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neomedic
07-17-2010, 5:19 PM
Thinking of a getting a first wheel gun. Most likely to be used when going camping, thus protection from 4 legged creatures (bears, large cats, etc.) and self defense if the need arises.

For this use, does it mean I should only look at .44 magnum guns? If so, how long a barrel should the gun be (keeping in mind I want a balance of compactness since its for camping and hiking but should be accurate enough so that I don't have to wait to point blank range).

I was thinking about the S&W 629 w/ a 5" barrel. Can I get away with a 4" barrel? Something better?

Also...can I get the S&W 629 without the lock or will I need to find a used one?

Thanks.

Army
07-17-2010, 5:46 PM
The larger the caliber, the more specialized it becomes. With a nice .357 Magnum, you can have protection and a gun for small game while camping. Plus, it's a lot cheaper and more fun to play with .38's than suffering the constant blast of full house magnum loads.

Also, it will be lighter for more comfortable all day carry.

turbogg
07-17-2010, 5:50 PM
With a nice .357 Magnum, you can have protection and a gun for small game while camping. Plus, it's a lot cheaper and more fun to play with .38's than suffering the constant blast of full house magnum loads.

Also, it will be lighter for more comfortable all day carry.

.357 is a nice compromise. You can shoot the cheaper .38 stuff at the range all day long, and then load with the full magnum rounds when you need them.

neomedic
07-17-2010, 6:07 PM
Will a .357 be good enough for a bear? Or will it be for small to medium game like large cats and the like?

shooting4life
07-17-2010, 6:28 PM
If I had a bear outside my tent I woukd rather have a 44mag

-hanko
07-17-2010, 6:35 PM
If I had a bear outside my tent I woukd rather have a 44mag
Wonderful.

Another bear thread.

:sleeping:

-hanko

Snapping Twig
07-17-2010, 8:03 PM
If you can support the cost of ammo to get comfortable with it, the .44 would be the right choice.

I'd get a 4", it's a good all around size and packs easily for what it is. Get a crossdraw holster. I like the Bianchi Cyclone 111.

Don't overlook the .45 colt as an option.

It can end anything that takes air and it isn't a magnum.

Consider that .44 special and .45 colt are quite similar, moving the same weight bullet the same speed.

So if you decide on the .44, you can get some cast reloads @ 900fps and have every confidence in a sure and certain level of protection without the magnum recoil.

neomedic
07-17-2010, 8:20 PM
Wonderful.

Another bear thread.

:sleeping:

-hanko

No so much as a bear thread as what I should use for self defense when camping that is good compromise for size and what will have a good chance of taking down large game if needed.

oddjob
07-17-2010, 8:31 PM
Army is right on. With a .357 & 158 grn loads it should be adequate for your needs. Plus you can plink with lighter .38 sp loads too. I would go with a 4" barrel S&W such as a M-66.

Helpful_Cub
07-17-2010, 8:36 PM
No so much as a bear thread as what I should use for self defense when camping that is good compromise for size and what will have a good chance of taking down large game if needed.

Call me crazy, but if you just need an animal self defense weapon; I would think that Bear Pepper Spray be lighter and much cheaper?

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/bear%20spray.pdf

bjl333
07-17-2010, 9:18 PM
Call me crazy, but if you just need an animal self defense weapon; I would think that Bear Pepper Spray be lighter and much cheaper?

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/bear%20spray.pdf

COOLNESS !!! I didn't know these sprays are available !! Next time I am out in the woods I'll be sure to have these spray available .... You have just lightened my hip load by more then a pound. I'll be carrying a 66 2 1/2" instead of a 4" 29, and a bear mace !!

FUBAR
07-17-2010, 9:39 PM
that pepper spray is good stuff on animals. works better than a handgun because just indirect contact will take the fight out of any bear. works good on humans as well.

WaR_ClouD-VII
07-17-2010, 9:40 PM
Ruger GP100 in .357 magnum in a 4" Barrel is what I'd recommend. For the money it is a fantastic gun, and durability wise it'll be a gun that's handed down for generations no matter how much you abuse it. Turners has them on sale for $499 right now.

RedFord150
07-17-2010, 9:48 PM
.41 Magnum Ruger Redhawk is worth looking at.
.45 Long Colt is another option.
If you want to go Single Action, the Ruger Blackhawk would be a good choice. It can be found in all of the calibers we are discussing and a lot of different barrel lengths. I think it is darn near impossible to break it.
I have fired .357 mag in a 4" barrel. I have only fired the larger calibers in much longer barrels. I am sure it can be managed, I just do not know how nasty the recoil is going to be.
Good luck.

gorenut
07-17-2010, 9:56 PM
You should ask yourself, are you going to reload? If you reload ammo, go with .44mag. I personally don't reload so I went with the option most practical for my needs. .357mag. Practice with 38sp but have loads of .357mag in case I need em.

After that, it depends on how much you want to spend. All the new 627s have locks built in, so you'd have to get a used one if you want to avoid the lock. On top of that.. those go for a premium. If you have the money and want a 627, I say don't let the lock detour you. Its still well worth it. If I didn't get my 2022 recently, I'd get a 627 and I already own an Ruger GP100. Just having 8 shots of .357mag is badass. Its close to having the most fire power in a handgun for a regular CA civilian (legally). Nothing wrong with the GP100 and maybe for camping it might be better because you won't be worried about it getting scuffed up, its rugged as all hell... but S&W revolvers just have more refinement and I'd love to own a 627 myself.

bjl333
07-17-2010, 10:00 PM
COOLNESS !!! I didn't know these sprays are available !! Next time I am out in the woods I'll be sure to have these spray available .... You have just lightened my hip load by more then a pound. I'll be carrying a 66 2 1/2" instead of a 4" 29, and a bear mace !!

