Need a tough revolver


July 1, 2010, 04:07 PM
Hopefully I am not too much of a noobchuck with this question, I did try and search past posts.

I am planning on getting a revolver for open carry while I backpack or camp. The thing is, I am very hard on things I own and tend to gravitate toward more hostile environments. I always clean after shooting, but when I am hiking around the desert I suspect there will be many a time that it will get quite dusty or even sandy.

Basically I would like other people's opinions on finding a durable and reliable revolver.

1. Any brands/models to avoid or recommend? (Please don't start a flame-war, stick to facts or experience)

2. Should I go with Blued, Stainless steel, or something else? Which will be easiest to clean dirt out of when I get home? I am leaning toward stainless after looking at a few stainless revolvers.

3. As for Caliber I am thinking something large enough to stop large predators. Sadly, I am not too familiar with hand gun rounds and how effective they are against different animals. :pI would prefer something a bit smaller than a .500 S&W:p Seriously maybe a .44 or near there, unless that is more than needed.

4. May be an odd question, but what is the coolest way to carry it. I am not a fan of heavy, and potentially hot metal riding around on my person in a way that is more uncomfortable than needed.

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July 1, 2010, 04:22 PM
A stainless steel SA Ruger Blackhawk or Vaquero is about as indestructible as it gets.

As long as you still have the cylinder, you can probably make it fire by holding the trigger back and hitting the hammer with a stick.

As for caliber?
There is probably nothing in New Mexico a .357 Magnum wouldn't stop.
Probably the most dangerous animal you will encounter is a rattlesnake, or a drug smuggler.

Don't pick a huge magnum caliber as your first gun as recoil, muzzle blast, and very expensive ammo will make learning to shoot it well nearly impossible.

Comfortable carry is best done in a well fitted belt holster with a wide stiff gun-belt.

A GI style nylon pistol belt and a Uncle Mikes nylon holster is as good a place to start as any for the little amount of money invested.


July 1, 2010, 04:22 PM
My Magnum Research BFR's are my all time favorite revolvers...

July 1, 2010, 04:28 PM
A used SMith and Wesson model 66 in .357 Mag or Ruger GP 100 also in .357 Mag will do the job you seek. The most dangerous predator is the two legged type. You may occasionally see snakes, but you can usually avoid them and they are not a serious threat.

As for holsters, stay away from cheap holsters. Check out:

Their sourdough pancake holster is stylish, strong, comfortable and a bargain at about 60 USD. I have a number of these holsters and love them. Get a great used revolver, pick up a case of ammo and learn how to shoot it well. Good luck.

July 1, 2010, 04:28 PM
I vote for a stainless ruger sp101 in .357 mag; More tough than you'll need, yet light enough for practical long-distance carry. As rc said, I don't think you'll "need" anything much larger than a .357 Magnum. Double action is also a nice feature to have tucked away if there is any potential for you to rely on this for defensive carry.

Good luck with your choice.

Lucky Derby
July 1, 2010, 04:31 PM
Ruger GP100. Perhaps a Blackhawk or Vaquero if you prefer SA. .357 is the best all around caliber for your situation. Can use light/inexpensive loads for general shooting/learning purposes and then up the ante to the heavy .357 loads when needed/desired.
If small/easy to carry is a serious concern, get a 3" SP101.

July 1, 2010, 04:34 PM
My gun for the situations you describe is a stainless Ruger Speed Six (no longer made, but available if you look) .357, 2 3/4" barrel. The SP 101 or a stainless Blackhawk in .357are also good choices.

July 1, 2010, 04:37 PM
From an old Wyoming rancher, Steve_NEPhila gave you as good advice as will come down the pike.

July 1, 2010, 04:40 PM
Ruger , BFR, Freedom arms,

The levels of envy you endure vary by exposure.

I'd give marrow for a nice, spartan Freedom in .454. Shoot mostly .45 Colt for fun, load .454 for those pesky dangers.

Likely getting a Super Redhawk tho. Being realistic.

.357 a fine caliber too, shoot .38 cheaply, but the Muzzle blast and noise are punishing to some of us.

