Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

Highest Quality Revolver for under $500

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by JaxNovice, Jan 15, 2008.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. JaxNovice

    JaxNovice member

    Joined:
    Aug 13, 2006
    Messages:
    916
    I am looking to buy a 4" .357 sometime this week. I have a budget of $500 and would like to buy new since I have had a few experiences buying used. I would really like some suggestions from the forum as to what to stay away from and what is regarded as being a good value.

    Thanks!
     
  2. Lone Star

    Lone Star Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2003
    Messages:
    1,754
    Location:
    SW USA
    You can sometimes find Ruger GP-100's for under $500 at stores that discount new guns. I don't think you can beat that, especially as you seem unfamiliar with how to check out used revolvers.


    Lone Star
     
    Last edited: Jan 15, 2008
  3. Neophyte1

    Neophyte1 Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2007
    Messages:
    318
    Location:
    NC
    GP

    Ruger: GP100
     
  4. jfh

    jfh Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2003
    Messages:
    4,866
    Location:
    Maple Plain, MN
    I will NOT participate in a "which is better" discussion, but I will say that I think the Smith 686 is a 'better' revolver than a GP100. (I've owned both, and IMO, the superior action of the 686 makes up for the increased beefiness of the Ruger). In light of this, my suggestion is to consider adjusting your MAX dollar to 600.00 and getting a 686.

    I bought a 4" 686 last summer as my latest 'full-frame' revolver purchase (I have j-frames and a collectible N frame Highway Patrolman), and I am totally satisfied with it--it does handle better than the GP100.

    If you really don't want to spend more than 500.00, then the GP100 will do just fine. I prefer to buy new, too, so I can appreciate the conflict you're dealing with....

    Jim H.
     
  5. wuchak

    wuchak Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    596
    Location:
    Shawnee, KS
    Check CDNN http://www.cdnninvestments.com/. You have to use the "Download Newest Catalog" link on their site to see the firearms. They have police trade in S&W Model 65's (stainless, k-frame, .357) with 4" barrels but you have to call for the price which is probably under $350. They also have Ruger SP100's with 4" barrel for $349 for excellent to like new condition and $20 extra for one that was test fired only. Shipping is $9.99 and you'll have an FFL transfer fee of about $25. You can find a transfer FFL in the "For Buyers" section on Gunbroker that will probably do it for less than your local store.

    Bud's also has the model 65's for $299 delivered to your FFL, which I think is a screaming deal

    [​IMG]

    If you are buying used from CDNN or Bud's they will make sure you get a good gun. CDNN grades theirs so if you choose excellent condition you will get a gun that is like new. The good news is the Model 65's don't have the lock that is on the newer S&W. The prelock guns will go up in value faster and the slightly used gun has already depreciated so it should only go up in value after you purchase it.
     
  6. anti-paladin

    anti-paladin Member

    Joined:
    Apr 16, 2007
    Messages:
    3
    +1 GP-100

    The best all around revolver I own.
     
  7. cat_IT_guy

    cat_IT_guy Member

    Joined:
    May 9, 2007
    Messages:
    1,221
    Location:
    Metamora Illinois
    a used S&W
     
  8. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2005
    Messages:
    11,380
    Location:
    TN
    I would choose a 4" Ruger GP100 for an all around gun within this budget. You'll just barely fit in the budget. Check out Buds online and their prices are about as good as it gets on new guns. This should give you an idea of pricing overall. http://www.budsgunshop.com/catalog/index.php

    I prefer a Smith. But I don't believe any of them will be under $500. If you choose a Smith, go with a steel framed revolver such as the 686 or the larger N-frame.

    No comment on Taurus products.
     
  9. Shawnee

    Shawnee member

    Joined:
    Oct 17, 2006
    Messages:
    3,306
    Location:
    Along "That Dark and Bloody River"
    If you could find a used 686 in good condition (or the 586, same gun but blued instead of stainless steel) for $500 I would definitely say to get it.
    But if you can't, or are really wary of buying "used" (and there is nothing wrong with that wariness!), I'll be another vote for the Ruger GP-100.

    :cool:
     
  10. keyboard commando

    keyboard commando Member

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2007
    Messages:
    213
    Highway Patrolman

    A Smith & Wesson Highway Patrolman (Model 28) is a fine revolver.:scrutiny:
     
  11. 03Shadowbob

    03Shadowbob Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    West Palm Beach
    I'd buy the GP100 over the 686 any day of the week and twice on Sunday. I have the 4" stainless version and I love it.
     
