That One Go-to .357

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I love my 3" 686-6.
Having the 3" barrel makes it a nice size that's not too big to daily carry, but it still has weight enough to handle full power loads with ease.
Having 7 of them on hand is a big plus too. It does make it kinda bulky though. I put the big dot night sights on mine.

However, if I had to go with just one .357, I'd have to say my 640. Small enough for those times when I need to go small, and still has enough weight to handle the .357 when needed.
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If I get another .357, it will be one of these, a Ruger LCRx.

I really want to shoot one of those loaded with 38s.

As far as revolvers I'd bug out with... there's not a lot of bad choices. I'd take a Model 19/66 if I had a choice of any of them, but revolvers as a whole are pretty hardy despite their complexity and handle deferred maintenance well. Tauruses are about the only ones I'd even question.
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I have a 686 7 shooter 3". It's had some trigger work and springs changed by a a S&W armorer. Generally, I focus mainly on shooting double action with this revolver after seeing Jerry M video on YouTube. :)
Generally, I focus mainly on shooting double action with this revolver after seeing Jerry M video on YouTube. :)

I admire Jerry Miculek but I also believe
he may be guilty of promoting a false
image regarding the revolver or any
gun for that matter.

DA is great but media emphasis on seeing how
fast he can empty one is a bit less
desirable. His hits are often wide apart
and not necessarily the "one shot stop"
where placement is so important.

Miculek is to be admired, however, because
he has shown just how viable the DA
revolver can be. And to be fair his "normal"
speed is a lot slower than the exhibition
style he is too often known for.

In sum, you don't have to be a Miculek
to realize the excellent potential of the
DA revolver.
This question is getting tough. My favorite handgun is my 686+, but I have grown to like my 605.

The 605 is getting carried more and more as it fits nicely in my front pocket, my favorite way to carry.
When things go bump in the night I probably would grab the 605.

The 686+ has become more a range gun than anything else.
I have a few.
I really like a 581. I have 2

Dhart has one that has been round butted and the barrel shortened to 3" and a Gold bead front sight added. It is a beaut.
A S&W 13 or 65 are really nice.
My favorite is my round butt 65 with a 4" skinny Mod 64 barrel installed. It has a Target trigger and hammer for extra grip if I were to cock it for a single action shot. It is also moonclipped for some fairly fast relaods.
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Here are the choices a few other people made:

My friend is not a gun person, but a few years ago decided to purchase a handgun for HD and to occasionally carry (legally) in his car. He shot a lot of my handguns and decided that a 2.5" or 3" Ruger SP101 fit his needs and small hands perfectly (especially with a Hogue Monogrip). He got a good deal on one NiB when we went to a gun show and he's been very pleased with it. We're going shooting one morning this week.

My daughter is an experienced shooter and due to leave the nest soon to continue her education. She knows that she can have her choice of my handguns. I humbly suggested this Model 64. She shoots it very well. The target grips are a good fit for her large strong musician hands. I guess the equivalent 357 version would be a Model 65?

My FiL has owned a lot of handguns. His favorite 357 revolver of many and go-to for HD is his 6" Ruger GP100. He shoots it better than any of his other centerfire handguns. He's 6'8", so a large heavy revolver works well for him.

IMHO, all three people made good choices based on their needs. All three chose durable, well-built service-grade weapons designed for hard use, and all of them in stainless steel.

My SP101 is a 9mm. Otherwise it's the same as my friend's, even down to the same aftermarket grips. They are sturdy little handguns.

The trigger on this thing is soooo sweet. If she shoots it semi-regularly, it might need another set of springs after a couple of decades.
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A pre-lock S&W 681. Fixed sights would maybe survive better in truly hard use, or at least one less thing to have an issue with.
As kind of a fun thought experiment I've asked myself what would I pick for the one handgun that would best fit any possible need, and I've also thought that a 681 would be what I'd pick (I wish that S&W had used the 681 as the basis for the Customs CS-1 model—a fixed-sighted 3" 681 would be a cool gun). Of my current .357 handguns, though, I would pick my 4" GP100. Sturdy, accurate and with my favourite factory revolver grips ever.

Let me see, would I go with the 4" GP-100, the 6" Security Six, or the 4.62" Blackhawk, all in stainless (and ignoring my other shorter .357 revolvers). I think I would have to go with the GP-100, although I would not be disappointed with choosing one of the others.
Such a simple question with a complex answer.

For a hard use revolver I'd have to say gp100 in whatever barrel length suits you, I like the 6" barrel. Tough to conceal but easier to shoot well. In my opinion it's the most robust common 357 revolver .

Other options introduce complications but offer some benefits. A dan wesson will let you change barrel lengths easily but you need the tool , barrel and appropriate shroud. A manurhin is a good choice too but service parts ect aren't super common and they're pricey. A single action revolver will be slower to shoot and reload but can be a good choice too depending on what your needs are.