Got too excited on the bear spray ... I would recommand a 4" S&W model 686 or 66, a Ruger GP100 4" and that would be about all I'd recommand for a first wheelgun. The 357 magnum is powerful for anybody to shoot, and the 38 special is very cheap to practice with. If you get into reloading in the future the components for the 357/38 is very cheap as well.

BigDogatPlay
07-17-2010, 10:13 PM
I would always recommend a good .357 over a .44 for general purposes. The ability to shoot with light .38's for fun / practice, .38 +P for self defense and .357 for game / out in the woods protection make it a solid choice. For the most part if hunting or carrying for protection in the woods a 158 grain magnum softpoint will get the job done so long as the shooter does theirs.

I would echo the GP100, but would also consider an S&W 28, either one in a four inch barrel would be solid. You can load stouter ammo in heavier bullet weights in either of those guns than you would ever want to shoot in a K or L frame. Buffalo Bore 180 grain solids come to mind when thinking of bear medicine.

The newer, higher capacity S&Ws are cool and all, but my brain tells me those extra shots in a gun load come at the expense of removing a bunch of steel from the cylinder. There is something to be said for the good feeling of all that steel in a 28, or even an older 27, around even the hottest magnums.

scidx
07-17-2010, 10:14 PM
The Gp100 is a heavy .357 mag. Recoil is tame for that cartridge. (Not that .357 is out of control.) The Gp100 is also quite a strong gun; and .357 mag has a great range of use. If this is your first revolver, .44 mag might not be the best choice. If you shoot a .357 and feel you want something bigger, sell it after getting used to the double action revolver manual of arms. .38 special is also cheaper than all previously mentioned cartridges for practice. If you don't like the Gp100, there are others. But, you'll be hard-pressed to find a stronger woods gun with the same characteristics. I don't want to say it...but, you can't beat actually handling different guns. Only you can decide whats comfortable. As for the barrel length, 4" is good enough for a "packin" wheel gun. Barrel length between 6 and 4 inches has more to do with balance in a revolver. There is a velocity advantage with a longer barrel, but it's marginal.

It's good to see people take interest in the revolver. You know, with all the magic a glock or 1911 promises.

scidx
07-17-2010, 10:18 PM
As for the S&W internal lock: there were failures reported only in the ultralight scandium frame models. And, that was rare. I haven't heard of one in a steel (or even aluminum) frame.

neomedic
07-18-2010, 12:24 AM
I don't follow S&W much. Are all wheel guns that I get new will come with the lock? Am I forced to get a used one? If not, what models can I get new without the internal lock?

Thanks.

bjl333
07-18-2010, 12:51 AM
I don't follow S&W much. Are all wheel guns that I get new will come with the lock? Am I forced to get a used one? If not, what models can I get new without the internal lock?

Thanks.

I think the Ruger still doesn't have a lock. I still favor the S & W, but I always get used ones without the lock. I don't have first hand experience with the locks, but personal perference would exclude the lock models.

Snapping Twig
07-18-2010, 6:43 AM
As for the S&W internal lock: there were failures reported only in the ultralight scandium frame models. And, that was rare. I haven't heard of one in a steel (or even aluminum) frame.

Not true, the lock is an issue on all models. Not all locks fail, but when they do, it's bad. Even Jerry Miculeck removed the lock from his .45's - what's that tell you?

Go to the S&W forum and look up locks, hundreds of actual lock failure posts by the people that had the failures.

Good news is the lock can be removed and a guy on the S&W forum sells a plug to fill the hole that looks nice and is inexpensive.

Back to the OP, get a .44 or a .45 and call it a day. 4" N frame carries well and does the work you want. Pepper spray is sometimes effective and has its own set of spots, I wouldn't consider it - but that's me.

-hanko
07-18-2010, 6:46 AM
No so much as a bear thread as what I should use for self defense when camping that is good compromise for size and what will have a good chance of taking down large game if needed.
Neomedic, the response was sent in jest...;)

The mention of the word "bear" in this place usually degenerates the original question to a parade of 'how to kill the grizzly' from posters who've never seen one in the wild.:eek:

As to your question, a .357 will do all you need. I prefer S&W; my favorite is a 4" barreled Model 28. It's built on what S&W calls an 'N-frame' which was their largest revolver frame up to the intro of the S&W 500. I'd check out N-frame or L-frame guns as a starter.

Pm me if you need more.

-hanko

Legasat
07-18-2010, 8:27 AM
I have had the grand-daddy of the GP100 for almost 30 years, the Ruger Security Six .357. It has never failed me, and is the gun I trust most.

S&W or Ruger both make excellent .357's, and will do everything you need it to. If you are going hiking/camping in Northern Canada or Alaska, I might choose a .44 for that, but in the lower 48, a .357 is the one you need.

lazs
07-18-2010, 10:00 AM
Do all you guys who suggest a .357 because it can shoot 38 specials realize that a 44 mag can shoot 44 specials?

Mid range 44 mags are more powerful than hot .357 rounds without the blast and noise.

The .357 and the 38 special are GREAT cartridges.. far better than 99% of the rounds chambered for semi autos but.. they are not as good as a 44 mag.

The 41 and 45 colt may be as good or even a tad better but.. they have their own problems. the 44 mag is probly the best all around handgun round there is at the moment and has been for quite a while.

It is a round that almost requires that you reload and that you practice tho. When I shoot 38 specials I shoot em out of a model 10.. not some .357 gun.

BigDogatPlay
07-18-2010, 1:26 PM
I own and shoot two .44's, a Redhawk and a three inch 629, so yes I realize that they will shoot .44 Special. The .44 is perhaps the best all around cartridge and it can be loaded to do all kinds of things.

