn shops. If they want something from the 90's it's not hard to find used GP-100's for a low price, or used 6__ range S&W's.
Some folks have this notion that a used revolver is like a used car or something--it isn't. Firearms in general, and wheelguns in particular, are the most durable of durable goods. They can last hundreds of years. 20 years in a holster is NOTHING. It just breaks them in.
October 11, 2006, 05:22 PM
I've never even seen that EEA Windicator thing. I've not fired a Charter, but I know folks loved that Bulldog .44 special. Is Charter Arms still in production? I know they came back in 2000 and restructured or something.
I DO KNOW the Rossi is a good, functional, affordable, accurate revolver. I have no qualms recommending a Rossi in your situation to folks who want a good shooter and don't care if there's some tooling marks on the back of the hammer or something.
I still have two Rossi's I very much like and kept. One is that 3" M68 and I bought it for my step dad to get the M10 away from him that my grandpa wanted me to have when he died. I just inhereted the Rossi a few years ago and fired it some. It's perfectly timed, tight, and quite accurate. It even looks pretty decent! I don't carry it, but could. I have carried it OWB on a belt while knockin' about down at my place, but other than that I haven't carried it IWB, but it's quite an easy gun to carry. The other one I have kept is a M511 Sportsman .22LR revolver. This thing is a little tack driver, amazingly accurate, and good cheap DA practice at my range sessions. I've got a Pachmayr Compac grip on it, great little shooter! That one's not made any longer, but it's sure a keeper.
I kinda wish I still had that M971 .357. It was light, about half way between a K and a J frame in weight/size. It was a 4 inch gun and weighed a little over 30 ounces. Sure was easy to tote, but I couldn't resist the trade I fell into for that Ruger .45 Blackhawk which is a fantastic shooter. The 971 would make a decent IWB carry gun, though.
October 11, 2006, 05:23 PM
The brands I mentioned are available new from local dealers, so I thought that if any or all are decent, reliable revolvers, it would be nice to be able to recommend them (with the understanding that they are "low end" guns). In general, the people who ask me this aren't interested in spending a lot of time looking in pawn shops, used gun cases, or on-line trying to find a good deal on a used S&W, and often they wouldn't know how to evaluate it if they found one.
It's good to be able to recommend a decent revolver but you would be going the extra mile to be able to recommend a good dealer. A good honest dealer would be more than able to recommend a good used revolver in their stock and would also be willing to spend the time showing them the gun's finer points.
The gun shop in my area has fair but not exceptional prices but he is very knowledgable and has an honest and excellent reputation. An honest dealer is a resource that does more than sell you a gun, they can provide an education.
October 11, 2006, 05:49 PM
I have bought my last 2 guns new and will probably buy my next one too. Where I live they want as much or more for a used gun than I can buy a new one for. All the gun shops and pawn shops have their used guns online and won't budge one bit on an offer. They figure they will get their price online so why budge. And I have yet to see a good deal online that everyone is talking about. They want 425.00 for a repro lever 92 at online auctions. At the gun show coming up next month I can buy the same for $375.00. No shipping or FFL charges. All I have to do is wait 4 weeks. If I want a new Marlin lever gun I can get one on sale at Big 5 for $330.00. The cheapest I have seen a decent used one for is $350.00 around here. I walked in a pawn shop yesterday and they had a Taurus 84 priced a $488.00. I just smiled and walked out. Gun show in 29 days.
October 11, 2006, 06:29 PM
To stick with your criteria NEW and your 4 choices I would say Rossi is the way to go - I used to subscribe to gun tests magazine and they had some problems with the new Charter I believe, if I remember right they may have recommended the EAA Windicator - but since my memory is lousy I do know that current New Rossi's have a good reputation - you should be safe with them.
Be careful that someone doesn't buy a 20 year old New Gun - some have sat around on shleves or are sold as new becasue they haven't been shot when they are not really new.
The problem with these cheaper guns is that if you get a good one its good but the percentage of "lemons" they produce is higher than Taurus, Ruger or Smith... for under $300 you can find used Smiths, and Rugers and even Taurus ... I would say the Smith & Rugers have better quality and are safer to buy used but if its a good Taurus then its ok - its just that Taurus has a higher percentage of "lemons" out there and these may get sold off on the used market.
I passed up a deal on a consignment used Ruger Security Six .357 stainless for $265. I picked up a nice Dan Wesson .357 used for $250 and a used S&W model 649 for $275 and I just saw a used S&W 442 for $310.
