Which is a better 357 revolver: Python v SW 686 v Ruger GP100?


el Godfather
February 5, 2013, 02:04 AM
Dear THR:
Since a similar thread is going on 44 magnum, I would like hear your opinions and experiences with 357s as well. Particularly, with Colt Python, SW 686 and Ruger GP100. Which is better in your opinion and why?

Kindly share pictures if you can.

Thank you.

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February 5, 2013, 04:58 AM
Define "better".
I can see comparing and contrasting a S&W 686 and a Ruger GP100.....but a Colt Python is a whole different level of refinement.

This pic belongs to Dr Ken Lunde

February 5, 2013, 06:47 AM
686 and that on the Python☝

February 5, 2013, 07:02 AM
In many ways, they serve very different purposes. While I believe that they will all shoot flawlessly for a lifetime, not many poeple will carry - much less, shoot - their Colt Pythons. I don't think I've ever seen someone with a GP100 as a safe queen, so as far as a utilitarian weapon goes, the Python is somewhat excluded from this group.

I've never owned a GP100 or a Python, but I do own a 686 no-dash. Would I trade it for either of the other two? No. It shoots strait, can handle the hot stuff without worry, and has a light, crisp trigger to die for. The trigger of the 686 is much nicer than the GP100, and while I've never pulled the trigger of a Python, I am going to assume that it is like almost all other Colt DA's - Crisp as hell, but just a little stiffer than the S&W.

February 5, 2013, 07:40 AM
I've got to give it to Ruger if we are talking about utility and use. The GP100 would be the work horse of the group. Maybe not the best,but the most usable.
I would be far more willing to use a gp100 on a hunt. The S&W wouldn't be a safe queen but would primarily be only used at the range. The python would only be pulled out on the rare occasion to make my friends drool,as it is the least replaceable of the bunch.I'm not sure the Python can be in the same group as it has become more of a rarely acquired relic, than a usable tool for hunting or paper punching. Case in point, Just watched one sell,6" stainless, for $1950.00.
The Smith is more usable but to some would still be seen as something that they wouldn't take to the field,depending on age and condition. The Ruger while selling at the lowest retail, is my pick for best with all things considered. Price is not so high to limit willingness to use, and quality is high enough that with proper care, it will most likely outlast the owner, and take pretty much anything you can load in it and spit it out other end with accuracy.

February 5, 2013, 07:44 AM
I've never owned either a 686, or a GP 100. They've neither one interested me at all.

But I have owned both Model 19/66/13/65, and Model 27/28 Smith & Wessons, and Ruger Security/Speed-Six revolvers, so I have some knowledge of what both companies turn out. I also currently own a Colt Python.
I wouldn't say any of them are "better" than the other. They're all about equal, in performance, just different in execution. If one shoots better than the other, I can't tell it. So I just say I like all three.

If I had to pick one over the other, I'd most likely pick a Smith & Wesson, but I've got a lot more experience with them.

February 5, 2013, 07:59 AM
If it going to used hard and loaded hot only the ruger deals with that way better than the colt or s&w. If you see a nice looking dan wesson made in monson mass. or palmer buy it.

February 5, 2013, 09:44 AM
Define "better".
I can see comparing and contrasting a S&W 686 and a Ruger GP100.....but a Colt Python is a whole different level of refinement.

This pic belongs to Dr Ken Lunde
As proven by the pic, if we are only talking looks,.........Well there it is.

February 5, 2013, 10:01 AM
Not on your list but I would choose a S&W M27. Look at the DW M15-2's, it would be the most accurate of all of them.

February 5, 2013, 11:42 AM
Pythons are pretty, Smiths are smooth, and Rugers are rugged. Pick one.

February 5, 2013, 11:45 AM
Better for what???

For looking at?

For daydreaming about?

For hunting?

For accuracy?

For action shooting?

For a tackle box?

For concealed carry?

For duty use?

For mounting an optic?

For durability?

As a basis for custom work?

For resale value?

Best bang for the buck?

Etc., etc., etc..

The answers to all those questions determine the answer but only YOU can provide the answer.

el Godfather
February 5, 2013, 12:32 PM
Whats you answer for each of your question? Lets see which shows up more on your list.

February 5, 2013, 12:47 PM
Tell you what. You send me one of each, and I will give you an answer:D

February 5, 2013, 12:50 PM
My answers? I'm going to be strongly swayed towards an older S&W for virtually all DA purposes.

I think the Python is a handsome sixgun but I've never seen a 586 I didn't like. Or a model 19 for that matter. Add to that model 27's and .38/44's.

Same for daydreaming.

For a dedicated hunting sixgun a later model S&W will be more adept because they're drilled and tapped for scope mounts. Any of them will do for iron sight hunting but again, my preference would be S&W.

For accuracy, the Python wins hands down.