IMO, however, the comparison to .38 Special is apples and oranges because...

** The .44 Special has very limited selection as far as factory fodder.

** .44 Special tends to be loaded very anemically. The 200 grain Speer Gold Dot is the hottest factory load I am aware of, and it's a good round, but it wouldn't be optimal for in the field use against thick skinned predator animals.

** Factory .44 Special ammo is two to three times as expensive as .38 Special and has been close to unobtanium status as far as supply goes where I shop.

All of which make your point that the .44's really require one to be a reloader, and not everyone is.

In that respect, I think the .357 becomes all the more attractive for general purpose use.

BunnySlayer
07-18-2010, 2:06 PM
The .357 is more than adequate for anything in California, bears included. With the appropriate loads of coarse. Having said that, your best protection in bear country is a little bear knowledge and some common sense. When camping I'm usually much more concerned about two legged predators than the four legged variety. Statistically you have a much greater chance of getting struck by lightning than getting mauled by a bear.

Army
07-18-2010, 5:08 PM
Hiking around for days with a big .44 is not really all that much fun, especially when you won't be shooting it. A .357 will carry much easier all day long.

Sure, the .44 can do nearly the same things as a .357, but at what cost? More expensive ammo, heavier, and hard to keep any decent meat on a rabbit after impact :D

pyromensch
07-18-2010, 6:49 PM
OK you scratched the scab off of my shoulder, i have had two 629's, and had issues with both, the latest was a $500 (1987 dollars) classic hunter. but i have a m28, (my best shooter). get a 357, or if you are compelled to go to a higher caliber, look at another brand

pyromensch
07-18-2010, 6:50 PM
Hiking around for days with a big .44 is not really all that much fun, especially when you won't be shooting it. A .357 will carry much easier all day long.

Sure, the .44 can do nearly the same things as a .357, but at what cost? More expensive ammo, heavier, and hard to keep any decent meat on a rabbit after impact :D

but who eats the head?

pyromensch
07-18-2010, 6:52 PM
Do all you guys who suggest a .357 because it can shoot 38 specials realize that a 44 mag can shoot 44 specials?

Mid range 44 mags are more powerful than hot .357 rounds without the blast and noise.

The .357 and the 38 special are GREAT cartridges.. far better than 99% of the rounds chambered for semi autos but.. they are not as good as a 44 mag.

The 41 and 45 colt may be as good or even a tad better but.. they have their own problems. the 44 mag is probly the best all around handgun round there is at the moment and has been for quite a while.

It is a round that almost requires that you reload and that you practice tho. When I shoot 38 specials I shoot em out of a model 10.. not some .357 gun.

but it is for protection from animals, and blast and noise are desirable

pyromensch
07-18-2010, 6:55 PM
for the record, i use a ruger vaquero, 45 colt, with 300gr "buffalo bores", or handloads when i go out to the wilderness............(oakland)

pyromensch
07-18-2010, 6:59 PM
Got too excited on the bear spray ... I would recommand a 4" S&W model 686 or 66, a Ruger GP100 4" and that would be about all I'd recommand for a first wheelgun. The 357 magnum is powerful for anybody to shoot, and the 38 special is very cheap to practice with. If you get into reloading in the future the components for the 357/38 is very cheap as well.

what ae you kidding? if he has to shoot it, it will already be seasoned, and ready for the "cue

windrunner50
07-18-2010, 7:30 PM
Take a look at the Smith & Wesson Model 29 Blue or 629 Stainless Mountain Gun. You can get them with or without the lock depending on what series MG you find. The MG has a tapered 4" barrel, and they shoot great. They pack nice, and are a little lighter than the standard 4" S&W 44 mag. I would stay away from the 329 as it is too light, and very uncomfortable to shoot. Remember practice with whatever you aquire, and carry the appropriate ammunition.:D

lazs
07-19-2010, 9:27 AM
bigdogatplay.. I can't argue that a 44 mag requires you to reload unless you are rich.

I would put it to you that so does a .357 these days.

As for the 44 special being anemic and without much selection.. the 38 spl is no world beater.. I can find 44 special factory fodder that is more potent than even plus p 38's

But that it not the point.. if you are going to have +p stuff.. why not just go to the real magnum?

Army.. the 44 mag is too heavy for you to hike with? So you will use an inferior gun because of a few ounces? I guess all those guides that pack 44 mags all day in bear and hog hunting areas must be supermen to carry that half a pound extra all day? hell.. you could leave a few granola bars behind to make it up. If you really are so infirm then I might suggest some of the alloy 44 mag guns.

pyromenche.. if noise and blast are what you use to defend yourself why not just get an airhorn?

The only real argument for getting a .357 instead of a 44 mag is one that we are dancing around here...

It is far easier to shoot a .357 well for newbies. The 44 mag is capable of at least as good and better at range, accuracy BUT it takes dedication. Few will shoot it well right from the start.

And.. truth is.. some will simply never be able to handle the recoil well. It will never be an accurate round for them. Desert eagle guys are a good example.. almost every one that I have met bought the gun because it "looks cool" and was in a few movies they liked. I have yet to see one of em shoot the thing well. I have not seen one that know how to or cares to learn to reload. They all shoot whatever factory ammo they find and know nothing about the ballistics of the round.

Obviously..that is generalization. but it is what I have run into. 44 mag revolvers are popular enough now that we don't see that as much. I would say that most if not all of the guys who shoot 44 mag these days at least dabbles in reloading.

Myself? I cast my own slugs from free wheel weights.. have for many years. A box of 44 mags runs me about $4 these days.

