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Old June 28, 2015, 07:59 PM   #1
Mitlov
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Smith & Wesson 686 versus Ruger GP100?

My wife wants a revolver for home defense and range use; she's used both my shotgun and my 1911 at the range but just prefers the simplicity of a revolver. It won't be a carry gun, so size isn't an issue. She's modestly recoil averse (no medical issues just doesn't like a super-snappy gun), which also leans towards something larger. She and I are leaning toward the S&W 686, but the Ruger GP100 is also on our radar.

Thoughts? Obviously these are pretty similar on paper. Any reliability issues or warning issues about either? Anyone here have a strong preference for one over the other, and why? No range anywhere near me rents guns, and none of my friends own either, so please don't say "try each out."
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Old June 28, 2015, 08:09 PM   #2
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I've owned both. The Ruger GP100 was my first .357 Magnum.

Both guns will serve the purpose intended. Both guns will also serve a lifetime plus. Both guns are more than accurate enough.

The S&W is more refined and the Ruger is more heavily built (over-built?). The Ruger would probably last 10 lifetimes of heavy use, while the S&W might give up after 5-7 lifetimes.

I don't own the Ruger any more, but I still have a couple of S&W L frame guns because I prefer them. They are both pre-lock, pre-MIM guns, but I am not sure how much of a difference that makes to most people anymore.
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Old June 28, 2015, 08:14 PM   #3
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Neither of them have reliability or any other issues.

But I prefer fixed sights for combat pistols.

Hence a 3 inch GP100 is my pick.



Does not have to be DAO but it works well.

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Old June 28, 2015, 08:38 PM   #4
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Had a 686 that I foolishly sold years ago. Fantastic piece, but these days I go with a gp100 as my go-to built like a brick outhouse blaster.

I don't think the ruger is better than the Smith, but for the money the gp100 is one solid tank of a gun.

If you are looking for a refined piece, the 686 is a winner. If you are looking for the most bombproof .357 for the sub $600, it's tough to beat the Ruger.
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Old June 28, 2015, 09:13 PM   #5
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In my opinion, if it was for home defense only I'd definitely say get the Ruger. However, since you say it will also be used on the range, I'd spend the extra and go with the Smith.
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Old June 28, 2015, 10:26 PM   #6
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Regardless of which make, get a 6" version; it will give the most satisfaction at the range, and hence, the most confidence for home defense. I have the Ruger 6", and cannot imagine a more-rugged revolver. My BIL has the Smith equivalent, and while elegant, I believe the Ruger to be the better value, and far more rugged. I've shot his Smith, and have no complaints, while shooting. But I expect my Ruger to last longer, by reason of its somewhat unique design (no screws or sideplates).
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Old June 29, 2015, 05:27 AM   #7
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I can't think of any reason why I would pick a Ruger over a Smith & Wesson. No real reason "why" really, other than I don't care for the way Rugers look. Any of those other factors "built like a tank", "better for hot loads", etc., don't matter to me. I know I'll never wear either of them out in my lifetime. I don't shoot atomic powered loads.

So I go by what I like the looks of.

Oh...and Pythons are just too expensive for me. Always have been.
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Old June 29, 2015, 07:35 AM   #8
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The 686 , in my opinion , is classier. Better yet - find a 586!

"They are both pre-lock, pre-MIM guns, but I am not sure how much of a difference that makes to most people anymore."

Makes all the difference to me!
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Old June 29, 2015, 08:01 AM   #9
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The Ruger is built like a tank. The S&W has more finesse, better fit and finish and arguably feels better in the hand. It also typically costs a couple hundred more. Either will get the job done easily and last a lifetime.

Since it's for your wife, who may have smaller hands, check out the 4" SP-101 also. It's really nice and the same size as an old Colt Police Positive Special.
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Old June 29, 2015, 08:20 AM   #10
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I own both. The 686 is much more accurate than the GP100. If your wife likes pretty things, see if you can find a pre lock 586 and slap some really nice grips on it. She'll be a happy lady. If she's recoil adverse, she'll never fire enough magnums through the 686/586 to wear it out and she'll benefit from the better trigger.
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Old June 29, 2015, 08:49 AM   #11
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If possible, take your wife to a firing range that rents guns. Have her try out the Smith and the Ruger. Let her make up her own mind.
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Old June 29, 2015, 09:21 AM   #12
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Quote:
Have her try out the Smith and the Ruger. Let her make up her own mind.
+1 They're both great guns, let her choose.
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Old June 29, 2015, 09:23 AM   #13
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+1 to clang, fiver and hexhead.

with some trigger work my smith turned out far better than my ruger. still preferred the fell of the ruger in hand by a tiny amount though. Wound up selling the ruger, kept the smith.
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Old June 29, 2015, 09:29 AM   #14
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Though a 4'' 686 has been one of my grail guns for decades now, for the money, I'd recommend going with the GP100. If the money isn't in issue, or the price is close, and you can find an clean,older pre-lock 686, I'd say go for it. But the GP is a fantastic pistol (probably why I very rarely see them being sold on our local used market). For a couple hundred bucks more, then 686 isn't really going to do or give you anything extra, but the cool factor. I've also been reading lots of complaints about S&W's quality control in recent years.
The MIM parts are a non-factor, especially from the companies that do it particularly well like Ruger and Springfield, it's largely just nit-picky nonsense that some folks get hung up on.
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Old June 29, 2015, 10:01 AM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Seven High
If possible, take your wife to a firing range that rents guns. Have her try out the Smith and the Ruger.
The OP said that's not an option.

