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Old 08-10-2018, 03:55 PM
Willyboy Willyboy is offline
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Default S&W 586 vs Ruger GP100

I have been thinking about getting a 586/686, but a LGS has a new Ruger GP100 (blue) for $529, a pretty good price. Does anyone have side by side experience with these two revolvers? I would plan on putting a new spring set in the Ruger if the trigger is too rough out of the box. I shoot informal bullseye only, mostly reduced 357 target loads at indoor ranges.
Thanks, Willyboy
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Old 08-10-2018, 04:00 PM
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Traded my GP100 for a 686. Better trigger, lighter and smoother even after spring changes.
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Old 08-10-2018, 04:09 PM
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Three or four years back I had new samples of 686 & GP, four-inchers.
Side by side testing & comparison.

Bought the Ruger, sent the Smith back.

Just my choice.
Denis
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Old 08-10-2018, 07:01 PM
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If it's a prelock go Smith......
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Old 08-10-2018, 07:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joe44va View Post
Traded my GP100 for a 686. Better trigger, lighter and smoother even after spring changes.
This is my experience with owning several of each. The GP100 WILL need springs and some polishing to get decent. I've done a 1/2 dozen or so and it's hard to make a Ruger DA trigger as smooth as a S&W DA trigger though. ( Not impossible but it usually takes professional intervention. ) SA is a different story. Both can be made nice without much effort.
As for the rest of the gun/features. Both are very accurate and well built.
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Old 08-10-2018, 08:29 PM
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Like Denis, I had both a M-686 (pre-Lock) and a GP, stainless. I preferred the balance of the Ruger.

I did no action work on either my GP-100 or my SP-101. Both "wore-in" nicely. So did a Security-Six that I once owned. The SP does have a very heavy trigger pull that I wish was lighter, but I'm afraid to go to lighter springs, as I need reliable detonation if the hammer encounters a tough primer.

I feel the M-686 is nose heavy with four-inch barrel. And it just felt heavier in the hand, with both guns wearing Pachmayr Gripper grips. Holsters were identical Bianchi Model 5BHL in black, and the guns carried about the same on a Bianchi River belt.

I do have a lighter, livelier M-66-3 for most carry, but if I'm firing many heavy loads, the GP-100 has its place. I do NOT fire hot 125 grain or lighter loads in .357 in the M-66 or other K-frame Smith .357's. But some loads, like Winchester's 145 grain Silvertip, are so destructive in human tissue that I don't feel a need for lighter bullets. That load will give about 1200 FPS in even a three-inch barrel.

I think the GP-100 is a better engineered gun than the M-686, and the overall layout and the crane lock are inspired features.
I also think Rugers hold cylinder timing better than S&W guns.

But the M-686 is a very nice, refined 357 that will endure more Magnum loads than most owners should fire. This isn't "range ammo." It is meant for killing animals: four-legged, two-legged, and no-legged.

Last edited by Texas Star; 08-10-2018 at 08:35 PM.
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Old 08-10-2018, 09:23 PM
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Really should boil down to which one fits your hand/ hands better. If you like removing the cylinder to clean it then you want the Smith
As far as trigger goes a competent gunsmith should be able to give you want on either.
I prefer the disassembly procedure of the Smith. I’ve had both, I really appreciated my 686-3.
Karl
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Old 08-10-2018, 09:26 PM
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Default GP 100 vs S&W 586/686

Thanks for all the input. I will let the Forum know if I make a purchase
one of these days. Willyboy
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Old 08-10-2018, 09:45 PM
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I have owned numerous GP100 and 686 revolvers. To me, the 686 revolvers are more consistent, where GP100 revolvers will vary more from one particular revolver to another, particularly so in recent production. Once broken in, I prefer the double action pull on the GP100, it is easier to stage the trigger. In single action mode, they are just different, the Smith will be very crisp and the Rugers will be quite smooth. I currently own just the GP100, and I have done some spring changes to it.
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Old 08-10-2018, 09:57 PM
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This ad sums it all up:
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:34 PM
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Rented a Ruger GP100 at the range and a friend let me shoot his 686 with a 4 inch barrel and after shooting them both several times I just bought a 686+ PC 2 1/2 inch barrel which isn't as nose heavy as the 4 inch ..

