several questions about .357 magnum revolvers


March 2, 2010, 11:57 PM
I am going to be inheriting (i.e. no one in the family wanted these) reloading equipment from my friend's grandfather which will come with a substantial amount of .357 magnum reloading materials. Because of this, I'm putting off my 1911 purchase and I'd like to buy a .357 magnum revolver as my next gun purchase.

What is the gun that _defined_ the .357 magnum? From my research it seems to be the Colt Python but I'm not sure if there is something I missed.

Assuming it is the Python (doesn't really matter which gun it is), what are some cheaper but still good quality alternatives? I'd like something analogous to the relationship between the Colt SAA and the Ruger Vaquero.

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March 3, 2010, 12:03 AM
s&w 686. No doubt.

March 3, 2010, 12:05 AM
maybe not original but go for a gp100 or security six

March 3, 2010, 12:11 AM
While I would certainly prefer a 4" Python, yeah, I would get a 686 to start with, it will cost a LOT less.

The Lone Haranguer
March 3, 2010, 12:32 AM
What is the gun that _defined_ the .357 magnum?
The large-frame Smith & Wessons. A "light heavyweight" frame like the S&W L-frame or Ruger GP100 is a little more "all-around" useful, however. Colt's equivalents are (or were) the ".357," Trooper, Trooper MKIII, King Cobra, and of course the Python. Lighter frames such as the S&W K-frame are marginal for heavy use with full power .357s.

March 3, 2010, 12:48 AM
I get the Smith or Ruger GP 100

March 3, 2010, 12:50 AM
GP100 of course!!!

March 3, 2010, 03:26 AM
woobie war alert !

depends on what you really mean by "the gun that _defined_ the .357 magnum"

The .357 S&W Magnum, or simply .357 Magnum, is a revolver cartridge created by Elmer Keith, Phillip B. Sharpe, Colonel D. B. Wesson of firearms manufacturer Smith & Wesson, and Winchester.

The Smith & Wesson (S&W) Model 27 is the original .357 Magnum revolver and was first produced in 1935
The Model 27 was built on Smith and Wesson's carbon steel, large N-frame
Skeeter Skelton considered the Model 27 with a 5" barrel as the best all around handgun.

if you had asked Bill Jordan, he would probably would have said the S&W .357 Combat Magnum introduced in 1955, (later versions being the S&W model 19/66 K-frames)

if you had asked Colt's advertising department, they doubtless would have said the Python
The Colt Python was first introduced in 1955 as Colt's top-of-the-line model
Colt fans have always claimed the Python was "best ever" but it was mostly "prettiest ever"

the k-frames are known to be a bit light for 357, and will suffer if fed too many light/fast 357 rounds
the Python is known to have a "delicate" lockwork, prone to go out of time if fed too many 357 rounds
today's Ruger GP100s and S&W 686s can eat 357 all day, every day

if you asked me, I would say the S&W model 27 (go argue w/ Skeeter)
if you asked what today's best current production version is, many would say the S&W 686, and Ruger owners will say GP100
but for out-of-production nostalgia and collector value, many would still say the Python
I own none-of-the-above (I do k-frames in 38+P)

yo, Colt fans...
you can still buy a brand new S&W classic model 27 right out of their current catalog, and for only ~$1200
try that with a Python :neener:

Guy de Loimbard
March 3, 2010, 03:34 AM
If you find a Ruger Security Six for a good price they are well worth the money.

March 3, 2010, 03:46 AM
Don't forget Single Action revolvers... If you're a fan of the SA revolver take a look at a Ruger Blackhawk. (or a Vaquero if you like fixed sights over adjustable sights)

BUT, a S&W Model 27 probably answers your original question best...

March 3, 2010, 07:08 AM
What is the gun that _defined_ the .357 magnum?

Smith & Wesson Distinguished Combat Magnum, later to become the M27.

Several other good choices. If you plan on shooting it more than once or twice a year a S&W 586/686, M19/66. Ruger Security Six, or any of the DA six series Rugers are hard as nails. Pythons are excellent safe queens. A lot to choose from in SA revolvers.

March 3, 2010, 08:51 AM
Defined the 357? That would be the original.

Best quality mass-produced 357?

Second best quality 357?

Sleeper in market value?

