Which revolver?


September 7, 2007, 05:11 PM
Needing some help deciding on a revolver to buy, as it'll be my first wheel gun. I don't know whether I should get one in 45 ACP, or 357 Mag. I already have a couple of 1911's, so the 45 would be nice in the respect that I don't have to start reloading a new caliber. I don't know, however, how 357 matches up against 45acp ballistics wise.Which would you all recommend? This gun will be used for home defense, backpacking, and the occassional concealed carry.

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September 7, 2007, 05:32 PM
Either 'll be a good choice. You already keep .45acp in stock, so you are good to go on ammo. The .45acp is a good round, perhaps not the best hunting cartridge in the world, but more than adequate for home defense. The .357 allows you to shoot .38s, so you not only have a choice of .357 ammo, you have the lower power range of the .38 special (and slightly lower cost). It's reputation as a stopper is pretty well documented.

I say flip a coin - you're a winner either way.


September 7, 2007, 05:33 PM
I for one, and I am sure this will get argued heavily, feel automatic cartridges should stay in automatics....I have never seen the reason to put the slow 45 acp in a wheel gun. .357, while making a smaller diameter hole, will shoot much faster, plus it was made for a wheel gun. I could be wrong but I thought you had to use those special clips (moon clips i think) on the back of the cartridges for shooting auto calibers in wheel guns......making it cumbersome and annoying IMHO.

My vote, stick to .357, .44 mag, 45 LC for the wheel. Stick to your 1911 for the .45.

September 7, 2007, 06:06 PM
I also think the .357 would fit your requirements very well, and give you the versatility of practicing with cheaper .38s most of the time. The .357 six shooter also has a smaller cylinder than the .45 six shooter, so it conceals better in the carry mode you mentioned.

I like an all stainless gun for its corrosion and rust resistance, as well as its weight for handling recoil. I would recommend the S&W model 66 snubby, which is out of production but widely available in used format in the $400 range. I have one that I often carry in an OWB holster, and it conceals quite easily. The gun weighs 32 ounces empty, so it handles .357 recoil easily.



September 7, 2007, 07:01 PM
I'd go with the 357. Even though I love my Glock 19 & 21, I just bought a S&W 19 2 1/2" and love it. With a set of Hogue Bantams and 135 gr. Gold Dot short barrel 357's, I find myself carrying it more and more.

Now I need to get something a little larger to go with the Browning 92 357 I just bought.:D

September 7, 2007, 07:27 PM
I think the .357 will be much more versatile in a good medium frame wheelgun than the .45. The power can go from .38 target loads that make the 1911 seem like a monster to 200 grain hunting loads that make the 1911s seem like a pussycat. You can buy or load .38 Specials for less than half the cost of the .45 and .357s for about the same amount. And the variety of .357 Magnum chambered wheelguns by Smith or Ruger is astounding, while .45s are very limited. Oh and add to that the fact that the .357 wont require moon clips unlike the .45 and the choice becomes even clearer.

the .357 is the revolvers what the .45acp is to 1911s.


September 7, 2007, 07:29 PM
It looks like new. How long have you had her?


September 7, 2007, 07:37 PM
I'm partial to the S&W 327 TRR8. It's a Performance Center gun with all the goodies.

If you want something a bit more basic, look at the S&W 620, 621, 686, 686+, and the Ruger GP100.