For action shooting, the S&W would be first pick.

For throwing in the truck or tackle box to be forgotten about, a stainless Ruger wins easily.

For concealed carry, any would do with a shorter barrel. S&W's and Rugers are easier to come by in short lengths. Either S&W or Ruger will do fine.

For duty use, probably S&W.

S&W is the only one of the three that readily accepts optics.

Ruger probably has an edge in durability but I think a lot of the rhetoric about Rugers being "built like a tank" and indestructible are overblown.

The Ruger is really the best platform for custom work. It is the only one that can be converted to a five-shot big bore .41Mag or .44Spl. While the L-frame can be rechambered to .41Spl or 10mm.

This is one instance where Colt's resale value is definitely ahead. Unlike SAA's, Pythons are no longer made and only going up. Of course, this assumes that you don't pay a collector premium today and expect to make a sizable profit in five years.

The Ruger is probably the best value. They're still quite affordable. New S&W's are way too high for what is no longer a better gun. Older S&W's are only going up. Good luck finding a good deal on a Python.

All that said, the 27 is probably my favorite double action .357. Followed closely by the 586, which for me would need new sights. I also love the model 19 but would load it more moderately. I have to say that a blued GP cut back to 5" (hate Ruger's angled underlug), slicked up action, fitted with custom sights, a bright blued finish and fitted with Herrett's Roper stocks would be strongly in the running but that's a lot to invest to get the same thing you get with a box stock 586.

My favorite .357 of all would be the Ruger Old Model flat-top Blackhawk in the 4 5/8" length.

February 5, 2013, 12:54 PM
I think the Python is the best of the three, followed by the S & W, and the Ruger in a close 3rd.

For any social work, I would not choose the Python, only because they aren't made anymore, and if I owned one I wouldn't want to lose it.
A long barrel 686 is on my wish list.

February 5, 2013, 01:18 PM
Dear THR:
Since a similar thread is going on 44 magnum, I would like hear your opinions and experiences with 357s as well. Particularly, with Colt Python, SW 686 and Ruger GP100. Which is better in your opinion and why?

Kindly share pictures if you can.

Thank you.
The choice is between S&W and Ruger. I would pick S&W because I could repair it if something would ever break. The Colt would be my last pick because it is no longer made and spare parts may not be available to fix it if something breaks.

February 5, 2013, 02:19 PM
I for one like the cylinder release on the Ruger better than the python or smith.

Sent from my SGH-T999 using Tapatalk 2

February 5, 2013, 02:40 PM
yep, I dig Rugers release button too.

February 5, 2013, 02:44 PM
Have to agree about Ruger's cylinder release.

February 5, 2013, 03:12 PM
Yep on the Ruger cylinder release. Also something to consider if you're a lefty (which I'm not, but my buddy is, and he prefers it for that reason).

February 5, 2013, 03:14 PM
Put all three on a table, tell me I can have one for free, and guess which one I'll go dancing away with cackling with glee?

February 5, 2013, 04:03 PM
I prefer the Colt in almost every possible use unless I am going to abuse the revolver. In that case, I would get a GP-100.

Have always wanted a 5" 686 however.

Arkansas Paul
February 5, 2013, 04:06 PM
My favorite .357 of all would be the Ruger Old Model flat-top Blackhawk in the 4 5/8" length.

Hard to beat that. Love the single actions. Purty grips too.

February 5, 2013, 04:07 PM
I would expect the 686 to be ahead in the poll, if for no other reason than so many more people have experience with them than with Pythons.

February 5, 2013, 04:30 PM
Ill go with the Ruger cause I just bought a 6" stainless today!!!!!!! On that note I'd also like a 686 and a Python one day!!!!

February 5, 2013, 04:52 PM
Define "better".
I can see comparing and contrasting a S&W 686 and a Ruger GP100.....but a Colt Python is a whole different level of refinement.


Choosing between the S&W and Ruger: The Smith wins.
Comparing it to a "Python" heck just spelling the moniker with a lower case "p" will land you in hot water..... :D

February 5, 2013, 05:21 PM
If you were to lay the 586, GP-100 and Python on a table in front of me and I could have one of them for free to keep forever, I still wouldn't pick the Python. Throw a nice model 19 and 27 or the aforementioned custom GP down there and the Colt slips further back. Throw down an earlier model 24, 29, 1950 Target .44Spl, Registered Magnum, or Triple-Lock and the Colt is not even worth mentioning. Not everybody drinks the Python Kool Aid and not everybody chooses differently due to cost. I agree that on average the snake is a better made sixgun than just about any post-war S&W but I still like Smith's better.

Between those three, the only way I'd choose the Python is if the other two were stainless steel and/or the Smith had an internal lock.

February 5, 2013, 08:52 PM
They are all nice guns, but for me out of the three, I chose the Python. And before the Python, a model 19-4 was my 357 of choice.