Service grade 357s that are not in any way deluxe?

S&W M28
S&W M586/686
Colt Trooper Mk III

Monster Zero
March 3, 2010, 08:56 AM
You can't go wrong with a GP100. You can shoot 357 loads in it all day and then use it for a handle for your bumper jack and then still shoot it some more the next day.

March 3, 2010, 09:14 AM
If the M27s and Pythons are too rich for your blood (They are for mine) try a S&W mod 28/Highway Patrolman. They have the frame and lockwork of the 27 but have a plain finish. (Polishing & checkering cost money) You can find used ones for much less than used Pythons, Troopers, M 27s. They were the workhorses for police departments for decades until they were discontinued and the 686 came along.

For my money the 'defining' .357 is the K frame models 19 & 66. The K frames fit, balance, and shoot best for me. Load to .38 spl pressures & shoot them forever.

You really can't go wrong with any of the revolvers suggested so far.

March 3, 2010, 09:50 AM
yo, Colt fans...
you can still buy a brand new S&W classic model 27 right out of their current catalog, and for only ~$1200
try that with a Python

If you're going to put that shell of the original current production 27 classic up against a Registered Magnum or a vintage Colt Python, you should stay away from the Kooliad they're feeding you. :barf:
That (for only) $1200.00 piece of metal with an extra hole in the side should not even be in the same class as the other 2 mentioned guns.
What are they puttin in the water these days ????:confused:
And I thought I was Kwazy.


March 3, 2010, 09:57 AM
Well to start with if u r going to reload get some advise before u start!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!and learn the proper ways to do it as for the revolver do not get a python right away cause if something happens and say u double charge case u dont want to destroy a 1200.00 revolver i do not know ur experience in reloading so be careful my choice wouldbe either a ruger blackhawk or gp100 both strong then later maybe a python as i feel they r the best there is

March 3, 2010, 10:04 AM
What is the gun that _defined_ the .357 magnum? From my research it seems to be the Colt Python but I'm not sure if there is something I missed.

That would be the S&W Model 27. There was no 357 magnum guns before that. The Python came out much later.

In today's world a L frame S&W or GP100 would be a good all around 357. S&W M19s, Ruger Security/Speed Six, or Ruger Blackhawk could be other choices.

March 3, 2010, 10:57 AM
Smith and Wesson Model 28 Highway Patrolman.

Comparable and contemporary with the Python at half the price then and now.

You can shoot magnum loads forever.

Thaddeus Jones
March 3, 2010, 11:02 AM
While the Colt Python, Registered Magnum/model 27's may have "defined" the 357 magnum, the model 19 made it utilitarian and easy to carry. :) TJ

March 3, 2010, 11:33 AM
You'll do just great with all of the big three.. BUT- you will REALLY like your new (to you) Ruger Security Six.......

Or GP100
Or Colt
Or Smith and Wesson..

Ya just can't go wrong........;)

March 3, 2010, 11:51 AM
You cannot go wrong with either a Ruger, S&W or old Colt .357 DA revolver. I have Rugers and Smiths, but no Colts. The bigger frame (N and L) Smiths will be more difficult to "break" by shooting a lot and their actions are just waaaaaya too nice. Rugers are all built like the proverbial tank but sometimes their actions are a little less nice than Smiths. Colts, I cannot say. I don't own a Colt DA revolver and have shot few of them and cannot remember.

All the above recommendations are very good.....I'm just adding my $.02 to the discussion.

March 3, 2010, 12:43 PM
"The Model 28 (is) comparable... with the Python..."

Spewing Diet Coke all over keyboard...

The 28 is a nice, serviceable revolver. But comparable to the Python?


March 3, 2010, 01:24 PM
spewing diet pepsi all over keyboard!
saxon pig are you crazy!!!!!!


i have a 686+ and its pretty sweet... but big

March 3, 2010, 01:34 PM
Or GP100
Or Colt
Or Smith and Wesson..

Ya just can't go wrong........ What he said +1.

March 3, 2010, 02:48 PM
Same as the others...S&W 686 is best, Ruger GP-100 (or Security-Six) comes next. Colt Pythons are overpriced and are very nice, but are fussy when timing is concerned.

Ruger Speed-Six is great, as are S&W 19/66/13/65, but they're not made for sustained magnum use.

