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S&W 686 vs Ruger Sec. Six

Discussion in 'Handloading and Reloading' started by joneb, Sep 23, 2012.

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  1. joneb

    joneb Member

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    I once thought these two guns were close in strength, and now I'm not so sure.
    I have loaded 13.7- 13.9gr of AA#9 with 158gr XTPs and Nosler 158 JHPs with CCI 500 primers for my Ruger Security Six w/a 2.75" barrel with very good results.
    A friend of mine bought a new S&W 686 w/a 4" barrel he was having good results with his 15.9gr load of h-110 WSPM behind a 158gr XTP. He tried my 13.9gr load with 158 Nosler JHP in the 686 and fired of a few shots, the primers were cratered and the shell extraction was sticky.
    Could this have something to do with barrel length or is the Ruger just stronger ?
     
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2012
  2. Lost Sheep

    Lost Sheep Member

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    Hard to tell with a sampling population of just two guns.

    Chamber dimensions, cylinder end play, size of the primer hole, any number of things can make a difference.

    As far as ultimate strength is concerned, there was a lot of back-and-forth about Ruger Sixes (Security Six, Service Six and Speed Six) and Smith & Wesson K-frame revolvers and which was stronger, the S&W Forged frame vs the Ruger Ivestment cast frame. I think the jury if finally in that the Ruger revolvers endure more heavy loads with less wear.

    The S&W L-frame (the 686 guns) is beefier and more comparable to the Ruger GP100.

    The K-frame Smiths were built around a lighter caliber than the .357 Mag. The N-frames were built for the .357 Mag and turned out strong enough for the 44 Special and 45 Colt and were pressed into service for the 44 Mag.Correction: Thanks to Jim Watson, post #13. Original text is italicized. For the correction, see post #13

    The Ruger Sixes were designed for the .357 Magnum, but were Ruger's first effort at double action revolvers. The only weakness I have ever heard about with them is that there is not much metal between the cutout for the ejector rod and where the threads are cut in the frame for the barrel to screw into. But I have never heard of a failure in that area.

    The L-frame Smiths were beefier than the K-frames. I suspect the L-frame Smiths are the equal of the Ruger Sixes. Perhaps stronger. But it is hard to tell.

    Lost Sheep
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2012
  3. joneb

    joneb Member

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    The max load for my Colt Trooper 357 mag w/a 4'' barrel was 13.4gr of AA#9 with a Hornady 158 XTP using CCI 500 I would guess this load would have worked well in my friends 686, this Ruger Sec six seems to handle hot loads with no signs of excess pressure.
     
  4. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Hmmm.

    Hmmmmm.

    The results you observed tell you exactly nothing about how strong a revolver is. The fact that a given load "showed pressure signs" in one revolver does not indicate that revolver is weaker or stronger.

    If the pressure signs are meaningful:
    If one gun is running at a higher pressure, it's because the pressure is higher. That's all. The cylinder throats might be cut a little tighter on the Smith, and/or the chamber might be slightly smaller in diameter. Heck, maybe the cylinder gap is smaller and the barrel is tighter. But the strength of the gun has nothing to do with any of that!

    FWIW: the cratered primers might only mean the firing pin hole is bigger on the Smith.
     
  5. GLOOB

    GLOOB Member

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    Or maybe he has been shooting a lot of 38 special and hasn't cleaned his gun in a long time!
     
  6. joneb

    joneb Member

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    The gun was new, only factory 357 and then his H-110 reloads.
    I have been considering another 357 Mag with a 4" barrel, my thoughts are a GP 100, Security Six or a pre 2000 686.
     
  7. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    The pressure signs dont mean anything about the guns strength. In fact, it may just mean that the chambers are cut tighter, which could be a good thing. If it were me I would pick up a pre lock 686 before the Rugers, and I own plenty of rugers. I also own a 686, it will never leave my posession.
     
  8. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

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    My thoughts exactly. What does sticky extraction have to do with the strength of the revolver?

    The Six-Series Rugers are comparable to the K frame Smiths. The GP-100 is more like the L frame Smiths.
     
  9. GooseGestapo

    GooseGestapo Member

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    I own both a Sec.6 and 686, and carried several different 686's as an le officer.
    I concur with the above assements and observations.
    What you are seeing is not so much "brute strength" but a level of precision/craftsmanship and detail in the firearms.
    I see my Ruger as a no-nonsense, economical tool, much like a Glock.
    I don't hesitate to run top-end .357magnum loads through the Ruger. I once killed a ~200lb pig with it and had to find a way to mark a spot on the side of a small river where to stop the boat to load the pig.... I "stood" the Stainless Ruger up sideways on the small sand bar to "mark" the spot! Found it, of course! Would NEVER have left my S&W laying on the sand!!!
    My Sec.6 is a ~2.5" gun at 25yds. I bought it for $150.00 in 2000 from a Police Supplier and it was an "abused" police trade in. It is my "utility" gun and frequently rides on my hip while deer/pig hunting. It is my "down and dirty", "rough and tumble", "go-to" piece. An SUV/Jeep type firearm.
    The Smith&Wesson is a "Cadillac" or "Ferrari". My Mod686 shot for me a national record in the PPC "off duty" match in 1998 that still stands.....I've in fact NEVER fired a round of magnum ammo through the Smith and would never dream of doing so, even though I know it would handle it with aplomb.
    Need I say more....
     
  10. Walkalong

    Walkalong Moderator

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    Same here. Just a difference in the guns, be it chamber size, cylinder gap, barrel tightness, etc., or a combination of these.

