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  #1  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:10 AM
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Default 357 Magnum: Ruger GP100 or S&W 686 Plus?

I want to buy a 357 magnum with a 4" barrel for home defense use. It will mainly be used with 38 special +P ammo for my girlfriend, but I want the option of 357 for me for a SHTF scenario. I keep a Glock 21 for home defense.

I have heard that the S&W has a smoother trigger, and I like the idea of a 7-round revolver (i.e., 686 Plus), but many people feel the Ruger is better made.

Has anyone out there used both? And, which one would you choose for your girlfriend/wife to use for home defense? I would greatly appreciate hearing from owners of these guns.
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  #2  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:15 AM
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"Many people feel Ruger is better made."

Bwaah. Those people really don't have much valid input.

Modern S&W wheelguns are known for quality and accuracy and great triggers out of the box.

In 38/357 chamberings, the Ruger GP is really no more tough than the S&W 686+.

In no way is the Ruger a *bad* gun, it's just a second choice. There's a reason it's cheaper. Worse trigger, not as accurate, useless added weight.

Rolex vs. Seiko, but at much closer price points.

If you have the (relatively) few bux extra, get the S&W 686+.
If you want a DA wheelgun and are really tight on cash, the GP100 will serve you well.
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  #3  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:16 AM
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Ive used both, and tried both before i made a decision buying. I ended up choosing the smith and wesson. It was just a finer weapon in my hands, the action is like clockwork, it holds 7 rounds, looks much better, overall it feels like a fine swiss watch.

The ruger was heavier, and from what i hear they are practically indestructable. Both were very acurate, but i liked the rugers sights a bit more. The people who say the Ruger is better made are probably right, IF they are referring to durability. I would disagree if they are referring to quality of craftsmanship, fit finish etc..

You should probably try both out, almost any indoor range will have both
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biofire View Post
I want to buy a 357 magnum with a 4" barrel for home defense use. It will mainly be used with 38 special +P ammo for my girlfriend, but I want the option of 357 for me for a SHTF scenario. I keep a Glock 21 for home defense.

I have heard that the S&W has a smoother trigger, and I like the idea of a 7-round revolver (i.e., 686 Plus), but many people feel the Ruger is better made.

Has anyone out there used both? And, which one would you choose for your girlfriend/wife to use for home defense? I would greatly appreciate hearing from owners of these guns.
The quick answer is SW.

But the cart's been put before the horse...

LET THE LADY PICK. I'd no more choose a gun for my wife than she'd pick one for me. Get her some instruction with a (preferably) female instructor. You'll be amazed at the results.

-hanko
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  #5  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:20 AM
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Honestly, its a coin toss. Another one of those.. you can't go wrong with either. There is a reason why if you google up these two.. you'll get endless results of comparisons. I owned a GP100 6" all stainless, but sold it to get my S&W 627 PC 8-shot. I wouldn't hesitate picking up another GP100 if it came around at a good price. I think the general consensus is true, the S&W will come with a better trigger, but the other way to look at it is that with the $100 or so you saved getting the GP100.. you can send it to a reputable gunsmith and get a trigger job. Also, I don't know if its fair to say the Ruger is better made.. but it is more stout. It has more material on it if thats what you mean and thats how it achieves its durability/ruggedness. S&W feels more refined to me, because they achieve near if not the same durability as the Ruger with less metal, which translates to lighter gun (can be good or bad depending on usage).