  12. mjrodney

    mjrodney Member

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Messages:
    434
    Location:
    SW Florida
    I own both, and side by side, I find them to be very much comparable.

    I don't consider one to have an advantage over the other.

    For those on a budget, however, the Ruger GP-100 is a win-win situation.
     
  13. Oro

    Oro Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    3,496
    Location:
    WA state
    Having owned both a GP100, and a 686, I'll say:

    1) they are equal in reliability and durability. Quality of construction/finish will go to S&W. But in the areas that TRULY count, they are equal.

    2) As to aesthetics, the S&W has more classic lines and is prettier to look at.

    3) The early 686 models (1980 to late 80s) had superb actions - some of the best off a line DA revolver anywhere. I have one in my safe, so does my FFL, and a few other folks I know.

    4) the Ruger is gone, but the 686 is still in my hands, so that probably says something.

    If you are going to ONLY buy new, then get a GP100, or stretch your budget a little. Since colt's out of the revolver game, I wouldn't look at a maker other than S&W or Ruger, as this thread seems to support.

    All that said, a S&W 28-2 is also a superb .357, as someone pointed out above. An excellent or near-new model could be had for $500 if you went used. It has a larger frame than either of the other two, thus your felt recoil is less with the big loads, and sometimes you don't even feel the light .38 target loads (just kidding). I may actually be trading my 686 for a 28-2 later this month.

    Welcome to the world of one of the most perfect handgun rounds - the .357 magnum/.38 special chambered guns. As long as bears aren't on your list of possible enemies, then it does everything you need. The gun that goes under my shoulder when I carry concealed is a S&W 66 or 19 (I have one of each) in 2.5" and packed with SJHP .357 magnums.

    If concealed carry is on your agenda, get one of these babies - Nice used ones are $350 to $450 right now - and I mean nice ones. If new only applies, Bud's has the new model, the 686 2.5" variant, for just under $600 delivered.
     
  14. bent

    bent Member

    Joined:
    Jan 4, 2008
    Messages:
    6
    Although I love my pre-lock 686 dearly, if you are going to own ONE revolver, the GP100 is your gun. It defines reliability and robustness in a 357mag. Given the same amount of full house magnum loads, the 686 will have problems before the Ruger will.
     
  15. Oro

    Oro Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    3,496
    Location:
    WA state
    It's important to denote that because the Ruger frame is larger, that does not make it stronger or more robust. It's larger because it's more cheaply made, not stronger. This is not an opinion, it's a fact. This is the dirty little secret this thread has been too polite to talk about so far, or perhaps folks aren't aware of? But since you've brought the cat out of the bag...

    S&W uses forged frames, and Ruger uses investment cast ones. One process is much more expensive, and ounce for ounce and square inch per square inch, yields a stronger finished steel product. Further heat treating and finishing increases the difference. A S&W will be less bulky for the same strength as a Ruger. This is one major reason the K and L frame S&Ws, in my opinion, handle, point, and are generally more controllable than the Rugers. Go to a firing range that rents guns, or a store that has both, and compare the handling and pointing characteristics.

    Here's one anecdotal point - for my last-ditch bear gun, I don't carry a 4" Ruger Redhawk - it's big, it's bulky, it's annoying to me to carry (I'm only 5-10 on a good day). It weighs 47 ounces empty with air-weight spongy hogue grips. I carry a S&W 629, with a round butt in 3". It weighs in at 37 ozs empty, with large hardwood (facotry) combat grips. Over a 27% difference in weight, even handicapping the S&W with the wood grips. I can get the 3" S&W to handle the same loads as the ruger - and I occasionally shoot 320gr LFNGC bullets from Double Tap and Grizzly that move at 1200fps. This is not a light load. The density of the steel in the 629 let's me get a more controllable package in a smaller gun of greater strength. The wood grips, with a large and solid contact patch and rigid finger grooves, vs. the spongy ones on the Ruger, contribute to this. Thes are both factory delivered guns, not carrying a single accessory on them. You have to look at more than weight and it takes a good grounding in physics to explain all the implications of angular momentum, density, etc. and how that translates into felt recoil. Or get a couple of boxes of bullets and go shooting, it'll become apparent pretty fast! One of these guns is quite a bit more expensive than the other, but they both do the same basic thing.