I don't really bother with .357 much these days and even at my advanced age.. I can carry an extra half a pound around "hiking all day".

If I want to just throw something in my pocket for social work I have a 340PD in .357 with compact grips. It would probly make me deaf if I had to shoot it without hearing protection and I doubt most would want to shoot more than 5 rounds out of it without going home and soaking their hand. I would not want to shoot a bear with it or choose it as a gun to hunt hogs with.

I have killed hogs with a 44 mag.. I would not really want much less of a gun. I have not killed a bear.. the little black bears we have are not really dangerous and if you find a griz or a coastal bear you better not be stuck with a .357.. big cats can be taken with a 22. but in a desperate situation I would rather put a 300 grain 44 slug into em to stop em from doing bad things before they knew they were dead.

gaucho750
07-19-2010, 9:42 AM
Call me crazy, but if you just need an animal self defense weapon; I would think that Bear Pepper Spray be lighter and much cheaper?

http://www.fws.gov/mountain-prairie/species/mammals/grizzly/bear%20spray.pdf

My grandpa was a Smokejumper up in Idaho and Montana for years and he says that all bear spray does is make the bear really, really mad!
.357 should work ok for your needs and I second the Ruger GP100 option in 4 inch. It is a tough gun that is easy to pull apart...but a little heavy.

GrinderCB
07-19-2010, 3:03 PM
Will a .357 be good enough for a bear? Or will it be for small to medium game like large cats and the like?

IMO this goes back to the original premise, that the gun would be for protection from 4-legged intruders. Remember that when hunting, the bear is your focus. The .44 magnum is a hunting round and if I was actively seeking a bear I'd carry that. When camping, fishing, hiking, etc., your focus is on those things. With that in mind, I would opt for a solid .357 magnum revolver in 4- or 6-inch. The idea is that you're not out looking for a bear, you just want to be able to draw and shoot quickly if one comes around.

Army
07-19-2010, 4:46 PM
Army.. the 44 mag is too heavy for you to hike with? So you will use an inferior gun because of a few ounces? I guess all those guides that pack 44 mags all day in bear and hog hunting areas must be supermen to carry that half a pound extra all day? hell.. you could leave a few granola bars behind to make it up. If you really are so infirm then I might suggest some of the alloy 44 mag guns.
Well, gee..I only daily carried a 9lb rifle, along with 45lbs of body armor, 8lbs of water, 12lbs of ammo, and 10lbs of personal gear in 120 plus degree weather. I guess I can't be a hunting guide.

The OP is in LA, logic says he will be HIKING AND CAMPING in the Angeles forest, or maybe the Sierras. He's NOT out hunting Alaska brownies, nor looking out for any Grizzlies while Salmon fishing, and he never mentioned shooting pigs. The odds of him bumping into any size bear that wants to eat him is slim at best. Much better odds of bumping into a two legged varmint that can better be dealt with in a smaller, much more easily controlled power factor in a lighter package that is easier to carry all day.

I don't do macho for macho's sake. A .44 will not well serve the OP in what he wants to do.

GŁnter
07-19-2010, 5:50 PM
I agree with Army,
99.95+% of the time you will be carrying your sidearm, not shooting it. Every ounce of weight in your gear does eventually add up to make a difference when carried for a long period of time while moving. The .357 is no pea shooter either, it is considered to be the best man stopping cartridge out there. A .44 magnum will probably be more effective in bringing down a large bear, but I believe the .357 can do the job if called for.
For offensive (hunting): .44 magnum
for defensive (carry): .357 magnum

PutTogether
07-19-2010, 6:46 PM
I think the point is made, and is a good point indeed, that a .44 mag is a wonderful gun for a true afficianodo, someone that will make the investment in money and time to get into reloading it, or someone who needs absolute brute power out of a handgun.

Barring any of the three - a .357 magnum in 4" seems the optimum choice. You can find SOME ammo that will work in your gun almost anywhere you go. Even my local walmart that never has anything in stock always has .38 special.

BUT speaking of .38 special....... who honestly loads up .38 in their .357 and goes plinking? I can't stand it. If I bring one of my .357s shooting I want to shoot .357s. Maybe that is just me.

Anyway - a .357 can do almost anything your average person would ever need to use a gun can think of.

A .44 can do without a doubt do some of those things better, but requires more experience, patience, money, practice, etc etc etc

neomedic
07-19-2010, 8:46 PM
IMO this goes back to the original premise, that the gun would be for protection from 4-legged intruders. Remember that when hunting, the bear is your focus. The .44 magnum is a hunting round and if I was actively seeking a bear I'd carry that. When camping, fishing, hiking, etc., your focus is on those things. With that in mind, I would opt for a solid .357 magnum revolver in 4- or 6-inch. The idea is that you're not out looking for a bear, you just want to be able to draw and shoot quickly if one comes around.

Yes..this will be a defensive move. I'm not looking for and hope not to run into bears...but you never know when your packing beef jerky for the trip. In response to ARMY...yes most likely Angeles Forrest will be the destination.

Most people say that if you get a .44 you better be reloading. Is that just a cost issue or are the .44 magnum rounds hard to find? I don't really plan on reloading. Still be nice to own a .44 :43:

But, I'm guess I'm kind of forced to lean towards a .357 since its easier to shoot and maybe carry (its the wiser choice...but still I would like a to have a .44). I like the idea of having a S&W since their triggers are nicer. I would like a 4" barrel. But REALLY DON'T want S&W with an internal lock. Can I still get a new S&W without an internal lock? Or will I have to look for an old one? If I can't get a new one....I might have to get a Ruger. Looking for a new revolver.

Thanks for all the input.