September 7, 2007, 09:00 PM
I'm a Colt guy and I prefer my cylinders turning around to the right. I don't seem to care for stainless guns since blue, not white, is the color I'm comfortable with.
I'm a big-bore sort, too, and pretty much always was ready to produce the old incantation "I got a .45 because they don't make a .46."
So, I'd say, go out and buy a four-inch Smith 686.
Here's why- the 625 is pretty much the whole ball game for practical .45 revolvers. I guess I don't see moonclips as a disadvantage, except that it's really easy to overheat a gun when you're using them, if you have a benchful of loaded moonies and just keep throwing them into those big holes.
But I'm not as fond of 625s as I should be. They have some issues, if not notoriety, for being light-strikers and therefore fussy about ammo. I had a 625 for a few years until I sold it this past summer. I actually failed to fire a few times with WWB ammo while using OEM springs. With my otherwise-useful reloads, it was sometimes a very quiet gun.
I'm buying a Model 25 to replace it.
What's more, the 625 kicks hard enough to be more tiring that it ought to be. I'll touch off a couple of hundred .357s in a Python at one stretch, but I never felt like it with the 625. Maybe if I'd used the Hogues, but I didn't, so there it was.
The N-frame is a bit large for some things, and some hands, too. The trigger is a long reach and pull. It may not suit you.
But you won't say that about the 686. The action is simple, almost crude, and easy to slick. It balances well and you won't bend it up shooting tons of hard stuff. Feeding it is indeed cheaper than .45 if you reload (but I think .45 WWB at Wal-Mart is cheaper than similar .38 or .357).
The wide range of possiblities with .38/.357 ammunition is unmatched: wadcutters to 200gr silhouette smashers and a thousand other loads in between.
About the only way you'd tend towards the .45 is for action pistol competition- the 625 pretty much rules that roost nowadays. I love my Colts and Webleys, but the 625 is without question the fastest-reloading wheelgun in existence.
Go for a four-inch tube, unless you're going hunting. Sixes are better, except for carrying and IDPA (with its four-inch maximum). The shorties are fun but the sight radius loss is significant. Again, I'm inordinately fond of my Detective Specials, but in IDPA, if the shots get longish, I pine for my Government Model. Maybe it's not real life, but under pressure, it's pretty hard to hit well and fast with a snub. I keep trying, but it's a disadvantage.
Meanwhile, you might as well ask about picking a significant other, or a car.
But like competing with a snubbie, it can be entertaining.

Oh, yeah, I've never owned a 686 and have only shot one a couple of times.
I just don't want guys buying up King Cobras and .357 Models.

September 7, 2007, 09:39 PM
Every man really needs to own a .357. Someday you'll realize this.

September 7, 2007, 09:51 PM
Excatly what I was thinking gbran.

September 7, 2007, 11:41 PM
You say you'll take it backpacking...its that for protection from animals? .357 would be a lot better against bears/cougars/etc. I've recently been deciding between .45 and .357 myself...I decided to compromise and go with .44 magnum. :evil:

September 7, 2007, 11:57 PM
I have both .45 ACP and .357 in revolver platforms, see my sig below.

.357 Magnum vs .45 ACP, traditionally the former in a wheelgun and the
latter in a 1911 debate started around 70 years ago and it hasn't and won't stop until the cows come in.

But prejudices aside, you stated to simplify things you might want to consider going with .45 ACP in a wheelgun because you already have the ammo and reloading capability . and learn about shooting the wheelgun. It's
easier to compare the recoil felt when you know it is the same cartridge and load just a different platform.

Yes, the .45 ACP revolvers need half-moon which contain 3 cartridges each or a full moon clip which contain 6 cartridges. It is so much faster for
reloading a wheelgun now we find the rimmed .357 magnum in competition to
have cut cylinders and they had to convert from speedloaders and now have
suppliers with full moon clips. 8 shot for the 627 PC and 7 cap. for the 686 Plus and they also still work with without the moon clips. The .45 ACP revolvers also WILL work without the moon clips if you use .45 Auto RIm. The .45 AR was introduced in 1920 for WWI surplus wheelguns so the
big revolvers from S & W could be used without the full moon clips. THe source for .45 AR brass is Starline. All you need to reload the .45 AR is
ACP dies which you already have and use a .45 Colt shell holder.

CUrrent offerings for the .45 wheelguns by S & W include

625 w/5 inch barrel at 45 oz.
25 w/3 inch barrel at 40 oz
22 w/4 inch barrel at 37 oz it has a tapered bbl.
325 w/5 inch Bbl. in scandium at 26 oz.

The .357 S & W 8 shot PC is almost as heavy as the 625
the 686P 7 shooter is 38 oz.

Ballistically - the .357 relies on high velocity to match the heavier
bullets deliovered by the .45 ACP. and the heavier the bullets are
in .357 the less velocity advantage they have. ALso the .357 burns slower
burning powder which you also aren't currently working with, and they
always quote or almost always use the volocities out of
a 6 inch BBl. on paper. when the bbl. len. is cut down you lose volocity
because the slower burning powder of some loades is not yet
burned and that's why the muzzle flash

Oh also if you want to carry a few shot shells the bigger bore of the
.45 will have more shot to deliover. period.

