Want Suggestions for a 3" .38 Revolver for Home/Range Only


December 18, 2006, 06:19 PM
I'm looking around at getting a 3" revolver for home/range use. I already have a 642, and want something just a little bit larger for the range and home defense. I don't see myself shooting .357 mag out of it, so I can keep it simple and stick with a .38 special only gun (if possible).

What are my options here? I see S&W has the Model 64-3, and I know there are tons more of older S&W's that would fit the criteria. I don't mind used, but want to stay with something that's not too old. I guess this is staying in the K-frame family?

What other companies should I look at? The Ruger SP101 is intriguing, but that thing seems to be almost overbuilt for what I want to shoot with. Taurus? Colt?

Thanks in advance for any ideas.

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December 18, 2006, 06:33 PM
Does it have to be 3"? I ask because that's kind of an unusual length for .38 Special revolvers. It's a GOOD length, but not an easy one to find. If you can add an inch since you're not getting it for CCW, the options open up a hundred fold. There are many excellent used duty sidearms from the Official Police to the Model 10 that came in 4" barrel lengths standard. My all time favorite .38 Special was a 4" Colt Police Positive Special. It was perfectly balanced and had target-grade accuracy.

December 18, 2006, 06:34 PM
If you are using it for home defense, and range use, the extra weight will be very much appreciated. If you are not carrying it, all the extra weight can do is help you get faster recovery time in an HD scenario.
You can buy used, and not have to worry about whether or not the gun was abused.
The Ruger also costs less.
The only downside to the SP101 over the Smiths you are talking about is that you lose one shot. But big deal. Honestly, if I get 5 chances to hit the guy, and miss, I doubt that a 6th is going to make the difference. And besides, the extra heft of the gun makes you more likely to recover faster and stay on target to make those 5 shots count.
I have nothing against Smiths (the 19-3 is my nightstand gun.), I'm just saying, do not by any means diso**** the Ruger. I love my 3" SP101.

But that's free advice, and you get what you pay for.

December 18, 2006, 06:57 PM
S&W Model 36 or S&W Model 60..Both are five shot J-frames.

December 18, 2006, 09:03 PM
If you don't want to spend a lot, Rossi makes a nice 38spl with a 4in barrel and adjustable sights for less than $259 and it's blued.;) Personally, I'd look for an old model 10 or 19. They are indestructable and have beautiful triggers as well. Very good shooters and capable for home defense.

December 18, 2006, 09:09 PM
I'd vote for the SP101, and I'd buy the .357 version. .38s are fine through it, and you retain the ability to shoot .357s if you get the urge. Love my 2.25" version, and now I'm on the prowl for a good second-hand 3-inch specimen.

December 18, 2006, 09:34 PM
Actually, 3" J frames are pretty common. K frame 3" guns are hard to find used. I stumbled on a 3" Taurus M66 .357 couple of weeks ago at a gun show for $180 (after I bargained). It's super accurate with .38s, good gun. 4" medium frame guns are a lot more common. I also have a little Rossi M68 that's a nice, tight gun with a 3" barrel and quite accurate.

More common on K frames is the 2.5" length on M19s and 66 Smiths. I wouldn't worry about the SP101 being "over built". Yeah, it's strong as an ox, but it's lighter and smaller than a K frame Smith while, IMHO, it's a stronger gun. I very much like the little SP101 even though I don't own one. For something a little less beefy, but still well built, how about a stainless M60 Smith and Wesson? They make 'em in 3".

December 18, 2006, 09:41 PM
I have a 3" J-frame in .357 that gets shot magnum loads through it, and would recommend it, but for a good gun "on the cheap" I HIGHLY recommend the taurus model 65. Approximately K-frame sized, six shot, .357/.38. These are $300 NIB here in VA Beach.

December 18, 2006, 09:52 PM
If you come across a S&W 696 buy it, I really like mine. A S&W 24 Lew Horton or 624 3" will also be a winner, but the 696 is a L-frame which has a k-frame grip size. My Wife does'nt mind shooting the 696, but the 4" .357 is no fun for her.
Taurus made mod. 431-441 .44 spl Revo's these would also be worth a look.
I'm sorry if I took your search off course but I think if you went this route you would be quite pleased.

December 18, 2006, 10:01 PM
My wife has a Model 64-7, 3" that she really likes.