PutTogether
07-19-2010, 10:56 PM
Yes..this will be a defensive move. I'm not looking for and hope not to run into bears...but you never know when your packing beef jerky for the trip. In response to ARMY...yes most likely Angeles Forrest will be the destination.

Most people say that if you get a .44 you better be reloading. Is that just a cost issue or are the .44 magnum rounds hard to find? I don't really plan on reloading. Still be nice to own a .44 :43:

But, I'm guess I'm kind of forced to lean towards a .357 since its easier to shoot and maybe carry (its the wiser choice...but still I would like a to have a .44). I like the idea of having a S&W since their triggers are nicer. I would like a 4" barrel. But REALLY DON'T want S&W with an internal lock. Can I still get a new S&W without an internal lock? Or will I have to look for an old one? If I can't get a new one....I might have to get a Ruger. Looking for a new revolver.

Thanks for all the input.

Generic .44 mag ammo isn't that hard to find, but it is EXPENSIVE. Do some internet searches for ammo prices, you'll see.

I truly believe the internal lock thing is a blown out of proportion internet paranoia. Yeah, there are some posts on forums about people saying their lock broke - but how in god's name can you know if it is true or someone perpetuating a myth? I have half a dozen with lock SW guns, with never issue - ever. If you are convinced your gun shall not have lock i THINK the "classic" series of new SW guns might be lock free but are pretty expensive

lazs
07-20-2010, 7:40 AM
once the kalifornia handgun ammo ban kicks in we probly will see prices for all handgun ammo go way up and.. it will all get closer together in price.

reloading will become an even better option than it was in the past. In my opinion.. Anyone who shoots handguns should reload their own ammo. I can't believe all the folks who are asking me for advice on reloading equipment and process these days.

neomedic
07-23-2010, 6:02 PM
Ok...someone school me on revolvers from S&W. I'm getting a little confused on all the models that S&W offer. And each model comes with different barrell lengths so that just adds to my confusion. For example, what is difference between the 686 vs. 620? Are they on the same frame? I need some guidance :confused:

I think I want a large frame gun (model L). Something that can handle the magnum rounds. Would like to have a 4" barrel, but still open to a sub-nose compact.....don't know how the recoil will handle? Is it much more comfortable to shoot the 4" barrel?

So what models am I looking for? I think the 686 and 620 fits my description above. Not sure of their difference. Any other models besides these two?

Also, if I want a new S&W WITHOUT the lock, is gun broker the only place or will it be impossible to find? Nothing against used guns, but I like a new one =)

Thanks!!!!

Thanks.

lazs
07-24-2010, 7:58 AM
puttogether is correct. Army.. seriously.. if you lug all your military gear around then I really don't see how an extra few ounces of 44 mag is a big deal. I carried one around in the brush for hogs for years and never once felt it was better to have a lighter .357 that would be silly.

.357 is a very good all around gun. If you really get into wheel guns tho.. at some point it is just not going to be enough.. you will be looking for a wheelgun that starts with a "4"

Some will never get good with a 44 mag.. or even a .357 mag for that matter. The recoil and blast of either gun will simply be too much for them to get used to.

Realistically if you can't handle mid range 44 mag loads then you will probly not be able to handle .357 loads.

There is nothing wrong with a good 38 special revolver. Or. a good 44 special revolver.

If you can handle the mags tho then you will most likely never put the light special ammo through them.. the "versatility" factor is almost nothing. I never ran 38 specials through my .357's and I never run 44 specials through my 44 mags. No point in it at all.

PutTogether
07-24-2010, 10:57 AM
Ok...someone school me on revolvers from S&W. I'm getting a little confused on all the models that S&W offer. And each model comes with different barrell lengths so that just adds to my confusion. For example, what is difference between the 686 vs. 620? Are they on the same frame? I need some guidance :confused:

I think I want a large frame gun (model L). Something that can handle the magnum rounds. Would like to have a 4" barrel, but still open to a sub-nose compact.....don't know how the recoil will handle? Is it much more comfortable to shoot the 4" barrel?

So what models am I looking for? I think the 686 and 620 fits my description above. Not sure of their difference. Any other models besides these two?

Also, if I want a new S&W WITHOUT the lock, is gun broker the only place or will it be impossible to find? Nothing against used guns, but I like a new one =)

Thanks!!!!

Thanks.


I can try. This system starts to fall apart, but it should get you through.... If the gun is a 3 digit model number that starts with "6" It means stainless steel. The same number without the six means blued steel. For example: A 629 is a stainless steel .44 magnum, while the 29 is a blue .44 magnum.

A 3digit model number that starts with "3" generally means it is their "scandium" alloy - super light. The 329 is a .44 magnum, made of super light scandium alloy.

Then you have frame sizes.......and frankly I'm not sure there is a "system" to how their numbers fit into frame sizes, you just kind of get used to what is what after a while.

The most common you'll hear about are: "J" - think "snub nosed" pocket sized, five shot revovlers. Note also, that they don't HAVE to be 5-shot (the .22 caliber J frame 317 holds 8 i believe because the round is so small, but you get the idea.

Next is K/L You hear these used almost interchangably, but there is a small difference. The "L" is what the newer magnum guns are built on, and it is a little stronger/bigger. An example of an L is the 686 you mentioned above. Again, capacity depends on caliber, but many different calibers will be built on the same "L" Frame. (PS - 686 has adjustable rear sights while the 620's rear sights are just a channeled groove in the frame.) There can even be variety here as you can get a 686 in 6shot, or a 686+ in 7 shot. Same frame. There are also different barrel lengths available, and to my knowledge, barrel length doesn't change model number. A 686 is still called a 686 no matter if it has a 3", 4", or 6" barrel. You would just say "I have a 3" 686."