I prefer Matte or dark finishes, but I'm not big on flashy.

Big revolvers go well in leather Shoulder rigs, Cartridge belts etc that can be hidden under a polar zip up.

+1 on the uncle mikes as a good cheapie holster, my M&P is in one now till I find the right IWB.

July 1, 2010, 04:53 PM
Thank you for all the responses so quickly.

I am quite inexperienced with handguns obviously. I noticed that the some of the guns recommended have relatively shorter barrels compared to others.

My understanding is that it is mainly the muzzle velocity that is lesser in shorter barrels. I wouldn't attempt to kill something unless it was a threat meaning my range will be relatively close. Is there any other reason to go with a longer barrel? I can deal with the recoil in lighter guns, so that isn't too concerning.

July 1, 2010, 04:55 PM
Longer barrel uses more of the pressure, more accuracy, (barring the Grizzled smart aleck who can keyhole his snubby .38 at 200 yards while laughing at you)

I like more weight, keeps me more stable in general.

July 1, 2010, 04:58 PM
I certainly would not go less then a 4" barrel for best compromise in performance and accuracy.

A 4" is short enough to carry easily, but long enough to give a decent sight radius for good shooting.
The longer barrel also cuts down on muzzle blast with magnum calibers.

I should have mentioned full flap holsters in my earlier post.
Nothing else comes close to them for protecting the gun from adverse conditions.
Thats why they are universally used by the military all over the world.

You won't win any fast draw matches, but the gun will be reasonably clean and working when you get it out and need it.


July 1, 2010, 05:06 PM
The biggest benefits of the longer barrel are increased velocity and sight radius.

Rcmodel mentioned it, but I want to reinforce it. The comfort of a large revolver has a lot to do with the belt. A good holster is a must of course, but people will often put a good holster on a crappy belt and the result is not as good as they expected. With my Simply Rugged sourdough holster on a decent belt I forget I'm even carrying my 5" GP100.

Old Fuff
July 1, 2010, 05:12 PM
I agree with remodel and some others, but would point out that Rugers GP-100 and SP-101 revolvers are designed to be taken apart into modules without special tools, that makes them easier to clean under primitive conditions, as you can wash them out with water, let dry (if stainless), relubricate, and reassemble. Other revolvers are more complicated, and require (in some cases) more tools and expertise. All Ruger revolvers are overbuilt, rugged pieces of machinery intended for heavy-duty use.

July 1, 2010, 05:25 PM
My second centerfire handgun was a brand new Ruger Blackhawk Flattop .357 bought for under a hundred bucks in about 1967. I choose the 6.5 inch barrel because I was so dissatisfied with the performance of .38 specials in a 4" S&W Combat Masterpiece. I never carried the Ruger as much as I had the S&W because it was so awkard on and off a horse and in and out of a pickup. Now I'm built for light loads and quick trips, say 5'7" on a good day, so YMMV. For convenience, I'd opt for a 4" in a double action Ruger or S&S, or the 4 5/8" in a Blackhawk. +1 for the full flap holster in tough country.

July 1, 2010, 05:27 PM
Stainless and .357Magnum. You can buff out the scratches, or if you don't care about looks save the money and go blue.

Ruger Security Six, SP101, GP100, or a Smith Model 66 or 686. I would prefer one with adjustable sights... Of the ones on my list the Security Six would top my list.

highlander 5
July 1, 2010, 05:40 PM
4 inch Redhawk 44 Mag or 45 Colt for DA revolvers or in SA ruger Super Blackhawk wit a 4 5/8 " barrel. What some here have negleted to mention in 44 mag you can fire 44 spl and if you handload you've an even bigger choice in bullet weight etc. Another good choice is a Ruger Bisley a bit big but the grip shape makes it a very comfortable gun to shoot. Available in 44 mag or 45 colt.

July 1, 2010, 05:40 PM
Smith and Wesson Stainless Steel model 686 preferably in a 6" barrel.

July 1, 2010, 05:41 PM
Alright so what I am thinking I will look for is either a Ruger GP100 either 4.2" or 6" in .357. If in my searching I find a SW 66 or 686 in similar size I will take a good look at it. The only reason I was considering less would be if I ever wanted to conceal, but I think I will get something better suited for concealed carry later when I start thinking more seriously about it.

