Looking to buy quality 357 magnum revolver


Dog Wonder
September 4, 2012, 04:15 PM
I am looking to buy a quality 357 magnum revolver! This handgun would be used for both home defense and shooting at the range! I have shot a couple of revolvers-Ruger sp 101 357 magnum & a smith & wesson 38 caliber!
Some people at my range said that I might want to look at a Smith & Wesson 686 with a 3 inch barrel! I have medium size hands and find that a revolver would truely be a very nice gun to own for reliability and accuracy!
I am open to opinions on any brand & barrel lenght!

Many thank-you's for your thoughts!

P.S. what do shooters think of the Ruger GP100 "Wiley Clapp" 357 Magnum Revolver?

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September 4, 2012, 04:24 PM
For a gun that will serve both range and home protection duty I think something in the range of 4" to 6" is about the perfect size. Long enough to be accurate, short enough to not be unwieldy. Using full tilt .357 loads the longer 6" barrel guns will weigh a little more, especially around the barrel, and will tend to be a bit more pleasant to shoot. Not that a 4" will be bad, just a little snappier to shoot. I would advise to say away from the smaller framed .357s not for any other reason than those smaller framed guns with full power loads can be a real handful for a beginning shooter and the shorter barrel will not work quite as well as a range gun. Guns that fall into this category are pretty much any 5 shot .357, regardless of frame material.

Regarding particular guns I would suggest, there are two. Either a S&W 686 or a Ruger GP100. Both are proven performers and will be more accurate than you are likely to be for a long time. The Ruger will be less expensive than the Smith, but will be just a hair less refined.

357 Terms
September 4, 2012, 04:25 PM
A 4in 357 is arguably the most versatile handgun you can buy.

You get good performance with the 357 hot loads and you can shoot everything below that, including light 38's.

The 686 is a good choice, so is a Ruger gp100.

On the used gun market a Colt Trooper at a reasonable price, or a Six series Ruger (Security, Service,Speed) would also be a fine choices.

September 4, 2012, 05:10 PM
I prefer 6" or longer barrels for better velocity and accuracy in the longer sighting plane. If it is for home or range and not carry a 6" is perfect. I had and dearly loved a Ruger GP100 but the trigger pull was not as nice as Smiths or Colts. Despite the pedestrian trigger that gun was hyper accurate out to 50 yards. I would hang poker chips at 30 yards and chip them away to nothing.

September 4, 2012, 05:21 PM
Consider the Ruger GP100 3" "Wiley Clapp" model. It has a higher level of fit and finish than the baseline GP100 and is a darn nice gun to ogle, a word not often associated with Rugers.

September 4, 2012, 05:24 PM
Try to pickup a dan wesson 15-2 series. Price tends be better , 350 to 450 for a solid nice revolver accurate and stronger but not any larger. And have a choice of barrels from EWKarms and other small aparts to upgrade with. Not restricked by grips size ether as it is a post mounted grip.

September 4, 2012, 05:41 PM
I shot a longer "Dirty Harry" sized barrel (8 in) I believe and 6" Python and 4" smith. Aside the differences in actions, the 4 " Barrel seemed to be the best option for me. While not small by any means, it wouldn't be impossible to conceal if you so chose to do so. It does tame the cartridge a bit, but is still pleasant to shoot. I also have a LCR in 357 mag and don't like shooting more than a few rounds to keep up proficiency. I have a 686+ in 4" and agree that this could just about be the most versatile gun I own. As always to each their own, you may want to go to a range and shoot different length barrels and see what suits you best.

September 4, 2012, 05:57 PM
I own a GP100 4" and while I really like it, I did get a chance to fire a S&W 19 and the trigger was far better than mine. I like the balance of a 4" barrel is fantastic and would recommend trying either a GP100 or a 686.

303 hunter
September 4, 2012, 06:05 PM
+1 on the GP100 or the 686. The 586 is also a great gun.

September 4, 2012, 06:15 PM
I'm a brand loyal kinda guy...

and that would be Ruger:

used: Security Six 4" barrel
used/new:GP100 or SP101 3" or 4" barrel

They are just so dang tough.