Next frame size (and the biggest, except for the monster .500 SW mag) is called "N." N frames are your classic big revolvers. The N frames are pretty much only the larger calibers, .44, .45 colt, down to as low as .357 (of which they make a really neat 8 shot version. I don't think any calibers smaller than that come in the N frame size. The "N" is what most people think of when they think of revolvers. Big, heavy, easy to shoot, fun.


For what needs you have described, I think you want a K/L frame as well. The N is probably too big for what you want it to do (especially if you have decided to go .357) For your first gun, make sure it is steel, not scandium. And if you are packing it around camping and stuff, the 6" barrell will be mildly inconvenient, but the 4" is just about perfect. You can sneak a little more ballistically out of the .357 with a 6" barrel, but for me a mid sized steel, 4" gun is just about perfect for anything you'd want to do.

I'd opt for the 686. The 620 is fine too, but if you ever wanted to sell it you'd have a thousand people asking you "whats a 620?"

If you absolutely will not take a gun with their lock (which I think is being too paranoid) then you are stuck with the older versions. In which case you could get a 586........ same gun, but blue!

Honestly though, just get a new one, make it yours. The lock will never trouble you, and your SW education will be well on its way.

neomedic
07-24-2010, 12:17 PM
:thumbsup: PutTogether

Thank for that awesome info!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That helped me alot.

It's starting to look like the one I should get will be the 686. Would the gun be built more solid and durable if I got the 6 shot? More steel between the wheel or should I go for the extra round and get the 7 shot?

I will consider the lock....don't know why S&W went that route :banghead:

Seems like the .357 will serve my purposes.

Stil would like a .44 magnum and always wanted a Desert Eagle.....maybe I'll go that route with the .44

PutTogether
07-24-2010, 1:24 PM
:thumbsup: PutTogether

Thank for that awesome info!!!!!!!!!!!!!! That helped me alot.

It's starting to look like the one I should get will be the 686. Would the gun be built more solid and durable if I got the 6 shot? More steel between the wheel or should I go for the extra round and get the 7 shot?


No problem. I find it INCREDIBLY difficult to believe the 6 shot would be any stronger than the 7 shot. The tiny little cylinders in the 5 shot .357 guns hold up just fine. All else being equal I'd prefer to have the 7 shot gun, but wouldn't pass up a good deal on a 6 shot while waiting for it. 686 in all different flavors is pretty ubiquitous on the used market, you see them for sale ALL the time new and used, so you should be able to get exactly what you want.

I know I said get a new one and make it yours, but you see barely used 686s for sale all the time on the for sale section here, you can probably get a really nice one and save a bundle.

For god's sake though, put wood stocks on it. Nice revolvers weren't made to have ugly *** hogue stupid rubber things on them. It irks me to no end the stupid "monogrip" that is standard on almost all models now. A mid size steel .357 isn't enough recoil to necessitate nice soft rubber ugly grips.

Last piece of advice: After you get your magnum, pair it with a smith and wesson 617. Same size, heft, weight, trigger (for the most part) as a 686, but 10 shots of .22 for cheap practice.

trashman
07-24-2010, 7:08 PM
Hiking around for days with a big .44 is not really all that much fun, especially when you won't be shooting it.

It's not that bad - just get a 629-6 "Trail Boss" in .44 Magnum. This is my go-to backpacking gun in bear country. 3" barrel with an unfluted cylnder.

And as long as you don't get a Scandium or otherwise-lightweight alloy gun, you don't need to worry about the lock. The lightweight 329PD .44 magnum appears to be the gun that has had repeatable lock failures.

--Neill

http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee126/northslope/29-5_007.jpg

http://i231.photobucket.com/albums/ee126/northslope/IMG_3003.jpg

pyromensch
07-24-2010, 7:22 PM
bigdogatplay.. I can't argue that a 44 mag requires you to reload unless you are rich.

I would put it to you that so does a .357 these days.

As for the 44 special being anemic and without much selection.. the 38 spl is no world beater.. I can find 44 special factory fodder that is more potent than even plus p 38's

But that it not the point.. if you are going to have +p stuff.. why not just go to the real magnum?

Army.. the 44 mag is too heavy for you to hike with? So you will use an inferior gun because of a few ounces? I guess all those guides that pack 44 mags all day in bear and hog hunting areas must be supermen to carry that half a pound extra all day? hell.. you could leave a few granola bars behind to make it up. If you really are so infirm then I might suggest some of the alloy 44 mag guns.

pyromenche.. if noise and blast are what you use to defend yourself why not just get an airhorn?

The only real argument for getting a .357 instead of a 44 mag is one that we are dancing around here...

It is far easier to shoot a .357 well for newbies. The 44 mag is capable of at least as good and better at range, accuracy BUT it takes dedication. Few will shoot it well right from the start.

And.. truth is.. some will simply never be able to handle the recoil well. It will never be an accurate round for them. Desert eagle guys are a good example.. almost every one that I have met bought the gun because it "looks cool" and was in a few movies they liked. I have yet to see one of em shoot the thing well. I have not seen one that know how to or cares to learn to reload. They all shoot whatever factory ammo they find and know nothing about the ballistics of the round.

Obviously..that is generalization. but it is what I have run into. 44 mag revolvers are popular enough now that we don't see that as much. I would say that most if not all of the guys who shoot 44 mag these days at least dabbles in reloading.

Myself? I cast my own slugs from free wheel weights.. have for many years. A box of 44 mags runs me about $4 these days.

I don't really bother with .357 much these days and even at my advanced age.. I can carry an extra half a pound around "hiking all day".

