.357 Snub Poll for n00b: Taurus, S&W, or Ruger?


Green Lantern
September 2, 2008, 12:04 PM
As I see them, all based on "heresay" unless I specify otherwise:

Taurus: -Low cost, locking mechanism that will NOT render gun useless if it fails (as far as I know). Lifetime warranty, but "spotty" customer service sometimes. DA trigger in my Model 94 (around 2000) left MUCH to be desired...

Smith - Logic wants to say better quality for higher price. But they have their own @#$! internal lock that WILL render the gun useless should it fail. Have a very lightweight offering in the M&P 340 - but probably not best for a revolver novice like me.

And from what I hear, BOTH of them are not recommended for EXTENSIVE shooting with full-power loads. That's a negative in my view. Not that I'd engage in a daily 100-round practice session with Magnums (it would be good for my skills, but I can't AFFORD to)...but who needs a gun where they might think "well, I'd go practice a bit, but don't want to cause wear on the gun that I'll be carrying for defense..."

Which brings me to Ruger. From what I hear, this is a gun that you can shoot to your heart's content with whatever kind of ammo, and not worry about wearing it out. Sounds like a definite PLUS to me. Let me go ahead and get it out of the way, I despised Bill Ruger for his elitist stance on firearms ownership (civvies don't need "hi-caps," ad nauseum)...

But the old man is gone now, and while the company hasn't "disavowed" his past statements in words, they seem to be doing so in action...maybe...

At any point...if I was heading out TODAY to buy one, I'd likely get the Ruger.

Anyhow, that's how *I* see it, but this place is filled with folks more edu-macated than I am in the school of revolver, so I eagerly await sage advice! :)

ETA: Might ought to add, budget is a factor. It'll probably be at least a YEAR before I can actually buy the gun - NO MORE PLASTIC PURCHASES for me, I'm paying that thing off and reserving it for EMERGENCIES.

Also - which configuration do you think is best? It'll be a CCW gun naturally, so I was thinking a "hammerless" model like the Taurus CIA for less chance of snag - and one less place to collect LINT in my pocket! No such option on the Ruger, not sure if I should get the spur-less model or not if that's what I get...

If you enjoyed reading about ".357 Snub Poll for n00b: Taurus, S&W, or Ruger?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
September 2, 2008, 12:15 PM
Based on what you've written, my only piece of advice is to make your final decision after you've held (and hopefully shot) each one. All the data and pros&cons in the world won't matter much if, in the end, the gun doesn't feel good in your hand and/or you don't shoot it well.

September 2, 2008, 12:21 PM
For a n00b, no matter how much you hate Bill Ruger, you want an SP101. The Taurus titanium and the Smith Scanadium's will only make you feel as if Rosie O'Donnel strapped your hand to the floor and engaged in a pogo-stick session for the Guinness Book of World Records.

Barring that, get a Model 60 - a STEEL model 60, preferably the 3 inch kit gun version.

September 2, 2008, 12:22 PM
I'd go with the Ruger.

They are really easy to "smith" and clean up so that you have a nice action on them. Also, they last forever and handle the recoil of the .357 Magnum very well.

I used to have a J-Frame .357 Magnum, but it hurt to shoot it and since I couldn't see putting 38 Specials in it, I bought it because it was chambered for the .357 Magnum, I sold it. My only J-Frame is an Airweight 38 Special.

The SP101 comes with either a traditional Hammer or a "spurless" DAO, your choice. :) I really like my SP101 and it makes a good companion gun to my 3" GP100 that I already carry off duty. The Rugers are heavy enough that belt carry would be better than in the pocket, IMHO.

Ruger has changed a bit over the years, and I have no "beef" with them. If you want to criticize a company for policies why not criticize S & W for putting the ILS on their Revolvers? I myself won't buy a new S & W for anything except hunting, as I don't trust the ILS lock they have. Yes, I've had one fail on me.