September 4, 2012, 06:25 PM
I own both a Smith 686 and a Ruger SP101. The 686 has a four-inch barrel, and the SP101 has a three-inch barrel.

The Smith trigger, as others have indicated, is smooth. The Ruger was pretty rough until I had a gunsmith do a trigger job, and it's pretty good now.

If you intend to carry, the SP101 is much more manageable, which is why I bought it. If you intend to shoot it mostly at the range, the 686 would be my choice.

Honestly, if I had it to do over again, I would buy a older, used Smith, maybe a 686 no dash or a 686-1. Both my Smith (canted, misaligned barrel) and my Ruger (single-action trigger that hung up halfway through the squeeze) had problems out of the box. I don't want to bash either brand, but the older ones I've shot or handled are what I would choose.

September 5, 2012, 11:56 AM
I have a small collection of .357 revolvers. Here are my impressions:

6" nickel Python: Accurate, nice action but DA trigger does stack, too prissy for everyday use. Hard to keep it looking good.

6" ported stainless 686 from mid '90s: Scary accurate, great trigger, too heavy for carrying

4-5/8" Ruger BH convertible (9mm/357): Fun, accurate, cheap to shoot w/9mm, most versatile handgun I own, creepy trigger, big and heavy for what it shoots, single-action only.

4" blued S&W 586 from mid '90s: Currently back at factory (2nd time) to fix serious accuracy problem that it has had since new, factory trigger job very nice, pretty, but too heavy for carrying.

4" stainless Ruger Security Six: My favorite, outshoots everything but the 686(for me, anyway) while being compact and light enough to carry. Shoots target wadcutter loads and hot 125 gr. JHPs to same point of impact. Double action shooting is as accurate as single-action shooting once you get used to it...maybe even better. Trigger is good and consistent, but not great.

3" SP101: Suffered from poor sights and poor regulation out of the box. Filing the front sight to get it to hit at POA, made sights even worse. BUT when the light was right and I was on my game, it shot very accurately. Finally fixed the sight issues with both a CTC laser and an XS Big Dot. OK for belt carry, too heavy for pocket carry.

2-7/8" stainless Security Six: Just got it; may get to shoot it today. Seems to have a much nicer trigger than my 4" SS.

Had an early blued 6" GP100 for awhile. Only 357 I didn't like. Heavy, felt like a brick, action & trigger inferior to the Security Six, mediocre accuracy. Traded it off. Haven't sampled the GP100 well since.

One thing I've noticed is that the triggers on the stainless Rugers seem to clean up on their own with plenty of dry firing. Smith triggers are usually very good to excellent out of the box. My 586 didn't need the trigger job but there was a promotion going at the time.


September 5, 2012, 12:06 PM
A 4in 357 is arguably the most versatile handgun you can buy.

4 inch 686 police trade in is a great buy.

Made before the internal lock and the injection-molded internal parts.
Tough and while not a great trigger from the factory, most any gunsmith has parts and the ability to work on it. They can be smoothed out and tricked out.

September 5, 2012, 04:55 PM
S&W 686
S&W 627
Ruger GP100
Ruger SP101

Pick one. They are all good guns.

Boy OP I have never seen so many exclamation points in a post before. You are really excited. Well, good luck and enjoy!

September 5, 2012, 05:39 PM
Like almost everybody else go with the Smith 686 or Ruger gp 100. I have the 686 plus that has 7 rounds and it is wonderful to shoot. Has the 6 inch barrel. Recomend go with stainless. The only pistol that I have that is more accurate is my Ruger MK III target.

September 5, 2012, 06:02 PM
Does it have to be double action? If not the op might consider a nm vaquero by Ruger, mine is 4 5/8 bbl and I gotta tell you it is more accurate than any other pistol I own, and this gun will handle every load that can be made safely it is like a tank in your hand but very well balanced and doesn't weigh a ton.:)

September 5, 2012, 08:08 PM
Easy take-down and reassembly were important in your 1911 thread in the Auto Pistol section; if that is a factor here, Rugers are a bit friendlier than S&W, though no DA revolver is going to detail-strip as easily as a 1911.