December 18, 2006, 10:21 PM
Get a 4" M14 or a M15, you won't know how good revolvers can get until you do. The extra inch of barrel won't hurt anything you want to do, and it opens the possibilities up dramatically.

December 18, 2006, 10:33 PM
Thanks for all the suggestions.......I think right now #1 on my list would be a 64-3.

I could go to the 4" barrel without any issue, but to me the 3" one looks nicer. Yes, sad but true, but the aesthetics are going to play a part here. Of course, that said, in a few months I'll report back and talk about the great .44 mag 6" barrel revolver I just got!

December 18, 2006, 11:23 PM
i love my sp101. it's a 3" in .357. went to the range over the weekend and put a few hundred rounds through it. half were .38 and the other half .357. the .357 puts out a lot more flash, but is very manageable. it stays on the nightstand at night, and on my hip during the day.

the 64-3 looks like a nice gun. my ruger has been very easy to disassemble and polish. some new springs make the ruger a very nice pistol.

December 18, 2006, 11:47 PM
Easy. Ruger GP100 3" 357 revolver and shoot 38spls through it. Painless shooting. A little weight is good.

You make the choice difficult with your conditions. Just get a GP100.

December 19, 2006, 12:00 AM
For any kind of range gun, I would never dip below 4".

December 19, 2006, 10:27 AM
I vote for the Ruger SP101 in .357 and shoot 38's if you want.

December 20, 2006, 09:11 PM
For home/range I'd also recommend a 4" barrel. Easier to find and cheaper than a 3" and 1" only makes a big difference below the belt. (Hey, calm down, I meant as it pertains to concealed carry!)

You can get a great deal on a slightly used 4" model 65 or 13 and have the versatility of the magnum. 19/66 can be found pretty easily, too but command slightly higher prices. Don't forget the more modern 586/686. For house and range the added heft of the L-frame vs. the K-frame is often welcome, especially when shooting magnums. A 4" .357 is an extremely versatile tool.

December 20, 2006, 09:34 PM
I came across the 686 model, and I'm thinking that might be the way to go here. While I don't think I would shoot much .357 out of it, every now and then it would be nice to have that option.

I just need to go to the local shop to see how they feel in my hand. It's a thick looking piece, and want to make sure it seems to balance properly when I hold it.

If so, I will definitely be on the lookout for a nice pre-lock version. Figure I don't mind going used, and if I'm doing that, the pre-lock would be a better choice.

December 20, 2006, 09:37 PM
I picked up a 4" Model 67 to go with the 3" Model 64.


December 20, 2006, 10:16 PM
I really like my Ruger GP100 3 inch fixed sights in this regard. It is .357 but can just as easily shoot .38.


December 21, 2006, 03:21 AM
They are simply the best quality DA revolvers being built today-bar none. You can go back some years for classic S&Ws, but then you need to know what you're looking at when buying a used revolver :what:

People complain about the trigger compared to the S&W, but for the cost differential, you can buy a new GP100 or SP101-pay a smith to smooth out the action, and still come in less thatn for a new S&W.

They are all cast or rolled steel parts-NO MIM on Rugers!:barf:

Even sticking with .38s, you can go to +P for more oomph and still have less recoil than with .357 rounds. Not all older S&Ws can handle +P ammo.

I wish everything would be so overbuilt in our world of programmed obsolescence

December 21, 2006, 05:32 PM
Why are you going for compact? Why not get something that shoots better? The best you can get in the .38Special(IMO) is the K-frame. A model 10 w/ 4" bbl makes for a very sweet shooter at a great price.

December 21, 2006, 05:43 PM
An older K-frame smith would fit the bill. Like a Model 10 or 15.

December 21, 2006, 06:51 PM
SW model 10...Ruger security six or Ruger GP 100. all are available in 3 and 4 inches.

'nuff said.

December 22, 2006, 08:42 AM
I have owned a S&W 60-15 and now own a Ruger SP-101. The S&W may look a little better but the Ruger is a better choice for me.

December 22, 2006, 08:57 AM
The Ruger Security Six was only 2.75 inch. Longer barrels were available, but not 3". (Like it matters)
The fixed-sight GP-100 is a really great revolver, and less than $400 usually.

December 22, 2006, 09:38 AM
Check this out it seems to be the perfect home defense/range gun for a VERY reasonable price!


$230, S&W Model 64 38SPL revolver. Stainless Steel with a 4 barrel. In very good condition.

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