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Which S&W .357 Magnum revolver for home defense and carry?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Accord, Apr 26, 2006.

  1. Accord

    Accord New Member

    Mar 29, 2006
    I'm looking to get a Smith & Wesson revolver in .357 Magnum for home defense, however there are literally a countless number of different models available and I have no idea where I should start looking.

    It will be primarily used for home defense and I would occasionally like to carry it as well.

    Which S&W .357 Magnum models should I look at that fit my criteria? I don't want one of those pocket revolvers because I want to use this for home defense, but I also don't want a giant revolver that is too big to carry on my 165 pound 5'11" body.

  2. Dollar An Hour

    Dollar An Hour Participating Member

    Sep 30, 2005
    Mesa, AZ
    Maybe find a used K-Frame model 19 or 66?

    Otherwise the steel-frame 3" stainless model 60 sounds like a good compromise since you want to carry.

    If the 5-shot model 60 is too small, maybe a model 686 L-Frame 6-shot in a 2-1/2" barrel?
  3. Vern Humphrey

    Vern Humphrey Elder

    Dec 30, 2002
    Deep in the Ozarks
    I'd say the ideal choice for you would be the Ruger SP 101 with the 3 1/16" barrel. This is a very practical gun for an outdoorsman, has enough heft to soak up recoil, and is small enough for concealed carry.
  4. MikeK

    MikeK Active Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    If only carried occasionally my vote would be a 4" 686. I have one and it has a great trigger. I also own a 2 1/4" Sp-101. Also a great gun, but shooting 357's gets a little rough after 30 rounds or so.
  5. MikeJ

    MikeJ Active Member

    Jan 1, 2003
    I suggest you take a close look at a 3" model 65. 3" .357's are IMO the best all around defensive revolver.
  6. Cosmoline

    Cosmoline Senior Elder

    Dec 29, 2002
    Los Anchorage
    The K-Frame Smiths are ideal, but I believe S&W in their wisdom have stopped making them. A combat magnum model 19 is hard to beat. The only drawback is finding one in stainless. At least around here the 13's and 19's outnumber the 66's and 65's four to one or more. This gives the Ruger SP-101 or Security Six the edge because the SP is only made in stainless and the Six was mostly made in stainless. Both are about K frame size, though the Six gives you an extra round. I really like my SP for home use because there's always problems with condensation and moisture when carrying back and forth from outside to inside or even in the bathroom. The SP is fine with a monthly break down and cleaning, but an old blue Smith will suffer. The new S&W 619's and 620's are NOT K frames but L. I personally find the thicker frames annoying and not worth the 7 shot feature. They're too big for CCW. And of course S&W's new ultralight CCW J frames tend to be absurd for use with .357's.
  7. cookekdjr

    cookekdjr Participating Member

    Sep 24, 2004
    I'd look at the 60, the 640, and the Ruger sp101.
    The Ruger will probably need a trigger job (the ones I've tried had heavy trigger pulls). Otherwise, its a great gun. The recoil on it is much lower than you'd expect.
    I have a S&W 60 in .357. Its one of the newer ones on the J-magnum frame. Its the 2" barrel variety, with fixed sights. I recommend it as well. The 640 is the same gun, but on the hammerless j-frame. Some ATF agents here have started carrying the 640 as a back-up. An agent friend of mine showed me his 640 yesterday, and said he had ordered one for his trainee.
    The S&W's are easier to carry, but the sp101's seem to soak up recoil better. They are both very accurate.
    You really can't go wrong with any of the three.
  8. RON in PA

    RON in PA Senior Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    S.E. PA, USA
    I'll second all those that have already suggested a 3" revolver. you have the choice of various Smith K frames and the Ruger SP101 and GP100. Also I'm going to suggest a slight alternative, don't overlook the possibility of a 3" K-frame in 38 special such as a model 10 or its SS equivilent the model 64. Loaded with the +P FBI load such a revolver is not to be sneezed at and is very controllable with less noise and flash.
  9. kngflp

    kngflp Member

    Jul 3, 2004
    I'll second the 686. My dad has a 4" and it has the best single action trigger I have shot. I see 4" 686's used all the time for $350-$400. You should be able to find a 3" model if that's what you really want.
  10. dbarale

    dbarale Member

    Apr 11, 2006
    Asheville, NC
    That would be my choice too! A Ruger Speed Six 2 3/4" would also be a good choice, the GP 100 is a little bulky for CCW.
  11. WT

    WT Participating Member

    Jun 11, 2003
    A 3" Model 65.
  12. ChristopherG

    ChristopherG Participating Member

    Jan 7, 2003
    Central WA
    When you say 'carry occassionally', do you mean licensed concealed carry, or open carry in wild places, or just walkin around the range? If concealed carry is in the picture, then the 3" guns are a good compromise. If you do not plan on regularly concealing it, then a 4" model 619, 620, or 686 is what you're looking for. They are outstanding revolvers and a great way to learn how to shoot a wheelgun.
  13. Stainz

    Stainz Senior Member

    Apr 24, 2003
    Pinson, AL
    I sold my 3" 65 some time back. I found a 2" 10 with the 'FBI load', +P 158gr LHPSWC .38 Spcl, more to my liking - and more accurate. Shooting .357M's indoors isn't wise... the supersonic 'crack' will disorient you at the very least; perhaps damage your hearing - those 'FBI loads' are fine - and have a proven track record.