September 2, 2008, 12:43 PM
For a self described newbie, I'd also recommend a Ruger because of the weight. .357 in any small gun is a handful and may be so unpleasant you will not shoot it much. Have you considered a .38 Spl snub?

lee n. field
September 2, 2008, 12:53 PM
Which .357 snub would you reccomend for a budget-minded newbie to the revolver?


(Any will do. I picked up a Taurus 605 .357 snub a couple months back. Works fine, 500+ shots through it.

Impressions: .357 is not pleasant to shoot through it, with the biggest rubber grip I found for it. It's not intended to be a fun gun to shoot, it's intended to fill a particular niche -- to be there when a bigger gun might not be.

It's not an easy gun to shoot well. Practice, practice, practice.

I was afraid DA was going to be hard and nasty, so I got a standard hammered gun. DA trigger turned out nice enough that if I had it to do over, I might go hammerless.

And yes, I know I'm taking a chance on Taurus customer service. Been there, done that, still bought this one.)

September 2, 2008, 12:55 PM
You have not given us enough information:

If you want for concealed carry, you might want the lightest possible revolver. These are a handful with .38 +P and really not fun with .357. While both are very good for personal protection, none are the type of handgun you'd want to spend an hour (heck even 15 minutes if you're shooting .357) with on the range. (see the post right above this one) (I've shot Revolvers in IDPA competitions - I carry a .38+P hammerless it's all you need my wife can handle it if she needs to borrow it.)

Still small but a little heavier are the Ruger SP-101 and the steel frame smiths. (I don't have anything against Taurus, just don't know anything about them.) The extra weight makes a big difference on the range (less recoil) and everyone (including my teen age daughters) enjoyed shooting the SP-101 with the hogue grips. (I use to carry the SP-101 - it's hard to believe the extra few ounces makes that big a difference - it does. You'll see similar postings if you search here and on other forums.) If you don't plan to carry the gun for personal protection (or will not carry it often), the steel frame smiths or the SP-101 may be the way to go if your heart is set on a snub nose.

Let me mention there are also 3 inch barreled SP-101s and j-frames. I've never heard anyone that had one say they didn't like them.

If you will not carry a revolver for personal protection and want a great shooting range gun, go a 4" or longer. K-frames are great (if you don't shoot a lot of .357s). Otherwise go with a L-frame or a Ruger GP-100. These are great for carrying in the woods (a heavy .357mag will work for whitetail deer) and you move up to 6 shots. (Check state laws - many have minimum barrel lengths for hunting.)

You can often find deals on used 4" revolvers.

Green Lantern
September 2, 2008, 02:47 PM
Well, I do intend it for CCW...was HOPING for a pocket gun, just something I can easily "gear up" with as either a backup for my main gun (Glock 19), or just something to carry on it's own.

Now, I own a Kel-Tec P3AT as a gun that I can carry regardless of clothing, it's so small and light. But I figure if I'm gonna carry a small gun that also has a small capacity - having one that has a much more solid reputation of RELIABILITY would be of some comfort. The bigger round don't hurt either. ;) I know that NO .38/.357 revolver will ever match the diminutive P3AT in terms of "concealability" - the P3AT will always have the edge in weight, flatness, and overall size. But since the former comes up at least as often, if not MORE often, than the latter, I figure it must be pretty manageable.

As for just getting a .38 - well, I figure if I find out there's just no way I can handle magnum loads in such a gun, I can just use .38s. ;)

September 2, 2008, 04:27 PM
I voted Ruger, but I would suggest trying to find a 2.75" Ruger "six". I have tried lots of J frame .357's and could never shoot them rapidly worth a damn! With the added weight of my snub security six, rapid followups are very manageable even with full bore 125gr doubletap gold dots.

September 2, 2008, 05:12 PM
I bought a LNIB SP101 for $250. If you can find one for that buy it! Its a bit heavy but built like a tank. If you decide to sell it you can recoup your money and then some!

September 2, 2008, 05:55 PM
oops, I forgot it said .357.

For a budget-minded snub in .38spl, I think the taurus 85 variations are surprisingly nice. I even shot an aluminum framed one last week and was really impressed. Those taurus snubbie grips are fantastic. The D/A was nice, and I made 5 shots in 3" at 7yds (standing, D/A) no problem.

