Revolver With A Purpose:
Reader Recommendations

Reading Your Recommendations
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Last week, I shared the story (“Revolver With A Purpose”) of assisting an older gentleman interested in a multi-purpose .357 Magnum revolver — and boy, did I strike a chord! After asking for your wheelgun recommendations, I received more than 50 emails offering suggestions and kind words.

To summarize for those who may have forgotten or haven’t read it yet, a man living in the rural Colorado foothills came into my retail store seeking a revolver for home defense and backcountry carry. After listening to his needs for something long, but not too long, with a large frame and capacity greater than five rounds, I suggested he look into three specific models — Smith & Wesson Model 686/Plus, Ruger GP100 and Taurus Tracker 627.

Below are some of your responses, as well as additional context about my conversation with the gentleman.

Great Choices

While not everyone agreed, many of you supported my revolver recommendations, even sharing personal experiences with one, two or all three models.

“All three revolvers would have been great woods/house guns that would have helped mitigate the recoil of the .357 and .38 for his wife. I carry the GP100 as a woods gun and a house gun myself.” — Hayden Hodges

“I would have recommended the Taurus after listening to him. I think it would have been his best choice, especially since his wife might shoot the gun.” — Michael Brandt

“You mentioned the S&W 686 Plus but didn’t mention that the Ruger GP100 is also now available in a 7-shot. I had been looking for my perfect .357 for several years and once Ruger released the 7-shot GP100, I had found it.” — Shane Rowden

“I had this same problem myself a few years back. I was hunting and came across a deer up in a tree — obviously a large cat kill. I quickly left that area and went to my local gun store where I ordered the Tracker 4” 7-shot in .357 Magnum. I carried that when hunting for the next 8 years or so. I never had to use it for any cat problems, but it gave me peace of mind.” — Gene Yohannan

“It would be hard for me to pick just one of these wonderful revolvers as I already own one of each. To have to keep one and give up the other two would be like giving up two of my children, or two grandchildren or two great-grandchildren. I love them all. Guess we think somewhat alike in choosing a revolver.” — Harold Roeder

Other (New) Options

Of course, there are many more options than just the three models I recommended. Popular among others suggested were the Ruger SP101, Ruger LCR/LCRx, Colt King Cobra and Smith & Wesson Model 66 Combat Magnum. In fact, I mentioned all of these to the gentleman, but said he preferred a larger frame and 4” barrel as he was not interested in carrying the gun concealed outside his home or woods.

“The SP101 gives up a round in capacity but is much lighter for all-day carry in the backcountry. With a 3” barrel and Hogue rubber grips, it points, handles and absorbs recoil extremely well.” — J. Scott Woods

“I'd personally recommend the Ruger SP101 2" barrel in .357 as my top pick. It only has 5 shots, but is stainless, small, built strong, easy to carry and conceal and is priced right.” — Timothy Baus

“I would have the gentleman look at the Colt King Cobra with the 3” barrel probably more suited to his needs. I can carry these guns all day while doing any kind of outdoors work without feeling encumbered.” — Tom Turtzo

“I would have suggested the Ruger LCR. It has a larger grip and is a nice carry gun for backpacking in the wilderness and our concrete jungle.” — Tim Woodruff

“I have to nominate the perfect all-around S&W Model 66. Cheaper, lighter and a great trigger, if you get the shorter barrel, it can do quadruple duty as a concealed carry revolver.” — Michael Barrett

Other (Older) Options

Personally, I prefer new production firearms over those that are used. Call me a snob. While both can have their problems, I at least know what a gun has been through when I open up a fresh box. However, now is not the time to be picky when searching for a gun, and readers pointed that out, offering up various Smith & Wesson models.

“I have an old S&W Model 10-6. It shoots as well as my 686 Plus. Both have 4” barrels, but the Model 10 is lighter and easier to draw.” — David Neidhardt

“I would suggest a 3” S&W Model 65. It has worked very well for me.” — Dave Hemphill

“I would have recommended searching for a used Model 66 in good condition. In my opinion, this is the most versatile handgun. With a 4” barrel it still concealable and light enough for extended carry.” — David Greene

“One of the most attractive, easily carried, with a wide range of holsters for all occasions, is the Smith & Wesson Model 19. I have carried one for 50 years in Alaska as a pilot. Loaded properly, it is perfect for home defense, plinking, target shooting and survival, plus it’s a real eye-catcher in your gun case.” — Eric Johnson

Other Calibers

Caliber debates are as old as time, so it was no surprise some readers recommended something other than .357 Magnum. Considering the gentleman’s needs, I thought a smaller cartridge would be less than ideal for wilderness protection and a larger caliber too much to handle for both regular target shooting and his wife’s ability. With that said, almost any caliber can get the job done when a gun is loaded with the right ammo for the right situation.

“I would have shown him the Ruger 41. That would have suited his needs.” — Steven Holmes

“I might have suggested something in .44 Special or even a .45 ACP revolver. Both have great stopping power and, to me, feel far less snappy and harsh than the .357 Magnum, particularly given that his wife might be using it as well.” — Terry Kremin

“An 8-shot Smith & Wesson 9mm” — Leigh Baker

Beauty in Options

The same reason selecting a firearm can feel overwhelming also makes the process beautiful. As a gun owner, options are a great thing, and as this example proved, there is no shortage of guns for every purpose — or opinions on which are best.

Thanks to all who emailed and shared their thoughts and recommendations! Feel free to send a follow-up or your own suggestions to [email protected].