I have no issues with throwing this in a holster, carrying it, or shooting it at the range. If I were going to roll around on the ground under my pickup truck in the dirt, I'd leave this one home, but otherwise, I don't mind using it at all.



February 5, 2013, 09:07 PM
If I were headed in harm's way, To the sound of gunfire I'd pick the S&W 686. Going to a Texas barbecue I'd grab the Colt Python.

February 5, 2013, 09:35 PM
I voted "on par" because 1) you don't say better in what way and 2) the vast majority of non-revolver aficionados among couldn't tell them apart if we shot them blindfolded. I could not.

February 5, 2013, 09:49 PM
Forget the collectibility of any of the three and $ value. Does the python still stack up? If put head to head full house loads, hard use, wear and tear?

February 5, 2013, 10:22 PM
Three years ago I would of picked a pre-lock S&W 686. But today I would go with the GP100. In my opinion Ruger has slowly improved this revolver and its now the better choice new than the S&W 686.

But I still prefer my Ruger Police Service Six 357 over any of them. I have owned 686s and GP100s. I like Colts but only to look at.

el Godfather
February 5, 2013, 11:34 PM
I never thought of Python as a big deal until I pulled the trigger on it. The best double action pull period. Too bad I dint have them in every config for collection. GP100 I like for rougher use- not that wont use my Python.

February 5, 2013, 11:48 PM
Got to go with the GP100 for best BANG for the buck, not because I don't think the Smith or Colt wouldn't perform as well, but I know the Ruger will perform and at a price point the others can't touch. I recently bought mine well used for $400 and I've put 300 rounds through it without issue. It's certainly no beauty queen, the nicks and rub areas don't show in this photo. I just replaced the grips with new Hogues as the stock ones were pretty worn, but not that happy with the fit as seen in the photo. This gun just keeps on shooting.


February 5, 2013, 11:58 PM
7 round 4" 686+ for the win.

February 6, 2013, 11:43 AM
If you were to lay the 586, GP-100 and Python on a table in front of me and I could have one of them for free to keep forever, I still wouldn't pick the Python.
Well if that were the case I'd absolutely go with the Python. I could then sell the Python and get one of each of the other two. Though, I've only ever been able to talk about selling a gun. Never have been able to actually go through with it. :D

February 6, 2013, 12:29 PM
Obviously if money were an object then anyone would say they'd take the Python and sell it, myself included but that's not really relevant. It's why I stipulated:

"If you were to lay the 586, GP-100 and Python on a table in front of me and I could have one of them for free to keep forever, I still wouldn't pick the Python." ;)

February 6, 2013, 01:34 PM
I've shot a bunch of them other than the Colt.

If the goal is to SHOOT the darn thing a lot with full power loads then the answer is simple. A S&W 27 or 28. The added mass of the big N frame soaks up the kick from the .357's nicely.

I prefer the S&W over the Ruger because the Ruger's action has a little "click" in the trigger travel when the cylinder bolt snaps free to lock the cylinder. I find that disconcerting and it disturbs my concentration in performing the best smooth DA pull.

And I know that for some odd reason a lot of folks avoid the DA mode with revolvers. That's fine. But even there the S&W SA mode trigger is head and shoulders better than the Ruger SA mode trigger pull. The S&W action breaks with zero detectable creep where the Ruger action has a noticable creep before release. Give me the "breaking glass" S&W action any day of the week.

By all accounts the Colt are great guns. But not only are parts probably harder to get but finding gunsmiths that know how to install and tune any replacement parts is becoming more rare. So strictly on that count I'd tend to pass by the Colt option.

February 6, 2013, 02:40 PM
Can't argue with that. Everything is a compromise of sorts and there are no free lunches. The fun part is that we get to try them all and find what we like best. As is usually the case, the journey is more important than the destination. ;)

February 6, 2013, 05:11 PM
Pull the trigger on a python and then comment. Smoothest double action trigger pull. It is just down right wonderful. To those that have never pull the trigger on one, find someone with a shooter and feel that trigger.

But this is similar to comparing Ford vs Chevy vs BMW.

Some ppl will want nothing but the best. Others will want something that goes bang. To each his own.

February 6, 2013, 05:18 PM
By the same token, a professionally tuned S&W gives up very little to the Python, if any. Not to mention being easier to find someone to professionally tune a S&W compared to those who work on Colt DA's. More evidence that there really is no "best", or free lunches.

February 6, 2013, 05:24 PM
By the same token, a professionally tuned S&W gives up very little to the Python, if any. Not to mention being easier to find someone to professionally tune a S&W compared to those who work on Colt DA's. More evidence that there really is no "best", or free lunches.

Agreed. The nicest revolver trigger I shot was a tuned Smith.