The .357 mag is my favorite caliber. It will most likely win you over.

March 3, 2010, 03:00 PM
FOr what you are talking about, the 586 or 686 for sure, I've had one of each, loved 'em, the 586 is definitely prettier, but for some reason the mechanism of the 686 was much smoother, and it was the barrel length I preferred, 4".

March 3, 2010, 05:10 PM
"The Model 28 (is) comparable... with the Python..."

Spewing Diet Coke all over keyboard...

The 28 is a nice, serviceable revolver. But comparable to the Python?


Maybe I should have said in size. LOL!!

No doubt the Python was/is the Cadillac in fit and finish and the 28 is a GMC, but I managed to hold my own with that 28 in PPC competitions etc for half the price and I never shot it out of time.*G*

40 years ago I wanted a Python so bad I could taste it, but I couldn't/can't afford one, I've still got that Model 28. Considering the price and the availability of service and repairs today, I think I'll just keep the S&W.

From a practical aspect, if I was picking a .357 to shoot and enjoy today, I'd still pick the Highway Patrolman.

March 3, 2010, 05:49 PM
Smith & Wesson Distinguished Combat Magnum, later to become the M27.
I believe it was the Registered Magnum that evolved into the M27.
The Destinguished Combat Magnum is the 586/686.

Saxon Pig nails it in post number 12 IMO.

There are a number of very good .357 out there, but IMO the one that Defined the class is the first.. Registered Magnum, and the superlative example being the former or Colt Python.

Let's not forget the Ruger "Six" series guns for good utilitarian .357's either.

March 3, 2010, 05:59 PM
Thanks for all the great info guys! As far as reloading goes I will be learning how to and I believe I will be inheriting some manuals to go with the equipment. And given my current job/financial situation I think I'll be going with the Ruger GP100.

March 3, 2010, 06:04 PM
The COLT Python is gorgeous... but it is damn hard to beat the trigger action on a model 27!

Used model 27's are a great value. If I had a Python, I would prolly not want to shoot too much.

I would go out and shoot freinds .357's, or rent a couple from your local shooting range to see what you like...

What will it be used for mainly?


March 3, 2010, 06:09 PM
Saxon Pig pretty much said it all.

If price was no object, Python

Nice amount of cash I buy a 27

Smith 19 or Trooper are also great

Strapped for cash? Buy a 66. 4 bills and you can get a nice used one that will serve you well

most versatile? Dan Wesson Pistol Pack

March 3, 2010, 06:14 PM
+1 Guillermo

The S&W models 19 and 66 are essentially the same gun, and an absolute pleasure to shoot...

March 3, 2010, 06:22 PM
I just purchased an S&W 686. It's a super comfortable to shoot and genuinely accurate revolver. Believe it or else, it's right up there with my SIG X-5 in terms of it's ability to put the projectiles where I'm aiming the barrel. And I just have the 4 inch model. Recoil is very tolerable too.

I almost bought a used Python, but man they are expensive. One of the few guns i'd feel bad about shooting and scuffing up.

A GP100 is a nice chunk of steel too. So is the Security Six. The security six is a beautiful gun in it's own right.

March 3, 2010, 06:23 PM
Hello friends and neighbors // The first one? I agree with SaxonPig in principle... and would love to have the gun shown in his pic very much.

Even with the recall, I'd say this one defines the .357 magnum:
1983 6" S&W .357/.38 Model 586 Distinguished Combat Magnum
I might be a little biased.;)

The Ruger .357 Blackhawk is my choice for Single Action.

March 3, 2010, 06:34 PM
I'm a bit biased towards Colts.

This one get carried and shot regularly. I see no reason for Pythons to be safe queens. :D

March 3, 2010, 06:46 PM
The S&W models 19 and 66 are essentially the same gun, and an absolute pleasure to shoot

While I love Colts, I gave my daughter a Model 19 for her 15th birthday as it may be one of the most versatile guns made.

Black Knight
March 3, 2010, 07:05 PM
I have several 357s. Two Colt Pythons and the others are S&W. While I love my Pythons I would recommend you look at the Ruger GP100, or a good used S&W 586, 686, 28 or 27. I say a used gun in good shape (pre-lock) is what you should look for. While the S&W 686 is the same size as the Python the S&W 27 is the one that started the 357 craze. The majority of my guns have been personally owned security duty weapons and show holster wear but all function just fine. I have spent many long hours carrying, and trusting my life to them; and to me they are just as viable today as a defensive weapon as they have ever been.