Ultimately, they're common wheelguns that can probably be rented at most ranges. Try em out. One thing to consider with the Ruger: while 7 shots are nice, I don't think Safariland makes speedloaders for em. They definitely make em for 6-shooters. I owned 2 for my Ruger GP100. I've tried HKS, 5-Star, and speedstrips... Safariland is by far the best (for me). I almost like them more than moonclips due to ease of reloading them.
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  #6  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:34 AM
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I have both and they are about equal in accuracy. The 686+ is nice with the added one round and yes the action is better than any box stock Ruger GP100 I've ever shot, although the older 686s are way smoother. If I was to shoot a lot of full power magnum loads I would pick up the GP100. Some folks will say they are about the same, but I have an older 586 that will require a trip to S&W for a little maintenance, while my GP100 that has seen more rounds is still tight and accurate as I remember it when I first shot it. If I was to do casual or steel shooting the 686+ gets my nod, if I need a defense or hunting side are the GP100 will be it.
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  #7  
Old 06-07-2011, 10:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biofire View Post
I want to buy a 357 magnum with a 4" barrel for home defense use. It will mainly be used with 38 special +P ammo for my girlfriend, but I want the option of 357 for me for a SHTF scenario. I keep a Glock 21 for home defense.

I have heard that the S&W has a smoother trigger, and I like the idea of a 7-round revolver (i.e., 686 Plus), but many people feel the Ruger is better made.

Has anyone out there used both? And, which one would you choose for your girlfriend/wife to use for home defense? I would greatly appreciate hearing from owners of these guns.
Which do you prefer a Hard Body Pick Up Truck (Ruger) or a SUV (S&W)?

Smith & Wesson are very well made (IMHO, better made than Ruger) and you can see in the detail. However, Ruger is made much sturdier, they are workhorses.

If you plan to shoot jacked-up reloads, get the Ruger.
If money is a problem, get the Ruger.
If you want something with a smoother out of the box trigger, get the S&W.
If you want that extra shot in the cylinder, get the S&W.

Both will do the job, just get your Significant Other to hold both or fire both at a gun range. Ultimately, she will be the user.
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  #8  
Old 06-07-2011, 11:07 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by biofire View Post
I want to buy a 357 magnum with a 4" barrel for home defense use. It will mainly be used with 38 special +P ammo for my girlfriend, but I want the option of 357 for me for a SHTF scenario. I keep a Glock 21 for home defense.

I have heard that the S&W has a smoother trigger, and I like the idea of a 7-round revolver (i.e., 686 Plus), but many people feel the Ruger is better made.

Has anyone out there used both? And, which one would you choose for your girlfriend/wife to use for home defense? I would greatly appreciate hearing from owners of these guns.
I didn't pick a gun for my wife. I let her try as many as I could and she picked one for herself.

That said...

I've owned both guns and I prefer the 686+. In fact I sold my last GP-100 about a year ago because I just wasn't shooting it much any more. However, either gun will do the job and it will finally come down to personal preference. The difference in strength between the two guns is exaggerated IMO. The S&W has a side plate; the Ruger doesn't. The S&W has a forged frame; the Ruger frame is a casting. Both are well designed examples of the platform and both were designed to handle full bore 357 loads. Either one will eat 357 magnum loads for thousands of rounds.

The seven shot cylinder means the trigger has to index 51.5 degrees instead of 60 degrees. This translates to a DA trigger pull length about 14% shorter. Not a big number but I can feel the difference between my six shooters and my seven shooters.

I found the S&W trigger is better out of the box than the Ruger. It is true that a bad S&W trigger will be worse than good Ruger trigger -- the range overlaps. My experince is that Ruger has a wider range of "goodness" and the average is lower that the S&W. Nevertheless either guns will need some work to get the best out of it.

I did a minor trigger job on a new (-6) 686+ w/3" bbl I bought for HD. I installed a set of Wolff springs -- full power mainspring with a 15# return slide spring -- and polished the return slide. That was it. My wife liked it so much she took it from me. I had to go out and buy another one for myself.

I also had all three of my 686's machined for moon clips by TK Custom. Just about any modern revolver can be modified but I think the seven round moon clips are less susceptible to bending than the six or eight round clips.

The Ruger frame design allows for a bit larger range of after market grips. Both are large guns so it may be important if the shooter has hands on the small side.
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  #9  
Old 06-07-2011, 11:14 AM
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Biofire,

You can't go wrong with a Ruger or a Smith. Let your GF decide. I own two Rugers and two S&W.

My 629-6 gets the most use. It is the most versatile for me. I can load <1000 fps or >1500 fps with 240 grain bullet.