July 1, 2010, 06:18 PM
4" GP100 will fill the bill more than adequately.

The Lone Haranguer
July 1, 2010, 06:29 PM
A stainless steel Ruger Blackhawk.

July 1, 2010, 06:36 PM
Most of these guys already said it. A Ruger Super Blackhawk in 44mag with a 7.5" barrel will stop most anything in North America. I own 3 in that configuration - 2 old models and 1 new model.

If you run out of bullets, you can use it as a club. Those guns are built like a brick outhouse - and VERY affordable.


July 1, 2010, 07:00 PM
Hopefully I am not too much of a noobchuck with this question,

I would prefer something a bit smaller than a .500 S&W Seriously maybe a .44 or near there, unless that is more than needed.

This is mostly a repetition of Steve NEPhila's advice. Based on the two comments I quoted a 357 should suffice for your needs. Being a new shooter a full bore 357 will be intiminating enough. There are plenty of 500 S&Ws amd even 44 mags for sell used that have only fired 6 rds. You can start shooting wadcutters in a 357 and work your way up in power through std loads, +P, +P+, OTC Magnums and the "custom loaded" magnums (which I have never had any use for). My specific advice would be a 4" GP100 or L frame S&W. Either of these in 357 is about a do it all handgun you can get. For an outdoors gun I suggest stainless.

July 1, 2010, 07:32 PM
I'd think any stainless production revolver would do, I'm sure there's some finer differences but they escape me. 8)

July 1, 2010, 07:40 PM
My choice would probably be a 4" Stainless Ruger GP-100 (357 mag). They carry pretty easy in a belt holster. A flap holster would protect the gun quite well. I doubt you need a 44 mag or larger revolver. Of course, there is always the chance.... but for the most part, the 357 IS the most versatile caliber in a medium sized steel framed revolver for your intended purpose.

July 1, 2010, 08:14 PM
357 magnum

July 1, 2010, 08:19 PM
I went to the gun shop earlier and found the following there. A Ruger GP 100 4" and another 6" for $639 each and a Ruger SP101 for $539. all of which were .357. I am going to look into a few more shops, but how do these prices compare with your guy's experience?

The shop owner said he highly recommended Ruger for durability. Showed me how the piece was held together and showed me how SW's are held together. I was overall impressed with the Ruger more than the SW. They weren't SW 66's or 686's though something newer in .38.

July 1, 2010, 08:36 PM
You need to shop around, my dealer sells Stainless Ruger GP-100's for $520.37

July 1, 2010, 08:54 PM
$20 is not really worth spending a lot of time shopping around to beat. You'll spend that in gas or something approaching it.

July 1, 2010, 09:24 PM
$20 is not really worth spending a lot of time shopping around to beat. You'll spend that in gas or something approaching it.

His dealer sells GP-100's for $639.00, mine sells them for $520.37

That's $118.63 less.

July 1, 2010, 09:30 PM
Come on people. The ONLY choice is obvious. A S&W 686 4" barrel.

The tried and true work horse of revolvers. It is relatively light, extremely durable, very rugged, 6 or 7 shots of .357Mag which can hardly be argued with. And they are quite easy to find in either pre-lock, post lock, 6 shot or 7 shot for very reasonable prices; $400 or so.

July 1, 2010, 10:02 PM
Come on people. The ONLY choice is obvious. A S&W 686 4" barrel.

The tried and true work horse of revolvers. It is relatively light, extremely durable, very rugged, 6 or 7 shots of .357Mag which can hardly be argued with. And they are quite easy to find in either pre-lock, post lock, 6 shot or 7 shot for very reasonable prices; $400 or so.

A new S&W 686 for $400.00 ?? I've never seen one priced that low.
My dealer gets $688.00 for the 6 shot version.

July 1, 2010, 10:18 PM
Not a big fan of the "chunky" feel of the GP100, and I can't seem to get past the IL on new S&W's.....and I've had them both.
My vote goes for a 3 1/16" Ruger SP101. One of the few guns I wouldn't part with.

