May 1999

Versatility Plus: Smith & Wesson Tops Test of 6-Inch .38 Specials

There seems to be an army of snub-nosed carry guns to choose from, but what do you buy if you simply want a good-shooting, good-looking, dependable revolver for targets, plinking, and fun?

It may be misleading to refer to the guns in this test, the Ruger GP100, the Rossi 971, and Smith & Wesson’s Models 14 and 686-5 as double-action revolvers. This is because each revolver is actually two guns in one. They can be fired single action just like the cowboy guns of old as well as by double-action pull. Surely there are more than a few semiautos on the market that offer double- and single-action triggers on the same frame, but few of those can match the precise double action of even the lowest-priced wheelgun in this test. Furthermore, these revolvers in box-stock condition go a long way in replicating the sensation of a “hair trigger” often found on custom-built single-action 1911...

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