Sent from my SGH-T999 using Tapatalk 2

February 6, 2013, 06:27 PM
I had to vote GP100 - 'cause that's what I have. Other than that - I think it's time to wit back and grab some popcorn. This is bound to be on par with 9mm vs 40 vs 45

February 6, 2013, 10:01 PM
A lot of people say the Pythons are more fragile, but I have one that is ancient, obviously a daily holster gun for a LEO. Don't know how many rounds have been through it. Judging by the finish wear from being tightly gripped, a lot. I have fired about 1500 handloads and it is as tight and accurate as ever. Tough? I think so.
I'm a big fan of the GP100, too. When not being used for shooting it can serve as a bludgeon on medium-sized dinosaurs. Mine had a 4" barrel and we knocked golf balls around out to 30 yards, easily. Gave it to a friend who lets me visit it on occasion.
The 686+ with 5" slab-sided barrel, well, here's what happened. Our oldest son is professional military. When he was home one time I had a ".357 Magnum" day at the range, featuring the Python, GP100 and 686+. As he fired the Python I waited with chest puffed out for him to proclaim it the best. Instead, he said the 686 trigger was best, hands down.
On another occasion I took a Python to a gunsmith friend ONLY because I wanted to brag about the fine trigger. He fired one shot and said "OH, I can fix THAT!" I watched in shock as he hurried to his bench, opened the gun and fiddled with stuff inside - - - and made the trigger better. *sigh*
I guess a lot of that is subjective. Once I got the 686+ the Python became a safe queen. They are simply different guns and the 686+ suited my use better.
THEN I got a S&W 627-5 Performance Center .357 MAG - 8 TIMES. *I* think there ain't nothin' better in .357 Mag. I've had to fight my Charming Children to keep it. The professional military one then stole the 686+. BUT, I know where to find it. Him. Them.

Jim K
February 6, 2013, 10:14 PM
".....but a Colt Python is a whole different level of refinement."

Nope. Same 1909 lockwork, just shinier.


February 6, 2013, 10:38 PM
I hate to be a know-it-all, but I KNOW the answer to this one. I've had all three. The Python is the most accurate of the three. The 686 has the best trigger pull of the three. And I think both are "prettier" than the GP100.

But the GP100 is the only one of the three that won't go out of time with heavy use of hot loads. To me, that means the best.

That's why I only kept the Rugers, and let the others go. Heck, I believe the GP100's little brother, the SP101 is less likely to go out of time with 125 grain full magnum loads than the 686 or Python.

This, of course, is my version of things. But I believe it 1000%.

February 6, 2013, 11:47 PM
My Model 586 makes it on almost every trip to the range. It's trigger is a pure joy to shoot at a good price point. Mine has a little holster wear - so it's a user not a collectible which is how I like it. It's sentimental & practical at the same time. I can't open the safe with out admiring it. I often wonder about the various unknown folks who owned it in the 30 years before it came to me. To me, it is a treasured family heirloom that will be passed down to my son.


I've never owned a python...and likely I'll never even get to shoot one. But I own a few and have shoot my fair share of Rugers - and for me, they are probably the best current mass-produced revolver. However, my contemporary Rugers can't touch my 586 for accuracy when I'm shooting them.

February 7, 2013, 12:19 AM
Kinda like comparing a sports car to an SUV to a Pickup. :D

Seriously, the only gun I own that can keep up with my Python in terms of accuracy is my S&W 28. Those two guns are both amazing shooters. Both have 6" tubes and will just plain gut the 10 ring. They shoot way better than anything I'm capable of.

Never owned a 686 so can't comment on that one. I'll have to let the 28 stand in for it.

My 4" GP100 is a great gun in it's own right. Solidly built, above average shooter, reliable as they come. Nice trigger after a little work on the springs. It's the one I choose to use last time I qualified for my CCW.

The Python gives the feeling it's a bit more delicate, while the 28 and GP100 are both tough and beefy.

If I had to choose best of class, the Python wins for both accuracy and beauty. But of the three, it would also be the 1st I'd part with. Go figure. ;)

February 7, 2013, 12:35 AM
The Colt Pythons built back when Colt was tops in revolvers is a thing of awe.

The problem is that was a long time ago and the prices that they command nowadays are crazy. I buy guns solely for utility so high prices are a turn off. There is also the factor of it's getting harder and harder to find someone who will work on them plus spare parts are becoming more limited...I also do not favor pulling the cylinder release to the rear...doesn't make logical sense in the way Smith's push forward or Ruger's button does.

The S&W's are definitely more common. Solid guns. Turn off is some have the safey lock on them plus newer S&Ws are not as finely fitted or exude craftsmanship like the ye old days of S&W (pre Bangor Punta era). That said, the current S&Ws have good quality and Smiths have always had pleasing lines. Very classic stuff.

