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compact lightweight revolver in .357- or .44mag

Discussion in 'Handgun Discussion' started by Blane67, Oct 5, 2014.

  1. Blane67

    Blane67 columbia gorge Active Member

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    Can somebody school me on who makes a quality packable (light) revolver in .357, or .44mag. Looking to trade my ruger gp 100, (too heavy for me to comfortably pack), for something I can comfortably wear while hunting... much appreciated, Blane
     
  2. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    Defensive use?

    Hunting?

    Coup de grace?

    I have a Taurus titanium Tracker in .357 Mag.

    Comfortable to shoot - ported and spongy ribbed grips, although the trigger leaves a bit to be desired.

    Problem with it was the cylinder gap was less than 0.01" which caused it to lockup after 50 rounds. I like it, but I would never depend on it for self-defense. Taurus quality is just too hit and miss.

    I have a S&W 329 PD in .44 Mag, and I like it better, the quality is better IMO, and it will handle max OAL cartridges whereas the Taurus ti .44 Mags will not - but the price is considerably higher than the Taurus revolvers. You get what you pay for.

    It is about the same weight as the .357 Mag and IMO more flexible.

    However...

    The recoil - one word - WOW!

    If you are recoil shy with handguns, this is probably not the gun for you. I would strongly recommend trying it out before you buy it. If you want to try mine and you have a range to go to near Hillsboro, we could maybe arrange something if you can't find a shop that will let you try before you buy.

    I am down to 165 and 180 grain Hornady Critical defense before I got to where I could shoot a cylinder full without the recoil being objectionable, and still you will know that you shot a .44 Mag in a very lightweight revolver.

    With std. .44 special 240 grain it is still a heavy recoiler.

    I shot it once with a high power 300 grain Barnes bear defense load - once.

    It is a keeper, but I will have it ported (probably a "hybrid" Schuemann type port job) and some action work done and I will get the S&W X type Hogue grips. I tried the Hogue grips that come with it, but they are too stiff. I tried some Pachmayrs but they were only a little better. It needs some ribbed grips like Hogue made for Taurus.
     
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  3. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    If you want a very light .357 revolver, then a S&W 340pd Airlite .357 Magnum would fit the bill nicely.
    Easy to carry, but not much fun to practice with, unless you have a grip of steel.
     
  4. Blane67

    Blane67 columbia gorge Active Member

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    Great info, thank you gentlemen!...Basically looking to keep the bears at bay, shot a buddies airweight (i think) at one time in .357, had quite a bite- first shot was a shocker, but found it managable...his 500 smith was more pleasant to shoot for sure, thanks again...Blane
     
  5. SynapticSilence

    SynapticSilence Battle Ground, WA Well-Known Member

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    I had a 4" Ruger SP101 in .357 that was a great pack/trail gun. Nowhere nearly as bulky or heavy as the GP100 but still ran full load .357s with no major problems and the 4" barrel was enough to get good velocity out of the round. Recoil was also relatively good. You get five rounds instead of six, but if it isn't done in two, you'll probably be out of time anyway. Only sold it because I chose to go with my S&W Model 29 .44 Magnum instead. Good luck!
     
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  6. Blane67

    Blane67 columbia gorge Active Member

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    Yes...been looking at the sp101 in 4" about 28oz compared to around 40 for the gp100, agreed if the first two don't do it you probably don't need the other three...love the model 29, have a flawless 29-2 in 4" never been in a holster, bought the stainless gp for a packer...just too heavy- well prob pack it tomorrow, off work for early muzzle loader elk. out last two mornings, no elk...lots of bear sign though, thanks...Blane
     
  7. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    +1 For the Ruger SP101, 4"! Strong and compact and, I think, comfortable to fire.
     
  8. BillM

    BillM Amity OR Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I prospected/hunted/camped for years when I was younger. Carried a Charter Arms
    Target Bulldog .357. Not that bad to shoot, 4" barrel and adjustable sights. Weight
    was under 20 oz.
     
  9. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Any handgun is a poor bear stopper, and the .357 simply isn't enough, the short barrel saps the inherent power as well
     
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  10. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    That is true, I was thinking more of a kick around outdoors gun. I'm not worried about bears, it's people that I'm leery of when in the woods! The .357 lives or dies by velocity. For serious business I want a six inch barrel.
     
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  11. The Heretic

    The Heretic Oregon Well-Known Member

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    I owned an SP101 snubby - really liked the modular robust design, but the barrel was too short, significant recoil and blast. I think in 4" it would probably be much better, especially if it was ported, but I don't have personal experience to confirm that.