For a .357, Ruger all the way. Also if the budget is big enough I'd go Ruger regardless.


September 2, 2008, 06:04 PM
I own a *few* S&W's, but my carry gun is a SP101. I prefer it for two reasons. The first is that it's strong enough for a steady diet of magnum loads, and the second is that it's not uncomfortable to shoot. Mine, after some work, has a better trigger than any J frame I've ever felt.

September 2, 2008, 06:05 PM
Smith or Ruger, skip the Taurus.


Marvin KNox
September 2, 2008, 06:24 PM
I like the 340 M&P.

Great Tritium sights. Easy to clean cylinder. CT 405 grips to cut recoil.

An extra 1&1/3 oz. makes it kick less than the regular 340. Still very light and very snag proof for pocket carry. I carry on the belt or in a belly-band. Don't even think about it being there half the time.

.357's are stout. I've shot the Double Tap 125's at over 1400 fps from the 1&7/8" barrel. I like them for fun. But I settled on the DPX 125's at around 1100 fps. for carry because they are quicker on the 2nd shot.

I practice with cheap Mastercast reloads which match the velocity of the DPX's awfully close. I only have to buy a small amount of expensive carry ammo so that's not a factor with the expensive DPX. The reloads are around than 1/5 or less when compared to the price of the DPX. I also shoot light .38's for practice. It works out to around 2/3 .38's and 1/3 .357's for practice.

A little more info than you asked for, I know.

I'm very sure that the Ruger would be a good choice if you don't want to ever carry in the pocket or in a belly band. But I'm real pleased with the 340 M&P for all around use. With a wise choice of ammo- you really can get used to the lighter weight of the Smith & Wesson.

September 2, 2008, 06:56 PM
If weight and pocket carry isn't an issue, go with the Ruger. I can shoot .357mag all day long in my wife's SP101. No worries about wear on me or the gun.

If weight or pocket carry is an issue, go with the S&W. I love my M&P340, it is in my front pants pocket pretty much at all times. Not really comfortable with .357mag, tolerable with .38. I have no worries on wearing out given the SS cylinder and barrel. Even if it does, S&W lifetime warranty means it will be made right if something should happen.

I voted S&W because I give light weight and the Centennial design the advantage over absorbing recoil. Ruger would be my #2 pick. In most cases, the price difference between S&W or Ruger and a Taurus aren't going to be that much. If I found a Taurus in good shape for $100 less than comparable S&W, I mught consider it, but my experience is the difference is usually less than $50.

New no-lock 642's can be had for $375, no lock 442's are on the way and will be about the same prices.

September 2, 2008, 08:02 PM
Do recommend Taurus and Rossi revolvers.

On the other hand have to admit to owning a Ruger SP101,tried the GP100 series and have shot many of them, and recommend them,too. The Ruger SP101 was fine revolver. I sold it off to get another Ruger product.

S&W make very good revolvers.

Hard to beat any of the above as a selection. All have very good track records. So I could recommend any of the above brands and do at this forum.

Granted,most of my experience has been with Taurus for the most part.

Have the ability to shoot others' S&W revolvers freqently enough to appreciate them.

I've just had excellent performance from my 20+ year Taurus model 65,66,85CH. Also have the same excellent perfrmance from newly aquired model 66 in ss, 82 in ss, and the Rossi 462 in ss.

Haven't had a need to go to the Rugers or S&Ws. There always on the current to possible purchase in the future though.

Here's the scoop on the Taurus/Rossi line.

I figure that providing the facts and then trusting the person who made the query to pick what's right for them is the way to go. That's regardless of any other factors.

September 2, 2008, 08:22 PM
Get a USED S&W revolver without a lock. You will appreciate it more because you can see how well the gun is made.

Any 38 Special J-Frame revolver will perform just fine. You can even load them hot (within the parameters of 38 Special NON-plus pee). Check out what you can do with hardcast semi-wad cutter bullets...there's quite a bit!