Smoother trigger .. The S&W 686 just feels so much better in my hand and seems to handle the recoil a little better then the Ruger !!
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:41 PM
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I have both a 686 and GP100. Neither have had the bubba treatment of springs or widgets.

Fit and function are great on both. The GP seems to fit my hands a little better and it just feels like a more solid well built gun.

I've kept each but probably haven't shot the 686 in 2 or 3 years. I shot the GP today.

Personal preference thing really ..... you can't go wrong with either one.
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Old 08-10-2018, 10:56 PM
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Different guns.
One is a tank, the other is a luxury car
One is in my nightstand. The other is in the safe
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:30 PM
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Everytime I see that ad, I get hungry.

The S&W and the Ruger are both tough as nails. The post that says that one is a tank and the other is a luxury car is just not my experience.

Both are like tanks. The S&W has a better action, in my opinion. The Ruger has no screws to work loose.

On the other hand, when the cross pin that holds in the rear sight decides to be contrary, there is no way to tighten it up.

And, in my experience, the 1970s gun writers who forever complained about S&W sideplate screws working loose were greatly exaggerating the issue.

In the first place, the screws are long enough that if they loosen (and it is exceedingly rare that they do), you notice it LONG before the screw backs out far enough to do anything. Just snug it back.

Secondly, you do not and should not EVER use loctite on the screws on an S&W revolver. It is just not necessary.

So, I view them both as good quality duty weapons. Neither are safe queens, and both are "fit for duty."

The only revolvers that are safe queens are Pythons and Korths (neither of which I own). I suppose a discontinued S&W for which parts are no longer available is also appropriate for putting away. That said, at the time the original owners bought their Registered Magnum or what we now consider a collector's item, they were bought as workhorses.

So, use them both and enjoy them while you can.

Your biggest factor is not wearing out either gun - it is affording the ammo!
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Old 08-10-2018, 11:57 PM
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Ultimately it’s a preference issue. I have both & think they are both quality guns that will well serve my lifetime and likely that of my grandsons.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:12 AM
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Sorry, but I absolutely hate Ruger's disassembly push pin system. I finally drilled a hole in the back of my GP-100 stub grip frame. I still need to use a hammer to break the trigger group loose from the frame. (I have a Security Six that is much better in this regard.) Then I have to use a rubber mallet to install the trigger group back into the frame. I gave up on Ruger's single action revolvers because of their ridiculous disassembly/reassembly procedure and I'm about to give up on the GP-100 also.

I can completely disassemble/reassemble a S&W double action revolver blind folded.
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Old 08-11-2018, 03:29 AM
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I'd rather have a Taurus than a Ruger, but if I'm spending my own money, it would be on a smith and wesson
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:07 AM
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Here's a question for the mechanical engineers out there. When the S&W side plate is in place, is it not as though the frame is one solid piece ?

Built like a tank...yeah, a Sherman tank.
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:21 AM
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Ford truck vs. Chevy truck. Which do you prefer ?? I prefer the 686. But that said, the new Smiths with the Hillary hole ( I own none) could send me the other way.--just sayin'
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Old 08-11-2018, 06:41 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arquebus357 View Post
Sorry, but I absolutely hate Ruger's disassembly push pin system. I finally drilled a hole in the back of my GP-100 stub grip frame. I still need to use a hammer to break the trigger group loose from the frame. (I have a Security Six that is much better in this regard.) Then I have to use a rubber mallet to install the trigger group back into the frame. I gave up on Ruger's single action revolvers because of their ridiculous disassembly/reassembly procedure and I'm about to give up on the GP-100 also.

I can completely disassemble/reassemble a S&W double action revolver blind folded.
I’ve owned a GP100 and a SP101. I currently own a Police Service Six and.n SP101 in .22. I have never needed a tool to take them down or put them back together. Trigger group snaps in with a firm squeeze. I keep all paperwork on guns I own or owned. The GP cost me $299 used 5 years ago. Some security outfit out West was dumping them for semi autos. Gun looked brand new and even came in factory serial numbered box. I miss those days of great deals.