If I want to just throw something in my pocket for social work I have a 340PD in .357 with compact grips. It would probly make me deaf if I had to shoot it without hearing protection and I doubt most would want to shoot more than 5 rounds out of it without going home and soaking their hand. I would not want to shoot a bear with it or choose it as a gun to hunt hogs with.

I have killed hogs with a 44 mag.. I would not really want much less of a gun. I have not killed a bear.. the little black bears we have are not really dangerous and if you find a griz or a coastal bear you better not be stuck with a .357.. big cats can be taken with a 22. but in a desperate situation I would rather put a 300 grain 44 slug into em to stop em from doing bad things before they knew they were dead.

because airhorns "BLOW"!

so many issues with you, and so little space

six10
07-24-2010, 7:26 PM
(PS - 686 has adjustable rear sights while the 620's rear sights are just a channeled groove in the frame.)
The 620 has the same fully adjustable white outline rear sights as the 686. It's the 619 that has the fixed rear sights. (Think M66 versus M65 -same gun, one has adjustable sights, one doesn't.)

I'd opt for the 686. The 620 is fine too, but if you ever wanted to sell it you'd have a thousand people asking you "whats a 620?"
Or, "Oh, wow, where did you ever find one of those rare 620s? I'll take it!" ;)

@Trashman: I declare, you have some beauties! Always enjoy your pics :)

bombadillo
07-24-2010, 7:30 PM
Awww, come on .44mag alaskan 2.5" would be the shiz! :D

subijitsu
07-24-2010, 7:45 PM
Thinking of a getting a first wheel gun. Most likely to be used when going camping, thus protection from 4 legged creatures (bears, large cats, etc.) and self defense if the need arises.

For this use, does it mean I should only look at .44 magnum guns? If so, how long a barrel should the gun be (keeping in mind I want a balance of compactness since its for camping and hiking but should be accurate enough so that I don't have to wait to point blank range).

Thanks.

I shoot a Ruger Redhawk .44 and a S&W mod 27 .357. The Ruger shoots smoother, shoots tighter groups, and packs more punch. I have much more trigger time with the Smith due to (like many have said above) being able to shoot .38s at the range for much cheaper. Since cost is a factor for me while shooting, I feel more comfortable with the .357 because I shoot it way more.

Personally, when choosing a firearm for self defense whether it be from bears, zombies, or from burglars, I want something that is nothing more than an extension of my hand. Training will take over in a stressful situation and having a gun you have shot a LOT may make the difference between hitting your target and missing.

If you can afford to shot a good amount of .44, that would be the way to go for stopping power alone. If you are more budget minded, a solid .357 will do the job just fine and will enable you more (cheaper) range time to get familiar with your weapon.

Just my $.02

BTW, when I go camping, the .357 is at my side with no reservations. ;)

ArmednReady
07-24-2010, 8:00 PM
First of all if you plan on killing a bear with anything less than a .454 or a .500 mag or a nice rifle good luck 95% of the time when you encounter a bear your number 1 defense is the sound of the round going off not the round itself. I have a ruger sp101 chambered in .357 and I love it. I use .38 spl +p's for home defense and when I go backpacking I put some high grain .357's and about 2 months back a friend and I ran into a not so nice mountain lion luckily he was at a distance he kept staring at us as if we were on the menu so I pulled out my ruger and shot a round of .357 into the dirt and the noise was more than enough to scare him off it was the last we saw of him. It would have been enough to take him down (i think) but luckily for us it didnt come to that.

PutTogether
07-25-2010, 2:21 AM
That unfluted 629 is SWEET. Are those Ahrends grips or something else?

I have no use whatsoever for a .44 magnum, but of course I own one. Mine is the 4" tapered barrel Model 29 mountain gun.

http://criminalhandbook.com/Handguns/055.jpg

trashman
07-25-2010, 7:50 AM
Ooh - love the factory combats on that mountain gun!!

The grips on my trail boss are "retro combats" from ahrends.

@six10 - thank you sir :)

--neill

Trapper
07-25-2010, 8:25 AM
Over the years I've carried a number of different pistols and revolvers ranging in calliber from .22lr-.44mag. My go to revolver for the past ten years has been my 3" S&W model 66 in .357mag. It offers a good accuracy, reliability, and stopping power with out the extra bulk and weight of a larger firearms.

lazs
07-25-2010, 8:43 AM
As big a fan as I am of the 44 mag for all around use.. I would stay away from the real snubbies.. 4" is about the perfect length with 5" and 6" pretty close for handy.

I have shot many many 38 specials and one of my favorite guns was a K 38 masterpiece but.. for a go to gun for anything under the sun.. I would go to any of my 44 mag guns. On a police range I shot through cars and mailboxes and all sorts of barriers that would be "cover" for lesser guns.

I used to shoot about 1,000 44 mag rounds a month or more.. now it is like 300. The cut down redhawk and a superblackhawk and a Dan Wesson heavy vent rib are like extensions of my hand.

As I look.. I have 5 different bullet molds for 44 mag.. and only 3 for 38/357 and one has never been used.

The very best idea for 44 mag was the Dan wesson with interchangeable barrels.. I have one in stainless with both a 4" and an 8" barrel. I have about 1,000 loaded rounds of 44 mag normally. 38/357 is a mix of factory and reloads with a lot of 125 HP factory stuff for my 340 PD smith.. A j frame .357 that weighs 12 ounces and will fit in your front pocket as well as a cell phone will.

44 mag is simply the best compromise between power and useable size and recoil for me.. and a lot of folks.

I also have a Henry lever gun in 44 mag. You could do that with a .357 too of course.. a good revolver and a lever gun.

The 44 is simply twice as powerful with double the energy and.. with cast bullets can have rifle like killing power at short range (under 125 yards) while still packing comfortably.