Ruger makes a solid modern revolver. Not as pretty as a Smith or Colt, but solid and built with a modern design that can be field stripped easily...as opposed to S&W's which harkens back many years and has a bunch of small parts. No, the Rugers are robust, logically designed revolvers. The tradeoff is they tend to be harsher than S&W or Colt revolvers. The trigger is rougher, it's got prominent safety information engraved on it, the lines don't flow quite as nicely...but it's a hell of a weapon when it comes down to it.

Personally I favor Ruger revolvers. I've had exceptionally good luck with them and they can be turned into pretty nice pieces (see Gemini Custom, for example). I carried a Security Six for a long time and like it a lot. I buy my guns with an eye towards defensive use, and I'd much rather put my trust into a good Ruger than anything else.

February 7, 2013, 12:49 AM
If you plan on using the gun I would go with the ruger. Parts for the python can hard to find. The S&W while being a better shooter out of the box is not as durable as the Ruger and it is more prone to jamming due to debris in the action. I have slid down to the bottom of a snow covered ravine with a Ruger Blackhawk. I just whacked the gun on the bottom of my boot a few times and never gave it another thought. I killed a deer later in the day with the gun. When I fired the gun mud and snow flew out of it. I had to wash my glasses before I could field dress the deer.

February 7, 2013, 06:08 AM
I own several S&W Model 27s and several Colt Pythons. My true "shooter" Python is a 4" I picked up at a gun show for a decent price maybe 15 years ago. The lock up was tight but the nickle finish had seen better days. I ended up sending the gun to Bob Coogan (Accurate Plating and Weaponry). I had them disassemble the gun and hard chrome everything including the internals. I added a set of Nill grips. I have put a couple 1,000 rounds of full power 158gr ammo thru it. It just keeps on ticking. Very accurate. Low maintenance. It ended up being the shooter I hoped for.

Just an interesting side note for those that may not know. A Colt cylinder rotates clockwise (into the frame...from the shooters perspective) and the rifling rotates counter-clockwise. On a Smith, the cylinder rotates counter-clockwise, and the rifling rotates clockwise. On a Colt Python, when you pull the trigger, the cylinder locks up steady as a rock, with no "play" in it at all.


.357 Mag perfection?

February 7, 2013, 01:31 PM
I have a 4" Stainless Colt Python that I bought NIB in '91 and two stainless Ruger GP100s including 3" and 4.2" models. I would keep the Python if I had to choose ... no question. But I agree that Ruger has a better cylinder release. I only have one S&W and that's a 629 with a 4" barrel. It's a good revolver but not in the same class as the Python.

February 7, 2013, 02:21 PM
I have all the ones you mentioned and quite a few others. My favorite is the older S&W model 27. Of the ones you mentioned , I like the Python the best.

February 7, 2013, 07:03 PM
To do it right you NEED to have two....

1. Colt Python-Hands down the most refined .357 Magnum ever made.
In MY opinion these are better to look at, and let them sit in the safe and increase in value..

2. Ruger GP-100-For ME-Hands down the most "Shoot-able" .357 Magnum around-and for frame size, probably the strongest. I have four of these, in different models, have done action work on them, and shoot the snot out of them...Bill.

Seven For Sure
February 7, 2013, 07:36 PM
I love the 686+. The others are great also but for defense, another round won't hurt. 3" 686+ is one hell of a woods, SD gun.

February 7, 2013, 08:09 PM
One of you needs to buy the Smython for sale on Gunbroker. Apparently some gunsmiths back then couldn't agree on which was better either, so they would mate a Colt Python barrel to a Smith frame, a Smython. Willie_TA has it for sale. Not cheap either. No relation but I have done business with him, good guy.

Oops, my bad, it was sold at the end of January. OK fess up, who bought it??

February 7, 2013, 09:21 PM
As others have said, it's a really terrible question. Better for what purpose?

February 7, 2013, 10:01 PM
Best What?

In a beauty contest the Python is the best.
In a ruggedness contest the Ruger is the best.
In a capacity contest the S&W is the best.

el Godfather
February 8, 2013, 03:47 PM
Best all round.

Black Butte
February 8, 2013, 04:21 PM
Buy the 3-pack.

February 8, 2013, 04:48 PM
Better for looking at? Python

For daydreaming about? Python

For hunting? Python

For accuracy? Python

For action shooting? S&W

For a tackle box? GP 100

For concealed carry? S&W

For duty use? S&W

For mounting an optic? Ruger

For durability? S&W

As a basis for custom work? S&W

For resale value? Python

Best bang for the buck? S&W

Not all inclusive but definately giving the win to the Colt Python. I have owned all three, and carry a S&W mod 10 on most occassions but for a refined shooter its hard to beat a Snake gun.

February 8, 2013, 05:16 PM
For mounting an optic? Ruger
How do you figure that?

