August 2006

.357 Mag. Service Revolvers: Ruger Outduels Taurus, S&W

We’d take Ruger’s GP100 six-shooter “on the job” as an easy-to-shoot self-defense arm. We thought the Taurus M66 could use more rugged sights, and our S&W 619 needed a tune up.

We recently attended a major sporting event where security was provided by uniformed police. We couldn’t help but notice how many officers, male and female were carrying revolvers instead of semi-automatic pistols. Never shy to interview, we took turns asking various officers why they had chosen a revolver. Here are some of the reasons they gave. "It can’t be knocked out of battery." "The trigger doesn’t change after the first shot." "I can get a really good action without worrying about reliability." "It was easy to find a replacement grip that fit me." "No mags to buy and this gun will last." "It didn’t need any work to make it more accurate." Most of the guns we saw were .38 Special/.357 Magnums, which offer a wide range of power without affecting reliability.

Those practical answers to self-defense problems moved us to evaluate currently available service revolvers from Taurus, Smith & Wesson, and Sturm, Ruger. The most popular barrel length in a service or duty revolver is 4 inches, and such guns are now widely available with seven-shot cylinders. Our Taurus Model 66SS4, $469, was a seven-shooter, and so was our Smith & Wesson Model 619 No. 164301, $646. Only our $615 Ruger KGP-141, a member of the GP100 family, was limited to six rounds.

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