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Battle Of The Giants: Ruger GP-100 Vs SW 686

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Tecolote, Jun 20, 2004.

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  1. Tecolote

    Tecolote Member

    Feb 8, 2003
    My buddy is trying to make up his mind between a Ruger GP-100 and a SW 686. He likes the looks of the Ruger and the price. The Ruger sells for $440 and the SW for $540. The DA is a little nicer on the SW but the SA is about the same on both. Is there a difference in quality, reliability and durability between the two?:)
  2. sfhogman

    sfhogman Member

    May 15, 2004
    San Francisco Ca
    The GP100 will handle heavier loads. I believe Cor-Bon uses them to work up their .357 loads. I like Rugers, so that's probably what I'd buy- my KGP161 is one of my favorite guns. That said, the S&W is an elegant piece.

    I don't think your friend could go wrong with either.
  3. minnesota oldie

    minnesota oldie Member

    Dec 4, 2003
    I have both. I prefer the Smith on the range, but the Ruger is my truck gun and goes everywhere I go.
  4. Plinkerton

    Plinkerton Member

    Apr 27, 2004
    I had the same "dilemma" and chose the 686. I think I definitely made the right choice. I love the overall more "finished" aspect of the 686. Smoother overall, more "elegant", as was said. Everytime I see a new Ruger revolver in the gun store, I always ask to see it, and it always makes me glad I chose the 686. I like Ruger's and all, but, the Smith just feels nicer. I won't ever be shooting crazy ass handloads either. :D
  5. kyoung05

    kyoung05 Member

    Dec 11, 2003
    I got my Ruger Gp-100 (blued, half-lug) for $340. At $200 cheaper than a 686, I think it's the better choice. Granted, I haven't felt a 686's trigger yet, but I did just buy an older M10 snubbie which had an awesome DA trigger. However, as people have said in the past, after LOTS of dry-firing and live fire, the GP-100's trigger isn't too bad. Granted, it's no Smith, but unless you fire them side by side, I'd say the Smith's trigger is only slightly better. Again, SA trigger is going to be similar. The only thing I don't like about the GP-100 is the cheesy rubber/wooden grips it comes with. They feel a little fat (although you can change them for the compact versions) and look so cheap. Other than that, it's an awesome gun, and a great value.
  6. Jim March

    Jim March Member

    Dec 24, 2002
    SF Bay Area
    I look at it like this:

    They're both good guns and will both accomplish the same tasks.

    The Ruger *design* is better; it's stronger and it can be taken completely apart with a minimum of tools (and was designed to be completely field-stripped by the owner - Ruger's manuals detail how to do this, while S&W's DO NOT).

    The Ruger can take a smaller grip than the S&W, for those with small hands. The Ruger factory grips (your choice bigger or smaller type and swappable on all GP100s and the SuperRedHawk) are quite good, better than most S&Ws.

    BUT: the S&W is more "finely finished" (usually). And the DA trigger is usually better (although the Ruger's can be user-improved by spring kits that are user-installable).

    The single biggest engineering difference is that the Ruger has a secondary "latch" at the crane holding the cylinder in and tight at the moment of firing. S&Ws (other than the X-Frame) don't lock up at the crane.

    Upshot: if I'm going to take the gun deep into the back woods and rely on it for my life daily, and fix it in the field if necessary, the Ruger is my first choice. Ditto if I suspect I might go through a broke period and be forced to do my own maintenance to keep one running.

    And finally, if I'm going to shoot a lot of VERY hot loads, a steady diet of Bufallo Bore hunting-grade stuff or similar, the Ruger is the hot ticket.

    BUT: the S&W will be capable of at least a bit more accuracy, esp. in DA, and will feel a bit more "polished" in some areas.

    The differences won't be that serious. What I mean is, the S&W will be able to take a lot of hot loads too while the Ruger's DA trigger will break in nicely and I've handled some that were downright sweet.

    They're both good guns.
  7. Rob96

    Rob96 Member

    Dec 28, 2002
    Allentown, PA
    I "had" a 686 and I own a GP-100. For me, the GP, is the better revolver. I like its handling characteristics, strength, balance and everything else about it.

    Them grips aren't cheesy, they are made the way they are with a purpose. They are a big reason why the GP line of revolvers hadles recoil so well.
  8. RON in PA

    RON in PA Member

    Dec 25, 2002
    S.E. PA, USA
    What Jim March said.

    The biggest thing the 686 (I own a 586) has going for it is its DA pull, IMHO the best there is on a DA revolver. The more I use my GP100s though, the more I'm impressed with their design, esp. the grips. The DA pull is a bit heavy, but smooth with no stacking and like most revolvers improves with age.
  9. YodaVader

    YodaVader Member

    Dec 29, 2002
    I never had a reason to field strip any of the 357 revolvers I have owned. For cleaning - taking off the cylinder and yoke from my Smith was a simple procedure performed by removing one screw. To remove the cylinder on the GP required pulling off the grips , trigger guard assembly and hammer and was far more time consuming than removing the single screw on the Smith.

    With that said the GP100 I owned was extrememly accurate and the grip shape fit me very well. I liked the GP front sight better than the Smith but the rear sight requires scredrivers of two different sizes and the adjustments feel imprecise compared to the Smith rear sight.

    The 686s I have owned have also been extremely accurate and all have had creep free single action pulls. Finding a grip shape that fits the hand should not be a problem with any 686. If your eyes go to hell (like mine) it is very easy to mount optics like a red dot or scope on a Smith since those with target sights are drilled and tapped.

    You have some high prices on the GPs in your area - at the last show I was at a few weeks ago they were as low as $379 - maybe I should have bought that one! But right around $400 - $410 was the average. To me the current Smiths are all overpriced!

    I own a 686 and no longer have the GP. Either would make a great 357. The average shooter will enjoy many years if not a lifetime of shooting out of either one. If you are into inventing your own reloads or an experimenter then I say get into something else other than shooting. Any gun - even a mighty Ruger - can be destroyed.

    For a new 357 today I would go with a GP100 - like I said ,the Smiths are sure as hell not worth the price. They have risen in price far more than the GP100s during the last 10 years or so.
  10. RWK

    RWK Member

    Sep 11, 2003
    1) Again, what Jim said.
    2) Own two GP100s and a 686 . . . and have been EXTREMELY happy with all three. They are all OUTSTANDING firearms.
    3) If I were compelled to select only one, I would retain my four-inch, Ruger KGP-141. After years of use, its trigger pull (even in DA) is buttery smooth, with a crisp break -- and it is bank vault tough. In fact, I believe it is the optimal "do everything quite well" handgun, ranging from inexpensive target work (with .38 Special FMJ), to plinking, to mid-size game, to excellent personal and concealed defense (with top-rated .357 magnum JHPs).
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