As a basis for custom work? S&W
You can do virtually anything to the Ruger but I know of no gunsmiths doing custom five-shot conversions or installing custom barrels on S&W's (that are not PPC style guns).

February 8, 2013, 06:00 PM
My 6" GP100 must be a rare exception or something, because it's as accurate as can be expected of a weapon of this type, the trigger is simply outstanding and has been remarked on by everyone that's fired it,and it locks up almost completely tight, any tighter and you'd think it WAS a python.
It's only failing is that it isn't as graceful and pretty looking as a Python or 686, but I don't think superficial appearances should have any consideration or standing at all in a discussion/poll like this.
Unless someone is a serious collector (which obviously changes the criteria), a gun is merely a tool, and the GP100 will perform it's job just as long and just as well as either of the other two......and do it for less money ;).

February 8, 2013, 07:37 PM
The Ruger GP100 is actually very easy to mount optics on, especially if you use the Weigand rail which attaches by just removing the stock sights and using those mounting holes. No drilling or tapping required. Also very accurate. Over a sandbag rest at 50 yards I can put 6 shots in just under an inch and a half. I regularly shoot all 3 of my GP100's at up to 150 yards on 8" and 16 " steel targets.

While they may not have the best trigger right out of the box, I think they have as good a trigger as any revolvers currently made. It is also very easy to do a trigger/action job on them. It took me about an hour per revolver and they all have very nice smooth and light triggers now.

February 8, 2013, 07:53 PM
Never fired a Colt Python. I'd choose my 686+ over a GP100 just because it balances better in my hand.


P5 Guy
February 8, 2013, 09:42 PM
Colts are pretty except for the ventilated rib, (my opinion) shotguns and vented ribs yes revolvers no.
I've had all three and the S&W or Ruger work better for me.

February 9, 2013, 02:35 AM
I've only fired two of the above mentioned revolvers, the 686 and the Python, thats why the Python is the keeper! Having only paid $325 NIB for the 6" beauty, its here to stay. I do own an accurate Smith, a model 15-4 4" in .38 Spl., it still won't out shoot the Python, but its the most accurate Smith I've ever owned. The trigger on the Snake is amazing, the 15 is close, but no cigar.

February 9, 2013, 09:05 AM
I have a colt python and love it!!! Nickel plated , trigger done and hammer work.

It shoots awesome, i don't let just anybody shoot it and i don't put hot loads though it.

Black Butte
February 9, 2013, 10:50 AM
For durability? S&W

I think the GP100 might actually take the S&W in the durability category.

February 9, 2013, 11:20 AM
Pythons always had a reputation for being nicely finished and hand fitted, but much of that hand fitting was needed because Colt's tooling wasn't really up to snuff even before the advent of CNC machining centers. The exception was the barrel, which contributed to the Python's well deserved reputation for fine out-of-the-box accuracy. Where the Python fall short is in the lockwork - though smooth, the trigger stacks, and under hard use, has a reputation for falling out of time. For this reason, very, very few PPC revolver shooters - guys who'd spend ANY amount of money to gain an edge - shot Pythons.

Ruger revolvers might easily be Russian weapons - big, heavy, unrefined, and solid. Strong and durable, they epitomize the "revolver is a tool" point of view. It's about as hard to get excited over a GP100 as it is over a hammer or screwdriver.

S&W's L-frame revolvers clearly borrow the Python's looks and "weight-forward" under rib, but they have lockwork that doesn't stack and is easier to smooth up. Out of the box a Python may well have a slicker trigger, but with a little work, the S&W becomes the hands-down choice of the pros. The caveat is that S&W quality has had its ups and downs over the years, and today's product with MIM parts and The Lock isn't what it could or should be. But it's still a better choice than a current production Python. (Which doesn't exist at all.)

In days of yore, there was a hybrid made by several 'smiths called the Smython - or sometimes the Smolt. This consisted of an S&W revolver to which a Colt Python barrel had been added to enhance accuracy. Considering the cost of such a conversion, it's illuminating to note that while Colt barrels were highly accurate, S&W mechanics were preferred over the Colt.

Also note that even before he was sponsored by S&W, Jerry Miculek did NOT choose a Python as his competition platform, and has no serious competition using anything but S&W revolvers.

So it's S&W for the win.

February 9, 2013, 01:07 PM
...it's as accurate as can be expected...
How accurate is it? I hear folks say their gun is accurate all the time but it's rarely quantified.

February 10, 2013, 09:13 AM
How accurate is it? I hear folks say their gun is accurate all the time but it's rarely quantified.
Mine is more accurate that I am

February 10, 2013, 10:46 AM
Mine is more accurate that I am
Until people learn how to shoot as well as a machine rest that will be pretty much a given with any firearm and doesn't help much.