You also may find that a S&W K-Frame in 357 Magnum with 3" barrel is very versatile. The Ruger GP100s are a bit large for my tastes, but you should handle one in the store.

September 2, 2008, 08:51 PM
A hard cast bullet is about the last choice I would make for self defense. You'll have plenty of penetration, and(with the right bullet design) a full caliber hole, but a pretty ineffective stopper with anything other than a CNS hit.

The 3" K frame magnums are overpriced and won't stand up to constant use with full on magnum loads(like all K frames). 125 grain and lighter bullets damage the gun.

September 2, 2008, 10:35 PM
My order of preference:


The Ruger SP101 is a tank, and it will take all you run through it and more. It is heavy, and soaks up recoil better than a Smith. Of course, that weight is the downside when it comes to concealed carry. But on balance, I still prefer the Ruger.

September 2, 2008, 11:23 PM
Go with the Ruger SP101 2.25" or 3" in .357 Mag. I own both the Ruger SP101 .357 Mag 2.25" and a S&W Mod. 60 3". Both are excellent revolvers, but the Ruger is the heavy weight of the two. :)

Neither have locks!


September 2, 2008, 11:34 PM
Ruger SP101 with 3" barrel. If you want a true lightweight snubby, get a S&W J-frame in .38. Lightweight .357 snubbies are a nightmare.

September 2, 2008, 11:40 PM
Ruger SP101 - despite the fact that I'm a S&W guy. I just feel like the SP101, with its heavier frame, is better suited for .357 mag. Unless we're talking about K, L, or N-frame snubs...

September 3, 2008, 12:05 AM
I own all three brands. Hands down, Ruger.

September 3, 2008, 12:48 AM
As of right now, I'd pick a Taurus or Rossi. Or maybe a Charter Arms if I was in the market for a snub-nose.

If you want to criticize a company for policies why not criticize S & W for putting the ILS on their Revolvers? I myself won't buy a new S & W for anything except hunting, as I don't trust the ILS lock they have. Yes, I've had one fail on me.

Did you post up your ILIF report here yet?

ILIF Reports (http://smith-wessonforum.com/eve/forums/a/tpc/f/500103904/m/228102718/p/1)

September 3, 2008, 02:10 AM
I went through the same dilemma a few years ago and ended up going with a 2" SP101 with a bobbed hammer. It's heavy enough to be pleasant to shoot even with magnums, and it makes a good all-in-one gun, but now I wish I'd bought a GP100 to shoot with and a j-frame to carry.

I tried to pocket carry my SP for a while, and while the bulk didn't bother me too much, the weight did. It's really a belt gun.

Edit: My recommendation with any Ruger is to be patient with the break in period. The trigger pull on mine smoothed out dramatically within 500 rounds or so, much of that when practicing with snap caps. I think Wolff also makes a good spring kit that can be used to tweak the trigger pull.

Ala Dan
September 3, 2008, 04:05 AM
I still find it awfully hard too beat a good, used but not abused
Smith model 19/66 for my .357 magnum snub requirements~! Not to
many moons ago, I picked up a S&W model 66-4 that had been taken
care of for only $225, without box or docs. Most likely, it was a desk
drawer home 'D weapon; that saw little or no use~? :cool: ;)

September 3, 2008, 04:12 PM
I carry the 357 2 1/4" DAO SP101 in a Mika pocket holster with Trausch grips in my jeans front pocket all day every day.
Lint and weight? ...Not a problem.

September 3, 2008, 05:04 PM
I would stay far away from Taurus. Read enough posts on Taurus customer service, and you will see what I mean. A gunsmith I knew wanted to like Taurus, but got so tired of trying to fix them, he refused to work on any more of them. Something about a combination of spring weight and firing pin protrusion was causing ignition problems. I will concede that many are happy with their Taurus revolvers.

S&W? The J-frames beat my hand too severely, specifically the base joint of my thumb. If I use oversized grips to cushion the blow, I might as well be carrying a K-frame, anyway. My limit in a J-frame is +P in an Airweight, and I sold off my Airlite, in which +P was too brutal.