I’ve owned 2 686’s. Fine guns and I wish I still had them. I’d probably take a pre-lock 686 over a GP, provides rhwy werw the same price. A newer more expensive 686 over a GP? No thanks. I know they’re still fine guns, but not fine enough to justify the price difference and I just don’t like the hole for the lock.
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Arquebus357 View Post
Here's a question for the mechanical engineers out there. When the S&W side plate is in place, is it not as though the frame is one solid piece ?
Somebody call for a mechanical engineer?
The short and sweet of it is: Not quite. The forces and stresses that go through the frame will funnel largely through the contact and fastening points. ( The tight fit of the side plate helps here as most forces will be in compression. Tension is another story.) . Stress will concentrate at the mating surfaces and screws which is different than if the metal was continuous. In addition wall thickness and manufacturing practices will effect these things as well.
All that said, both companies steel frames are clearly well designed and plenty strong for the task and have been for a long time. It's not their first rodeo. I wouldn't hesitate to buy either again.
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:24 AM
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Both are fine revolvers. I prefer S&Ws double action triggers. I have had a good gunsmith do action jobs on both. When worked over the GP trigger is about as good as the S&W trigger OUT OF THE BOX. That is double action. In single action both are good.

Before S&W started making round butt grip frames on the L frames I would pay a gunsmith to RB those guns. I slightly prefer a RB L frame to the GP100 grip. In factory form I preferred the GP factory grip.

I prefer Rugers cylinder release and ejector rod design.

Overall I'm more accurate w the S&W shooting double action.

Again both revolvers are good products. I prefer the S&W but don't look down at the Ruger. Comparing a SP101 3 inch to a M60 3 inch the Ruger wins. It would be a runaway if Ruger put adjustable sights on the SP chambered in 357. That is for field carry in a belt holster. For pocket carry w a 2 inch barrel I would trade 2 Rugers for a S&W airweight Centennial or Bodyguard.
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:27 AM
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Talking Bubba, me?

Quote:
Originally Posted by hittman77 View Post
I have both a 686 and GP100. Neither have had the bubba treatment of springs or widgets.

.
Ooh, should I be insulted? Naw, not really. Lol
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Old 08-11-2018, 08:43 AM
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I'm still chapped about Bill Ruger's betrayal of American gun owners. He has long since gone on to his eternal reward, but his magazine ban legacy continues.
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Old 08-11-2018, 11:56 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Warren Sear View Post
I'm still chapped about Bill Ruger's betrayal of American gun owners. He has long since gone on to his eternal reward, but his magazine ban legacy continues.
I wouldn't even consider trying to talk you out of your position (because it's also burnt in to my brain!) but in this particular "one versus the other" showdown, Smith & Wesson is every bit as guilty. While Bill is gone, the former management and ownership of S&W is also gone. On the guns themselves, S&W still carries a visual reminder on the left side of each revolver, right above the cylinder release. Less so the Ruger.

In any case, I got my post deleted by using harsh words regarding my thoughts of S&W products shipped today. I'm reposting my original with some changes that I hope is more acceptable to the rules:

I have a pretty long history with the 686 revolvers and many GP-100's. It has been argued by others that the carbon steel 586 may have a slightly better trigger (or potential for such) than a 686 due to carbon versus stainless internals. I have certainly fired a few 586's but the bulk of my experience is with the 686.

I believe a pre-lock 586 or 686 is a better revolver than a GP-100, enough so that if I had a hundred of each, I would expect to choose the 686 a hundred times. Just the same, the GP-100 is a darn good revolver and a lot of gun for the money. And I'll say this and I mean this with all of my heart:

Give me a GP-100 over any ILS equipped S&W revolver or especially ANY new Smith & Wesson revolver.

And I would pay more for a clean used 586/686 then I would pay for a new GP-100 and I wouldn't let any friend of mine buy a new production S&W revolver if what they really wanted was a 586/686. That would be my failure as a friend and GunBro.