    I also owned a blued CA Bulldog Pug in .44 Special. It was okay - wasn't particularly impressed by the design though.

    I carried both as knock around coupe de grace handguns in the woods. I wanted something light but powerful enough - administering a coupe de grace to a deer with a .22 rimfire is just sloppy - it took multiple shots (granted, I was probably shooting in the wrong place).
     
  12. Blitzkrieg

    Blitzkrieg WA Well-Known Member

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    Even 3 inch barrels are way better
     
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  13. Joe13

    Joe13 NW of Vancouver Opinionated & Blunt Bronze Supporter 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I love my 6" GP100;)

    I can understand the weight issue I guess but for me it's a nice backup to my hunting rifle while out in the woods.

    I like the heft and option to shoot a deer while my pants are around my ankles or some other scenario where I may not have my rifle within arms reach.

    I'd be interested to hear more about lightweight .357's as I'm looking into one for EDC.
     
  14. Sgt Nambu

    Sgt Nambu Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    A family friend has an SP101, 3" that I helped her buy. She shoots it just fine and I've always been impressed with how sturdy and well made/designed it is. Not a bear gun though! If "keeping the bears at bay" is a primary concern better go with the S&W .500 and live with the weight.
     
  15. SynapticSilence

    SynapticSilence Battle Ground, WA Well-Known Member

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    The nice thing about the Ruger SP101 is that almost anyone can completely disassemble the revolver, replace the stock springs with custom weight Wolff springs, do some basic polishing, and other minor fine tuning that turns an ok trigger into a really good trigger. And get it back together again with relative ease. The Ruger trigger group isn't hidden behind a faceplate with lots of screws and finely mated surfaces just waiting to be buggered up, but drops down from the bottom of the frame complete with the trigger guard by just removing the grips, taking pressure off the hammer spring by cocking it, and depressing a pin. It even comes with a small brass pin inside one of the grips to use in keeping the hammer spring from retensioning. Ruger designed guns this way just for the user. There are some great videos out there on just how to do all of this and Wolff sells custom spring lots with everything you need. That and some Flitz or Mothers Mag Polish and you'll have an excellent revolver that's way better than the original, not that the original sucks or anything. And since the SP101 and the GP100 share the same basic mechanics, if you can do one you can do the other. I did this with mine, and I'm no great gunsmith.
     
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  16. jbett98

    jbett98 NW Oregon Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    I like the looks of the original security Six over the SP 101's, and the above post is spot on about how user friendly these revolvers are.
     
  17. SynapticSilence

    SynapticSilence Battle Ground, WA Well-Known Member

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    Just remember to disassemble the trigger group in a plastic bag or something similar. I think it's the tiny pawl spring that, when it decides to escape, will launch itself into an alternate universe. I only found mine the first (and last) time that happened after over an hour looking because the Pomeranian happened to look up at me with the spring stuck to her nose. Live and learn.
     
  18. MikeE

    MikeE Portland Well-Known Member

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    Kramer makes great IWB holsters for both the GP100 and the SP101. In cool weather , i can carry my 3" GP100 without any problem.
     
  19. pdxjazz

    pdxjazz Portland Active Member

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    For woods I carry a Ruger Speed Six, just slightly heavier than the SP101. The barrel is only 2.75" but that really doesn't concern me as I don't use magnum rounds. Buffalo Bore developed an excellent outdoor load in .38 Special that should give you enough penetration for most beasts you will encounter. Their "Outdoorsman" is a hard cast 158 gr. +P Keith style semi wadcutter. BB claims their Outdoorsman will penetrate a bears skull using 2" barrel revolvers and safe to use in lightweight snubs as they won't jump crimp. If your not worried about bears, they also make a standard pressure hard cast 150 gr. full wadcutter that would work well in the lighter frame carry snubs. I also think these are perfect for urban carry in 2" or less snubs where JHPs may not work so well.

    But if you decide to step up to a 4" or longer .357 magnum, they also make a full power 180 gr. hard cast LFN (it will jump crimp in lightweight .357 revolvers). This one will travel at just under 1,400 fps out of a 4" barrel. Most of the other well known manufacturers also make some sort of 180-200 gr. hard cast.

    Disclaimer: Never actually tried shooting a bear in the head with my Speed Six nor do I hope to.
     
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  20. chickenfarmer

    chickenfarmer dayton, or Member

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    Funny to find this thread since I have been thinking of this today. Looking for something to carry while hunting and backpacking. Especially since running into a couple of rattlers this weekend while deer hunting. I have been thinking bout the SP 101 myself. Someone told me the shotshells were hard on the barrel does anyone know if this is true?