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Thread: 357 Recommendations

  1. #1
    Member schmidty_dog's Avatar
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    Default 357 Recommendations

    Hey guys, been curious about getting a Double Action 357 recently. I guess I'm narrowed down to Ruger and Smiths and have a few questions.

    Is the GP100 as tough or tougher than a Smith and Wesson 686 as far as handling some stout loads?

    What barrel length would be best for target shooting, plinking, overall general use 4 or 6 inch?

    Anyone have a favorite out of these two?

    Thanks guys, schmidty

  2. #2
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    Default

    Well, the old 357. We don't see that mentioned much anymore.

    I have owned two 686's. One was modified for NRA AP matches the other was a carry gun for some time. I think that is the right size for a 357, enough steel to not be so concerned about the loads, if you hand load or just use the full power loads. It will take a lot more shooting than the K frames. The Rugers are tough but I don't know that they are stronger than the L or N frame S&W's. The nice double action pull on the S&W's will beat out the Ruger for me any time. I wore out a Ruger Security Six some years a go but it did take a lot of shooting, they are very tough guns.

    Here's my take on the 357 and barrel length. They really need a six inch barrel to be a 357 magnum. Their power comes from velocity and four inch barrels seem to make more fire and noise and not more velocity. For a four inch 357, we're better off to use heavy loads in the 38 spcl cases. The smaller case volume makes a much more efficient load is more accurate and quiter and still very close to 357 velocity in the shorter barrel lengths. You can of course handload 38 spcl cases pretty warm if you just own 357 guns. You shouldn't if you have a J frame 38 spcl that could end up with the ammo. The 357 in a six inch barrel can be a very effective trail gun. It can be loaded with the 180-200 grain hard cast at very respectable velocity or it could be loaded with 110-125 grain hollow points for social occasions. All of these loads are available from various factory loads. I've taken several whitetail and javelina and at least one cougar with the round. It is a little under rated but in the short 4" or snubby guns it doesn't have the bite of the real 357. I'd pick a 6" L frame 686. The longer barrel will give the sight radius need for target shoots and it will perform up to the reputation of the 357.
    Is there nothing so sacred on this earth that you aren't willing to kill or die for?



  3. #3
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    Default

    Another vote for the 686 with a 6 inch barrel. Out of the box every S&W I ever owned had a vastly superior trigger pull to any Ruger I owned. But a good pistolsmith can work wonders with a Ruger. By the time you have the Ruger tuned you are into the price of the 686. The newer 686 version can also be ordered with a 7 shot capacity.
    .357's tend to get discarded up here pretty easy as most people want something larger. For this reason it pays to attend the gun shows and to watch the classifieds for used versions.
    Tennessee

  4. #4

    Default S&W K-frame

    is my personal preference. Barrel length basically depends on what you plan on using it for. If you plan on carrying it as a hunting sidearm, target shooting, and for plinking I'd recommend a 6". The 4" can be useful for similar things, just that it's not nearly as nice for target shooting. As for loads, basically that's going to depend on what you want to shoot with it.
    NRA Life Member, Prior F-16 crew chief.

  5. #5

    Default 357

    The 357 is a very effective round and should serve you well. It is underated and considered less desireable in AK though. The Smith 686 is a smooth revolver and comfortable to shoot even with full power loads. Smith made the 686 in 4",5",6",8" and I think 10" barrels. The 5",8",10" as the less common of the barrel lengths. I have also used a SS Ruger Security Six without a flaw or problem for many years. The Ruger Security Six isn't the new style of revolver(under-rib and stylish rubber grips) and as such commands a more moderate price used. A lot of Rugers were police turn ins and saw a lot more carry than use. The Rugers are offered in 4" and 6" only.
    " Americans will never need the 2nd Amendment, until the government tries to take it away."

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  6. #6

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    Both are excellent guns, however I will take the Smith every time. In the 686 I think you will find the Smith every bit as durable as the GP100. The Smith not only has a far better action, it just "feels right".

    Six inch barrel will get you better ballistics and is over all nicer to shoot. The trade off is it does not carry as well as a four inch, I have both and find utility for each! Good shooting!