Let's see what other criteria ?

CCW kinda rules out the N frame unless you're a large Human

Home defense - you already have 1911s ???

CCW - how about a 686P 3 inch Bbl. or the above mentioned
325 4 inch Bbl. They both would pack well. and defend home and hearth
or if you're out on the open hwy, whatever.

If you go with a .45 ACP wheelgun of whatever flavor, it's pretty easy to retrieve the spent brass from the full moon clips to reload for another day
and if you like the wheelgun platform then go for a .357 magnum

I like both.... each has their own application besides crossing over
to answer sometimes the same problem.

My carry load in the .45 is a 200 gr. hardcast Leadhead bullet
in Starline brass in both ACP and AR loaded to 1,025 FPS. It'll become
the practice load as soon as the Hornady 200 gr. XTP bullets show
up to be loaded to 1,000 FPS again in both ACP and AR.

Carry load for the 686 P is a 140 gr. Hornady XTP @ 1,300 FPS - 4" bbl.
but I also have 168 gr. and 180 gr. XTPs for backcountry stuff.

You won't go very far off the x-ring with either.

September 8, 2007, 02:39 AM
Oh, forgot to mention

If you go with a 6 shot wheelgun in .45 and try the Auto RIm
the only Speedloader avail. AFAIK is the 25M

If you go with a S & W 686P 7 shooter then it's the
H & K 587

FWIW - the .45 Auto RIm is the first cartridge with a rim
designed for smokeless powder - 1920 all the rest were
converted from blackpowder or johnnie come latelys

so nuh yah....putting Magnum on the end of a cartridge doesn't
make it magic....


September 8, 2007, 07:52 AM
Pogo2, Nice Smith
It looks like new. How long have you had her?


Thank you. I bought the gun used about 2 years ago from a retired police detective who had used it as his duty gun. It is a model 66-3, and was manufactured about 15 years ago. The previous owner had polished the gun, so it is fairly shiny. It is quite tight and works very well. The Hogue Bantam grips are new - I bought them on Ebay.

I also have some fancy wood Badger grips for it, but for carry I prefer the smaller Bantams.


September 8, 2007, 08:02 AM
Actually... the 1898 .38 S&W 'Special' and the 1907 .44 S&W 'Special' were designed for smokeless - but could still be made with bp, thus their 'Special' nature. Their longer cases than their predecessors, the .38 S&W and the .44 Russian, prevented the possibly higher pressure rounds being inserted in the older caliber (bp) designed firearms.

Historically, the 1911's .45 ACP round has been used in revolvers since 1917 - nearly two decades before the .357 Magnum was developed.

I would look at the .45 ACP in a revolver as a great way to get a big bore that is frugal, both in cost and recoil. Sure, my 2.5+yr old 625JM is finicky about brass - use range droppings and you'll likely get ftf's. Buy 500 or 1,000 Starline .45 ACP brass (1,000 are $130 delivered from Starline) and use them with your revolver. I used Fed primers - and have reduced Wolff spings in mine - and no ftf's. I have a bunch of loaded range sweepings to shoot when I want to play primer roulette. Buy plenty of moonclips - toss them if they get bent. Keep the under-the-ejector-star area clean.

I load .45 AR's, too - you'll need a thick rimmed acceptable shellholder designed for the .45 AR's - not a .45 Colt. Speaking of .45 Colts, keep those bullets handy... the 625 couldn't care less about relative power level (within reason), bullet type/style,or OAL. I load 255gr LSWC to above SAAMI spc's for .45 Colt - in both short cases. Remember, the revolver has no action to work - or feedramp to match... it'll digest anything. Also, expect a bit more bump in the hand, as their is no mechanism to absorb your recoil energy. BTW, I've never had a ftf with a .45 AR round. Neat looking little rounds, too - and the HKS #25 fits those AR's. If you can, use a separate crimper with a sizing die as your last step - like the Lee FCD - for either ACP or AR. If a 4" barrel is legal to hunt with, Bambi & Thumper can be harvested easily - at closer ranges.

