Ruger vs S&W Revolvers

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varminter22

Single-Sixer
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Nov 13, 2007
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Lucky for ALL manufacturers they don't have to rely on competitive shooters for a big part of total sales.
True enough!

But it does speak volumes about quality, durability, shootability, etc, etc.

One particular make/model is never the best for every possible use.
 

eveled

Hawkeye
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Apr 3, 2012
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5,610
I've always considered my myself a Ruger guy, mostly because I love single action revolvers. I have accumulated more S&W double action revolvers. All J frames or N frames.
 

gnappi

Blackhawk
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Jul 4, 2023
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Florida
Interesting thread. I can understand the Ford vs Chevy, etc, etc debates. Much is based on personal preference.

But I had to opine on this one. In reference to teasing S&W guys "that folks who USE their gun choose Ruger and people who LOOK AT their guns buy S&W...", well, that makes good banter and chuckles.

But in reality, real DA revolver competition shooters use S&W exponentially more than Rugers. And it's easy to verify. Look at ANY USPSA or ICORE match; you MAY find one Ruger shooter.
Way back in the late 70's I started shooting bullseye with a S&W mod 52 .38 and started getting into PPC with a Security Six.

A local gunsmith who was also heavily involved in both games told me...

"Bullseye is a game that if you want to be competitive you use a .45, the scoring advantage of the .45 can't be beat with a .38, as far as PPC and other revolver competitions goes no major championship has ever been won with anything but a S&W gotta be a reason why".

It didn't take long for me to prove him right as my skills got better and I moved to S&W revolvers and Colt 1911's in .45.
 

contender

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Varminter22 has made a valid point about competition shooters in USPSA & ICORE using mostly S&W revolvers. In general,, that brand is preferred by the majority in those competitions.
But he left out the IHMSA competition shooters.
In that,, the Rugers as well as Dan Wessons along with some S&W handguns ALL are used more often. But many a champion AND casual shooters use a lot more Rugers there than S&W.

As a USPSA shooter (over 25 years),, AND a revolver class shooter,, let's look at these numbers a bit. In USPSA,, with a membership of about 50,000 competitors,, the majority of them use some form of semi-auto. Revolver shooters are a VERY small percentage of the actual regular competitors in USPSA. So it's not a good place to use that competition as an example. ICORE is about revolvers.
And yes,, the larger percentage of shooters use S&W revolvers. But let's look at history & why. First off, S&W was building DA revolvers long before Bill Ruger even started building any guns. Decades before. And yes,, they do have a smooth action, and while many tout the faster lock time,, FEW people can gain any advantage because of that.
Next, look at the approach to marketing.
For many years,, S&W offered a DA revolver that used moon clips,,(in .45 acp,) and that equates to SPEED in a game such as ICORE or USPSA. Then they also introduced the 8-shot DA revolver in .9mm. Again,, it uses moon clips, and again,, speed.
Ruger didn't have any comparable DA revolver in their line. Naturally everybody used S&W's. Besides,, a .9mm ESPECIALLY a minor power factor load,, isn't the same at all as a .44 magnum in a IHMSA type of competition.
But let's look at Bullseye & PPC shooting. MANY Rugers were used in these types of competitions, and won in good hands. A well tuned Ruger was & still is competitive there.
Ruger has never invested a lot into the competition arena when it comes to their models. Yes,, they finally did add the Super GP100 in .9mm & .38 cal. The .9mm has been dropped currently,, but could come back. I currently use a Ruger Super GP in ,9mm (thanks Kevin,) and enjoy it. Yes,, it's in the minority of competition revolvers,, but I sure do get a LOT of positive comments & offers to sell it.

While speed competitions are a fun thing, and much more common nowadays,, revolvers are not the first choice of most competitors. As such,, in marketing,, you build a product that sells a LOT. Sadly,, DA revolvers are not selling as many or as quickly as semi-autos.

So, yes,, S&W does enjoy the top spot in speed games in the DA revolver line.

BUT,,, let's look at a whole different thing. Real world users. Ruger SA revolvers are THE gun everybody compares others to. Yes,, Freedom Arms is considered the top of the line,, but the working man's gun and the one type of revolver used most often for hunting, customizing, and specialty shooting is Ruger.

Bill Ruger focused his efforts on the SA line long before trying the DA line. And he got that right. S&W can not touch Ruger in the SA line. In fact,, they haven't even tried.
S&W DA's for hunting & competition have a long history of needing "rebuilding" of some things after a lot of use. Rugers suffer MUCH less of that kind of necessary work.

