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Which .357 Revolver to buy...

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by barnbwt, Aug 14, 2011.

  1. barnbwt

    barnbwt Mentor

    Aug 14, 2011
    Howdy from Texas,
    I've been looking for a good trail revolver to take with me for some decent bear protection (I know, .44's are even better for this job) that won't weigh as much as the rest of my pack. Light weight, maximum firepower, and a medium-large frame/barrel size are the features I'm most interested in.

    Though these features sort of contradict eachother, I've found two possible candidates so far; The S&W 327 (TR)R8, and the Chiappa Rhino 50DS (I know, I know...)

    The concept of an eight shot magnum with a light full size frame is very compelling, plus it's a S&W performace center item with high quality parts. It's pretty much guaranteed (actually it is) to be a rock-solid dependable gun.

    However, the six shot Rhino appears capable of delivering faster followup shots with greater accuracy due to its low barrel configuration. But it's internals appear more complicated, and some quality control issues have been raised as Chiappa ramps up production. As much as I like the neo-Mateba Rhino concept (I really do) I'm not sure if the 400 bucks I could save over the 327 is worth the potential for hassles.

    I believe both weigh in just above 30 oz unloaded, and both have 5" barrels (a balance between weight and accuracy I really like). Please feel free to weigh in on either of these options or to suggest other similar revolvers.

    I've had a chance to inspect a 4" Rhino at a local store, and I didn't personally find any of the trigger/DA issues raised by some reviewers. It seemed a very well made gun with better ergonomics than the Ruger GP100 and S&W 686 I also checked out. That said, the fact it's a new design, with more internal parts, and made by a fast-growing manufacturer makes me pause

  2. TraditionalCatholic

    TraditionalCatholic New Member

    Jul 9, 2010
    I think for your purpose, the down-to-earth reliability of the S&W might be a better choice. It sounds like you follow my typical approach when purchasing something, which is to go with the tried and true.

    Since trail guns are typically used in isolated areas for protection, I'd want to have something I knew I could count on. Does that I mean that I think the Chiappa weapon won't hold up? No. It means that my knowledge of it is fuzzy because it hasn't been out there long enough. It sounds like you already have this figured out pretty well, so I may just be repeating what you already know.

    In short, if it was me, and I had the money, I'd buy the S&W.
  3. engineer88

    engineer88 New Member

    Feb 2, 2009
    One more vote here for the proven design of the Smith. Extra couple of rounds can't hurt either, especially if it is something big (God forbid) that you have to put down.

    My only other suggestion would be to give some of the older Smiths a look like the 19, 27, 65, etc.

    You never know what will suit your fancy. :)
  4. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Participating Member

    Jan 1, 2010
    Hayward, WI
    From what I'm reading here, I'd suggest a 627 with 4" barrel. The mass will be somewhat higher but the massive (if you'll pardon the expression) increase in control, followup and accuracy will more than make up for the weight.

    158 gr. LSWCHP in front of 15 grains of 2400 is good medicine for anything a hand gun can cure.
  5. ColtPythonElite

    ColtPythonElite Mentor

    Jan 8, 2011
    Out of the guns you offered up...Get the Smith.

    With that said, if you are looking for bear protection don't overlook the .44. The package doesn't have to be that much more in terms of size or weight. Here are two guns in the same holster, except ones a .357 and the other is a .44. They both even use the same grip. The gun's are virtually identical in profile, except one has a little bit larger frame and cylinder. With a good belt and in that holster, I don't know whether I'm carrying a .44 or .357. I recently went on a 4 day camping trip and wore the .44 nearly all the time.

    Attached Files:

  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Senior Elder

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    Welcome to the forum. If you would have done a search of the forums you would have found countless threads on bear protection. Many of those threads are pages long and require popcorn and a cold drink to get through! LOL
    If along with those features you're also looking for a really short barrel I would buy the S&W Model 329 Night Guard You get 6 rounds of .44 Magnum in a 29oz revolver with a 2.5" barrel.