As far as which, though I own 686s, if I were buying another, I'd give serious consideration to the GP100. Nothing wrong with the 686 - it's a terrific revolver - but the GP100 is a very robust design (in some ways better than the 686) and responds well to tuning (I'm a trigger snob, but the smoothest action I've ever felt was on a tuned GP100).

Also, the interchangeable front sight is a very nice feature of the 4" GP100. The red ramp front sight of the 686 is mediocre at best, and while it's changeable, it'll take a gunsmith to do it.

Finally, IIRC, the reach from the grip to the trigger is a teensy bit shorter than the corresponding reach of the 686.
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Old June 29, 2015, 10:19 AM   #16
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For your purposes, I would be hard pressed to give one the thumbs up over the other. I went with the GP100 but, the only reason I did, is that my buddies all have Smiths so I can handle and shoot them any time I want.

Keep in mind that they do make a 5" GP100 as well. It is a little harder to find but they are out there and are a good compromise for the 4" vs 6" debate.

Either way you go, you won't need to look back. Both will outlast your great grandchildren.
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Old June 29, 2015, 10:22 AM   #17
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Flip a coin or buy the cheaper one.

They really are about that close in terms of actual real person use.
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Old June 29, 2015, 10:59 AM   #18
boatdoc173
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mitlov View Post
My wife wants a revolver for home defense and range use; she's used both my shotgun and my 1911 at the range but just prefers the simplicity of a revolver. It won't be a carry gun, so size isn't an issue. She's modestly recoil averse (no medical issues just doesn't like a super-snappy gun), which also leans towards something larger. She and I are leaning toward the S&W 686, but the Ruger GP100 is also on our radar.

Thoughts? Obviously these are pretty similar on paper. Any reliability issues or warning issues about either? Anyone here have a strong preference for one over the other, and why? No range anywhere near me rents guns, and none of my friends own either, so please don't say "try each out."
My wife has arthritis and did not want a revolver at first. Eventually I decided to buy a GP100 6"--she uses single action. I shoot both DA and sa-- she LOVES that gun so much we ar enow thinking GP100 4" or S+W 686 4"--price matters as much as reliability and build strength
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Old June 29, 2015, 02:06 PM   #19
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I would make sure that she can comfortably pull the trigger in DA mode. She will probably prefer the one with the lighter and smoother trigger.
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Old June 29, 2015, 03:10 PM   #20
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Either S&W or Ruger is a good choice. I shot a variety of Rugers like the GP100 and SP101's, the S&W were more to my liking. May also consider the S&W model 66 if she hands are a bit smaller. The wife has a 66 that IMO is par with the 586/686. The underlug on the 5/686's adds a tiny bit more weight which can be nice with the .357 loads.

Some additional info: The factory pull on a new 686 (circa '94) was 9-3/4# DA and SA was 3-3/4#. The worn in and lightly tuned 586 and 686's are DA 7-1/2#, SA 2-1/4#.

Last edited by RA40; June 30, 2015 at 07:29 PM. Reason: additional comment, typo fix
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Old June 29, 2015, 04:10 PM   #21
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I own both...

Hands down the GP100, but...

For me the deciding factor is the old compact grip on my 4" GP100 fixed sight...Fits me like a glove, and is the single best natural pointing wheel gun I have ever hefted...

My darling Wife agreed so much that she absconded with it as 'her' gun, leaving me with her Gen-2 G19...
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Old June 29, 2015, 04:18 PM   #22
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I have a 686+ 4" and a GP100 Match Champion. I like both of them quite a bit. I think the trigger on the 686+ is a bit better, and it has a shorter pull, but I also have about a thousand more rounds through this pistol than the GP100MC.

Grips can be changed, of course, but the rubber grips on my 686 do catch my clothing more than the wood grips on the GP100MC. However the recoil is a bit more manageable on the 686+ vs. the GP100MC when shooting magnum loads because of the grips (IMO).

I like the fiber optic and adjustable sights on the GP100MC more than the stock sights on the 686+. Of course the 686+ holds one more round than the GP100MC, which is nice, but not the tie-breaker here.

Overall, I have to echo some of what has been said here. The GP100MC is more robust, and the 686+ is more refined. Both are excellent. The GP100MC cost almost as much as my 686+, but you pay extra for some of the Match Champion features. I haven't had any kind of issue with either pistol, and enjoy shooting them quite a bit. I've started using the GP100MC for IDPA, and I carry the 686+ as a backup when I go hunting, but shoot both of them at the range regularly.

Best advice here was to take your wife to the store and have her pull the trigger (literally) on both pistols to see which she likes better. Then get the one she prefers. You can't go wrong with either model.
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Old June 29, 2015, 06:24 PM   #23
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I've owned both and prefer the 686, however if I couldn't get a 686 a GP 100 would work.
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Old June 29, 2015, 06:38 PM   #24
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Originally Posted by Seven High View Post
If possible, take your wife to a firing range that rents guns. Have her try out the Smith and the Ruger. Let her make up her own mind.
Nonsense. You can't really tell if a gun is right for you in a couple of cylinders (or magazines) or a box of ammo.

Buy the gun that fits your hand the best, that "sings" to you and then spend the time and energy to learn how to shoot it.

Does the military let you wander around the armory to find a gun you like, or do they hand you one and then teach you how to shoot it.

But yes, let her pick the one that fits her. Stay out of it other than possibly paying for it.
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Old June 29, 2015, 07:03 PM   #25
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I would make sure that she can comfortably pull the trigger in DA mode. She will probably prefer the one with the lighter and smoother trigger.
Trigger job by a good gunsmith fixes all ills. Lighter and smoother. And highly recommended.
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