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.357 magnum revolver recommendations?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jamesbeat, Mar 4, 2009.

  1. jamesbeat

    jamesbeat Active Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    I'm moving to Ohio from the UK soon, and will thus be purchasing my first handgun.

    Initially I will have more pressing things to spend my money on, so my first handgun will have to be something of a jack of all trades so to speak.

    Although I'm a huge fan of the 1911, I have had to concede that a .357 magnum revolver will make a more sensible choice for my first gun.
    My reasoning for this is:
    A) When I buy my first 1911, I want it to be a good one, and my first gun needs to be inexpensive.
    B) Although I am well versed in the theoretical side of things, I am from the UK and therefore have very little practical experience. A revolver seems to make more sense initially.
    C) A .357 magnum will allow me to cut my teeth on .38 special yet still give me 'growing room'
    D) One required role for the gun will be home defense. I'd be happy with a 1911, but I am a gun nut who is prepared to practice. My wife is not.
    E) .38 special is relatively cheap and readily available, so I'll be able to afford to put plenty of practice in.

    Ok, so my first question is, is my reasoning sound?
    If so, I need some recommendations based on the following criteria:

    1) The gun needs to be inexpensive (not 'cheap') I don't want to buy crap, but my firearms budget will initially be low until I have all my ducks in a row. I need a basic no frills .357 magnum revolver.
    2) I will only buy a stainless steel revolver. I know they are marginally more expensive, but I really don't want a blued one.
    3) I would prefer a medium frame six shot revolver.
    4) The gun will be used for target shooting, general plinking, home defense and possibly concealed carry.
    5) For the same money, I would rather buy a higher quality used gun than a lower quality new one.
    6) The revolver must be all steel. I want this gun to be capable of digesting .357 magnum ammunition on a regular not occasional basis.

    I've been looking at guns from S&W, Ruger and Taurus. I like S&W a lot, but they tend to be on the more spendy side. Taurus seem to be S&W clones but I have read mixed reports about their quality.

    I also need advice on barrel length. Obviously a 6" barrel would be better for target shooting/home defense, and a 2" barrel would be better for concealment, but I don't have the luxury of buying both just yet. What would be a good compromise for an all rounder? 3" maybe?
  2. JimJD

    JimJD Active Member

    Oct 2, 2003
    A Ruger GP100 with a four inch barrel sounds like it should fit the bill. Or, you can go with a smaller frame and get a Ruger SP101 with a three inch barrel. But you will lose one round in the SP101, bringing you to a total of five rounds.
    Both of these pistols are great in most every way. They're built like tanks and I love mine!
    Cheers! :D
  3. redbandit98

    redbandit98 New Member

    Jan 17, 2008
    Fort Smith AR
    Ill chime in my little piece, I had a rossi that broke a firing pin after 200 rounds. I sent it back, they replaced it and then it broke it again in another 125 rounds. I know a Taurus is not a rossi, but tecnically speaking they are pretty close. Just thought Id put that out there for you. Im not trying to bash anyone, but if its going to be your only gun, I would buy decent quality.
  4. jamesbeat

    jamesbeat Active Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Ok, the GP100 is now on my shortlist. I did look at the SP101, but I think I want a medium frame and six rounds.
    This is the problem I seem to be having, revolvers mostly seem to have model numbers rather than names, and there is a bewildering number of them!

    I've read that Taurus used to have quality control issues but that they have cleaned up their act somewhat in recent years.
    I'd be interested in a Taurus as a less costly version of a S&W, but only if it's not going to fall apart in my hands.
    Any opinions from Taurus owners?

    JimJD, on what basis do you think a 4" barrel would be best? I was kinda hoping I could get away with a 3" for ease of concealment, but if a 4" would be more versatile for the pretty unfair variety of tasks that I'm expecting this gun to perform, I'll go for one.

    I know that I would gain extra sight radius, less muzzle blast/flash and slightly higher velocity, but I'm concerned about concealing that extra inch.
  5. owlhoot

    owlhoot Active Member

    Jun 10, 2005
    You just described a S&W model 66. Such would certainly be my first choice. It is out of production but there are plenty of them around.
  6. jamesbeat

    jamesbeat Active Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Yup, looks like I did :D

    If I can get one at a reasonable price, that would be perfect.
    What's the difference between the 66 and the 686? Is it just the full length shroud on the 686 that's different?
    I think I'd like a full length shroud to put a bit more weight near the muzzle for when I'm shooting 357, but I guess it doesn't matter too much.
    The 66 is certainly a handsome revolver.

    Another question that I forgot to add above, fixed or adjustable sights?
    I'm not going to be doing any long distance target work, and adjustable target sights worry me on a carry gun.
    Sorry for all the questions, but I'm pretty new to all of this :rolleyes:
  7. Radagast
    • Contributing Member

    Radagast Mentor

    Dec 24, 2002
    The model 19 & 66 have a small section cut out of the bottom of the forcing cone. The 686, apart from a full length underlug, has a slightly deeper window for the cylinder, allowing a non cut forcing cone, which means longer life when fired with .357 magnums.

    Read the link here:

    If you are planning to CCW then forget about the adjustable sights, but also forget about a full sized revolver. You will end up wanting an alloy frame j frame. Carrying a full sized gun seems cool until you do it. Then you realize just how heavy they are.

    Adjustables are great for training at the range, a black rear sight and red insert front is better than a silver channel.

    If you are not carrying it then a new or used 686 or even a new 620 would do fine.