I own several each of the GP100 and SP101, in various barrel lengths, and a 4" S&W Model 19. Both companies make very good revolvers. The L-frame S&W Models 586/686/581/681 are size/weight counterparts to the Ruger GP100; my Model 19 is a K-frame, which is just a bit lighter in weight, making for better all-day concealed carry, though the L-frames and the GP100 certainly can be carried all day, and I have done so.

For home defense and range training, a 6" barrel is going to be friendlier to one's ears when shots are fired, as more of the powder is going to be burned inside the barrel, and the muzzle blast is going to be a bit farther away, than with the shorter barrels, if using magnum ammo. This is not the relatively much milder, lower-pressure .45ACP! The .357 Magnum is a superb street-fighting cartridge, but if I am inside the home, and have the time to choose, I would rather use my 1911.

September 5, 2012, 08:16 PM
I recommend a Ruger SP101 with the 4" barrel or a Ruger GP100. They're very solidly built revolvers. I will caution you that the SP101 really needs Hogue grips to be fun to shoot.

September 5, 2012, 10:46 PM
+1 for what wardenwolf said.
Except that the 6" GP100 is the most accurate DA revolver I have ever seen (in 40 years). I have one, and I am challenged to exploit its accuracy. I also have a 4" SP101, and the Hogue grip is a necessity. The GP already comes with a great grip. With either I can keep all shots within a 3" circle, doing DA, at 50 feet, which is OK for my age of 66+ (offhand). But I would choose the SP for home defense (easier to carry around).

Resto Guy
September 5, 2012, 11:11 PM
I notice that many suggest a 4" or 6" barrel. I have revolvers with 2", 4" and 6" barrels. I am most comfortable with the 4". In a home defense situation, that is the one I would probably reach for if they were side-by-side.

September 5, 2012, 11:16 PM
I notice that many suggest a 4" or 6" barrel.

Funny how that doesn't suggest a 5" barrel to be the best solution? ;)


Great trigger, 8 shots of .357 on tap, great (and adjustable/replaceable) sights, cut for moon clip goodness, comfy (Hogue?) rubber stocks tame recoil greatly. 5" barrel gives respectable velocities, good sight radius, and preserves handling/balance to only slightly barrel heavy (aluminum frame).

Light enough for carry, possibly small enough for carry (it is an N frame, after all:)), ugly enough to carry. It is my go-to gun for backwoods trekking in hog/black bear/grower country. Galco makes a very comfy Phoenix OWB holster, Bianchi's X15 shoulder holster works, and I'm working on a pack-mounted rig that holds the gun at the ready right behind my neck.


September 5, 2012, 11:17 PM
Try to pickup a dan wesson 15-2 series
Agreed. Don't overlook the Dan! :D

September 6, 2012, 06:13 PM
Back in the 80s, I was an owner of a gun shop and also had a gun range in my back yard. Most used guns we took in trade, I test fired at my home. Shot probably over 500 differant guns over several years. SW, colt, ruger, star, taurus, you name it, I probably shot it. Hands down, I would stake my life on a 2" to 4" Smith Wesson revolver over anything else. If you dont plan on ever carrying it, which is unlikely, then I might go with a 6". Just my 2 cents. There are a lot of good dependable guns.

September 6, 2012, 06:42 PM
I'd recommend a used S&W Model 28 "Highway Patrolman" with a 6" barrel. Tough as nails and a great .357 magnum.

September 6, 2012, 07:42 PM
I love my 4 inch 686. A 4 inch makes a nice compromise between a snubby and a 6 inch barrel. Darn accurate too; even in my hands and I'm far from being an expert pistolero. But then, there's a lot of very sweet Rugers out there also. I've had the privledge to shoot a couple of Colt Pythons in years gone by and they are absolutely SUPERB. Only problem is that they are also very expensive. There's a lot of nice stuff available including the previously mentioned Dan Wessons. Look around at quality guns in good shape and pick some up and see how they feel in your own hand. Only you can decide what feels just right. 357's are very versatile even if you don't plan on running any 38 specials through it but it's always nice to have that option.