Useful and relevant information:
Over a sandbag rest at 50 yards I can put 6 shots in just under an inch and a half.

Not so much:
...it's as accurate as can be expected...
Mine is more accurate that I am

February 10, 2013, 12:09 PM
I don't have the Ruger though I do mourn the passing of the divine Security Six.

I voted 686 because it is very attractive, stainless steel, very tough and accurate. However NOTHING can compare with the Python. It is a beautiful and slick revolver and - IMHO - the epitome of of a fine revolver.

February 10, 2013, 12:21 PM
Theres a reason they call them RUGER LOADS ONLY. I have a Blackhawk, 4 686's and a 65. The Blackhawk is better for hunting and target shooting. I can push the hottest loads around all day and the Ruger will take it. Do not try that in a 686, python, or any of the K-framed S&Ws.

February 10, 2013, 12:47 PM
"Ruger only" only applies to large frame Blackhawks and Redhawks in .45Colt. I don't know why anyone would think it applied to all Rugers in all chamberings.

The GP is no stronger than the 686.

Donut Destroyer
February 10, 2013, 02:03 PM
Mostly, it's about personal preference and intended use. I've carried a S&W 586 and a Ruger Security Six in the field as a cop. Owned a KGP100, but didn't carry it. I've had co-workers who carried and swore by the Python. All have performed flawlessly. To rate each gun, I would say the Python is probably the best for durability, looks and worksmanship. The S&W looks good too and is rock solid, but, out of the box just isn't as polished as the Python as far as feel and smoothness of the action. The Ruger, like most Rugers is chunky and kind of ugly. The action isn't near as smooth initially but it can take a nuke strike and keep plugging. I polished the inner parts of my Ruger (which, internally is simple compared to the other two) and the action was as good as any S&W or Python I've come across (for duty use). The Ruger is the most user friendly for maintenance as it can be broken down with no tools and doesn't have small springs or parts that fall out easily. So, what is it used for and what is your preference? Form, functionality or somewhere in the middle?

February 10, 2013, 08:05 PM
If you read my whole post I was talking about a Blackhawk

February 10, 2013, 10:10 PM
I would guess the three are about equal. It all comes down to cast and clunky vs. forged and sleek. For me life's too short to go around packing ugly heat.:D

February 10, 2013, 11:46 PM
I love my GP100 its super accurate!

February 11, 2013, 01:56 PM
If you read my whole post I was talking about a Blackhawk
I read your whole post and it's entirely irrelevant. What does a Blackhawk in .45Colt shooting "Ruger only" loads have to do with a .357Mag GP???

February 11, 2013, 06:15 PM
It has nothing to do with a 45lc. All the Rugers are overbuilt, and the "Ruger Only Loads" apply to all the Blackhawks and Super Blackhawks.

February 11, 2013, 06:30 PM
I feel like an arguing with an 8yr old.

One more time.....


February 11, 2013, 06:59 PM
I would trade you my S&W 686 and my Ruger GP100 for a similar condition Python ... so, I guess you have my vote. :)

February 11, 2013, 07:02 PM
For me life's too short to go around packing ugly heat.

Life could be even shorter if your sleek heat is out of time. Im just jokin around. I hope to have a Colt Python and a Smith 586 or 686 one day.

February 11, 2013, 07:42 PM
All three are fairly equal in most aspects (accuracy, reliability, shootability).
But, in my opinion, the Ruger has a few advantages...

Over-built to handle practically any load.

A superior cylinder release design.

A much superior disassemble method.

Much better bang-for-the-buck.

It would be great if Ruger made the GP100 trigger just like the LCR's trigger.
The LCR has the best stock DA trigger of any revolver that I have ever shot.

February 11, 2013, 09:56 PM
So my reloading manuals are incorrect when they list 357 mag and 44 magnum loads as "RUGER ONLY"? You obviously know way more than the people who published the manuals.

February 11, 2013, 10:37 PM
I'm a great Ruger fan, but I have no use for the GP-100. The balance is horrendous and even the 4-inch model feels like I'm holding a hammer! I have a few Security-Sixes and they're outstanding. The S&W 686 is, in my view, is the best of the three models mentioned in the OP.

I love the Colt Python. It's a well crafted pistol that has a proven record of accuracy. The bluing is legendary; however, the downside is its small pawl/hand, which wears too quickly and requires frequent re-timing of the gun. This can be fixed by hard chroming the pawl, which increases wear significantly, but it's a pain.

The 686 was designed to meet or beat the Python and, in my opinion, it succeeds. It's still a bit heavy for my taste, but the balance is superb. The 4-inch model is ideal. The 686 costs far less than the Python, is built to exacting specifications, has an excellent action and an enviable reputation.

