Looking for advice on .357 wheel gun

bigdaddydmd

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Figured I would tap into the hive brain here and get some advice. I used the search feature and have been banging away on google, but would like to get the Hide's advice.

I have reached a point in my life where fancy, semi auto SA/DA handguns fill a well defined job role for me and now I lust after a shiny, stainless revolver. Maybe its old age or maybe its just the next step in sidearm evolution, I don't know. What I do know is that I want a revolver and have decided on a .357 magnum. Looked and researched and fired a few. I have narrowed it down to a S&W 686 with 4" barrel. The Ruger GP100 was close but I liked the S&W just a little bit more. Did the hem and haw between 4" and 6" for a bit but decided the 4" is more practical due to balance and weight. (I can still be swayed if you think a 6" is better). Intended use is on the hip while hunting here in AZ and .357 is all I need here. It won't fulfill the role of everyday carry piece.

Where I need advice is the plethora of 4" S&W revolvers out there. I see pre-lock, post lock, 6 shot, 7 shot, blade sights, outlined sights, performance center, trigger mods, etc and it is a little overwhelming. The 686 has been around a long time and there seems to be quite a few variations out there.

  1. what is the appeal/advantage of a "pre-lock"? Is it merely esthetics or is the premium the pre-lock have worth it?
  2. Is a 6 shot better in terms of cylinder strength than a 7 shot? I seem to be gravitating to the older 6 shot models cause a revolver is supposed to have 6 dammit.
  3. What are some of the things I should look for when perusing these older revolvers? lock up, timing,trigger, etc? Any quick and easy ways to check lock up/timing?
Thanks in advance to those who chime in.
 
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mcameron

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definitely take a look at the SW 686 and the SW 66.....for revolvers, i like 4" and less.........6" revolvers arent terribly practical outside of handgun hunting.

3-4" are easy to carry ....but still long enough so that they are easy to shoot.

what is the appeal/advantage of a "pre-lock"? Is it merely esthetics or is the premium the pre-lock have worth it?
mostly aesthetic.....some people claim prelocks are built better......might be true.....but ive never had any issues with parts breakage in any post lock revolver.....they make plugs to fill the place of the lock if you like.

Is a 6 shot better in terms of cylinder strength than a 7 shot? I seem to be gravitating to the older 6 shot models cause a revolver is supposed to have 6 dammit.
theoretically a 6 shot will be stronger.....i dont know if the 6 or 7 use the same cylinder size.......but a 7 shot revolver just seems odd to me.

What are some of the things I should look for when perusing these older revolvers? lock up, timing,trigger, etc? Any quick and easy ways to check lock up/timing?
on an empty gun, cock the hammer and pull the trigger.....then take a peak down the bore to check for cylinder allignment....do this for each cylinder.

also check for hammer pushoff.......cock the hammer then push on the back of it with your thumb without pulling the trigger, the hammer should not fall. if it does, the trigger has been screwed with.
 
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bigdaddydmd

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on an empty gun, cock the hammer and pull the trigger.....then take a peak down the bore to check for cylinder allignment....do this for each cylinder.

also check for hammer pushoff.......cock the hammer then push on the back of it with your thumb without pulling the trigger, the hammer should not fall. if it does, the trigger has been screwed with.
Thank you for the info. While checking the alignment does the hammer need to be dry fired ie "pull the trigger" or can I let the hammer down gently, check alignment, re-cock to advance the cylinder and repeat on all cylinders? I would think there wouldn't be any difference between dry firing and letting the hammer down but I am unfamiliar with the trigger and internal mechanics of the revolvers. Reason I ask is I am looking at the used market and some guys may not like their weapon being dry fired.
 

myronman3

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i LOVE me some revolvers. i like the smiths a lot. folks dont like to admit it, but the 586 (blued smith l frame 357) was dubbed “the python killer” for good reason. i had a python and the smith....after a side by side shootout, i still have the smith.

my daily carry is a 357 360 j frame.

i picked up a pinned and recessed 66 here two weeks ago at a show...i feel like i stole it. it is soooo sweet.

i have also shot a pinned and recessed highway patrolman 357 here recently, and it shoots damn nice.

when it comes to double action revolvers, smith is where it is at. if i were going to buy a new stainless 357, it would be the 3-5-7, 5’’ model. it’s a 686+ (7 shooter) with the perfect length barrel. a smidge more than 4”, and not as much as 6”.....about a perfect do-it-all length. the 3 inch is too short, and the 7 inch might be nice for target work, but too long to carry practically. that 5 inch barrel is the titties.

i think in today’s world, the 357/38 is vastly overlooked. i can’t tell you how many times i’ve run across dudes teaching their girl to shoot, and they have them dicking with autoloaders. the look on the faces of the women tells it all. i have often offered to let them shoot my revolvers, and i have yet to have one NOT like it. you OWE it to yourself to get a nice 357. :)
 

Slash0311

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Ive had a few of the 686s over the years. I'd highly recommend them. I don't have first hand knowledge of the Ruger.