Now, if you want a .38/.357M, look at the 4" 66's replacement - the 620. It has the same partially lugged barrel as the 66 - with the 686+'s L-frame and 7-shot cylinder - and better balance, to me, than the full lug 686+ (Not all 686+'s are full lugged - I have a 5" partially lugged keeper from a few years back!). While the 625JM now is nearing $700 new locally, the 620 is about $100 less - and, at 38 oz, about 5 oz less in weight. The HKS #587 fits the 620 (& 686+) cylinder.

You can't go wrong either way. Buying new gets you the 800# to a pre-paid mailer for ANY service, too - and a free range bag, if you check out 'Shooting USA'.



September 8, 2007, 09:59 AM
The .38 Spcl. was based on the .38 Long Colt. Mr. Wesson wanted more power to sell it so the case was lengthened in order to up the
black powder charge from 18.5 gr. in the .38 LC to 21.0 gr.
of Black Powder in the .38 SPcl. In about a year S & W
changed to smokeless powder.

September 8, 2007, 12:00 PM
I'm a big fan of the .357mag. Get the 686. I have the 4" and love it.

September 8, 2007, 12:11 PM
I see a trend here. I agree you should get the .357 Magnum over a revolver chambered in .45 ACP. I have nothing against a .45 Revolver but if you are going to buy a .45, make it a .45 Colt.

September 8, 2007, 12:34 PM
I stand, er, sit corrected, sir! I had the year wrong, too - 1902. Still, it was initially made longer so it wouldn't fit the 1877 introduced .38 S&W revolvers, which it would have (The .38 S&W cartridge is a few thousandths larger OD than the .38 S&W Special - which is the same diameter as the .38 Long Colt - so either would fit, if they weren't too long. Potentially disastrously, of course.).

The first .38 or .357M I touched was just four years ago - at the ripe old age of 55! I bought new closeouts from our friends in Waco - a 2" 10 and a 6" 66 - the latter with the IL. I fitted the 66 with an Ahrends square-conversion fg cocobolo stock, lighter springs, and a HiViz front sight - and it is still a heck of a plinker. If S&W tested it with real Magnums, that's the last time it saw hot loads - it gets my wimpy magnums and .38's now. A year or so later, I added a new 5" h-l 686+ - which came similarly equipped - and also is a keeper - launching mild loads. I later added a 5" JM PC627 V-Comp - still no maggies! These revolvers love my wimpie .357's - and .38's.

I also have my first love - .45 Colt (My first S&W, a 625MG, was chambered in that caliber.) and .45 ACP. I have to admit, a 4" .357M may just make more sense as a 'first' revolver. Plinking with .38's is just fun - heck, reloading them on my Dillon 550 is fun, although I initially bought it solely to load my all-time favorite round - the .45 Colt. Back then, I still bought .45 ACP ammo for my bottom feeders and my second S&W - a 4" 625 bought five years ago. The Colt ammo was far more expensive and hard to find - and I had six revolvers and a lever gun so chambered to keep fed. Even though 1,000 lead bullets, primers, and powder today will run you ~$135-140, less s/h, it's still a savings.

You know, I may have just talked myself into a new 620... where is that plastic... it's not really money...


September 8, 2007, 12:59 PM
My daily CCW is a 4" N-Frame 45 acp.

If I was going to do any backpacking, no thank you, I'll ride the horse or mule first, I would want the .357 Magnum for the ammo versatility. Both calibers are great for handloaders. You already have the 45 acp set up for reloading so to me this is a "no brainer". For home defense and bipedal aggressors I prefer the 45 ACP in a wheelie because my follow up shots are faster than with the .357 Magnum.

For animals I prefer the .357, for humans the 45 acp. The .357 is a great "manstopper" but I have found my split times to be faster with the 45 acp. Also, the 45 wheelie is the fastest reload going with moon clips.

I have both calibers and which one I carry depends on the situation.


September 8, 2007, 04:19 PM
Weighs 22oz. Carries IWB or OWB. Fires with or without moonclips, or 45AR. Shoots any bullet that'll fit in the tube.