    When you actually get to the USA go to a range and hire a few guns and familarize yourself with them before buying. Coolgunitis is a bad disease, I've had it 24 times.
  8. SouthShoreTJ

    SouthShoreTJ New Member

    Jan 28, 2009
    I just bought a 4" GP-100 as my first gun. Mine's blued, I wanted a stainless gun but my local shop didn't have a stainless GP in stock and gave me a discount on the blued gun. for $475 I settled for blued and I'm not disappointed.

    I keep mine in the nightstand for home defense and take it camping with me for plinking or self defense.

    Initially I wanted a S&W 686 because I thought they looked much more elegant than the Rugers. The GP-100 is heavier looking and generally strikes me as more utilitarian. I chose the Ruger over the S&W though because I believe it's just as much gun for a lot less money; As I shopped more I grew to like the heavy-barreled look and feel of the GP-100, which also makes it easy for an amateur like me to shoot magnum loads.
  9. rishooter

    rishooter New Member

    Dec 25, 2008
    Sensible Choice

    Try a 3" barrelled Ruger GP100.You can get one used reasonably priced,and they are among the least likely firearms to suffer damage from abuse because they are overbuilt.They are utterly reliable and accurate enough.You can shoot any load you want in them and not have to worry about forcing cone damage or flame cutting like with a an S&W 19/66.
    The S&W "L" frames are ok,but the Ruger is just as good for less money.
  10. scottishclaymore

    scottishclaymore Member

    Mar 12, 2008
    Texas, Praise God
    Though it will mean people will jump on top of me and cry "foul!" I feel I really must put in a plug for the ubiquitous Rossi.

    The Rossi 462 is a good, easy-to-conceal revolver and most Rossis these days have next to no reliability issues -- not any more than any other particular brand. They're also pretty inexpensive. Mine has had several hundreds of rounds through it within the last two-and-a-half months and is doing just great so far.
  11. pps

    pps Member

    May 27, 2008
    Used guns can be had for a song. Ruger Service/security 6, SW model 19 (as noted above check for cracked forcing cone and top strap flame cutting, or 686, 27, 28 and many more. The Ruger GP, or SP are also fine guns.
  12. LoneCoon

    LoneCoon Active Member

    Apr 24, 2006
    Dan Wesson!

    You can find them for less than $300. When you've got some more cash to spend, you can upgrade your barrels to 2", 6" or 8" for less then you'd spend on a whole new gun.

    Be sure to get a model 15, not a 14, though.
  13. Landric

    Landric Active Member

    Apr 19, 2003
    Kansas City Metro
    If you are planning on shooting a lot of magnums, then I put in another vote for either the GP100 or the 686. New 686 revolvers are pretty expensive, and IMO, the older ones are nicer anyway. So, I'd look for a used 686 or a new or used GP100.

    Its kind of putting the cart before the horse, but should you decide to handload in the future (which is almost a necessity these days if you want to shoot a lot), the .38 Special/.357 Magnum are joys to handload for.
  14. Brian Williams

    Brian Williams Moderator Emeritus

    Dec 22, 2002
    Kampong Cham, Cambodia
    S&W 66/19, S&W 586/686, Ruger GP100 series or the Speed/Service-Six series, Any Dan Wesson.
    Look for Adjustable sights and a 4" barrel.
  15. jem375

    jem375 Participating Member

    Jan 4, 2003
    4" GP100 would be my choice also, we have 3 in the family and they are just great handguns. Don't worry about adjustable sights either, all my carry guns except 1 have adjustable sights and is not a problem.
  16. wankerjake

    wankerjake Participating Member

    Apr 6, 2008
    Flagstaff AZ
    Then you don't want a Taurus or a Rossi. Might as well not learn the "you get what you pay for" lesson on your first pistol. Buy a Ruger or a Smith (or Dan Wesson). I really like the way the GP100 looks and feels. I don't mind the weight on my hip, and would recommend a 3" or 4" barrel. I held a S&W 686 the other day as well, sweet with hogue grips. For your requirements I would think fixed sight would be fine, but I'll always take adjustable if I can help it. You may decide you want the adjustable sight later, and they really don't get in the way.
  17. jbkebert

    jbkebert Senior Member

    Jan 30, 2009
    Another in favor of the GP-100 4". I enjoy shooting mine even though it hasn't seen the light of day for a couple of years. Kinda just sits in the safe and gets wiped down ever so often.

    Does anyone have any feedback on the Taurus model 608? A local shop has one for $575.00 NIB. It has a 6" barrel ported and is in stainless. Seems to feel good and sight well. I can't afford it right now just wondering.
  18. MikePGS

    MikePGS Senior Member

    Aug 4, 2006
    Metro Detroit, Michigan
    I actually looked at a GP100 4" yesterday, very nice gun. I'm contemplating buyine one for my first to, but i want to conceal carry it so maybe I need to find something else :D Around here they can be found for 500 dollars or so, not sure if that falls in your budget or not.
  19. bedwards1

    bedwards1 New Member

    Mar 1, 2009
    Birmingham, Al.
    Why the Taurus bashing? Have 3 Tauri and 1 Rossi with nary a complaint. Chevy or Ford?

  20. FullEffect1911

    FullEffect1911 Participating Member

    May 15, 2005
    Northeast PA
    I don't think you can go wrong with either a gp100 or a S&W. From your criteria I would go with a 3" or 4" barrel. But please do let us know just what price range exactly you are looking at, so we can better recommend a product.

    Take a good look at the S&W 620, it is the L frame version of the 66 and you get an extra shot in that cylinder. That is unless you have an aversion to a 7 shooter and a 2 piece barrel. Both of those things I consider an improvement (blasphemy, I know). I can and do conceal carry this service size revolver; IWB, with a simply rugged sourdough pancake holster. Don't worry to much about the adjustable sights, this holster covers them up and protects them.

    By the way, welcome to the USA.

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