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Thread: Truth or Fiction?

  1. #1
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    Default Truth or Fiction?

    I've alway's heard that a Ruger is a stronger gun than a Smith, but why.
    I've gotten the argument that it's because of the size of the frame, but then I've gotten the argument that because of it being a cast steel, it has to be larger to get the same strength as a forged frame, like a Smith.
    So tell me what you think and why.

  2. #2
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    If we look only at design and not actual strength of materials we can analyze it rather well. Similar to the way a Mauser M98 is designed for strength rather than rely on the utmost material quality for it's strength. Look closely at a K frame S&W in 357. The cylinder walls are thin and the forcing cone of the barrel is also thin because the frame is small and doesn't allow room for a larger barrel opening. If all steel is the same certainly a large frame S&W 357 is stronger. Much thicker cylinder walls and forcing cone wall thickness.

    You mentioned the frame but the cylinder and the forcing cone take all the force of high pressure gas and the hammer like impact of the bullet slamming into the barrel. This also stresses the top strap longitudinally and it tends to stretch which causes the barrel to point down and the cylinder gap to open. So the beefier cylinder walls and barrel opening in the frame and the top strap are where the strength needs to be. Is S&W steel better than Ruger steel. Well in the early days of Ruger revolvers, yes. But nowadays, I don't think so. Now we have a beefier design in the Rugers and better steel or at least as good as S&W steel. So they are considered stronger. I concur with this generally accepted concept.

    Both S&W and Ruger have made great advances in metallugy in the past two decades. As is demonstrated by the extremely high pressure cartridges introduced by both companies, the 454 Casull, 480 Ruger and the 460 and 500 S&W calibers. In 1935 when the 357 magnum was introduced S&W came up with superior steel for this "high pressure" round with it's 36,000 psi figure. All the new magnum revolver rounds operate at 50-65,000 psi. I'm sure the steel of all companies is better than it was in 1935.

    As a comparison S&W introduced the 357 in what is today called an N-frame gun with thick cylinder walls and large frame. Today that gun is an eight shot revolver in 357 with thinner cylinder walls, that's the better steel.

    Another issue that is not often brought out is not so much one of a gun not "blowing up" but just staying tight and not stretching the top strap or shaking loose with lots of heavy loads. I would only occasionally shoot a K-frame S&W with some of the loads I routinely put through the N-frame model 28 because it will loosen and wear out much sooner than the heavy frame gun. All Rugers are heavy frame guns compared to the S&W K frame.

    This isn't running down the S&W revolvers at all. I own several and really lke them, but I shoot the Rugers much more. They can take it. I have put just over 500 rounds through a new Ruger Redhawk 44 mag. All of these were 44 magnum loads, no whimp loads here. This was in about six weeks time. I just won't put that quantity of loads, this heavy, through my old 4" 29. It will stretch and loosen and won't shoot as well, so I use the strong work horse Rugers for testing. I also like the extra strength of the Rugers for load development in case things are not as expected and I load a round a little too hot.

    Now if we compare the Ruger Redhawk to the new S&W monster frame guns in 460 and 500 S&W mag, this is a different story. S&W made these guns larger and heavier to make them stronger so there is a strength by design but then extra strength through metallurgy. Extra steel and extra strong steel.
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  3. #3

    Default Rugers ARE stronger

    The Ruger will and does handle stiffer loads than a Smith. I MUCH prefer to shoot a Smith, but some of the loads a Ruger regularly can handle will shake a Smith to pieces, and can mess up the timing and alignment of the chamber to the bore.

    That being said, a Smith will handle any factory load of, say, a .44 Magnum there is with ease. If you want to get the power of a bigger round, you should just go to a bigger gun, such as a .454 Casull.

    I have and have owned both, and in my past, I reloaded very stiff loads for my Ruger Redhawk and Super Blackhawks that stuck in my Smith. They did the same in 2 other Smiths, so we all made sure of which rounds we fired in what guns after that. The Rugers digested them with no problems. I finally wised up and just moved to a .454 Casull in a Ruger Super Redhawk and have absolutely no regrets.

    The Smith's smooth trigger pull is second to none, and the Rugers are quite stiff. The ideal gun to me would be a Ruger gun with a Smith trigger mechanism. JMHO
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  4. #4

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    I have to keep my 44 loads for Redhawks labeled so they don't sneak into any of my Smiths. The Redhawks definitely digest stiffer loads.

    But way back when I was shooting DA in matches, I found the Rugers cost me quite a bit on the scorecards. I tuned the heck of out several, but they just never turned out as well as any Smiths I tuned.

    It all boiled down to different uses. I use the Redhawks for single action shooting on hunts that might stretch the range a bit. I shoot the Smiths mostly DA, though I use them for hunting and single action shots.

    One of the big reasons I use the Redhawks for hunting is the "Express" sights available as an option on the originals. That v-notch rear and gold bead front sight combo really lends itself to precise long range shooting.

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    If you're comparing the 629 to the redhawk, then yes the redhawk is a much stronger gun and can digest loads that will shake apart the smith. Folks have run some serious power loads through the redhawk with no ill effects.

    As to tuning redhawks, Magnaport has that down to an artform.

  6. #6

    Default Ruger strength

    I think the fact that the Ruger frame is one peice and the S&W is not and has a side plate has a lot to do with the frame's strenths. The Ruger's frame is machined from a single casting while the S&W has multiple screws and a side plate. I would think having holes drilled in to the frame and steel removed to accomidate the side plate would reduce overall strenth.
    Just my two cents.
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by Murphy View Post
    Much thicker cylinder walls and forcing cone wall thickness.

    You mentioned the frame but the cylinder and the forcing cone take all the force of high pressure gas and the hammer like impact of the bullet slamming into the barrel. This also stresses the top strap longitudinally and it tends to stretch which causes the barrel to point down and the cylinder gap to open. So the beefier cylinder walls and barrel opening in the frame and the top strap are where the strength needs to be.
    Murphy:
    Hmm, I didn't know that. I never gave it much thought. I feel like dumbkoff.

    Thanks for passing along the good stuff.

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