September 9, 2007, 12:42 AM
I have a S&W 22-4 Thunder Ranch .45 and I love it. The recoil is managed very will in a heavy N frame. I use it as my house gun. I don't need the blast, noise, and penetration of a .357 in a confined space. Beside, .45 ACP will get the job done and and full moon clips make for an incredibly fast reload. My observation is that a .38/357 revolver generally will be more accurate than a .45 ACP revolver (due to the length of the cylinder vs. the length of the cartridge?). To be fair, most of the .45 ACP revolvers I've seen or shot are old 1917 Colts and Smiths or older M22 Smiths. My 22 is very accurate, and I've not seen a lot of the newer Smiths at the range I frequent.


September 9, 2007, 05:25 AM
The TRR 22-4 is my EDC Off-Duty. :)

I've got mine "Dialed In" and find it to be very very accurate. It's a big gun, but it carries well with a good belt and holster.


September 9, 2007, 05:43 AM
I have a 5" 625-2 (Model of 1988) that's incredibly accurate. Most S&W 45acp revolvers are tackdrivers.

Ala Dan
September 9, 2007, 08:09 AM
How about a Taurus "Judge", as it allows you to shoot both the .45 Long Colt,
or the 2.5" .410 gague shotgun shells? I have thought a'bout picking me up
one with the short barrel; just to use as a "car gun", placed on the tough
magnet and concealed beneathed the dash of my automobile-well hidden
from view and just in case you ever needed a firearm very quickly. We have
one on display within the store, and it looks like a good idea~? :scrutiny::uhoh::)

September 9, 2007, 11:46 AM
Wow, a lot of good information here. Thanks for all the tips. The home defense portion of my post, since it was noted that I have 1911's, is namely for my fiance'. I would have no problem using a 1911 in the middle of the night, but she's still rather new to shooting, and both she and I think she'd fumble around at trying to get one of my semi's shooting. So I decided to get a revolver to leave home for her to use if i'm away and she needs access to something that she just has to pull the trigger to use. Just so happened that I was wanting one for backpacking and such anyway. Looks like both have a number of pros and cons, so either one would probably suit my purposes well. I'll have to go by the local gun shop/range and fire some rounds out of each and see what I prefer. Heck, I may just buy one of each. :evil:

Snapping Twig
September 9, 2007, 01:50 PM
Like others have said, everyone needs a .357, so since you already have a .45acp, go for the basics and get the .357.

Your girl can shoot your new home loaded specials or factory specials to get used to it and I believe a hot loaded special would do excellent HD work with minimal recoil for her if things ever go bump in the night.

I'd suggest loading .357 cases exclusively to avoid the carbon ring issue in the cylinder which can make extraction difficult, plus you won't have to reset your dies between mag and special.

You can load a .357 case with 5g W231/HP38 and top it off with a 148g wadcutter or a 158g SWC, this is the hot loaded special I was referring to, low recoil, low flash if any and hard hitting.

I personally prefer a 1911 for HD work, but training is the key there. Big heavy bullets are my preference.

Novus Collectus
September 9, 2007, 01:57 PM
I for one, and I am sure this will get argued heavily, feel automatic cartridges should stay in automatics....I have never seen the reason to put the slow 45 acp in a wheel gun. .357, while making a smaller diameter hole, will shoot much faster, plus it was made for a wheel gun. I could be wrong but I thought you had to use those special clips (moon clips i think) on the back of the cartridges for shooting auto calibers in wheel guns......making it cumbersome and annoying IMHO.

My vote, stick to .357, .44 mag, 45 LC for the wheel. Stick to your 1911 for the .45. Those moonclips you find cumbersome, I love because they are so practical, fast and convenient. Reloading with clips you don't have to worry about speedloaders and they are also much cheaper so you can have a dozen loaded for a day at the range and just have at it almost non-stop.

I vote for getting the .45 ACP revolver. I have one and i love it.

September 9, 2007, 05:32 PM

Since you load your own, and since you are obviously someone who puts a lot of rounds downrange win .45ACP, I'd recommend a revolver for active shooters like you . . . namely the S&W 625.

The only problem I've found with my 625 was that it was so "boring" to shoot for hours at a time. It shoots that "big, dumb, slow" bullet we love so much, and has the pleasant, firm push of the .45ACP vs. the sharp, sting of the .357.