    If you don't mind a a 4" barrel the S&W Model 329PD is actually 4oz lighter at 25oz. Both are probably no fun at the range but for a full weekend of carry they are probably just what you are looking for.
  7. jad0110

    jad0110 Senior Member

    Feb 28, 2006
    Somewhere between the Eastern Block states and Flo
    Of the 2 you listed, I'd personally go with the S&W. But if it were me, I'd go for either a 6" S&W K Frame like the 19 or 66, or a used 6" Ruger Security Six.
  8. greyling22

    greyling22 Senior Member

    Aug 6, 2007
    East Texas
    how about a taurus tracker in 44 or 357? you can get a 4" barrel in a 35 oz (ish) package. (5 shots 44 7 of 357) I know some folks bash taurus, but my experience with them has been nothing but positive. (a 1911 and a smith 686 clone)

    as far as fit and feel, the hogue grips on smiths and rugers have never fit right for me. I liked the older style gp100 grips and the pachymar grips on a smith. they became whole new guns.

    PS: where are finding bears in texas? waco?


    Jul 10, 2007
    You should check out a ruger gp100 before you decide !Kevin
  10. 357 Terms

    357 Terms Active Member

    Oct 8, 2010
    What didn't you like about the gp100 and the 686? seems to be just what ya need. That said I would get the Smith 327 or go with what jad 0110 said and get a K frame smith or a Six series Ruger.
  11. 2zulu1

    2zulu1 Participating Member

    Jul 18, 2011
    I have the M327 TRR8 and like it a lot; it does get holster time at my place and is comfortable while operating the tractor. Its Hogue grips soak up a lot of recoil shooting full power handloads and it's a LOT more comfortable to shoot than K-frames with small/large wooden grips.

    With a Streamlight on the bottom rail, plus the top rail red dot option, there is no comparison with a non-rail wheelgun for bed stand duty IMO. :)

    While I carry a M29 Mountain Gun in active bear areas, you should be okay with .357mag/180gr WFNGCs or heavier.

  12. barnbwt

    barnbwt Mentor

    Aug 14, 2011
    Thanks for the replies, everyone, seems like everyone (and me) is for the Smith, so I've decided against the Rhino this time. I'd love to support a company that is willing to try such innovative concepts, but the reports I've heard are just too varied, and I can't afford to buy everything I like. Maybe some other time. I'd be willing to bet that if they make a 2nd gen version, it will be fantastic, though.

    I tried on the 4 and 6 inch versions of the S&W 686 and Ruger GP100 that were in the store. The 686 is a great gun, but the full underlug and 6" barrel are heavy, and this is a backpacking gun. The 5" barrels seem like a better balance of weight and sight length.

    I found the GP100's DA trigger pull to be a bit weird; went from stiff, to easy, to stiff again before break. The SW 686 (and even the Chiappa) was much more consistent in pull resistance. The rubber grips on the Ruger didn't fit me that well either. The GP100 was again, fairly heavy.

    Since I can't find a 327 anywhere to hold, is there another N-frame Smith that would be a decent model for grip comparison? The 686 was okay, but I don't know if an L-frame grip compares well to an N-frame.

    Some other comparisons, arranged by approximate price:

    SW TRR8 - 36oz, 5" barrel, 8 rounds, N frame (winning gun, so far)
    SW 627 PC - 44oz, 5" barrel, 8 rounds, N frame (same cost as R8, too)
    SW 627 - 41oz, 4" barrel, 8 rounds, N frame
    SW 686 SSR - 38oz (lightest of 686's), 4" barrel, 6 round capacity, L Frame
    SW 629 - 44oz, 5" barrel, 6 rounds .44mag, N Frame
    Rhino 50DS - 31.5oz, 5" barrel, 6 rounds
    GP100 - 45oz, 6" barrel, 6 rounds
    Tracker 66 - 40oz, 6" barrel, 7 rounds (is the turn-key safety thing an issue?)
    Tracker 608 - 51oz, 6.5"barrel, 8 rounds