(Caveat: I am not advocating you buy a 44 for your GF as the 38 special/357 magnum is the best all-around caliber for defense, plinking, handloading and small game hunting. I own a 44 and a 357 and enjoy them both. One reason that my 629 gets the most holster time is that it is stainless steel; I don't like that rust thing.

Ruger? Smith? I don't care which one!!!!!!!!!! They are both very good.

markm
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  #10  
Old 06-07-2011, 11:33 AM
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If they were both on a table in front of me for the same price,I'd take the S&W based on name quality reputation. If I wanted to save a few bucks but still get a nice .357 of course I'd get the GP 100. I've had mine for 20yrs.
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  #11  
Old 06-07-2011, 11:42 AM
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If I were you, I'll try to save more money and get a Colt Python
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  #12  
Old 06-07-2011, 12:29 PM
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Thanks everyone! I guess I am leaning towards the S&W at this point, but as some of you pointed out, I have to let my girlfriend try them both.
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  #13  
Old 06-07-2011, 12:52 PM
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I went with the gp100 because I believe in rugers ruggedness and toughness my uncles gp100 that he's had since I was a kid still shoots the exact same and we dole out full house magnum rounds on every hunting and fishing trip we go on.. Its seen thousands of 357 rounds and is dead on accurate.. I've shot a 686 and I don't see how anyone says its "more" accurate then a gp100 I can kill cans at 75 feet with both my 6 inch gp and my uncles 4 inch gp if a 686 is more accurate It coulda fooled me...

And yes the SW trigger is lighter and crisper then the ruger but with that said I love the trigger on my gp its breaks perfectly on DA and SA its heavier then some revolvers but feels great with the way I shoot I like the feel of it being tight yet smooth
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  #14  
Old 06-07-2011, 2:37 PM
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The 686 has a better trigger out of the box, but... I put in softer Wolff springs and very very gingerly touched up the hammer/trigger sear on my GP100 and now the trigger pull is light and smooth. For this reason, I couldn't justify spending $150 more for the 686 on my nonexistent income.
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Old 06-07-2011, 2:41 PM
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S&W: No contest.
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Old 06-07-2011, 3:47 PM
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I agree that the S&W has a nicer finish and trigger than the Ruger. I just do not think it is $150.00 nicer. I also believe the Ruger has a stronger frame. It will handle a steady diet of hot reloads with no issues.
I currently have 2 GP100's in my safe. One has a nice trigger job and the second is NIB and will go to my daughter on her 21st B-Day.
I have shot both, I would take my GP100 with the trigger job over anything else.
FTR, the Python is a beautiful gun. I would love to own one. I do not believe it will be as trouble free as the Ruger or the S&W. Colts have a reputation for going out of time and qualified gunsmiths are not the easiest to find.
Good luck.
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Old 06-07-2011, 3:49 PM
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If you get the Wolff action kit and polish up a couple of parts in your GP100, you'll have an action that is very desirable. I have a 6" 686P, GP100 and King Cobra. I also have a 586. The accuracy winner depends on the loads the revolvers prefer, but if I was to pick the most accurate one it will be the Colt. Now that is a smooth revolver out of the box and the ruggedness of a Ruger, without the frequent tuning required with a Python.

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Old 06-07-2011, 4:10 PM
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I own both and the Smith is to darn pretty to bounce in and out of my head board. The Ruger has served the role fine since the early nineties, so I'll just leave it that way.
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Old 06-07-2011, 4:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
"Many people feel Ruger is better made."

Bwaah. Those people really don't have much valid input.

Modern S&W wheelguns are known for quality and accuracy and great triggers out of the box.

In 38/357 chamberings, the Ruger GP is really no more tough than the S&W 686+.

In no way is the Ruger a *bad* gun, it's just a second choice. There's a reason it's cheaper. Worse trigger, not as accurate, useless added weight.