A few years ago, I was looking for a 44mag and asking much the same thing as you. The "pre-lock" guns seem to be higher priced since most were made old school before all of the modern metal casting methods really took off. (Someone with more knowledge may correct me on that as I'm not 100% sure when metal casting really started) but i think its the inferior metal casting methods that dropped the prices in revolvers as it reduced the time for production and hand-fitting parts. The lock system also adds parts to a mechanical device increasing the theoretical chance of a breakage or malfunction (not to mention loosing keys)

I was patient looking for that 44 mag and finally found one on gun broker. For me, comparing revolvers made in the 80s are do much better in fit and finish. Just the way the caliber and brand on the barrel was rolled vs new engraving looks better to me.

One thing not mentioned to look for is any deformation on the cuttouts on the cylinder. Its the ones that lock or positoon the cylinder for firing. A buddy had a 686 and liked to fobthe Hollywood flip constantly. Over time this could effect the timing and alignment of thd cylinder to the barrel.

All of this boils down to my opinion but hopefully it can help you form your own.
 

pmclaine

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S&W Model 19, prior to the lock, in blue because real men scare rust so much it wouldnt dare.

A 27-2, pinned and recessed, would be the next choice but its a true handful. Great for field carry but a little girthy if you want to conceal.
 

myronman3

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one other story i will share with you...short story shorter....i had an issue with my 360 after i first got it. i called smith, they had fex ex pick up my gun at my house, and had it repaired, and delivered right back to me at my house, in LESS than 2 weeks. there was no ranting or raving, and i am no one but a customer. smith is tip top, buy with confidence.

as far as the pre-lock....some are against them, but if you dont like it, it’ll lie dormant on your gun, you dont have to use it. but if you want to use it, it’s there and i think it works very well. given the choice between pre lock and current, i’d go with current production.

but then there is the pinned and recessed guns...and these are a different story. call me a monkey, but the hand fitting that went into these guns shows. they are tight, and they are smooth...and they are sexy. i believe it was 81 that they quit making them cause it was too expensive. they are sweet. almost as sweet as my freedom arms. and in their own way, maybe just as much.
 

myronman3

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Any thought into the Ruger Redhawk .357?
It isnt going to be anywhere near as fine as the smith...but if you are looking for a tank to shoot the ever-living-piss out of, i am sure it will be fine. I’m a big ruger fan, but smith’s revolvers are so much more refined to me...the rugers are more utilitarian. I aint saying they aint nice, but for 50 bucks more, to me, the smith is worth every penny of it.
 

pmclaine

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one other story i will share with you...short story shorter....i had an issue with my 360 after i first got it. i called smith, they had fex ex pick up my gun at my house, and had it repaired, and delivered right back to me at my house, in LESS than 2 weeks. there was no ranting or raving, and i am no one but a customer. smith is tip top, buy with confidence.

as far as the pre-lock....some are against them, but if you dont like it, it’ll lie dormant on your gun, you dont have to use it. but if you want to use it, it’s there and i think it works very well. given the choice between pre lock and current, i’d go with current production.

but then there is the pinned and recessed guns...and these are a different story. call me a monkey, but the hand fitting that went into these guns shows. they are tight, and they are smooth...and they are sexy. i believe it was 81 that they quit making them cause it was too expensive. they are sweet. almost as sweet as my freedom arms. and in their own way, maybe just as much.

The sight on my 27-2 wouldnt adjust.

Tech on the phone talked me through removing it, sent it to them, within a week it was back all serviced and good to go.

I see Smiths at my local gun store that were never anything more than a night table gun.

Unless its something desireable like a 27 they are what I consider cheap - less than $500 for as you called it a hand fitted gun.

I like old guns.

The kids can buy the new ones.
 