March 3, 2010, 09:06 PM
I'm going to hopefully use this gun for all scenarios: target shooting, hunting/backup, defense (although hopefully just carrying for this one).

What is pre-lock?

March 3, 2010, 09:17 PM
What is pre-lock?

Smith & Wesson added a locking device built into the revolver around 2001.

These guns can be identified by a hole with a small arrow above it just above the cylinder release latch.

It is a very hot topic, as there are some reports of the lock engaging itself under recoil making the gun inoperable.

Many people dislike this feature.

March 3, 2010, 09:38 PM
I see. Thanks for the quick answer!

March 3, 2010, 09:58 PM
I think if you do a search for "internal lock" or "S&W lock" , you'll have months worth of reading. There's A LOT of heated debate on the subject

March 3, 2010, 10:58 PM
If you're looking for a bargain, it's hard to pass by a 586/686 or 19/66 police trade in (they're still floating around, recently saw 4" 686 no dashes at 380 each with heavy holster wear and interiors that looked unfired). Any of the models named previously are worth a look though.

March 3, 2010, 11:17 PM
There's A LOT of heated debate on the subject

not really. There are people with the ethics of Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid, Joseph Stalin and those that loath the Mata Hari like capitulation.

March 3, 2010, 11:40 PM
Ok, so back to the OP's original questions...

You made the analogy of SAA is to Vaquero as Python is to...

Colt King Cobra or Trooper MKIV.

I have Python's and love that Colt feel, but they are too nice to shoot a ton. I picked up a nice blued 4" King Cobra a while back and wow was I impressed. It may not have that slick Python DA pull, but it points just like one and shoots tiny groups. You can find them for $500-800 instead of $1000-2000 for the Pythons.

March 4, 2010, 01:00 AM
I picked up a well-used pre-model 27 on Gunbroker, paid a gunsmith to go over it and make everything right; he had to do some hand-fitting of new parts. Whole deal ran about 750. The pistol should go another generation without needing any work. I couldn't be more pleased. Best part is there's no temptation to make it into a safe queen; there's no reason not to take it out and blast away.

March 4, 2010, 10:31 AM

Here is my collection of 357s in the order of preference.

1. S&W model 28-2 4 inch- N frame (large frame) also the model 27.
2. S&W 686-3 4 inch- L frame (large medium frame)
3. Ruger GP100 4 inch Stainless Steel- medium frame and can take heavy loads.
4. Ruger Police Service Six 4 inch-medium frame (handles like the Smith K frame only stronger.
5. S&W model 66-4 4 inch- K frame ( probably the best handling 357 but not the best for shooting 357s on a regular basis.

For me the N frame S&W is the most comfortable revolver to 357s in double action. The N frame Smith will handle just about any sane 357 round. The L frame Smith and the Ruger GP100 are overall about the same. Both are excellent choices and will handle any factory 357 round in large amounts. The K frame Smith and the Ruger Police Service Six are the small medium frame 357s revolvers. They are lighter and easier to carry. I would give the edge to the Ruger Police Service Six in shooting 357s because it is stronger than the K frame Smith.

For me the Colt Python is more of a collectible to keep because they go up in value. They shoot great. My brother in-law has one and its a great shooting revolver. But the price one is between $1000 to $1500 in most areas to find a good one.

I hope this helps,

March 4, 2010, 10:46 AM
Confederate, I disagree with your statement about the Ruger Speed-Six. The Speed-Six is the same revolver as the Security-Six. Internals are the same and frame. I would agree that a 686 or GP100 will take 357s longer but the Ruger Security/Service/Speed Six series are stronger than the S&W K frame magnums. I have all of the revolvers mentioned in this thread except the Colt Python.

Hondo 60
March 4, 2010, 12:19 PM
IMHO the best are as follows:

Smith & Wesson Model 13
Smith & Wesson Model 19
Smith & Wesson Model 65
Smith & Wesson Model 66

but not necessarily in that order. ;-)

March 4, 2010, 12:43 PM
Just in the interest in completing the discussion of quality .357 Magnum revolvers, there are 2 significant foreign made examples of the breed to touch on albeit briefly.