I know pyro did not want to address this but.. it remains a gun that is not for everyone.. but then... sorry to say.. neither is the .357.. when the .357 came out or even the 38/40 outdoorsman.. The gun writers of the day were talking about the almost unmanageable recoil and blast from these guns. They were "expert only" guns.

Now.. of course.. everyone thinks they can pick up a hot .357 (in a lighter gun btw) and shoot it accurately and with not problems.

The truth is as I have said.. if you can't shoot mid range 44 mag loads.. you will certainly not be able to shoot hot .357 loads.

If all you do is practice with 38 special guns.. the gun may become "an extension of your hand"... for the first shot... after that it will feel like it you never seen the gun before in your life. The difference between 38 special practice rounds and hot .357 rounds is such that it completely changes the way the gun feels. You may have even developed a grip for 38 specials that will make it impossible to get off another shot with the .357 without rethinking the whole thing and a new grip.. hardly conducive to getting good.

Also.. my hands are big. Most 44 mags fit them better.. I even put on thicker grips.

For various reasons.. I would take a good 357 revolver over any semi auto for any reason that I might want or need a handgun for (kinda like the 7 and 8 shooters) but....

I would still take a good 44 mag revolver over a .357 any day for any reason other than j frame size to fit in a front pants pocket.

six10
07-25-2010, 11:31 AM
@six10 - thank you ma'am :)

--neill

Fixed it for ye ;)

green grunt
07-25-2010, 12:01 PM
Ruger Blackhawk............ in Colt 45/45acp ........sometimes just having a Big Bore in camp is a good thing.....
what ever you pick , get some range time in with it , nothing like having a bear/bad guy in camp to get the blood flow going.....jmho

trashman
07-25-2010, 12:49 PM
Fixed it for ye ;)

Whoops! My fault.

--Neill

psango
07-25-2010, 2:18 PM
As a retired ranger I's my duty to inform you that we are arming all of our bears with .460 S&W's

redcliff
07-25-2010, 4:31 PM
The chances of you actually needing to SHOOT a bear, let alone just firing to scare one off, are so unlikely that perhaps you don't need a magnum at all; you might want to consider a SW model 25 or 625 in .45acp.

A 4" or 5" model is a good choice for all around use, and ammo is easy to come by with a number of different loads available. The recoil is manageable without excessive muzzle blast, they shoot a nice heavy bullet with only moderate recoil, and have the fastest reload capability of any revolver when utilizing full moon clips.

jgaffney
07-26-2010, 11:35 AM
I do a lot of backpacking in the Sierras, and I can honestly say that I have never had to defend myself against a bear. The bears that you might meet in California are black bears, not grizzlies, and they're just looking for a free meal. When you are hiking, as long as you are making some noise, the most you'll ever see is the south end of a northbound bear - they don't want to meet you, either. Take adequate precautions in camp with your food storage and you'll be fine. If one comes into your camp, you can scare him off by yelling, banging on a pot or throwing rocks at him. Of course, if you get between mom and her cub, all bets are off.

I have been working on trimming my pack weight down more and more. The idea of strapping on a 4-5 pound revolver plus ammo is not very attractive. An additional complication is how you'll explain to the ranger that you're not really hunting bears, just trying to defend yourself from bears. Good luck.

lazs
07-27-2010, 8:46 AM
yes.. some have put it pretty well. A 45 revolver in acp or 45 colt will do the trick if recoil and blast are a problem with the .357 and 44 mag.

so will a medium loaded 44 mag tho of course. Not so much a 38 special or .357 loaded down.

In some cases a 45 is really a better choice than the 44 mag when loaded very hot but then.. you are back to the same problem. a hot 45 will be way too much for most shooters to manage.

an "N" frame or about, sized gun is not too much to pack. Some of the best .357's on the planet are N frames and the L frame is good but not much smaller.. as are the various Ruger .357 wheelguns.

Size of the gun is far less important than... Is this something you can handle? In my opinion.. anyone who is in average health and enjoys handguns can learn to handle the recoil and blast of the 44 mag or heavy loaded 45 colt in 4-8" guns.

It is also my opinion that if that person gets a .357 that he will eventually want a 44 mag or 45 colt.

When you toss in reloading.. there is no way to compare. In my opinion.. the gun laws of kalifornia will make factory handgun ammo so expensive that cost and availability of factory .357 vs factory 44 mag or 45 colt will be minute and inconsequential.

I like a good .357 but realize that it is not the gun I really want to be shooting if a 44 mag is handy.

rjf
07-27-2010, 9:36 AM
I had to use a 10" teflon pan and a 1 quart aluminum pot during my last red cinnimon bear encounter. Back up was a Redhawk in .44. You will probably never see a mountain lion or a bear cause they will see you first. The most dangerous animal out there is the common meth head *****bird. Unfortunately they are protected.

shooting4life
07-27-2010, 9:55 AM
Just get a bfr revolver in 45-70 and then you don't have to worry about importing ammo after the ban. Would be great for bears as well.

Andy Taylor
07-27-2010, 2:06 PM
:thumbsup: PutTogether


It's starting to look like the one I should get will be the 686. Would the gun be built more solid and durable if I got the 6 shot? More steel between the wheel or should I go for the extra round and get the 7 shot?




Some believe that the 7 shot is stronger. The weakest part of a 6 shot (any even number of chambers actually) is the notch on the side of the cylinder. Because of the way the cylider indexes the even number has the notches over the chambers. With an odd number the notches are between the chambers. therefore the weakest part is then moved elsewhere to either between the chambers or the outside wall of the chambers depending on the design. Either is thicker than the same sized cylinder with an even number of chambers.