    Another way to look at this is: why is a S&W always more expensive than a Ruger? They are located nearby in the same geographic and economic region. Raw material costs, labor costs, administrative costs, etc. are going to be identical. Marketing and distribution costs are probably the same, too. It really can only come down to the one variable we can see that is different - construction methods and the labor and equipment involved.

    As for Ruger "defining" reliability, the cheaper construction methods generally result in more QC problems in owners' hands than S&Ws from what I have anecdotally collected on this and the Firing Line Forums. Both do offer a life time warranty, so you won't be left out in the cold in either case. I hear of more Rugers making an immediate trip back to the factory than I do S&Ws (it does happen to them, too) - and I also hear it always comes back working correctly.

    The L frame S&W revolver was specifically designed to handle ANY .357 round that could be crammed in it. It was a beefed up version of he K- frame, introduced in 1899 long before the .357 came down the pike. A compromise of shoe-horning the .357 into the K-frame in the 1950s created a medium sized gun more powerful than anything else in the world, and later developments of small, even higher velocity bullets (125gr and 110gr rounds in a .357) did result in some failures. Used with 158gr or larger bullets, the K frame 19 and 66 models, or the 65 above, will last a lifetime (note the "K-frame" models are slightly smaller than the 586/686 we are talking about here).

    The result, however, was the L frame 586/686, designed to handle the .357 in a reasonable sized package, retain the balance and handling S&Ws are known for, and take any round you could put in it. It does not rely upon cheaper casting and "over sizing" to accomodate for the necessary strength, like the Ruger does.

    So, if we want to go by the original poster's "Highest Quality" question, the design parameters and the build methods of the S&W make the Ruger look like an East German Trabant. Well, more like a Mercedes vs. a Volkswagen - both excellent, one just a bit more refined and pleasurable.

    I don't want to start a war about Ruger vs. S&W. I think Bill Ruger was a great firearms designer, and did everyone a great service resurrecting the SA via his Blackhawk, and has given experimental shooters great platforms on which to develop new loads. Important stuff.

    Each company does things a little differently, and that's good. I won't say "I won't buy a Ruger" - heck I have bought two in the last seven months.
     
  16. mgregg85

    mgregg85 Member

    Joined:
    Mar 18, 2007
    Messages:
    2,008
    Location:
    Midland, MI
    I've gotta go with the ruger. No matter what anyone says, there revolvers do seem to be stronger. Buffalo Bore even loads hot .45 LC ammo for ruger revolvers only.
     
  17. Oro

    Oro Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    3,496
    Location:
    WA state
    Yes, they load ammo for Ruger revolvers only - only the ones built the size of a small toaster.

    If S&W built a forged frame as big as that, heck, you be able to shoot a .500 magnum out of it! Oh wait, they do and you can...
     
  18. 19-3Ben

    19-3Ben Member

    Joined:
    Nov 5, 2006
    Messages:
    5,146
    Location:
    CT
    Not questioning you but is it established fact that cast steel can't be as strong? WHo says? why?
     
  19. 03Shadowbob

    03Shadowbob Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    West Palm Beach
    Kamerer.
    First, beauty is in the eye of the beholder. You think the S&W is more beautiful where I think it is one of the least "attractive" guns out there even below Taurus.
    Secondly, please answer 19-3Ben's question.
    Lastly, can you please tell us exactly how many failures the GP100 has had and exactly how many failures the 686 has had and site your sources.
    Thanks.
     
  20. Iggy

    Iggy Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    3,011
    Location:
    Wyoming
    Fasten your seat belts folks!!

    Looks like it gonna get rough!!!:uhoh:
     
  21. 03Shadowbob

    03Shadowbob Member

    Joined:
    Jul 3, 2006
    Messages:
    1,240
    Location:
    West Palm Beach
    Kamerer,
    Also a few facts. The GP100 4" fits into a 686 holster just as easily as the 686. The Smith 686 4" weighs 40 oz where the GP100 weighs in at 39.5 oz. There goes the bulkier / heavier statements.
    I believe I have read somewhere something written by Ruger engineers and an independent guy that Ruger barrels are hammer forged and not investment cast, not that it makes a difference in today's world of metallurgy where great advances have taken place. I would post links but you can do your homework. Rugers frame is investment cast I will give you that however what do you have to say about Glocks and their plastic frames? Are the less reliable than a S&W. Nope.
     