The German Korth is an extremely well engineered and executed revolver with a price so ridiculously high as to make a discussion of its relative worth pointless. It does have a notable cylinder release/cartridge ejector design.

The French Manhurin is a well respected quality weapon that, while not in the neighborhood of the Korth may exhibit artificially high prices due to its rarity and some collector interest in the US.

March 4, 2010, 12:59 PM
If not the Colt Python, then a Smith and Wesson 686 is without question the next best thing in the .357 magnum platform. Search this forum you'll see.

March 4, 2010, 01:12 PM
I need some further help here..

Is the GP series Ruger stronger than the Security Six? I've seen (another forum) where, for magnum loads and experimental loads, almost all of the Ammo manufacturers use Rugers to test them.. Just curious...

When it comes to a Korth, I will buy 15-20 S&W, Colt and Ruger models before I spend $12,000.00 on a revolver... I'm perfectly happy with what I've got and don't need to spend that much money on a "hand made" gun.. What can be worth THAT much more than sending your $600.00 revolver out for a $1500.00 custom full house job? Maybe I just don't get it.. Does the Korth look THAT nice in a tube top?:confused:

March 4, 2010, 01:54 PM

Anyone care to guess the cylinder gap on this Korth cutaway?

March 4, 2010, 01:57 PM
Have you got a larger copy of that? That picture is about as cool as the other side of the pillow!! I want that for my screensaver!!!:D

I do see the precision involved there, and the mechanical side of it is truly superior, but $12000.00?

March 4, 2010, 05:34 PM

I got it from the Korth USA website. You can copy it to your hard drive and then try to enlarge it. It just now occurs to me that posting it here without attribution might have been a copyright violation. An unintentional one I assure you. I suppose since I am not trying to profit in this manner that it's pretty benign?

BTW close examination of the cylinder gap leads one to believe it is almost non-existant.

P.S. As I stated before, ridiculously overpriced. Someone will always attempt the extreme and I suppose there are enough obscenely wealthy people to keep some efforts afloat.

March 4, 2010, 06:07 PM
One feature of the Ruger design that leads to a well deserved reputation for strength is the elimination of the need for a frame "side plate" that Colt and Smith and Wesson revolvers use for accessing the lockwork. The Security and Speed Sixes were the first to have this feature. The relatively massive size of frame components of the GP100 is partly due to the fact that Ruger uses cast steel frames as opposed to the S&W and Colt forged steel frames. While Rugers' casting production methods were somewhat revolutionary and copied around the world, it is generally thought that forged steel is stronger than cast and the beefier dimensions are at least partially to make up for this.

Because the "Six" revolvers and the GP100 both share the side plate free frame, without firsthand knowledge of direct strength comparisons I would assume they would be comparable as to frame strength.

Offseting the cylinder rotation notches from the thin part of the cylinder wall near the outside extreme of the chamber contributes to a stronger cylinder. This offset is also to be found on the seven shot S&W 686+, but not the six shot standard 686. So oddly enough the GP100 cylinder and the 7 shot Smith would tend to be stronger than the 686 standard or Colt cylinders (everything else being equal). I do not know offhand if the Ruger "Sixes" have offset cylinder rotation notches. It would be easy to find out and I would believe that cylinder chamber strength is of more immediate concern than frame strength.

I own a 6" 686+ and shoot relatively high pressure rounds as a matter of course and I don't feel there is any significant lack of strength as compared to the Rugers. My Colt Trooper Mk III made before the advent of the GP100 but in the time of the Ruger "Sixes" was reputedly the strongest .357 available at the time. It weighs like it too. I also have no fear for its strength under constant full house loads.

March 4, 2010, 07:09 PM
RippinSVT thanks for the analogy info. Everyone else has been putting up great information in general but I was still wondering about the question you just answered for me :).

March 4, 2010, 09:37 PM
As others have mentioned, the original .357 was the N-Frame S&W Registered Magnum, which evolved as follows:

Registered Magnum
Non-Registered Magnum (just before WWII)
Post war Transitional model N Frame .357 (can't remember the exact term, but these are the most rare and valuable of all S&W .357s that I know of)
Pre-Model 27
Model 27
Model 627
Model 27 Classic

I probably left a few out, and got one or two points out of order, but I believe that is close.