As a last ditch... I would take a new production S&W revolver over a Taurus, Rossi or Charter. But I would have the S&W customer service line on speed dial.

What do I own and use currently? The first handgun I ever bought with my own money, funds from a paper route and my first "real" job, my circa-1989 6-inch Model 686-3. I also have a 4.2" barreled stainless GP-100 in .327 Federal Magnum.

The 686-3 is a better revolver than the GP-100 in every way I can find or figure, but the GP-100 is a solid revolver and a good buy for the money.
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Old 08-11-2018, 12:25 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Willyboy View Post
I shoot informal bullseye only, mostly reduced 357 target loads at indoor ranges.
Thanks, Willyboy
I used to shoot in a revolver slowfire bullseye league some years ago and nearly everyone there used some kind of Smith. Although one Python shooter did quite well. We had to shoot one handed and the clean crisp break of a Smith SA trigger really was something I've not had in any unmodified Ruger that I have owned. I used a 4" 686 and even a 2.5" 66 later.
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Old 08-11-2018, 02:35 PM
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I have both, but the experience is rather dated as I bought them in the early 1980s. The 686 is a no dash for example. Overall the S&W seems a little better finished and has a nicer SA/DA trigger but the Ruger seems more heavily built as that is the one I would take if I was going to carry one in the boonies, which I have not done as I use a Ruger Blackhawk for that.

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Old 08-12-2018, 06:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Wee Hooker View Post
Somebody call for a mechanical engineer?
The short and sweet of it is: Not quite. The forces and stresses that go through the frame will funnel largely through the contact and fastening points. ( The tight fit of the side plate helps here as most forces will be in compression. Tension is another story.) . Stress will concentrate at the mating surfaces and screws which is different than if the metal was continuous. In addition wall thickness and manufacturing practices will effect these things as well.
All that said, both companies steel frames are clearly well designed and plenty strong for the task and have been for a long time. It's not their first rodeo. I wouldn't hesitate to buy either again.
Thanks for that explanation. I've always wondered about this. Now I know !!!
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Old 08-12-2018, 09:42 AM
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I’ve never owned a GP100 and a SP101. However they are solid made and a fine revolver. But the 686 and 586 are my kind of style. I am use to the feel and grip. I am sure Canon cameras as equally as good as my Nikons, maybe. But I am a Nikon man for life. And there you have it.
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Old 08-12-2018, 10:54 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shawn mccarver View Post
Everytime I see that ad, I get hungry.

The S&W and the Ruger are both tough as nails. The post that says that one is a tank and the other is a luxury car is just not my experience.

Both are like tanks. The S&W has a better action, in my opinion. The Ruger has no screws to work loose.

On the other hand, when the cross pin that holds in the rear sight decides to be contrary, there is no way to tighten it up.

And, in my experience, the 1970s gun writers who forever complained about S&W sideplate screws working loose were greatly exaggerating the issue.

In the first place, the screws are long enough that if they loosen (and it is exceedingly rare that they do), you notice it LONG before the screw backs out far enough to do anything. Just snug it back.

Secondly, you do not and should not EVER use loctite on the screws on an S&W revolver. It is just not necessary.

So, I view them both as good quality duty weapons. Neither are safe queens, and both are "fit for duty."

The only revolvers that are safe queens are Pythons and Korths (neither of which I own). I suppose a discontinued S&W for which parts are no longer available is also appropriate for putting away. That said, at the time the original owners bought their Registered Magnum or what we now consider a collector's item, they were bought as workhorses.

So, use them both and enjoy them while you can.

Your biggest factor is not wearing out either gun - it is affording the ammo!
Ive needed to have trigger work done on my 4” GP to make it as slick as the factory 586 (no dash) broken in. That negated the savings on the GP right there. (This GP Since sold to a buddy)
I use my 6” gp100 for testing 357 proof loads. The frame and trigger group are beefy and I wouldnt mind blowing that gun apart, which I havent yet. I would cry if I blew up any Of my Smiths.
The rear sight pin on the GP needs to be bent a little before driving it in. That keeps it in place. Even on the SP101 the rear sight wont move. Ive never lost a screw from working loose on a Smith.
Here’s the crazier part, I am actually more accurate with the GP than the 586 or 66 when I did direct comparison . But Neither of my rugers Or even the pythons had the soul of the SW. A GP is a nice dog but the SW is your best friend.