  22. wuchak

    wuchak Member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2005
    Messages:
    596
    Location:
    Shawnee, KS
    Part of the beauty of the Ruger's DA handguns is the modular design. Unlike the S&W which requires you to get out your gun screw drivers and then try to get the side plate off and then back on, once you undo the screw holding the grip of the Ruger the rest of it pops apart into the main components with no further tools. This makes it incredibly easy to do a thorough cleaning. The solid frame of the Ruger also makes it inherently stronger than the two piece frame of the S&W.

    S&W had to come out with the L frame because of problems with 125gr bullets in the K frame. The Ruger Speed, Security, and Service Six (4S) line was the same size as the K frames and had none of the problems. When Smith went to a bigger frame Ruger followed and included some design improvements like the crane latch, stub grip frame, and the off-center ejection rod that resulted from the configuration of the frame being changed to allow more space for steel in the thin space under the barrel. Because the Ruger 4S line and the GP100 were designed to compete with S&W for the service revolver market they were made to fit the same holsters. This meant that departments thinking of switching to Ruger would not have to incur the expense of equipping their staff with all new holsters.

    As to forged steel somehow being stronger than cast, that is just not true. A very quick search turned up numerous articles but I think this said it well. It's from a study looking at the advantages of cast vs forged steel in permanent mold tools at http://www.thefreelibrary.com/Permanent+mold+tools:+cast+or+forged%3F+The+metallurgical+and...-a0125714023

    The most definitive thermal fatigue laboratory tests simulating permanent mold life cycles have been conducted at Case Western Reserve Univ., Cleveland. Using the lengths of cracks that developed from thermal fatigue, it was demonstrated that the basic method of manufacturing permanent steel molds (cast or forged) has little effect on the life cycle (Fig. 1). Cast steel was found to be equivalent to double-refined forged steel of the same composition and hardness with only a slight perception of difference across the test cycle range. The difference is that double-refined steel is a costly process because it requires the metal to be melted twice. The research also emphasizes the importance of heat treating in obtaining the desired martensitic microstructure and hardness.
     
  23. TBT

    TBT Member

    Joined:
    Oct 4, 2006
    Messages:
    91
    This has not been my experience at all. CDNN has some great deals but I really question their grading system at times. I bought an "excellent condition" SIG P226 from them that was scratched up, rusty, and had really bad slide to frame fit. I friend of mine had some issues as well with their grading system.

    One thing about CDNN is that they will make it right if you have a complaint from what I understand though. And again, this is just my experience.
     
  24. txgolfer45

    txgolfer45 Member

    Joined:
    Dec 26, 2002
    Messages:
    679
    Location:
    Texas
    Get the GP100 4 inch SS! That's what I did. And, yes, it fits in an N frame size holster just fine. I've had it to the range and it is a dream to shoot with both .38 special and .357 magnum loads.
     
  25. Oro

    Oro Member

    Joined:
    Sep 22, 2007
    Messages:
    3,496
    Location:
    WA state
    Wow, what a funny bunch of responses, mostly inarticulate, without rational explanation or physical grounding. That a Ruger fits in the holster of a S&W molded one - wow! prooves nothing, if not the forged 'Smith is gonna be stronger, should the dimension actually bethe same - as if a flexible leather hole is the determinate of dimensions.

    If you guys want to shoot me something semi-articulate, I'll try to respond, when not in stitches. As I said, I'm both a S&W and a Ruger owner/buyer. I don't have an agenda - just trying to point out the differences. I've seen no response above that cant be answered by an intelligent reading of my second, lengthier response. to wit - if you have an investment cast frame that fits in the same holster of a forged frame, It means nothing, check the build qualities and use some calipers.

    1) you should doubt the superiority of your decidedly "superior" weapon, since it fits the same deimensions that you choose to use to compare to a better made weapon.

    2) even if they fit the same malleable leather, that tells us nothing. Leather stretches, steel doesn't. Measure the yoke , frame, cylinder and barrel in several dimensions with some calipers, then we can compare.

    3) come up with something solid or scientific to talk about, instead of silly assertions.

    Sorry, it's late and I'm tired. I'm not feeling charitable to random comments that don't take into account the real nature of metallurgy, and the mechanical sciences that build on it.
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page