I'd love to give the thumbs up to the Ruger, but the Security-Six has been shown to shoot up to 30,000 hot magnum loads without the locking cylinder and other innovations. And I've never thought that one spring doing the work of two is better! It's hype. The gun also throws most of its weight forward by virtually eliminating the steel grip. It's a nub. In a survival situation, if you destroy the grip for whatever reason, that nub will be difficult to turn back into a grip. I realize this is a reach, but the balance of the gun isn't. The action of the GP-100 also is significantly inferior to those of both the Python and the 686 which, out of the box, are fabulous.

I'd love to have a Python, but if I lived in Alaska and needed a reliable .357, my choice would be the 686.




February 11, 2013, 10:43 PM
Python by far the smoothest of the three. The less expensive way to go is with the Colt Trooper 357. Python ( new army frame I believe?) with a plain heavy barrel. Can be found in the 5-600 dollar range.

February 11, 2013, 10:52 PM
So my reloading manuals are incorrect when they list 357 mag and 44 magnum loads as "RUGER ONLY"? You obviously know way more than the people who published the manuals.
Which manual is that?

February 11, 2013, 11:22 PM
I am fond of Smiths and have more than my share, but I voted for the Colt. There is just something about a Python.

February 12, 2013, 12:46 AM
I'm a great Ruger fan, but I have no use for the GP-100. The balance is horrendous and even the 4-inch model feels like I'm holding a hammer!

The 4" GP100 balances just fine.
It's just a tad nose heavy, which is a good thing when shooting, as it reduces muzzle flip and helps get back on target quicker.
Especially when firing rapid double-action.

Besides, one of the great things about a revolver is the ability to customize the grips....you can always add some weight to butt to give your revolver any balance you like.

February 12, 2013, 10:21 AM
So my reloading manuals are incorrect when they list 357 mag and 44 magnum loads as "RUGER ONLY"?
I would LOVE to know what manuals have "Ruger only" sections for anything but .45Colt.

February 12, 2013, 10:24 AM
Really hard to say, because I don't know what perameter you are referring too. I went with the 686 because it is the best all round one listed. The Python is like a Rolls Royce, its looks the best, it shoots the best (in my opinion), but parts are hard to come by, nobodys really works on them in my neck of the woods and they are expensive.

The Ruger is great, but it's heavy. It will probably out last both of these guns even if you neglect it.

The S&W shoots good, looks good, parts are a dime a dozen, and even I work on them mechanically.

February 12, 2013, 10:41 AM
Is a GP really heavier than a comparable 686 or do people just 'think' they are???

February 12, 2013, 10:45 AM
Having held both I think they're about the same. Any difference is negligible in the hand. These were both 4" guns, full underlug, and the 686 was actually a 7-shot, with one extra hole.

Maybe someone here has both in their safe and can weigh 'em for us.

Ky Larry
February 12, 2013, 11:31 AM
I would have no problem with any of the three for a self defense gun.I have a 6" Python, a 4" Model-19, and a 4" Model-686 with a Millet red dot and BSquare rings and mounts. Due to my poor eyesight, the -686 is the most accurate for me. However, I often shoot with a man who brings his 14y.o. daughter to the range. She can take my Python and do the 50 yrd popcan dance. All three shoot better than my eyes will allow me.

February 12, 2013, 05:09 PM
Here's a photo to show you the difficulty in making the decision.
The fourth gun, second from right, is a 586 with night sights.
I had to threaten one of our sons with telling their mother how the jade plant died ten years ago, to get a couple of them back for pictures.
All are wonderful to shoot and I have never hesitated to take any into the field. All but the 586 have been on backpacking trips, in my holster or that of a companion.

February 12, 2013, 05:40 PM
Response to Hammerdown77
According to my 'lectronic kitchen scale,
my 4" stainless steel Ruger GP-100 weighs 2-lbs, 7.5 oz, and
my 5" S&W 686+ 7-shooter weighs 2-lb, 5.75 oz.
The GP-100 does feel a little more muzzle heavy than the S&W, but does not present an issue for me.
See previous post for photo.

February 12, 2013, 08:55 PM
Just in case anyone wonders just where my unrepentant loyalty lies . . ..
All are wonderfully accurate with glass smooth actions. The two on the right are clearly former LEO, and are earlier models. The finish is worn and there is surface rust, and the finish wear is reflective of considerable shooting. I don't really care for the look of the stainless steel model, but you have to hold it to appreciate that finish.

February 13, 2013, 08:46 PM
Just bought a 686+ 3 inch only because I couldn't afford a Python.

February 14, 2013, 03:07 AM
Pythons are pretty, Smiths are smooth, and Rugers are rugged. Pick one.

A S&W can put on a mighty nice blue when they want to, but nothing is finished like a Royal Blue Python. They just sort of glow.

Rugers are not as smooth as the others, but if I had to carry a revolver at my hip out back of beyond, it would be my choice.

General use, the S&W.

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