  7. #7

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    What are you using it for? I carried the 686 4" for duty use and was very confident I could handle anything but a protracted gun fight. On my ankle I carried a Ruger SP-101 with a 2.25" barrel. For concealed use, you cannot beat the SP-101. LOVED it. I shot it in quals nearly as well as the 686. Personally the only reason I would carry the 6" is for hunting or target shooting, very hard to conceal. If I were to carry concealed another 357, it would be the SP-101 without a second thought. Matter of fact I sold mine to my best friends Dad and have been trying to buy it back since (1995). I never carried the GP Ruger but was told by others that had it was a fine weapon. Get touchy feely with both and see which sights instinctively and fits your hands best. Then buy the Hogue grips for it.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by brav01 View Post
    The 357 is a very effective round and should serve you well. It is underated and considered less desireable in AK though. The Smith 686 is a smooth revolver and comfortable to shoot even with full power loads. Smith made the 686 in 4",5",6",8" and I think 10" barrels. The 5",8",10" as the less common of the barrel lengths. I have also used a SS Ruger Security Six without a flaw or problem for many years. The Ruger Security Six isn't the new style of revolver(under-rib and stylish rubber grips) and as such commands a more moderate price used. A lot of Rugers were police turn ins and saw a lot more carry than use. The Rugers are offered in 4" and 6" only.
    Don't forget the 3" GP100.

    http://ruger.com/Firearms/FAProdView...=1715&return=Y

  9. #9
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    Default Security Six

    Ruger really missed a good bet when they discontinued the Security Six. (Which was offered in 6", 4" and 2 3/4" barrels) and the same gun was offered with fixed sights (cast into the top strap) as the service six. The frames (as are the newer GP100 and SP101, Redhawk and Super Redhawk) models investment cast with no side plate. The Security Six can be taken completely apart for service with a cartridge rim and the parts you find inside the revolver (you start with the grips and strip from there)

    If I were running the show, they would have reintroduced the revolver as an 8 or 9 shot 22 rimfire as well as other centerfire cartridges and continued as .357.

    The Security Six revolvers were comparable to the Smith & Wesson K frame, but the GP100 more nearly matched the weight of the L frame Smith.

    I like the Rugers for their strength and because the Smith has soooo many little parts inside. The Ruger's lockwork is much simpler.

    Ruger and Smith had a little battle of advertisements in the 70's about what was better, Rugers' investment castings or Smith's forged frames. Take your pick. All are good guns and strong enough.

    Larry (Lost Sheep)

  10. #10
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    Default Security Six

    Ruger really missed a good bet when they discontinued the Security Six. (Which was offered in 6", 4" and 2 3/4" barrels) and the same gun was offered with fixed sights (cast into the top strap) as the service six and the service six was available with a smaller, rounded butt as the Speed Six. The frames (as are the newer GP100 and SP101, Redhawk and Super Redhawk) models investment cast with no side plate. The Security Six can be taken completely apart for service with a cartridge rim and the parts you find inside the revolver (you start with the grips and strip from there)

    If I were running the show, they would have reintroduced the revolver as an 8 or 9 shot 22 rimfire as well as other centerfire cartridges and continued as .357.

    The Security Six revolvers were comparable to the Smith & Wesson K frame, but the GP100 more nearly matched the weight of the L frame Smith.

    I like the Rugers for their strength and because the Smith has soooo many little parts inside. The Ruger's lockwork is much simpler.

    Ruger and Smith had a little battle of advertisements in the 70's about what was better, Rugers' investment castings or Smith's forged frames. Take your pick. All are good guns and strong enough.

    Larry (Lost Sheep)
    Last edited by Lost Sheep; 01-14-2008 at 21:30. Reason: to add the reference to the Speed Six

  11. #11
    Member alaska bush man's Avatar
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    Thumbs up Ruger Security Six

    good points larry

    Ruger Security Six with a Colt Python Barrel.......we called it the Cougar............very good combination,,,,,strength and accuracy!

    The Smith Wesson N frame in Model 28 was also big enough to handle 357 Mag loads.....but is a big rev.

    My Colt python and SW 686/66 mid weight frames are best suited for 38 spc loads.....not for pro long use with 357 mag loads.

    Never did like the ruger GP100

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    Default One more vote for a 686

    One more vote for a 686 with a 6 inch tube. I think they balance and point well. There a lots of good smiths that can put a good trigger pull on them, though mine have come with ok triggers out of the box. I never really cared for the Rugers all that much - no particular reason. I loved the Python but it was more of a cult/movie star thing rather than a well thought out reasoned attraction.

  13. #13

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    I've been a devoted double action shooter for over 40 years, so I've defintely formed strong tastes. Tried my darndest with Colts and Rugers, but never could tune them well enough and get the "feel" I wanted. Smiths were close right out of the box, and with little more than a spring job and some polishing, produced a DA that put the others to shame.

    I've owned most of them in a variety of barrel lengths over the years and boiled it down to 6" for general use/target/hunting, 4" for ease of carry and 2.5 or 3" for concealment.

    The final measure I guess is what I have now after going through all the others. I've only hung onto two, and both are 6" 686. The only reason there are two is that I still can't decide which of the two I like best. I let all the others go to help feed my lever action and growing muzzleloader habits, but I'm through letting go 357's now. I found what works best for me and is certainly the best for DA.

    On the question of full snort loads and shooting loose, I think that's an OWT (Old wives tale) or web myth. I've put thousands of rounds through each of the two 686's in the many years I've owned them, and they're as tight as new guns. But no, I don't push them past SAAMI max either.