BTW, good luck finding a new or used 3 1/16" version.

July 1, 2010, 11:07 PM
I think long-term you'll be happiest with a stainless four inch. There's a reason they sell so many of that finish and barrel length compared to all the others. It's just hard to beat that combination in an all-purpose gun.

The Smith and Wesson 686 is fantastic and would serve you well. Then again, you did say you wanted to beat the hell out of it, and it is an awfully nice gun to beat up. The Rugers mentioned (GP100 and SP101) would be easier on the wallet and are every bit as rugged, if not more so. I'd feel better about beating up a GP100 than a 686. And as someone already mentioned, they can be taken completely apart in the field if necessary. You seem to not be bothered by the bulk of larger guns, so I won't try to change your mind on that. All I'll say is that carrying a 686 or GP100 will be a much different experience than carrying the SP101. You'll forget the SP101 is there. With the others, you won't.

Also mentioned already but worth repeating: the 686P (or 686+) gives you one extra round in the same sized gun, a factor that may be important if ever faced with two-legged predators.

Let us know what you choose!

July 2, 2010, 01:04 PM
I would say a PD trade in gun. A Model 66 or 65 4in. Smith and Wesson. It won't have the lock, it will be broken in (trigger pull, and it will already have scratches so you won't have to feel bad about the finish) and they are accurate and dependable!

July 2, 2010, 01:28 PM
Where would I look for an old PD gun?

July 2, 2010, 01:39 PM
Where would I look for an old PD gun?


i don't know where you would find police trade ins, but you can find alot of these models used, and at reasonable prices on a website called it's possible that they could have some pd guns.

July 2, 2010, 01:41 PM
one other thing, if you use gunbroker you will need to have your firearm shipped to a person with an ffl, and usually there is a transfer fee associated with that. around $20.00 or more depending on who you use to handle that.

July 2, 2010, 01:50 PM
That Mod. 64 at J&G in .38 is a great buy, but a .357 may be right up your alley.. While 4-wheeling a few weeks ago, I got out of the Jeep and spotted while a friend went up a hill. while going up, my .357 Ruger Sec. Six popped out from under the cooler (really big hop) and went to the floor, which was covered in dirt. Next hop, the cooler flipped and filled up the footwell, which actually covered the whole gun. He came down the hill and was very apologetic. I pulled out the gun and a can of WD-40, used my fingernail to get the grip off, and proceeded to disassemble and reassemble the gun without a single tool. Can't do that with a S&W. I was convinced that the Ruger was the perfect woods gun right there.

Plus, you can use it to drive in your tent stakes.:neener:

Oh. STAINLESS. Mine is a 6" barrel, and I am looking for a 4". That 4" is so much easier to carry and find holsters for.

Mr. T
July 2, 2010, 02:08 PM
Ruger GP-100 in .357 Mag.

July 2, 2010, 02:39 PM
The going rate on new ones is much less then that.


July 2, 2010, 03:46 PM
I just ordered a 686P (7-rd) 6" from for $670, free shipping, and they shipped it the next day (2 day shipping). They have the 4" in stock at the same price. If I were you, I'd go with the 686P 4". Or, if you want to save a few bucks get the GP100 (also 4"). I don't think you can go wrong with either. Personally, I find these larger frame guns easier to shoot accurately compared to the smaller SP-101, though that's also a good choice.

The price you quoted seems a bit high for a GP100, if it were me I'd save some money and just order it from Buds.

I think a .357 is the right round for your needs.

July 2, 2010, 03:54 PM
IMO, you'll be best served by a DA revolver with a 4" barrel. While I prefer S&W, the Ruger GP-100 is hard to beat for ruggedness and cost. As for caliber, .357 mag will settle any issue you may have with predators, 2 or 4 legged.

July 2, 2010, 07:30 PM
Many a mfg sells a flap-type cross draw holster to keep dirt, dust, rain off your belt gun. Trailrider Products will make them to fit DA or SA guns. Bianchi made a special run for Ruger Blackhawks. They are NOT 'speedy' holsters for a fast presentation but they are rugged and designed to protect the weapon and its finish. Similar holsters can be had in ballistic nylon on the cheap. A good FITTING leather holster will eliminate a lot of the dust/sand concerns where nylon can deform over time.