September 6, 2012, 07:56 PM
don't forget the used market, just can't go wrong with a good old 19-5 like this171233

September 6, 2012, 08:18 PM
I vote for a 6" SS GP100, well, because it's what I have and I absolutely love it.

I offer this as my attemp to sway you:

http://i1147.photobucket.com/albums/o548/Revoliver6/bb3135ca.jpg *

Cranky CJ
September 6, 2012, 09:39 PM
Ruger Security Six, worth a look. Tough tough gun. One day I hit a clay pigeon at 50 yds, actually did it twice that day. Wouldn't trade or sell this gun for any other.


September 7, 2012, 02:31 AM
I prefer the S&W M586/686 over the Ruger GP100 but that's only preference. Both are good guns, the one that feels best in your hand is the one you should buy.

For home defense and range use I think the 4" barrel is the best compromise.

September 7, 2012, 01:00 PM
Another model that's often overlooked is the S&W 686+ SSR. I got mine from Bud's. It's a 5" slab-sided barrel 7-shot, factory cut for moonclips, and it's a sweeet shooter.

My previous favorite was a 686 6", but I like the balance and handling better on the SSR 5".


September 7, 2012, 01:17 PM
My favorite is the GP100 6 inch barrel. I have several revolvers but I shoot that one the most. I own 2 one blued and one stainless. They are very accurate.

September 7, 2012, 02:24 PM
Cranky CJ-- Nice Six!

I too have a soft spot for these guns. Often overlooked but as good or better than any.

Cranky CJ
September 7, 2012, 09:42 PM
Thanks Skidder. Appreciate the compliment!

September 7, 2012, 10:48 PM
I had a Taurus 66 with a 6 inch barrel and have upgraded to a S&W 686 with a 4 inch barrel - much easier to tote in the woods and handles better. Plus, the trigger on the Smith is much smoother than the Taurus was it's easy to make good shots with.

September 7, 2012, 11:43 PM
Don't give up on your quest. Give pawn's a look too, there are some dandy's out there. I realize you're looking for a .357, I just picked up a superb used Colt Trooper for $425 OTD yesterday in .38 spl., 4", 98%, including box. Just keep looking pard, you'll find the one you want.

September 8, 2012, 08:59 AM
4" GP100, the best all around gun on the market today.

September 8, 2012, 11:22 AM
For me it's a coin flip beetween a 4" Ruger GP100 and a 4" S&W 686 Plus. I had a 2.5" S&W 686 Plus and was a sweet and accurate handgun.

September 8, 2012, 04:17 PM
Just my 2 cents... I would definitely at least look at a Colt Python. There are many available in "like new" condition and you will have a truly fine collectible to enjoy for generations to come. Whatever you pay, they will be worth more as time passes.

September 8, 2012, 04:34 PM
There are a lot of good ones out there.

Full review of the old legend S&W model 66 (http://www.dayattherange.com/?p=63)

Full review of a well balanced S&W 686Pro (http://www.dayattherange.com/?p=160)

Full review of the what I call "The Little Mighty Might 3inch SP101" (http://www.dayattherange.com/?p=347)

Full review of my favorite 3inch GP100 (http://www.dayattherange.com/?p=1257)

I hope this data helps you decide which is best suited for you, though I do believe it is best to handle the one you are considering before making the purchase.

September 8, 2012, 10:17 PM
Just my 2 cents... I would definitely at least look at a Colt Python. There are many available in "like new" condition and you will have a truly fine collectible to enjoy for generations to come. Whatever you pay, they will be worth more as time passes.
While Colt DA revolvers are great there are problems. First off, it's been a very long time since they were discontinued so parts are either very rare or not available. Even worse there are very few gunsmiths who know how to work on colts if they need repairs and parts can be found. This is why I recommend Ruger or S&W DA revolvers.

September 9, 2012, 12:53 AM
^^^Agreed. Pythons, Anacondas, and the like are increasingly better suited to gunsafes than the range, through no fault of the guns themselves. The poster himself alluded to this "whatever you pay, they will be worth more as time passes". That's only true if the gun isn't shot out of time and unfixable--then you just have a wall-hanger.