My 586 has an interesting history of which I cannot share on an open forum. So unfortunately the 586 does sit in the safe most of the time while the 66 has more range fun. I wouldnt even think of sending it in for the recall

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Old 08-12-2018, 11:51 AM
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I think for what Willyboy needs and the price, it's hard to beat. He already knows how hard the trigger is , so he knows he needs a trigger job!
For mild loads and range work, it'll be ok.
But knowing what I know, and breaking a force cone out of a kgp-100(stainless) and a Redhawk 44 Magnum, would I recommend them?
No way. I've been down that road for many years.
The metallurgy of the Ruger's is extremely cheap and took me no time to wear them down! My Smith's under almost the same time haven't suffered as badly, due to their stronger metal.
But what do I know. All I do is shoot guns.

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Some Redhawk pics I still had. Final crack pics lost on a different phone. Ruger said frame was junk when I asked them if they could rebarrel it.

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Old 08-12-2018, 01:53 PM
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The above pictured advertisement with the steak was good, it was actually a direct answer to Ruger's earlier advertisement that attempted to show how beefy the (cast) Ruger was compared to the (FORGED) Smith & Wesson. In the early to mid-80's when the GP-100 was debuted, the two gun builders traded barbs over these models.

One of the popular gun magazines of the day attempted to settle the score, I want to say it was either Shooting Times or Guns & Ammo, but they pitted two brand new revolvers against each other in an "accelerated wear test", nothing over spec and no outright abuse, just PILING up the round count on each revolver attempting to see if they found a trend where either revolver would distinguish itself as tougher, better or longer lasting.

If I remember correctly, they ended the test at 10,000 rounds each because they couldn't see either one distancing itself from the other.

It might also be worth mentioning how or why either model may have been introduced in the first place. The L-frame was supposed to have been designed to address the shortcomings of the K-frame magnums and their associated longevity issues, and to compete with the Colt revolvers for a heavy, full-lug barrel profile.

The Ruger Security Six series didn't really have any known durability issues, and the scuttlebutt behind the GP-100 wasn't about expanding on the Security Six's durability... but about lowering manufacturing costs and moving to a modular design.

Here we are nearly 35 years after the debut of the GP-100 and still, as ripe as ever is the showdown between the GP and the L-frame revolvers.

It seems to me that the answer is easy: Each shooter comes to his own conclusion, and that conclusion ends up being the right answer for sure.
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Old 08-12-2018, 05:31 PM
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Ooh, it’s been a while since we’ve had one of theseS&W 586 vs Ruger GP100

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Old 08-12-2018, 06:55 PM
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I’ll take the forged smith over the clunky cast ruger
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Old 08-12-2018, 11:56 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sevens View Post



One of the popular gun magazines of the day attempted to settle the score, I want to say it was either Shooting Times or Guns & Ammo, but they pitted two brand new revolvers against each other in an "accelerated wear test", nothing over spec and no outright abuse, just PILING up the round count on each revolver attempting to see if they found a trend where either revolver would distinguish itself as tougher, better or longer lasting.



If I remember correctly, they ended the test at 10,000 rounds each because they couldn't see either one distancing itself from the other.



Where were you a couple of years ago when I asked if there was any real evidence of the GP100s “superior” durability?

I got all manner of whacky opinions from folks who didn’t seem to know what “exhaustive” and “empirical” mean. Even some misguided souls who thought there was such a thing as “Ruger-only” .357 load data (I wonder if they’re still with us?)

It stands to reason a gun rag would declare a draw. They’re not going to risk losing ad revenue from either manufacturer.

I have no dog in the fight as I’m not really a fan of either. At least in .357.