  14. #14
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    Default Gp 100

    GP 100 all the way. Accurate as all get out, and looks good to. I have the 6 inch light barrel.

    Ron

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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Default

    There are pros and cons of the Rugers and the Smiths. I know Rugers have a reputation of being rough, and it is generally a well earned reputation. That said, a ruger worked over by magnaport will change your mind about ruger da's.

    My experience is that 4" is easier to pack, 6" is easier to shoot, so figure out what you'll be doing the most of with the gun and choose accordingly.

    While I agree the 357 is more of a high speed round, you're only going to loose about 60 fps going from 6" to 4", and I can't see how an extra 60 fps will make a bullet a solid killer vs a crippler.

    The real issue is having a 357 that is built strong enough to take originally designed pressures. In a strong 6 gun, the .357 is a very capable round, especially with a good cast 160-200 gr bullet. And even with top loads, a .357 just doesn't have that much recoil. The heavier bullets put more of the powder charge into work instead of noise.

  16. #16
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    Wink

    Alaska Bush Man:

    Why would my Colt Python .357 4" not be good for prolonged use of magnum loads?

    The Python was the top of the line that Colt made, better than an Anaconda.

    I feel the frame is very strong , but i did not know that the frames came in different weights.

    how do I know whcih weight frame i have? The frame seems plenty heavy solid steel to me.

  17. #17
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    Default Ruger

    I have a Ruger Stainless GP 100 with the 4 inch barrel and it shoots well enough and accurate enough. It is pretty rugged and sturdy! I wouldn't mind trying the S&W however in 6". I just couldn't bring myself to pay the price for such a nice gun that I plan to only beat up on the trail when I take it out. I did pay the extra however for the 44 Mag and got the S&W Mountain Gun 4" Stainless. Definitely worth it there.

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    Default Frame Weigths

    Cold Zero,

    I am working from memory here, so if anyone catches me in an error, please accept my apologies and send me corrections.

    As I recall, the Colt Diamondback was Colt's top of the line centerfire revolver for accuracy, available in 22 rimfire and 38 Special. It also had a better finish than the Python, but the same frame.

    I believe the Python was a Diamondback with a .357 magnum cylinder and without some target accessories (also a few were made in 44 special and 41 magnum). (And there was the King Cobra.) But built on the same frame as the Diamondback.

    The Anaconda was an entirely different (larger) frame, but the same lockwork design as the python/diamondback, but larger parts. the 44 Magnum version of the Python. (There was no 44 Special version of the Anaconda that I know of.)

    I believe that the Diamondback/Python frame was just dimensionally too small for the 44 magnum and 45 Long Colt cartridges. So the Python and Anaconda could be called the same gun in different sizes with no other difference in quality

    Now, for durability. Frames stretch and flex with each explosion. Barrel whip will affect accuracy by fractions. But I have never heard of any modern gun, handled and loaded properly that "shot loose" from even as many as 10,000 rounds. But I know that metal will eventually fatigue and fail, so if you plant to put maybe 100,000 full power rounds through a revolver, I would go for a heavier frame and a larger, heavier cylinder. Under 10,000? just make sure you don't run the pressures up higher than manufacturer's recommendations and you should be fine.

    But, a heavier gun IS more comfortable to shoot. That is most people's deciding factor, I think. For daily carry, lighter is better. For lots of shooting, heavier is better and for really critical highly refined target shooting, heavier and stiffer is better. Durability is usually not the deciding factor in a revolver. Certainly not durability of the frame (for me, durability of all those little parts inside seems more the question).

    Let me know if I am off base, please and pardon my rambling.

    Larry (Lost Sheep)



    Quote Originally Posted by cold zero View Post
    Alaska Bush Man:

    Why would my Colt Python .357 4" not be good for prolonged use of magnum loads?

    The Python was the top of the line that Colt made, better than an Anaconda.

    I feel the frame is very strong , but i did not know that the frames came in different weights.

    how do I know whcih weight frame i have? The frame seems plenty heavy solid steel to me.

  19. #19
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    Default Colt frames

    Lost Sheep,
    The Diamondback is built on the D frame which is smaller than the Python which is built on the I frame. The I frame was called the .41 frame in some of the Colt books. D frame guns include the Detective Spcl., Police Positive, Cobrea, Agent, Viper, and Diamondback. They were made in .22, .32, and .38. The Python is Colts top of the line revolver and is in .38 Spcl. and .357.

  20. #20

    Default

    If I could have but one gun it would be a 6" 686! I love em!

    Our local PD has to shoot to qualify every year. Their all time qualifying score record was a 93 out of a hundred. I shot their course for the heck of it with my L frame and shot a 97 in the first go around!

    I'll never be without one!!

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