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myronman3

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I agree on the old ones. I wouldnt hesitate to buy a new one though. I can’t believe how low the price is on them. I’ve been seriously tempted by the 3-5-7 7” model. I will be shocked if i dont have one by the end of the summer. In fact, i was going to buy one but found the old 66. And she is SWEET!

I may still get the 3-5-7.
 

remmynikon.308

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It isnt going to be anywhere near as fine as the smith...but if you are looking for a tank to shoot the ever-living-piss out of, i am sure it will be fine. I’m a big ruger fan, but smith’s revolvers are so much more refined to me...the rugers are more utilitarian. I aint saying they aint nice, but for 50 bucks more, to me, the smith is worth every penny of it.
Oh, I agree, smiths are smoother, i have a few of each.....just in .44mag, but As stated in the OP, it will be a sidearm for hunting..... when i think of a bush sidearm, i think heavy duty.... heavy duty makes me think Ruger. everyone has their prefrence, it woul be boring if we all shot the same thing right?
 

pmclaine

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Carried a Model 19 circa 1988-1990 in the USMC.

Revolvers are what I recommend new wanna be owners buy.

Manual of arms.....

1. Pull trigger.

2. If gun does not make a bang sound revert to step 1.
 
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Downtown

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I'm afraid us wheel gun people throw around "pinned and recessed" like everybody knows what we're talking about. Once upon a time cylinders were recessed so the case head was flush with the cylinder. The barrel was pinned to the frame with a quite obvious pin at the front of the frame.
 

myronman3

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Yeah, and the p&r 66’s can be found at reasonable prices these days. The only thing is, the 66’s and the 19’s were not made for sustained 357 use...the thought was “practice with 38’s, carry 357’s”. It is widely accepted that the 110 and 125 loadings should be avoided in the 66 and 19 (k frames). They brought out the 586 and the 686 (L frames) to address concerns with the lighter K frames. The L frames and the N frames will take full house 24/7/365.

I am a big fan of lighter frame pistols. My favorites at the 66, the 586, the ruger 44 special blackhawk, and the freedom arms model 97; not to mention the j frames. To me, a pistol should be small enough to carry comfortably. Some of the giant handguns out there make me laugh. I consider them novelty items.
 

bigdaddydmd

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I'm afraid us wheel gun people throw around "pinned and recessed" like everybody knows what we're talking about. Once upon a time cylinders were recessed so the case head was flush with the cylinder. The barrel was pinned to the frame with a quite obvious pin at the front of the frame.
Thank you for chiming in. I have been reading thru the thread. Lots of info. Thanks guys. I knew the brain trust would come thru. I was just going to ask "pinned and recessed?". You explained it very well.

Damn. That 5-8-7 with 5" barrel sounds very tempting. So the gist I am getting is if I want old school craftsmanship find a 66. If I want new go with the 587. Is there a frame difference between the model 66 and 686? I was reading they beefed up the frame size to handle more .357 magnum loads. I project I will be shooting a mix of .38 and .357 equally.
 

Downtown

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The pin can be seen at the back of the barrel below the top strap. This is a 19 used for the occasional carry, just because I like revolvers. 7042896
 

Downtown

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7042901

A recessed cylinder. We like to abbreviate these to "P&R". That is how a old Smith is identified.
 

myronman3

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[QUOTE="bigdaddydmd, post: 7605191, member: 43115"Damn. That 5-8-7 with 5" barrel sounds very tempting. So the gist I am getting is if I want old school craftsmanship find a 66. If I want new go with the 587. Is there a frame difference between the model 66 and 686? I was reading they beefed up the frame size to handle more .357 magnum loads. I project I will be shooting a mix of .38 and .357 equally.
[/QUOTE]


The 586 is a blued gun.... L frame (heavier medium frame). The 686+ 3-5-7 is also an L frame, but in stainless steel, both will handle all the 357 loads you could ever want to fire.

if you are after an older gun, there are many. I dont think i would get a 19 or 66 if i wanted to shoot them a lot. If you want a sweet carrying gun, that you’ll shoot now and then with full power 357s, this is a great choice. The 19 is a blued gun, the 66 is stainless...otherwise they are the same.

If you want a large frame 357, the highway patrolman (model 28) is a gun you can shoot fullhouse 357s in and the gun will outlive you. They are very well put together, but were made as a more affordable version of the model 27; which is a same gun with a little bit nicer finish on it. Both these guns are very, very nice.