All that aside if I was going to need a single 357 chambered firearm for all purposes I would prefer a carbine. My favorite being the 77/357. It's an extremely robust , reliable gun and it's technically kind of a revolver due to its rotary magazine- sort of. Mine doesn't give the best accuracy with cast bullets (unfortunately) but shoots lights out with jacketed bullets. I wanted to find a load that revolver and carbine shot equally well but the closest I got was with a 180 wfn bullet but it's tight in the carbine chamber and takes a bit of effort to turn the bolt handle down - guessing that's why it's the most accurate cast bullet , fills the chamber better.

In any case, a rifle is better than a hand gun for everything except concealment and if it could only be a 1 gun proposition , I'll take a long gun.

Not really what OP was asking but it's the best answer I could manage.
On the other hand, Ruger discontinued to "Six" series because it couldn't hold up to what people actually do: shoot them. After Newhall, the doctrine of shooting in practice what an officer carries came down. Many agencies went back to 38 Special +P, but the ones that started practicing with 357 Magnum shot a lot more of it. Anecdotes like "mine's shot over 75,000 rounds and is still going strong" didn't matter. Two facts: there was demand for the GP-100. There was not enough demand to keep making the Six series. The Six's were dropped well before revolvers were and it wasn't because they were too tough.....
Cool story but all fiction. Ruger discontinued the Six series due to manufacturing cost. The GP100 is easier and cheaper to manufacture.
Bill Ruger didn't get to rewrite history just because his fan boys believed him. Losing money on every sale is the easiest problem to solve. If cost was the impetus for discontinuing the Six series, all he had to do was raise the price. The fact was there wasn't enough demand for them even at the unraised price. That is what is obvious but unadmitted by Ruger. The demand for Six series revolvers was soft because they sold almost exclusively into the law enforcement and security guard market and by the time of its discontinuance, new sales in that market was almost totally dominated by the Smith & Wesson 586 and 686 -- which happened to be designed by Dick Baker, who was also the one who designed the Six Series when he earlier worked for Ruger.

Not many agencies were buying Colt Pythons, and while many were keeping their Model 19's, the 19 had become considered obsolete for those agencies which determined to use 357 Magnum. The Newhall Incident precipitated a pivotal dilemma where agencies were unlikely to continue to mix their use of 38 Special and 357 Magnum the way Bill Jordan had long advocated. The agencies that were buying a lot of new revolvers were the ones going with 357. Just like the Model 19 was perceived as inadequate for exclusive use of 357, so was the Six series.

One of the major flaws of the Six series was the yoke-mounted gas ring. Bill Ruger was personally aware of this and was known to specify special production of cylinder-mounted gas rings to fill law-enforcement contracts. Of course Dick Baker was aware of it too, and marveled that S&W had changed the 19 from a cylinder-mounted gas ring to a yoke-mounted ring. He realized this was a step backward. One of the first engineering changes he made when he arrived at S&W is to put the gas ring back on the cylinder, redesigning it to address an issue where it would sometimes come loose. This was introduced with the 19-4 and 66-1.

The change S&W had made to move the gas ring to the yoke (which was not accompanied by a dash number) resulted in a greater undercut of the barrel extension (the forcing cone). It was this, combined with the spreading practice of shooting high volumes of 357 or Winchester's 38 +P+, and the trend to shoot lightweight bullets (110 grain or 125 grain Supervel) that caused these revolvers to become considered weak. Nobody would argue that the 19 was perceived this way, and that plenty of gunwriter ink was spilled on cracked forcing cones due to the damned cliche of "a steady diet of 357 Magnum." In fact, the problem with the 19 was nowhere near as widespread as the gunwriters made it out to be (beca, but if it was present with the 19, it was just as much so with the Six series.

Ruger fan boys will point out that the Six series didn't have the flat on the barrel extension that K frames did, but it was not this flat alone that caused K-frame failures. The K-frame rose to immense popularity, far greater than the Six series ever saw, in the 50's and 60's when this problem was never heard of. It was not the flat alone, but the thin barrel extension that the Rugers also had, combined with the new fad for light bullets and high pressures that created a demand for stronger revolvers.

As a factor driving market demand, the perception of the issue was just as prevalent for the Six series as it was for the K frame. This is why Ruger hyped the perceived beefiness of their GP-100. It was Smith & Wesson that countered with a marketing position that could have been neutralized had Ruger not had to discontinue it's Six series. Smith would not have been able to poke fun at the Six's tubbiness.
It's a bit on the beefy side, but if open carry is a legit consideration, I might go with my 6" S&W 686-4 PowerPort. It will handle about as hefty a load as I'd ever want to use, and the sheer weight of it makes it an extremely stable and "gentle" platform.

I'm also not discounting the possibility that something I don't own (e.g., a Manurhin MR73 or a Dan Wesson with multiple barrels) wouldn't nudge it out of consideration. :)

686-4 Power Port rsz adj.jpg
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