I'd love to own a 4 or 5 screw Model 27 one day (earlier guns are simply out of my budget). But for now, it is hard to beat it's mechanically identical, more utilitarian brother, the Model 28 Highway Patrolman. Picked up this 4" 28-2 a month ago for $425. Heck, that's not much more than a used Ruger GP100, not that I've got anything against the GP. I've since swapped the butt ugly rubbers for Eagle Classic stocks:

March 4, 2010, 10:07 PM
Check into a used Dan Wesson 15-2 or 715-2. They have the interchangeable barrel system. Barrels are available from Dan Wesson and can be swapped in minutes. One gun, many uses. They are very strong, accurate revolvers. I have four and won't part with any of them!

March 4, 2010, 10:24 PM
MY vote's for the GP

March 4, 2010, 10:55 PM
I own a 6" 686+ and shoot relatively high pressure rounds as a matter of course and I don't feel there is any significant lack of strength as compared to the Rugers.

In terms of balance, quality, finish, etc., the 6" 686+ may be one of the most perfect revolvers ever made. For many years I was firing it SA, but lately I'm just pulling through DA and getting the same accuracy. I would not want to be on the other side of it.

March 5, 2010, 08:02 AM
"What are they puttin in the water these days ????
And I thought I was Kwazy."

a fool, a crazy, and a woobie war... who woulda' ever thunk it ??
what is this... a gun forum ???
(shucks, every woobie war deserves a few "neeners")

I love 66s best of all... but I wear a Colt (insert smiley here)
yo, go figure

March 5, 2010, 02:58 PM
taurus 357 any comparison? I am new to the revolver world and thought the taurus looked nice do they compare in function?

March 6, 2010, 12:48 AM
taurus 357 any comparison?

Yes and no.

Many will tell you how they suck or how they are great.

Both are probably right
I have owned 3
One was a POS and broke repeatedly
The next was titanium and I hated it but no quality issues
The next was a snubby that was a very nice gun

So I am 2 out of 3

While not of the quality of an old smith or colt, they have their fans and they do offer value.

I do not own, nor plan on owning another Taurus. If I were looking at new guns I would consider buying one.

BTW, expect VERY strong opinions about Taurus, both positive and negative

March 6, 2010, 07:12 AM
taurus 357 any comparison? I am new to the revolver world and thought the taurus looked nice do they compare in function?
I almost bought a Tracker rented one first, shot the GP the same day bought the GP glad
i did.

Gunner Mike
March 6, 2010, 10:55 AM
4" 686 if it's going to do duty as a nightstand gun and occasional carry piece. 6" of the same if it's to be a target gun.

Reloading will open a whole bunch of shooting for you. I don't understand the "shoot 38's in it" mentality. If you're gonna own a 357 and reload, why not buy a gun that can handle a steady diet.


March 11, 2010, 01:26 PM
hehe Rossi rules with a little TLC...

March 11, 2010, 05:05 PM
I've got a Ruger Blackhawk, S&W 19-2 (my CCW), and 2 686's a 4" -6 and a 6" -3. I think your best bet as a first 357 would be a 686, or it's blued brother the 586. My -3 has a trigger as smooth as my dad's Python is as tough as my Blackhawk and can easily handle any handload I make.
Reguardless of what your first 357 won't be the last especially if you're reloading. I've only been reloading a short time and I've had a blast trying out different types of 38 & 357 loads.

March 11, 2010, 09:22 PM
They quit making S&W's just get a GP100 and life will be good from there on out.:D
March 12, 2010, 01:04 AM
IMO, for the 357 magnum, the defining revolver is the N frame Smith and Wesson. For perhaps thirty years, you could only get the .357 mag in that large frame Smith. Don't know when Colt Python came out but it doesn't really count as a full time .357 revolver due to its delicate nature, nor does the K frame S&W count, for the same reason.

The Ruger Security Speed-Sixes really were modern designs that improved upon the weaknesses of the S&W or Colt designs, but IMO have no personality and character, just like the GP100. I have both and while I like my SS and GP100, I love my Smith L-frames. I have stopped buying guns so will probably never own an N frame unless I trade for it.

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