Rolex vs. Seiko, but at much closer price points.
Agreed on all points. The 686+ is a well refined piece of machinery. I have the 2.5" version
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Old 06-07-2011, 4:47 PM
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I prefer the S&W over Ruger on any firearm in general but when it came to choosing a wheelgun, I chose the GP100 over the 686. Why? S&W's internal lock. There has been actual incidents on this engaging under recoil of the gun. The last thing you want in a home defense situation is for your gun to lock up on it's own. No thanks! And I don't think it is a Rolex vs Seiko comparison. More like a Chevy and Ford or Seiko vs Citizen.
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Old 06-07-2011, 9:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RT13 View Post
I prefer the S&W over Ruger on any firearm in general but when it came to choosing a wheelgun, I chose the GP100 over the 686. Why? S&W's internal lock. There has been actual incidents on this engaging under recoil of the gun. The last thing you want in a home defense situation is for your gun to lock up on it's own. No thanks!
The incidences are so rare that you'll have better luck finding more reports of other malfunctions like cylinder locking up, timing off, etc from either manufacturer. I do agree that I'd rather not have one than having one.. but it wouldn't stop me from buying.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
"Many people feel Ruger is better made."

Bwaah. Those people really don't have much valid input.

Modern S&W wheelguns are known for quality and accuracy and great triggers out of the box.

In 38/357 chamberings, the Ruger GP is really no more tough than the S&W 686+.

In no way is the Ruger a *bad* gun, it's just a second choice. There's a reason it's cheaper. Worse trigger, not as accurate, useless added weight.

Rolex vs. Seiko, but at much closer price points.

If you have the (relatively) few bux extra, get the S&W 686+.
If you want a DA wheelgun and are really tight on cash, the GP100 will serve you well.
Funny, every time the topic of Smith s. GP100 comes up you manage to sing the same ol' tune of "cash strapped folks go for GP100 as a compromise".

If people spent more time practicing you would see less people with expensive Smiths shotgun-patterning the target on SA mode.

I've shot GP100s since I was a kid. I'm no crack shot, but I don't look half bad next to the average Smith owner I have seen at ranges. Seems there are a whole lot of lemon Smiths and Smith tends to have sights installed wrong at the factory if you has ask these owners for their opinion.
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I'll say it for the 50th time. I AM NOT A SINGLE ISSUE VOTER.
I'm a freakin socialist for christs sake. I'm not going to vote for some republican just so he can funnel even more money to the oligarchs that run this country, just because he's pro 2a.

Last edited by CalNRA; 06-07-2011 at 10:27 PM..
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalNRA View Post
Funny, every time the topic of Smith s. GP100 comes up you manage to sing the same ol' tune of "cash strapped folks go for GP100 as a compromise".

If people spent more time practicing you would see less people with expensive Smiths shotgun-patterning the target on SA mode.
True, but the price difference isn't enough to buy enough ammo to improve these folks' shooting.

I continue to insist folks should pay a few bucks more for the S&W 686.
They'll get it back in resale value anyway if they ever decide to sell.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:29 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
True, but the price difference isn't enough to buy enough ammo to improve these folks' shooting.

I continue to insist folks should pay a few bucks more for the S&W 686.
They'll get it back in resale value anyway if they ever decide to sell.
When S&W takes out that danged lock I will be happy to drop some coins on their guns. Until then, my poor self would have to live with my Rugers.
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Originally Posted by Booshanky View Post
I'll say it for the 50th time. I AM NOT A SINGLE ISSUE VOTER.
I'm a freakin socialist for christs sake. I'm not going to vote for some republican just so he can funnel even more money to the oligarchs that run this country, just because he's pro 2a.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:32 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CalNRA View Post
When S&W takes out that danged lock I will be happy to drop some coins on their guns. Until then, my poor self would have to live with my Rugers.
Some new S&W guns are now coming out without the lock.

The lock can easily be removed/disabled too.

I have not disabled the lock on my 625 because there's gonna be more risk of crud getting under the extractor star and binding cylinder rotation, etc. than there is of the lock failing.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
Some new S&W guns are now coming out without the lock.
glad to see that.

