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Would like to buy a "classic" S&W revolver

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by sleepyone, Dec 4, 2012.

  1. sleepyone

    sleepyone Well-Known Member

    Lately I have been considering buying an older S&W revolver. I already have a 4" 686 Plus that I absolutely love. It is a newer one with the lock, but it has perfect lockup and is extremely accurate. It has been my hunting sidearm since I bought it about three or four years ago. I would like to buy an older, 1970s or 80s?, blued S&W revolver in .357 and 4" barrel to go with my 686+. This will probably be a one-time purchase. I don't have the funds to build a collection of classic S&W revolvers (wish I did), so I want to make sure I make a wise purchase. This gun will be a range/hunting sidearm and not a safe queen, but I want to buy one that is in excellent condition as I take very good care of all my firearms. My budget would be about $750 max. I would like to get some advice from The High Road S&W revolver experts on which model would be a good fit based on the guidelines I have given. Thanks!

    I would like to some pics of the model you recommend if possible.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  2. gspn

    gspn Well-Known Member

    Model 586 and Model 27 come to mind. Depending on which "dash" you get they should fit into your criteria pretty well.
  3. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member


    I get a kick out of it when guys say they want an 'older' gun and then peg the date at the 1970s or 1980s. There is really no reason to limit yourself to those years if you want a nice 'older' Smith, although the prewar guns can be pretty pricy.

    The classic S&W 357s are The 357 Magnum, later known as the Model 27, the Highway Patrolman, later known as the Model 28, and the Combat Magnum, later known as the Model 19. All the others are Johnny Come Latelys, at least in my somewhat snobbish opinion. :)

    The 357 Magnum was the first revolver developed specifically for the 357 Magnum cartridge. It was built on the large, N frame. After S&W changed over to their model number system in 1957 it became the Model 27. This gun was the absolute top of the line with Smith, fancy checkering on the top strap and barrel rib, and a high polish finish. Unfortunately you will probably have trouble finding one in your price range, but you never know.


    The Highway Patrolman was the same basic gun but without the frills. Produced with a slightly matte finish, it was meant to be a more affordable gun. I would not be surprised if you could find one in your price range. After 1957 it became the Model 28. Don't be put off by the duller finish, some of them were almost as polished as a 27. You can see that this specimen has some shine to it.


    The Model 27 and 28 are both big, relatively heavy guns. In the 1960s, Bill Jordan lobbied S&W for a more lightweight duty gun chambered for 357 Magnum and the Combat Magnum, built on the K frame, was the result. It later became known as the Model 19. I bought this one brand, spanky new in 1975.


    Here is a photo comparing the sizes of the Model 27 and the Model 19. Don't be confused by the over sized target grips ont he Model 19, it is the smaller gun.


    And here is the reason for the size difference. Notice how much bigger the N frame cylinder is and how much more metal there is surrounding each chamber.


    You should be able to find a nice 'older' Model 19 or 28 in your price range. You might get lucky and find a Model 27 you can afford.

    P.S. All of the guns shown have 6" barrels, but they were available with 4" barrels too.
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2012
  4. 788Ham

    788Ham Well-Known Member

    Nice revolvers Driftwood ! Beautiful specimens !
  5. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    I hear you DJ. I don't have the same problems with modern made revolvers as some, but I'm well aware of how far back things go.

    I'd suggest haunting your favorite gun auction site and use the search "Military and Police .38 special". I always liked the 4" barrel though others are fine. Do that and you'll get a revolver that is still stupid cheap bur remains one of the finest combat revolvers ever made.

    The phrase "Pre Model 10" is always good news as well.

    Victory Models are good but tend to be too well known so the prices are higher. You might get lucky though.

    I don't usually go too far earlier except for break tops just because the action was changed for safety reasons after a Navy accident in the war.

    Good luck.
  6. lowercase

    lowercase Well-Known Member

    Model 27.

    I need to get one to keep my Python (currently on layaway) company.

    Model 19s are nice, too. I have a beater, ex-police model 19-3. I WISH that I could have owned it back when it was nice. I may send it in to S&W to get re-blued.
  7. Guillermo

    Guillermo member


    Please know that I am the bargain hunter. I take em with cosmetic issues and cheap prices.

    There are SOOOO many great guns out there if you are willing to look.

    The chase is half the fun.

    BTW, if you don't have a 22 revolver, get a K22. Amazingly accurate, cheap to shoot.
  8. Driftwood Johnson

    Driftwood Johnson Well-Known Member

    Howdy Again

    I agree the M&P and the Model 10 are terrific guns. I have a whole bunch of them. But they are 38 Special guns, and the OP said he wanted a 357 Mag.

