In the January 2002 issue, we presented an evaluation of seven-shot .357 Magnum revolvers from Taurus and Smith & Wesson. Based on the trend toward lower-capacity pistols chambered for larger cartridges, our conclusion was that seven-shot revolvers such as the Taurus 617 and the S&W 686+ might be too heavy for carry.
Updated, Taurus's Model 617 and Smith & Wesson's latest 686 Plus are revolvers that come up big when buyers are deciding whether to carry a pistol or a wheelgun.
Taurus's $422 CIA successfully copies Smith & Wesson's Centennial series, but the S&W $745 Scandium 360S Airlite SC is the lightest .357 Magnum snubby we've evaluated.
Of the three companies' wares, we preferred the accurate, smooth 686, but we'd also buy the strong and well-made New Model Blackhawk. We'd have to think about the Taurus M66.
Taurus's $355 Model 617 and Rossi's new 461, $298, mount a lukewarm challenge to Smith & Wesson's $545 Model 66. The big edge: The S&W handgun's overall consistency.
Ruger's shorter, easier-to-handle GP100 makes more sense in this matchup than the longest-barrel guns from Smith & Wesson and Taurus.
While it's true that a self-loading pistol carries more rounds than a revolver, a pistol is more prone to malfunctions. A single action revolver requires cocking of the hammer before each round can be fired and considerable time to reload. That leaves a double action revolver.
What kind and why? A double action revolver is easy to learn to shoot. It is totally reliable as long as it is decently maintained and the quality of its ammunition remains high. A short-barreled revolver is easily secreted in a bedside table drawer or on one's person in states that allow law-abiding citizens to carry concealed. Many think that it should hold six rounds rather than five. What caliber? A .22 isn't p...
Terminology to describe lighter-framed concealable revolvers seems to be tracking changes in professional boxing. In the sweet science, no longer does a fighter compete merely as a bantamweight, middleweight or heavyweight. Now the prefixes light, for just under a given weight-class structure, and super, meaning a little heavier than a certain poundage range, are divvying up the match-ups so tightly that we may soon see 170-pound guys whacking only 171-pound opponents.
Likewise, in gun terms, we're confronted with evermore descriptive language for heft, such as Air-Weight, Air-Lite, and Ultra-Light—most often labeling snubbies demanded by today's CHL holder. These airy words are designed...
Some time back on these pages we gave you the results of a test of three .357 Magnum double-action revolvers with four-inch barrels. However, our gun stores tell us that, because so many shooters don't read Gun Tests, folks continually come in and ask which brand of .357 they ought to buy.
Sometimes, they don't know what barrel length they want. More often they know which length, but not which brand gives them the most bang for their buck. Is, for example, the 6-inch Smith & Wesson just as good as the 4-inch version? We thought it would be a good idea to test the same three revolvers in the 6-inch version, and see if the same gun came up a winner. As a bonus, we added a Taurus to the mi...
Choosing between a semiauto and a revolver has always been a dilemma. Not long ago the choice was between six reliable shots of .38 Special (later .357 Magnum) or seven (then eight) shots of .45 ACP in a 1911-style pistol that until recently was not at all foolproof. The revolvers were also more accurate out of the box due to their fixed barrel design, and they were capable of firing ammunition of any description so long as it fit inside the cylinders. GI and even post-war 1911s were often fit with generous tolerances to ensure reliability, but as a result, their accuracy suffered.
By the time 1911s were offered with true precision fit and custom features (which were simply upgrades that should have been offered all along) other, more user-friendly designs had entered the marketplace. The industry had begun to serve not only military and law enforcement personnel, but also the growing ranks of private citizens licensed to carry concealed weapons. Before a capacity limit of 10 was legislated into effect, pistols holding as many as 15+1 rounds of 9mm Luger were available. Naturally, this left the six-shot revolver in the dust.
[IMGCAP(1)] At Gun Tests we constantly seek ways to follow up on the service life of the guns we test. When possible, we track the very pistols and long guns that appear on these pages by keeping in touch with their owners, which in some cases are our testers but more often are readers who have bought actual test guns. Another way of tracking the reliability and satisfaction that a firearm can bring is to contact gunsmiths, retail outlets or the operators of public shooting ranges who add them to range rental-gun fleets.
We recently had occasion to test several revolvers previously reviewed and recommended in these pages with an eye toward gathering data about their longevity, a topic GT...
[IMGCAP(1)] Whatever happened to the old 4-inch service revolver? Take a look around and you will see they're on the hips of many uniformed police officers. Yes, the majority of peace officers today do carry the semi-automatic, but take part in your own survey and you will be surprised to find out how many rely on a 4-inch wheelgun.
The reasons for this gun's popularity as a duty weapon for officers or, correspondingly, as a personal self-defense gun for citizens are manifold. The revolver offers an on-demand choice of single or double action, it will run reliably on any load strength, and the .357 Magnum guns will also shoot cheaper .38 Special rounds to boot, mixing power and affordabil...