Boring indeed too . . . it shoots offhand one hole groups all day long at 10-15 yards. Coke cans at 50 yards offhand? Usually six for six. At 75 yards . . . 4 or 5 out of six. BORING.;)


Moonclip reloads are so fast with practice, vs. speedloaders, that some of the shooting sport competitions (I won't name the one) finally banned the moonclip revolvers from competing with the guys with their .38s and .357s.

Yep, too many crybabies got tired of getting totally waxed in action revolver matches by guys with their moonclips. It is rare in shooting sports for rules to be made that retard the advancement of better shooting firearms but this was the case. Gunfights ain't fair either . . . so I want the smoothest, fastest system. In a revolver, that's the moonclip!

How fast can moonclip revolvers shoot in the stress of handgun competitions? In the hands of smooth "moonies" a 625 can beat out single stack 1911 shooters sometimes! Jerry Miculek won the Steel Challenge Nationals one year . . . after the final two shooters were him and another top shooter using a tricked out 1911.

Here's TWELVE rounds, in less than THREE SECONDS out of a 625, from the best . . .



Heck, just for fun, at the end of an IPSC match once, they held a special all-steel match for "any open-sighted" handgun at an area match I competed in. Eighteen steel targets . . . the match started with an UNLOADED gun and there was ONE manditory reload.

Most of the 30 or so shooters went to their high cap. Paras, STIs, etc. in .45ACP. A few went to 9mm Glocks with the 33 round Model 18 clips.


Just to have fun with the bottom feeders, and not expecting to win, I put away my tricked out 1911 and signed up with my chopped barrel Model 25-2 in .45ACP . . . just to get a reaction and have some good-natured fun.

"How do you think you will win with THAT?, one shooter asked. Well, I DO have to reload TWICE, if I don't miss at all . . . and I plan to shoot fast and not miss!

I probably also added something to the effect of "Gee, I'd HATE to get waxed by a wheelgun." You know how much good-natured fun and kidding can go on at a match.

Bottom line, I waxed 'em all, shooting a fast double action and enjoying the fast reload time with moon clips. Heck, I can reload with moon clips just as fast as I can reload my 1911s . . . and I shoot my wheelguns real fast better too in pin matches and such. I don't know why that's so. I guess it just FITS me better.

Here's my wonderful "wax applicator," alongside my Kimber lightweight. I use both for CCW, though the Kimber is MUCH easier to conceal and I only wear the 25-2 when the season or wardrobe is right:

THE WIFE . . .

My wife MUCH prefers shooting the .45 revolver vs. my .357 and .38 revolvers . . . although my Model 65 in .357 is also a favorite of hers (as long as I stick to .38spl. handloaded wadcutters that don't kick hard.

BTW . . . since you are a reloader . . . load plenty of practice rounds with 200gn. LSWC lead bullets over about 5.3 gns. of Unique or its equivalent. Your wife will love the VERY gentle .45 push with that load and she'll be more apt to enjoy shooting vs. those danged hot factory loads that I see non-reloaders bring to the range. You know what I'm talking about!;)


There are tons of 'em that were once cop guns and they can be had fairly cheap. They make great house guns, car guns, extra guns . . . or primary guns too, of course.

One thing the K-frame Smith .357s have goin' over the 625 is weight and smaller frame size, which makes 'em easier to conceal. Then again, that's not one of your primary needs for the wheelgun which tips the scales in recommending you a 625.

Recoil? I see zero problems with the 625, even in the 3" gun size. Heck, I prefer a full-house, hot .45ACP load in my 25-2 vs. the same in my Model 27 in .357.


Yes, you can load .45 Auto Rim cartridges for your 625 and get speedloaders to carry 'em in if you wish. I have a few hundred rounds of .45AR. However, I can get a BUNCH of moonclips for the cost of just one speedloader in .45AR.

YOU CAN SAFELY LOAD .45ACP ROUNDS IN A 625 WITHOUT USING MOONCLIPS TOO! I do it all the time at the range. You just easily pluck 'em out with your fingernails, one at a time. No problem.

My 25-2 is my favorite handgun of any type . . . even over my 5" barreled 625. If I were buying a new one I'd probably go 3" in a 625. I love 3" barrels!


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