    I am fairly sure at this point that I'm getting the 327, though.
  13. roaddog28

    roaddog28 Active Member

    Oct 5, 2009
    Escondido, CA
    My recommendation is either a Ruger Security Six 4 inch or a S&W model 19 4 inch. Both in 357 magnum. They are easy to carry holsters fit either one and they are both very reliable. I have both and to me they would be the best all around.
    Good luck,
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2011
  14. BCRider

    BCRider Mentor

    Nov 15, 2008
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    The grips between an L and N frame are the same as far as your hand cares. If there are any slight actual differences they are minor. And that only makes sense since our hands are all the same regardless of which gun we shoot The serious differences are all internal to the frame style.

    Given that you'll carry it a lot and shoot it at actual need seldom, if ever, I'd suggest a 686. Stainless will suffer less due to any exposure... I was going to say in case of rain but then I remembered that you said "Texas" :D Up this way being outdoors implies getting wet from "cloud sweat" on a regular basis :D

    If I were of the sort that carried for wood defense and if I were actually allowed to carry up this way without an almost impossible to get permit I'd carry the gun in a holster that worked well with my back pack. I'd also do regular practice sessions loaded down with a full pack and that holster to be sure I could flick off the gun retention on the holster and get the first shot off with decent accuracy in a short time. MOST wood encounters with psychotic animals happen in the blink of an eye. A gun packed away which you can't reach may as well be back in the truck. One thing that my shooting sports has taught me is that a gun is only as good as the holster used to carry it. Don't discount the importance of your holster and how and were it's mounted. Your first shot owes everything to the holster. The second shot is up to you.
  15. mdauben

    mdauben Senior Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Huntville, AL
    I'd probably agree with ArchangleCD. You are giving up a lot of the velocity that makes the .357 so effective by using such a short barreled gun. Some manufacturers do make special "short barrel" ammo for common revolver rounds to off-set that to some degree, but all things being equal a 4" barrel is going to give more velocity and less muzzle blast than a 2" barrel.
  16. LordDunsany

    LordDunsany New Member

    Mar 8, 2008
    D/FW Metro Area, TX
    For a trail gun suitable for bear I'd go for a Ruger Blackhawk in 45 Colt. A bit bulkier than the other guns mentioned but much less expensive, reliable as a brick (weighs like one also) and simple to use.

    If you are a reloader you can spice it up, though I suspect that even a factory 255 gr load would make Mr. Black Bear seriously inconvenienced. Would work for most any other critter also.

    My personal field favorite is a Vaquero in 45 Colt.

    Ron in Texas
  17. bassdogs

    bassdogs Member

    Jul 18, 2011
    Dale Hollow Lake, KY/TN
    Probably a ? for another forum, but the mention that in Canada it is almost harder than splitting an atom to own and carry a handgun. I can understand maybe in urban areas, but in the bush I don't get the point.

    I have a colt trooper MkIII 6" 357. Its packed and ready to head up to Ak in about 3 weeks. Loads will be 180gr HC LWC from Buffalo B.
  18. bikemutt
    • Contributing Member

    bikemutt Senior Member

    Dec 24, 2010
    Renton, WA
    Consider the Taurus 608 4", an 8-shot .357 mag. It's heavy enough that even full load .357 mags are not bothersome. I wish they'd make one with a snub barrel. Just picked up a new one up online for $450.
  19. snakeman

    snakeman Senior Member

    May 20, 2008
    I would like to state that the rhino has to be held a certain way or else you wil be burned by gasses sneaking by the cylinder gap. I would look into the rossi (mine keeps on trucking) or take a look at the gp100 from ruger.
  20. Owen Sparks

    Owen Sparks member

    May 27, 2007
    A good used Ruger Security Six is about as good as it gets. They are not as well finished as the S&W's but they will outlast you and your grandson. The frame and barrel of the newer Ruger GP 100 is just too chunkey yet the weak link, the cylinder, is no different from the sleeker Security Six.

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