September 9, 2012, 10:11 AM
I must agree that sadly there are fewer and fewer qualified gunsmiths that are capable of repairing these older Colts. That is why I personally prefer "like new" used Colt revolvers when I make a purchase. Of course you can choose to limit the amount of magnum loads you fire, if you prefer to treat your revolver gently.

I've never needed any parts for my Colts over the years, but between Numrich and a little bit of effort, i'm sure you could find whatever you needed should a problem arise.

If things got bad, I'd buy a spare one for parts and a copy of Jerry Kuhnhausen's Shop Manual for Colts, Volume 1. :)

Capt. Ct.
September 10, 2012, 01:09 AM
There are several good choices out there. I'd probably go with a 4" 686.

September 10, 2012, 01:29 AM
I use rugers, i wouldn't mind a 586-686 either..probably 6 inch barrel for the woods. I use a blackhawk and security six now....looking at a stainless security or maybe a Vaquero now

September 10, 2012, 08:13 AM
I think the Smith 686 is the best around.

September 10, 2012, 10:57 AM
I am looking to buy a quality 357 magnum revolver! This handgun would be used for both home defense and shooting at the range!
For your stated uses, I would not go with less than a 4-inch barrel. Shorter barrels are handier for conceled carry, but generally result in more recoil, more muzzle blast and less accuracy. The longer 6-inch barrel has some advantages in wringing the very best performance out of a .357 cartridge, but I find the 4-inch generally balances better in my hand. YMMV.

As for as choices, I would look at either the S&W 686 or the Ruger GP100. Both are excellent revolvers that with proper care will probably last longer than you will. They are both a bit heavier than the SP101, but that weight is nice to have when shooting full house .357 rounds, and light weight is really only an advantage in a carry weapon.

September 10, 2012, 11:00 AM
One of these
or 586L comp 3" 7 shot

Arkansas Paul
September 10, 2012, 11:09 AM
I have had several guns go down the trade trail. The only firearm I've gotten rid of and regretted was a 4-inch Ruger GP-100. It was about five years ago, and I'm still kicking myself. I'm gonna replace it eventually.

September 11, 2012, 01:09 AM
Another vote for the Ruger. Anyone of them. A GP100, SP101, LCR, Redhawk, Blackhawk,or even a Super Redhawk ... which ever fits the bill.

Liquid Metal
September 11, 2012, 04:02 AM
357 guns are one of the best for home defense and target practice. I own a couple and both can take 38 special.

I am about to purchase another one which I recommend either the 327 or 627(Stainless Steel) from S&W. Why? It can hold 8 rounds.

Otherwise, go for the 686 Plus.

I have the GP and SP. SP is ideal for conceal. Very small and good to shoot but will hurt your hand if you are shooting 357 magnums out of them.

September 11, 2012, 08:05 AM
Like RevolverGuy, i am a fan of the Model 66. I've owned a 6" stainless since "89" and won't buy another revolver unless the deal is to good to pass up. I've seen a few at the gun shows in the $500.- to $600.- range. It is as accurate as i am and looks as good as the day i bought it.

September 11, 2012, 04:23 PM
Like RevolverGuy, i am a fan of the Model 66. I've owned a 6" stainless since "89" and won't buy another revolver unless the deal is to good to pass up. I've seen a few at the gun shows in the $500.- to $600.- range. It is as accurate as i am and looks as good as the day i bought it.

Personally, a like new 2.5-inch Model 66 is my current "holy grail" gun, but much as I want it, I would hesitate to make use of it as an every day gun. This is due the problems with full power .357 loads, and the limited availability of replacement parts (if you crack the forcing cone on your 66, your gun becomes a $500-600 paperweight)

September 11, 2012, 05:44 PM
This is really coming down to a discussion over what specific type of Belgian Chocolate is best. Simply there isn't any BAD Belgian Chocolate. It's simply a case of which example suits each taste.

Although I lean to the S&W side as long as the OP gets some form of S&W or Ruger that he likes all will be well. At worst he would need to fuss around with after market grips to find one which he prefers and which fits him in the way that promotes the best accuracy.

After that it all becomes about how best to get the most ammo to play with at the range... :D

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