There aint a damn thing wrong with the new guns, dont let anyone scare you off. Like i said, there is a new 3-5-7 686+ in my near future; i think that highly of them. Get one in a 5” gun and you’ll never regret it.
 

YF12A

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Have you considered a Dan Wesson? Any barrel length you want and very accurate. No, they may not be as sexy as an older P&R'd Smith but I've never seen a bad one. Don't get me wrong, I like my older Smiths', but I like other flavors as well. One of my favorites is an early '90's Taurus 669 6" full underlug. Great bluing, color case hardened trigger and hammer, and shoots just about anything well. I have lived long enough to see too many gun companies go up and down quality wise, personally more than once with S&W, the worst was a 4006. My local PD got a bad batch of Smith revolvers in the early '90's that just locked up. Many unhappy Officers there. Just my .02 cents worth.
 

powerspc

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My first duty revolver was a S&W 686 .357 Combat Magnum with a 4" barrel, it served me well for over a decade before we eventually switched to Glocks, I still have it and cherish it. There is no "perfect" I do not believe in the gun world or probably anywhere else for that matter but for my money that revolver is as "perfect" as any revolver ever made. If you really want to go old school they have re-introduced the 586 which is the same revolver but blued. (Think you wanted stainless though).
 

Rlandry

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The Smiths are great and will hold up for a long time as long as you shoot SAAMI spec ammo.
If you want a single action, then it's either Ruger or Freedom Arms.
If you reload, you'll see two sets of data, one for Freedom Arms, Ruger, and T/C and the other set for all others. There's a reason for that.. John Linebaugh would not build his barn burning revolvers on any frame but a Super Blackhawk. If you shoot extended hot loads in a Smith, you'll likely stretch the frame. You can shoot barn burners in a Freedom Arms till the cows come home.
I don't think you can blow one up. A buddy shot an accidental weak load in his .454, lodged it in the barrel and put another one right behind it. Both bullets exited the barrel and hit the paper. He sent the gun to FA and they could not find a single problem with it.
 

myronman3

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The Smiths are great and will hold up for a long time as long as you shoot SAAMI spec ammo.
If you want a single action, then it's either Ruger or Freedom Arms.
If you reload, you'll see two sets of data, one for Freedom Arms, Ruger, and T/C and the other set for all others. There's a reason for that.. John Linebaugh would not build his barn burning revolvers on any frame but a Super Blackhawk. If you shoot extended hot loads in a Smith, you'll likely stretch the frame. You can shoot barn burners in a Freedom Arms till the cows come home.
I don't think you can blow one up. A buddy shot an accidental weak load in his .454, lodged it in the barrel and put another one right behind it. Both bullets exited the barrel and hit the paper. He sent the gun to FA and they could not find a single problem with it.

I’ve never been a fan of hot rodding pistols. If you need more, get a different caliber. Fact of the matter is, most of my shooting is done with mid range power. Rarely do i run full house power level...this is true for my 357’s and 44’s.

All that being said, factory loads saami max pressures being respected, a smith will hold up just fine.
 

bigdaddydmd

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No plans to reload for it. Seems all my mad money fund goes into powder, bullets, and primers to feed the 6.5CM. I do get that the 586 is blued and 686 is stainless. Typo on my part. I'm not sworn to the stainless as a beautiful blue and wood is always sexy, but I'll be out and about beating the brush and running the wadis with it on my hip so its going to take some abuse. I think the stainless would be a little more durable in that application.

You guys are really giving me some great info.
 

afv338

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one other thing and forgive me if i missed it when reading through this thread, if buying a used one when you pull the trigger and let the hammer down hold it and wiggle the cylinder and check it to see if their is any movement if their is dont buy it. i have over 20 smith revolvers and the only one i ever had trouble with was a 629. i shot the shit out of it with heavy loads and had to have it rebuilt. smiths you can buy a spring kit from brownells put them in yourself and its easy, instent trigger job.
 

eastexsteve

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I have a drawer full of handguns, but there is just something about a 686. I've had a stainless 686 6 inch 6 shot for about 25 years now, and it's the cat's meow. It came with the wood grips which I replaced with Pachmayrs. It's the one I pack around in a shoulder rig when I go out in the woods, or riding the fence line. The double action is as smooth as glass, and the single action trigger is fantastic. I saw a YouTube video once of two geniuses trying to blow up a 686 by every means imaginable. They couldn't do it.