    My EMP will flattened primers more than any other 9MM I have using the same loads.

    A load that flattens primers a bit in my Colt Trooper MkIII, won't flatten them at all in my slow barreled Model 28 with its huge cylinder gap.

    Same goes for my Model 10 vs my 14-3.

    It is no indication of the guns strength.
     
  11. Hondo 60
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    Hondo 60 Member

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    Me thinks there's a reason for "Ruger Only" loads.

    Just my 2¢ worth.
     
  12. joneb

    joneb Member

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    It is my understanding that sticky shell extraction is a over pressure sign. The cylinder chamber is being enlarged by pressure and so is the case, the steel chamber has more memory than the brass and returns to its original dimension, the brass case being more malleable wants to stay at it's expanded diameter and thus causing sticky extraction.
     
  13. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    Uh, that worked the other way around, Lost.
    The N frame as we know it was introduced as the .44 (Special) Hand Ejector, Second Model, following the famous Triple Lock.
     
  14. GW Staar
    • Mentor

    GW Staar Member

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    The Ruger is stronger....that's a well known fact. But is still doesn't have anything to do with a hard extraction. It just means you are less likely to blow up your gun with the hot load.
     
  15. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    Yes there is. Its because Ruger built a Blackhawk and a Redhawk. "Ruger only loads" have nothing to do with a six series DA revolver from ruger. Not unless you want to see how quickly one could destructively disassemble one.
     
  16. joneb

    joneb Member

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    Thanks guys, that all made perfect sense :)
    I've noticed guns with same barrel length and the same load will shoot at noticeably different velocities, for some of the same reasons.
     
  17. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    With respect, this is neither an established fact nor well-known. We're talking about a Security Six vs the L frame, not a GP100. The Security Six is more comparable to the S&W K frame guns. I don't believe there is any widely held consensus that the older, smaller cast Ruger is stronger than the newer, larger and heavier forged Smith.

    It may be stronger--and certainly the individual specimen may be, but to say the entire population itself is definitively stronger isn't something I think you could call an established fact.
     
  18. CraigC
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    CraigC Member

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    And the existence of those "Ruger only" loads should never be taken out of context. If we aren't discussing large frame .45Colt's, it's irrelevant.

    I see nothing to suggest that the Security Six is stronger than an L-frame. If anything, it's the other way around but we can assume nothing.
     
  19. murf

    murf Member

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    run the load over a chronograph with both guns. bet the s&w will be faster.

    murf
     
  20. W.E.G.

    W.E.G. Member

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    Different guns have different personalities with different loads.

    Try less gunpowder if you are having sticky extraction.

    I really don't understand why folks feel that they have to shoot MAXIMUM handloads in their handguns.

    No amount of powder you put in that shell will make a .357 into a 30-06.
    But you might be able to fit enough powder in those shells to damage the gun, or put your eye out.
    Accept it, and use it, for what it is. Its just a handgun.

    Its long been known that Rugers will withstand more ABUSE than Smith & Wesson guns.
     
  21. GW Staar
    • Mentor

    GW Staar Member

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    Sorry I hadn't remembered S&W's evolution to "L" frame included the 686, That series finally gave them a medium frame strong enough to shoot .357's longer than 3,000 rounds. My mistake... they do have a "mid" frame as strong as a Ruger Security Six.:)

    I find this article written by Chuck Hawks interesting: The Dark Side...
     
  22. 918v

    918v Member

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    Let's ask Clark about that.
     
  23. ljnowell

    ljnowell Member

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    Yeah, smith and wesson quality has went down over the years, but Chuck Hawks usually out of date too. I lost any respect I had for him after reading some of the stuff he wrote about Ruger Only loads. Apparently he gets his information from newbs on forums, because he was wrong about a lot of it. The more of his stuff I read the more I realized that he is like the guy at the gun shop that has six mags on his belt and two holstered guns to work the gunshop in my town of 6k people.
     
  24. GW Staar
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    GW Staar Member

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    Pretty serious charges. I wouldn't know about that. I just thought the article was interesting. The 686 does look a hell of a lot like a Python.:) Honestly, I know nothing about the author.
     
    Last edited: Sep 27, 2012
  25. StretchNM

    StretchNM Member

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    I don;t know much about the S&W's frame "series" letters. I always thought the K frame was lighter than the L frame, and L frame lighter than an N frame, and so on. However, this I know:

    Back in the early 1990's, before the Border Patrol went to semi-autos, agents were issued either a Security Six or a 686. During the early to mid eighties, we carried 38 +P+ loads for duty, but qualified with wadcutters (now how about that?). During the late eighties, we carried 357 magnum loads on duty, but qualified with +P and +P+ loads. All the weapons were fine.

    During the early nineties, all qualifications were mandated to use magum loads, since that was what we carried. After a few years, across the nation, the S&W frames began developing cracks. Those that were found defective were sent to our national firearms division, and the agent with the S&W cracked frame revolver was issued the next "frame size" heavier (I used to think they got L-frames which I believed was heavier, but I don;t know for sure). THese held up fine.

    The Security Sixes never had a problem. Oh there might've been a revolver or three with a problem here or there, I can;t say for sure. But the Rugers held up fine shooting magnum loads quarter after quarter.

    We switched to Berettas nationwide in 1996 and dropped those (thankfully) in favor of H&Ks and eventually Sigs a few years later.

    So, the larger framed S&W's are probably fine, but I carried a Ruger and it's left me completely biased in favor of Ruger to this day.
     
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2012
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