    But I agree, for the money, if you don't need a Magnum, you can't beat a nice old M&P for value today. At gunshows I usually have to squeeze past all the guys oogling the plastic guns whenever I spot an old K frame. So many don't know anything about how terrific these old guns are.

    More for us.
  9. wlewisiii

    wlewisiii Well-Known Member

    Must have missed that earlier. Sorry OP. That said, I'd still take a model 10 unless I really needed .357 capability - I was a cop or the like - but for 99.999% of the personal or home defense scenarios, a Model 10 will turn the trick.

    When it won't you want a .45 Colt N frame anyway...


  10. 56hawk

    56hawk Well-Known Member

    I agree that the model 28 is your best bet. I picked one up super cheap. It's a little worn, but probably the best shooting 357 I own.

  11. Bubba613

    Bubba613 member

    Model 10s were sometimes produced in .357. Or Model 13. Little high speed ammo for these guys but they're classics.
  12. sleepyone

    sleepyone Well-Known Member

    Thanks, Driftwood! That is a nice collection and a great history of the .357 models. I will also have to start paying more attention to the older M&P .38s at the gun shows. I'm probably one of those guys eying the plastic guns you had to squeeze by to look at the K frames. I just bought an M&P .40 4.25" Pro Series and an M&P .45 full-size to finish off my semi-auto collection. I already have a 642 and Ruger LCR .38 +P for my pocket pistols and now want some "vintage" .357s. I was born in '64 so I grew up watching movies and cop shows where all the guns were still revolvers except when the 1911 would make a rare appearance.

    Can't wait for the Fort Worth Gun Show at the end of December!
  13. Checkman

    Checkman member

    The Models 27, 28 or 19. Stay away from the early model 66's (1970's). They had problems.

    On the early Model 66's the gas ring at the front of the cylinder would expand and push forward from the heat of firing full power magnums. As a result the cylinder would lock up. Smith moved the ring from the cylinder to the yoke, but then the inner axis was no longer protected from powder debris and there would be build up under he ejector star causing it to push out and jamming the cylinder from another direction. So then the ring got moved back but this time it was swaged into place instead of press-fitting it.

    Personally I like the Model 28. It's a Model 27 without the fancy finish and therefore I don't worry about taking it out to the field. It's meant to be a field gun. So is the Model 27 but that finish is so pretty.
  14. highpower

    highpower Well-Known Member

    A Model 27 will probably be hard to find in the price range that you quoted. The Model 28's give up nothing to the the more highly finished 27's except the shine and are way more likely to turn up under $750.

    Since you stated that you are looking for a S&W from the 70's or 80's, you may want to consider a Model 66. Basically it is a Model 19 in stainless steel. They are hot on the market right now, but I still see them in the $500 range.

    I bought this 66 no dash a year or so ago for $350.
    Last edited: Dec 5, 2012
  15. BigJimP

    BigJimP Well-Known Member

    If you want a blued gun....then I 2nd the opinion for an N frame ( model 27 or 28 ) ...probably a model 28 on your budget...a model 27, will be hard to find at that price - but no reason not to search for it...../ or a K frame (medium sized) in a model 19.....( the model 66's are all stainless - like the model 686 you have now).

    I prefer the N frames ..../ over the K frames ...(you have an L frame in the 686 now )...but it depends on what fits your hands the best.
  16. pendennis

    pendennis Well-Known Member

    Well, I've got three "older" Model 27's, spread by about 25 years.
  17. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Well-Known Member

    As already said, your needs can easily be filled with either a model 19, 27,
    28, or 586. I think the choice depends some on your hand size. I have what I consider to be average size hands and find the k/L frame fits better.
  18. rswartsell

    rswartsell Well-Known Member

    Just a brief note. If you do consider .38's, the very sweet K-38 Masterpiece will fall into your range, later called Model 14 under the numbering system. It's 4" version, the Combat Masterpiece or Mod 15 is a sweeter action/finish than the Mod 10 and a "must have" for .38 spl. guys.
  19. sleepyone

    sleepyone Well-Known Member

    excellent thoughts and pics, guys. Thanks!

    Probably the model 28 highway patrolman is more in my budget and will fill my need more for a gun that will see quite a bit of use. But it would be sweet to find a model 27 at a bargain price.
  20. DurangoKid

    DurangoKid Well-Known Member

    This has been my favorite .357 Mag. over the years. This is a Mdl. 27 S&W 3.5":)

    Attached Files:

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