I have been carrying and using SP101 snubbies for over ten years now. I don't understand why some think the SP101 is too heavy for regular carry. I virtually always have an SP101 snubby with me, if not two of them. I almost never carry J-frames anymore, as it is so rare for me to need something that small and light, and I prefer the extra velocity of the .357 mag.

September 3, 2008, 07:04 PM
The wife and I both have the SP101 in .357RM.

I do recommend the weapon, but I also recommend getting better grips. The .357RM is pretty nasty to shoot with a 2.25" barrel.

Green Lantern
September 3, 2008, 09:58 PM
To the poster that said I should be as upset with Smith over their ILS design as Ruger for Bill's elitism - good point. To design a lock in a gun to render the gun useless if it fails...

If it's a range or hunting gun, that's bad customer service.

If it's a defensive gun that one is going to trust their life too...that's a disaster waiting to happen!

Hmm...as for pocket carry. I bought a pair of 5.11 TDU pants to use as "beaters" a while back due to their rep for durability. It wouldn't be the most discreet thing to do, but if I had to I could manage to pocket-carry my Glock 19 in them! :wow:

Hm, maybe I should try pocket-carrying my Bersa Thunder .380 some more - I think the weight is somewhere in the neighborhood of 23 ounces. Might be a good way to tell if I can 'tolerate' a heavier pocket gun or if I should start looking for another method of carry - or another gun besides the Ruger...

BTW, thanks for the replies. :cool:

September 3, 2008, 10:33 PM
Ruger SP101. It's only 3oz heavier than the comparable Smith but has a 2 1/4" barrel instead of 1 7/8", has a Kframe sized forcing cone, field strips as easy as a semi-auto (try disassembling a J-frame S&W sometime), and has just enough weight to make the recoil with .357 easily manageable. The factory grips are great for taming recoil and small enough for concealed carry. The smooth side inserts really make a difference in preventing clothing from catching on it when carring OWB. I tried the Hogues but they were too sticky and just a bit to long for CC.

I carry mine in a Galco FLETCH OWB holster or a Desantis Nemesis pocket holster. I have a Mika on order that should be here any day. It's a little heavy in the pocket but not unmanageable. I don't recommend the Nemesis holster for it all though. The Nemesis was made for the S&W's which have 1 7/" barrel. The 2 1/4" barrel of the SP101 sits flush with the open end of the holster. I recommend the Fletch holster highly.

If you get an SP101 head over to www.rugerforum.net and when you reach 5 posts you'll get access to Iowegan's IBOK on tuning Ruger DA revolvers. It's written with pictures for the GP100 but all instructions work for the SP101 and Security/Speed/Service Six. In about 2 hours with some 4200 grit sandpaper you can make the thing smoooooth. If you have a Dremel with a polishing wheel and jewler's rouge you can make it even smoother. When I pull the trigger on mine in DA all you can feel in the pull is when the cylinder latch release and then reengages. Wolff makes a spring kit for it that runs about $15. The factory hammer spring is 14lbs and the return spring is 10lbs. The 12lb hammer spring with the factory return spring gives a really nice pull but I got the action smooth enough that I was able to go to the 10lb hammer spring and 8lb return spring with primer strikes the same as the original 14lb spring. Don't worry about the polishing. There is no danger of removing too much material or messing up some critical angle. It's just making rough metal shine like a mirror. If Iowegan sold the book for $25 it would be a bargain.

September 4, 2008, 12:09 PM
I have not read through all of the replies so I may be repeating something.;)

My vote is for the Ruger without question. It has a little more weight to it but that is derived from its more durable construction. Based on your post I have concluded that the durability is a plus for you. I have a Smith and a Ruger. After buying the Ruger the Smith made its way to my wife's nightstand. Based on the SP101 and the GP100, I will be a Ruger fan for life. Of course the Smith is good, I would not have given it to my wife if it were crap. But she does not want to shoot the "crazy" loads. The Ruger SP101 takes everything I through at it. No more Smiths for me.

If I could vote for a gun that you should not buy, I would vote for the Taurus. I have never had much confidence in them. I have heard very good things about the Taurus Tracker, but I am unable to shake the fact that it is a Taurus.