    A better choice might just be the 65/66 replacement - the 619/620. I'd go for the 620, due to it's adjustable sights. It weighs 37.9oz vs the 4" 66's 37.0 oz. It is an L-frame - with a frame that is .015" wider at the barrel attachment than the K-frames (My measurements from my 6" 66 and 5" 686+.) to permit a larger forcing cone on the barrel, the so-called Achille's heel of the K-frames. The taller frame opening means the 7-shot cylinder is possible as well. The K & L frames even share the same grips. The beauty of the 620 over the regular 686 or 686+ is the partial barrel lug on the new 620 - which makes it handle like the partial lugged K-frames - and look like them as well. I like the 'retro' look, opting for the half lugged 5" 686+ 'Stocking Dealer Exclusive' several years ago over the usual full lugged 686's. I would have bought a 620, had they been available - still have one on my 'short' list (awaiting funds...). go to a well-stocked dealer - see which one feels better to you.

    If recoil is a problem, when you have to shoot .357M's, consider one of the S&W .500 Magnum Hogue grips (SKU #29467 only available from S&W Accessories - $35.) - they fit X, N, and K/L frames - and really help with the recoil, as they cover the backstrap. Buy both proper sized .357/.38 bore and chamber brushes. Clean those chambers well after shooting .38 Specials before loading .357 Magnums. Shoot all of the .38's you want - lead/clad - just enjoy whatever you get. Consider those 'FBI loads' - Remington R38S12's, for example (~$20/50) - for defense.

  14. Deanimator

    Deanimator Elder

    Mar 30, 2006
    Rocky River, Ohio
    I'm not a big fan of stainless steel, but either the blued Model 13 or the Model 65 would make a good home defense/carry gun. I'll get a used Model 13 some day.

    I've got a 3 1/2" Model 27 as a home defense gun. Shoots great with the Federal 158gr. LSWCHP "FBI" load.
  15. bpisler

    bpisler Participating Member

    Dec 30, 2002
    Take your pick from the following
    Smith and wessons

    3" model 13 or 65
    2½" model 19 or 66
    2½" 686


    3" SP-101
    3" GP-100
    2¾" service or speed 6

    I don't know what taurus makes in a
    3" revolver if anything.
    All of the above except the SP-101
    can be found with a 4" barrel.
  16. miko

    miko Member

    Aug 10, 2005
    There exists 3" S&W Model 66.

  17. Gixerman1000

    Gixerman1000 Active Member

    May 22, 2004
    Eastern USA
    I own a 5.5” 627-0, 6” 686P-5, 4” 586-4 and a limited run 3” 66-4 with factory mag-na-porting, if I had to pick one for home defense and CCW it would be the 3” 66.

  18. gwalchmai

    gwalchmai Member

    Dec 27, 2002
    outside the perimeter
    The best S&W .357 Magnum revolver for the prospective buyer who thinks there is "literally a countless number of different models available" is a 4" K-frame in .38 Special.

    Why? As noted, .357 Mag is not really well suited to home defense, and if used for anything else it requires more training than most new shooters have. .38SPL, OTOH, perfectly fills the "indoor bad guy shooting" role, plus is gentle enough to encourage a new user to practice, which will tell him whether buying a .357 is worthwhile later.
  19. revo

    revo New Member

    Feb 2, 2006
    Tough decision, I know. I went with the 686 Plus 4" at first thinking all my woes would be settled with one purchase. BZZZZZZT -- wrong again... :)

    I found the 686 awesome for at home, but a bit bulky (for me) for concealed carry. For open carry, no problemo.

    Next, I started checking out the model 60s. The frame was small and easy to conceal, but it was still pretty heavy for my tastes. I stuffed it in my pocket and felt my pants were always falling down.

    I settled with a "one for this, one for that" approach: a 340PD for carry and 686 for home. I just couldn't find a happy medium in one gun that worked for me in both capacities. It's a very hard decision to make for most, and so subjective as to be near impossible to get spot-on advice. What works for one is way off for another.

    But -- if I were to choose just one:
    S&W model 60 3" bbl. A compromise of frame size, weight, bbl length, and adj sights. However, you only get 5 shots.

    Enjoy your search though, that's the fun of it.
  20. only1asterisk

    only1asterisk member

    Jun 13, 2003
    If a .357 is "not really well suited to home defense", what would be?


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