I'll be sure to pick one up when a they have an a new production L frame in 357 without the lock.
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Why CA gun rights needs more work:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Booshanky View Post
I'll say it for the 50th time. I AM NOT A SINGLE ISSUE VOTER.
I'm a freakin socialist for christs sake. I'm not going to vote for some republican just so he can funnel even more money to the oligarchs that run this country, just because he's pro 2a.
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Old 06-07-2011, 10:54 PM
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I've played around with both, along with a SP101. For me personally, I liked the 686+ trigger over the Ruger triggers. It just felt more smooth & fluid when pulling it back.

Plus, a 686+ with a 2" barrel is awesome
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Old 06-07-2011, 11:24 PM
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Quote:
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They'll get it back in resale value anyway if they ever decide to sell.
This is true. I recently bought a 686 no dash. Probably paid more for it than the original owner did.
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I hope Ruger pays the extortion fees for the SR1911. I mean the gun is just as good if not better than a Les Baer.
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A Colt collector shooting Rugers is like Hugh Grant cheating on Elizabeth Hurley with a hooker.
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Old 06-08-2011, 5:53 AM
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When I was making this same decision earlier this year I went with the GP100. Just couldn't see why the Smith was more dough. Both guns are ultra-high quality products made by iconic American manufacturers who stand behind their guns. I tend to like Ruger guns. The fit and finish on my GP100 leaves nothing to be desired. I did get a trigger job, although the trigger was not bad before that. Either gun is excellent. Some say that 6 rounds instead of 7 make for a beefier cylinder. Anyhow, my GP100 is my favorite handgun. (If I had gotten a 686 it probably would also have been my favorite handgun.)

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Old 06-08-2011, 7:22 AM
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I say 686+. Its a gun of higher fit and finish quality out of the box, but its also will hold its value better as others have said. If I wanted a gun to pass on to my kids I'd get the smith. Plus, personally I think its darn sexy
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Old 06-08-2011, 7:28 AM
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I have owned or own 25 Ruger DA handguns. Never had a problem. Not one.

Bought a Smith 610 with supposedly one box of ammo through it, shot 100 rounds and it broke in my hands. Smith wanted 8 weeks to fix it. I ultimately spent about $30 and fixed it myself. Isolated cases, yes, indeed. But I know for the price, I will buy more Rugers. I spent almost double for that Smith than I have spent for most of my Rugers.

Edit: I bought my 4" GP used, it had an 8lb or so DA trigger and was super smooth, easily nicer than the the Smith's DA trigger.
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Old 06-08-2011, 7:46 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
...I continue to insist folks should pay a few bucks more for the S&W 686....
I continue to insist that people should spend their money on what works for them. Shoot all of them and than buy the one you like. In my case, I chose the GP100 and have never looked back. In fact, I liked it so much I bought a second one.
I bought one of them new for $300 (1990) and the second one was used (but never fired) for $225. Do you think I can get my $ back if I ever sell?
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Old 06-08-2011, 7:54 AM
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Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
Some new S&W guns are now coming out without the lock.

The lock can easily be removed/disabled too.

I have not disabled the lock on my 625 because there's gonna be more risk of crud getting under the extractor star and binding cylinder rotation, etc. than there is of the lock failing.
John Witt (Bullseye Smith on the S&W forum) makes a plug for the hole left when the lock is removed.

http://smith-wessonforum.com/accesso...dies-plug.html

I installed the plug on two of my 686's.

In other news, more Glocks blow up than S&W internal locks fail.
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Last edited by scarville; 04-23-2012 at 3:25 PM..
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Old 06-08-2011, 7:55 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bwiese View Post
"Many people feel Ruger is better made."

Bwaah. Those people really don't have much valid input.