July 2, 2010, 08:49 PM
I'd recommend either a Ruger GP-100 or S&W 686 (I prefer the 6 vs. the 7 shot); both in 4" barrel length.

July 2, 2010, 09:05 PM
A stainless steel SA Ruger Blackhawk or Vaquero is about as indestructible as it gets.

Yep. I've toted a blued .357 Blackhawk all over the Guadalupes in SE NM. Accurate, plenty powerful, able to do small game with wadcutter loads. Don't really need Stainless in New Mexico, though. Works better down here on the coast, but it's dry out there. We like to buy used cars from NM, know they won't be rusty. :D I do prefer stainless, just sayin', rust ain't a real problem in the desert.

Single actions remain my favorite outdoor revolvers due to strength. There's no crane to get bent if it's dropped, just a solid double sided frame and a cylinder pin holds the cylinder in place. I prefer adjustable sights for a .357 or any gun that I'm going to shoot greatly different loads in for different applications, but if strength is of the highest priority, an old model Vaquero has no sight to knock loose in a fall.

July 2, 2010, 09:13 PM
Ruger GP or the SP can't beat a Ruger revolver

July 2, 2010, 09:16 PM
S&W Model 686
Ruger Super Blackhawk .44 mag
Dan Wesson .44 mag

Since you've already proclaimed you're hard on things... I'd opt for the stainless versions of the latter two. The Ruger is single action, the other two are double action. 'Course... you could opt for the Ruger Redhawk for the double action feature.

July 2, 2010, 10:04 PM
If I were hiking around in a hot desert, I wouldn't want to tote anything any heavier than I needed to carry.

Thus, I'd be toting my SS S&W Model 65 .357 Magnum with a 3" barrel. It puts six rounds dead center into one ragged hole at 10 yards and is a perfect blend of form and function in a lightweight package.

This gun, in blued version (Model 13) was once what the FBI issued to agents. Accurate, light enough to carry comfortably and it packs a good punch.

I bought my 1984 era Model 65 for $235. Then again, that was in 1990 or so. With S&W revolvers, the prices for the good vintage ones keeps going up every year so you'll never lose money selling them . . . although few folks sell those 3" wonders. They shoot as well for me as the 4" tubed revolvers! Don't weigh much either.

Places like Robinson's Trading Post (on line) sell 'em for good prices, and the 4" versions sell much lower in price.

I would not buy a new Smith or Ruger. Plenty of great used ones on the market at good prices.

July 3, 2010, 09:24 PM
I bought a Ruger GP-100 4" for $450. I will get pictures as soon as I find my camera. It is used, but the previous owner says he only put one box through it. I used the amazing revolver checking guide at the top of this forum to make sure its timing and everything was good. I am going to clean it tonight and shoot it this Monday.

July 3, 2010, 11:53 PM

congratulations on your purchase. the 4" GP100 i have is one of my favorites. i hope you enjoy it as much as i do mine.

July 6, 2010, 12:59 PM
I went to the range yesterday. It shoots beautifully. My wife was able to shoot it as well without issue. Only used about half a box of 38 special (gun store was out of 357.) I didn't even notice any substantial recoil, but I suspect when I get some 357 it will have more kickback. I just need to get some silhouette targets and practice with them now. My apologies for the lack of pictures, we seem to have misplaced the cord for our camera.

chicago guy
July 6, 2010, 01:34 PM
Yep, Ruger sp101. Talk about overbuilt? I don't think they CAN get damaged. lol

July 6, 2010, 02:05 PM
Yep, Ruger sp101. Talk about overbuilt? I don't think they CAN get damaged. lol
I get what you're saying... but they certainly can be damaged, as ANY gun can.

July 6, 2010, 02:16 PM
:eek: What did you do to that poor gun??? :eek:

July 6, 2010, 02:34 PM
Wasn't me. It's just a picture that's been floating around the Internet for a while. Idon't remember the story.

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