September 6, 2008, 02:43 AM
New no-lock 642's can be had for $375, no lock 442's are on the way and will be about the same prices.

Are they selling no lock 642s yet? And do you know of a dealer online that currently has this price?

September 6, 2008, 06:37 AM
Have 2 ruger's and wouldn't sell either, sold 2 S&W's


September 6, 2008, 11:03 AM
The local Gander Mountain HAD a used SP101 .357 for $229 plus tax.!!!! I already had one but for the money I was going to buy another, but it was gone when I went back.

September 6, 2008, 11:50 AM
My thoughts, for what they are worth:
1-S&W is lighter and easier to carry, but brutal with .357's. IL can disable
2-Taurus-See above, but IMHO, quality can be spotty.
3-The Ruger is heavier and will need a holster to carry, but is much more controllable in .357 than either of the above. Like all Ruger's, built to last, but in exchange, will be heavier and bulkier. No IL at this time.
I have shot both the S&W and Ruger in .357 and in this small (5 shot) revolver, I will take an increase in wieght for more control.

September 23, 2008, 04:02 PM
Had 2 S&W revolvers, now have 2 ruger revolvers.

September 23, 2008, 05:02 PM
No question.

I'd get the sp101.

Ruger's comments were just one man's opinion. One man that owned a company made superior DA and SA revolvers and, at best, *average* autoloaders. He couldn't really compete with the other autoloaders on the market, so I can sort of see why he said it. Heck, a lot of revolver and 1911 fans would agree that high capacity is not necessary. What do you want the man to say?

I'm a revolver shooter; I personally don't think that civilians really need high capacity, but I like having the freedom to choose high capacity.

September 23, 2008, 06:26 PM
I'd go with the SP-101.
As you stated, it can handle full power .357 from you for way longer than you can handle full power .357 from it.
And with regular .38 ammo it's a real sweetheart to shoot for practice.

If you get one, try the Speer 135 grain short barrel ammo too. Based on recommendations here I tried a box and now I'm hooked.

September 24, 2008, 09:07 PM
I don't have any experience with the S&Ws or Rugers. I pocket carry a bob-hammered DAO Taurus 605 in my offside front pocket, with a speed loader in my other front pocket.

I've got .38+P Treasury loads in the cylinder, and .357s in the speedloader.

.357s in this pistol are BRUTAL. I'm a large man, and it beats the crap out of me. I enjoy the recoil, but forget about a follow-up shot, unless you're going to attempt some indirect fire. Let me know how that works for you.

The trigger is not great, but is manageable. I figure this is a belly gun, so I'm not going to be trying shots over 30' anyway. More like 5-10', or closer.

My next pocket revolver will be something lighter, maybe a J frame. I'm thinking about picking up a kel-tec mouse gun and carrying it on a clip in my waistband.

September 24, 2008, 09:44 PM
Since I recently got a Taurus 605, that I am extremely pleased with, that's how I voted. I have owned several DA handguns from all 3 makers over 35 years with no problems, at all.
I didn't get the 605 w/3" barrel because of the price, it was just exactly what I wanted. Been wanting one ever since I missed them back in the early 90s.

September 24, 2008, 11:06 PM
I voted Ruger, because there was no option for "snubbies are not for noobs." ;)

September 24, 2008, 11:10 PM
Ruger SP101. It's my first revolver and is strong as a tank, and recoil is minimal with the weight of the revolver.

September 24, 2008, 11:34 PM
Re: Smith's

but who needs a gun where they might think "well, I'd go practice a bit, but don't want to cause wear on the gun that I'll be carrying for defense

<rolling eyes>

Snapping Twig
September 25, 2008, 07:33 PM
A pre lock L frame S&W will shoot anything you got forever - no qualification.

Cheaper than new IL too. :)

September 25, 2008, 09:00 PM
i own all three brands
put a wolff spring kit in it and fall in love all over again.

If you enjoyed reading about ".357 Snub Poll for n00b: Taurus, S&W, or Ruger?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!