....
You have an opinion, good for you. Why the need to attack those who have a different opinion?
I have owned 8 Rugers (starting in 1982) and never had a single defect. 2 of them have been in my safe for over 20 years.
I can tell you that Rugers are well built and I have a little personal experience to back-up my statement. What are your qualifications?
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Old 06-08-2011, 8:06 AM
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There sure is a lot of Ruger hating going on. "Rolex vs Seiko"? Come on. It's more like "Honda Accord LX" vs "Honda Accord EX" (ie. with one model you get some minor upgrades but pay more.) Or get the Ruger if you're "really tight on cash"?

What you're getting with Ruger:
- An American made firearm with first class quality from a solid company
- Rock solid reliability
- Excellent shooter right out of the box (good trigger, good sights, good barrel.) No upgrades or spit shining needed.

The OP wanted a gun for a) home defense and b) his girlfriend. Neither of those needs requires spending extra money to get a buttery smooth trigger or a mirror finish.

Nothing wrong with getting the Smith either - heck get both if you have the money. And get a Python while you're at it. But the Ruger is not some POS you should be ashamed of owning.
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Old 06-08-2011, 8:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sd_shooter View Post
There sure is a lot of Ruger hating going on. "Rolex vs Seiko"? Come on. It's more like "Honda Accord LX" vs "Honda Accord EX" ....

You're more generous than I am. To me, it is Honda Accord LX vs. Toyota Camry LE.
Or, in keeping with my handle, Ford F150 XLT vs. Chevy Silverado SLE.
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Old 06-08-2011, 11:48 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sd_shooter View Post
The OP wanted a gun for a) home defense and b) his girlfriend.
Reason why I posted in response to the OP that his significant other try renting and firing both S&W and Ruger at a gun range to decide.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sd_shooter View Post
Neither of those needs requires spending extra money to get a buttery smooth trigger or a mirror finish.
Since the OP asked about differences, we answer from what we experience.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sd_shooter View Post
Nothing wrong with getting the Smith either - heck get both if you have the money. And get a Python while you're at it. But the Ruger is not some POS you should be ashamed of owning.
Nope, the Ruger is not a POS. Chances are it will outlast a S&W if you shoot overcharged loads. Yep, they are much more sturdier than S&W.
I own Ruger products myself (a .22LR 10/22 rifle, a .22LR SP101 revolver, a .22LR Mk2 pistol and a .45ACP P90) and while my Ruger handguns never failed me, I got my 10/22 fixed and it has never failed since.

Quote:
Originally Posted by sd_shooter View Post
It's more like "Honda Accord LX" vs "Honda Accord EX"
To me comparing the Smith and the Ruger is akin to comparing an SUV with a Hard-body Pickup truck. The SUV (Smith revolvers) is nice and sturdy, but the Pick-up truck (Ruger revolvers) can take more abuses and therefore, is sturdier.
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Old 06-08-2011, 12:50 PM
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I really don't see how you can go "wrong" with either one. Both fine Revolvers, both will last far longer than you will.
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Old 06-08-2011, 4:39 PM
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I have a GP100 and I like it a lot but I'd also like to get a 686 when I come across the right one. I've shot both and while they are different in their own way, I think they are about even when you weigh all the pros/cons about each. I've let a few women shoot my GP100 for their first time shooting and they really liked it and did well with it.

My favorite gun is my Ruger SP101 but I also have a S&W 640 because I like the characteristics that each one has. I shoot my SP101 more than the 640 because I shoot a little better with it. When I started reloading I didn't hesitate to test any rounds through the SP101 because I knew it could handle it. Everyone has their opinion about what they think is better but I can guarantee that either choice will serve you well and you won't regret NOT getting the other. Just get one and don't worry about the other. The complication comes when you have both at the same time and try to compare them.
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Old 06-08-2011, 6:03 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fishslayer View Post
This is true. I recently bought a 686 no dash. Probably paid more for it than the original owner did.
someone had to create the demand. Better you than me.
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I'll say it for the 50th time. I AM NOT A SINGLE ISSUE VOTER.
I'm a freakin socialist for christs sake. I'm not going to vote for some republican just so he can funnel even more money to the oligarchs that run this country, just because he's pro 2a.
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