A used Smith will probably have a better trigger than a new Rossi or Taurus on the average.
If you do buy a new Rossi check the action and trigger on a few different guns of the same model - they will be different. I was with a friend who bought a Ruger Super Red Hawk in .44 magnum - he was buying at the gunstore regular price no sale or discount - he went to 3 stores and tried out about 6 - 10 guns - he found one with a trigger as nice as the Smith model 629 and thats the one he bought.
October 11, 2006, 06:30 PM
Used Ruger Service, Speed, or Security Six.
Not new, but excellent weapons.
On the new front, I have seen Taurus model 85s for $299 at some shops.
October 11, 2006, 06:42 PM
I have a Taurus 85 that I bought NIB at a gunshow for $235 and I love it, it shoots good and like another poster said the trigger is good. I also used to have a 4 inch Rossi .357. It shot good and I never had any problems with it. I believe I have seen the 2 and 4 inch Rossi models at Academy Sports for less than $300. I almost bought the snubbie but I decided I'd rather have the 5 shot snub over the six shot.
I'd still have my first Rossi but it got stolen.
October 11, 2006, 10:06 PM
I had an Armscor Model 200 for a while. Standard revolver. Eventually sold it and bought a Smith. But nothing wrong with the Armscor. Armscors come in .38 special only ; I don't think they make .357s.
October 12, 2006, 12:54 AM
"I don't know what everyone's problem with Charter Arms is, but I really like mine. It's a stainless Undercover that I picked up for under $200. It is very accurate, fit and finish are better than any Rossi I have seen."
I have two Charter 2000 .38's, a stainless Undercover and a stainless Offduty. Both guns were bought nib from a local dealer. My buddy also has a Charter 2000 .38. His has been trouble free. Quality control seems to be hit or miss.
Undercover:The first cylinder full was:BANG!BANG!CLICK!CLICK!CLICK! It was fixed under warranty. It's been through 250 rounds since without anymore problems.
After looking at the fired brass, with certain brands of ammo, both guns still have what looks like some kind of light firing pin hits.
My Charter 2000 Bulldog Pug has been through about (i don't have an accurate count but i think) 250 trouble free rounds.
Rossi is now owned by Taurus, but the Taurus is still a better made gun than the Rossi. Fit and finish on my Rossi 641 (2" blued .357) is good, but the internal parts don't look any where near as strong as the Taurus. D/A trigger pull is fairly heavy. Mine has about 500 rounds (mostly .357's) through it without any issues. I don't know how it'll hold up under heavy useage (mine is a range toy because i collect snubbies) but for a lightly used just in case gun, it's a great buy.
I have three Taurus wheelguns, an 85,605 and a 606. All three have been trouble free.
#1=Taurus. Best buy for the money. I wouldn't hesitate to depend on any of mine.
#2=Rossi. Decent gun for the money. If it was the only thing avaliable i would feel confident it would do the job.
#3=Charter 2000. I would grab one if it was the only thing avaliable. But only after it went through atleast 500 trouble free rounds. I bought mine because i collect snubbies. Mine are range guns only.
October 13, 2006, 02:53 AM
Handled one once. Big. Ugly. Well-built with good lock-up.
And I think they're in your range. :)
October 13, 2006, 12:18 PM
Mine has about 500 rounds (mostly .357's) through it without any issues. I don't know how it'll hold up under heavy useage (mine is a range toy because i collect snubbies) but for a lightly used just in case gun, it's a great buy.
I had between 3 and 4K in my M971, probably 1/3 of that heavy magnum loads, and it was still tight and accurate when I traded it. My M88 had a couple thousand more through it, mostly mild +P handloads even though it was not rated for +P. This was 5.0 grains Unique behind a 158 grain SWC which puts up about 220 ft lbs from that 2" barrel, so it's not really THAT hot. I sold that gun to a friend because I just simply didn't have a need for it anymore since I got my Taurus M85UL, a more desirable carry gun with a much better trigger. But, both of these Rossis were quite durable. I have no qualms about recommending or buying Rossis, just know that the DA trigger ain't gonna be up to the Taurus or a Smith. But, they're durable and danged useful firearms and quite affordable.
October 13, 2006, 12:19 PM
Found one review of the Windicator here: http://www.handloads.com/articles/default.asp?id=22
What's the skinny on these EAA Windicator's? Anyone seen one up close? Handled it? Shot one? Supposed to German made - seems to reason the machining, fit and tolerances should be pretty good.
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