On the other hand, the 10mm GP100 is a game changer for me. I just recently traded for a match champion. It’s not that I’m super-impressed with the gun so far (I haven’t shot it much) but the possibilities for a medium-frame 10mm revolver. Moon-clipped .40s for IDPA, and full-house 10mms if I want to hunt with it. Whether it warrants my enthusiasm remains to be seen.

Now if S&W would do that on an L-frame (or even bring back the 646), especially with a Ti cylinder, I’d be all over it.
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Old Yesterday, 02:58 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jtcarm View Post
Where were you a couple of years ago when I asked if there was any real evidence of the GP100s “superior” durability?

I got all manner of whacky opinions from folks who didn’t seem to know what “exhaustive” and “empirical” mean. Even some misguided souls who thought there was such a thing as “Ruger-only” .357 load data (I wonder if they’re still with us?)

It stands to reason a gun rag would declare a draw. They’re not going to risk losing ad revenue from either manufacturer.

I have no dog in the fight as I’m not really a fan of either. At least in .357.

On the other hand, the 10mm GP100 is a game changer for me. I just recently traded for a match champion. It’s not that I’m super-impressed with the gun so far (I haven’t shot it much) but the possibilities for a medium-frame 10mm revolver. Moon-clipped .40s for IDPA, and full-house 10mms if I want to hunt with it. Whether it warrants my enthusiasm remains to be seen.

Now if S&W would do that on an L-frame (or even bring back the 646), especially with a Ti cylinder, I’d be all over it.
The magazine was probably, Shooting Times. They tended to run such articles. But you're right: they'd probably end things well before either gun showed any superiority. Don't want to upset either advertiser, as you said.

But such tests, if honest, can tell you that both guns lasted okay within the test limits.

And the separate tests where Wiley Clapp tested six (?) GP-100's to see how they all fared and with which ammo were impressive.
Such articles gave me great confidence in the GP-100.

I don't like the tendency to call Rugers "tanks." They 're tough, but that label causes many to abuse the guns with excessive use, often with very hot loads.

Look at the photo of the worn barrel throat/forcing cone in this thread. That's what a lot of light bullet, high velocity ammo does to a gun that is fired excessively. One of the Ruger boards, I think Ruger.net, had a photo of a GP-100 that actually suffered a cracked barrel throat. I shudder to think of how much shooting with really hot loads produced that effect. Maybe it's a macho thing with some shooters to push the envelope.

If one must shoot that much, get several guns and spread out the use.

There have probably been no valid empirical tests to determine S&W vs. Ruger durability. BUT...when I was writing about guns, I was told by several persons at ammunition manufacturers that they tested ammo in Rugers, because they lasted a lot longer. I think that says a LOT about the matter.

No one wants to speak on record and I was asked not to name these companies, as they don't want to incur S&W's wrath. But I believe what I was told.

Even a tank has limits. It can be destroyed by another tank, an A-10 or helicopter, or a rocket launcher. Don't abuse either brand and the gun will probably outlast the shooter, although I think they might require repair for cylinder endshake or timing issues.

Based on my handling of many used revolvers, I think these problems will occur more in S&W guns. And they occur much sooner if the gun is fired routinely with ammo meant for serious purposes, not for casual range use. If you can afford to shoot a LOT, get extra guns and spread out the wear.
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Old Yesterday, 04:16 PM
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I'll say this first I'm here and not on the Ruger forum because I like S&W better, I like the trigger better and I like the finish better. I do a bit of long range revolver shooting and the single action trigger pull of a Smith cannot be bested by a Ruger (unless you had an old model unconverted Blackhawk). I am not a fan of the IL and I won't buy a brand new S&W because of it. I do own some IL revolvers that I bought used. They function okay but they wouldn't be my first choice. They are usually the first to get traded in on a prelock.

I am not worried much about the durability of either revolver. I own many revolvers and I don't shoot any of them enough for this to be an issue. The only plus I my book with a GP-100 is the 10mm and .327 Federal. The going rate of older S&W revolvers factory chambered in these calibers should be some indication of the demand. If I wanted a 10mm or .327 Federal, both of which I do like, I would go to Ruger for sure.
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