Throw in all the custom gun building gunsmiths, that focused mostly on Rugers to build the bigger, more powerful calibers,, all use Ruger SA's as their base gun. Much more often than any S&W DA revolvers.

In short,, BOTH S&W and Ruger have their market share for specific purposes. But to defend one brand over another based upon a narrow spectrum of types of shooting is not a true measure of anything. It's the overall millions of casual shooters & users that drive a market.
 

Star43

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In short,, BOTH S&W and Ruger have their market share for specific purposes. But to defend one brand over another based upon a narrow spectrum of types of shooting is not a true measure of anything. It's the overall millions of casual shooters & users that drive a market.
Contender, as usual you explained it all as thoroughly as could be. And it all makes complete sense. I particularly liked your last 4 paragraphs about the "real world" and what is used and measured against now. In Those four paragraphs explaining Bill Ruger's efforts and focus on the SA line nail it right on the head. I have thought over the years, not too much, but once in a while, why S/W never got into the SA line...because they can't touch it & they don't even want to try to compete there with Ruger !! 👍👍
 
Joined
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Ruger, S&W or Colt comes to a Ford, Chevy/GMC or Ram decision. I've owned all three and wish I never sold any of them. Just saw one of the limited edition N-frames from the 80's that I owned and its now auctioning at $2500....same with a couple Colts I liquidated foolishly. I have a few "seasoned" Rugers than now have very nice and predictable triggers from many live rounds honing the actions. The S&W's and Colt's, in my experience, start that way from the factory. Don't think you can go wrong with any of them. The only revolver concern I've had is with S&W model 610's. I had a couple starting to display flame cutting on the inside of the top strap above the cylinder gap. Again, rather than reaching out to S&W with the concern, I liquidated them and regret it to this day. My interested in revolvers has been reborn, but might be short-lived with the current prices! I have a blued Redhawk that I was being preparing for hunting, but I'm debating if that is wise based on the lack of new blued models being offered by Ruger.....is this the next "common" handgun to triple in price? Guns and reloading components are becoming a better investment than Bitcoins....LOL
 

contender

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Being a bit of a history buff,, and studying different things, it's easy to see that humans are all different, and each one has their preferences. Often, one brand or model of whatever product is "better" to some than others. Ford, Chevy or Dodge? Ginger or Mary-Ann? Ruger or S&W?
But given a long enough history,, of real world use,, you can uncover a pattern of preferences & WHY a certain type of something may be preferred over something similar. It just takes a bit of studying,, and applying your own needs & desires to go with what's available out there.

As for "Guns and reloading components are becoming a better investment than Bitcoins",, that's a whole different process. But,,, then again,, not as much as you may think. Gold & silver are being discussed in another thread. But the everyday average guy or girl,, will need a lot of very basic things if,, gosh forbid,, the economy collapses or whatever. Heck,, just look at Ukraine, or the Gaza strip, etc where sudden war has created a high demand for basics. Food, water, shelter, medical supplies, suddenly become the most important things you need. Bitcoin will be worthless to the average guy. Gold will be hard to use as an exchange medium. Silver will be easier,, but again, not quite as easy. But guns, ammo, and such,, priceless for self preservation AND can be used for barter.
 
Joined
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Contender said it well. BARTER would be the medium of exchange if TSHTF. Imagine all electronic banking systems are shut down. No more credit/debit card usage. Would paper currency be valuable? Maybe, maybe not.

How many minutes (or hours) of work would it take, as barter, to purchase a loaf of bread? Who would grow and mill the wheat? Who would bake that bread? What would be the source of power for those ovens? What kind of work would be perceived as having value with which to barter? Manual labor - skilled, semi-skilled and brute.

Our world would return to its fundamentals in a hurry.

Those who live/work on farms would be most likely to survive. Quakers and other "horse and buggy" clans would survive. Blacksmithing would come back into fashion as an honorable profession. Horsemanship would again be an essential skill. So would the manufacture of gunpowder and extraction of lead.

Farfetched? I dunno. There are always rumors of how easy it would be to attack our electric power grids. Shut down the electricity grids and modern society shuts down pronto. And there's a growing possibility that leftists would selectively shut down electronic banking for anyone (like me) who posted politically unacceptable views. [Only good news is that there would be no internet to use as a "Big brother" monitoring tool.]

My grandparents, wheat/cotton farmers, lived and thrived in such an environment in the 1920s. Mike Bloomberg's coders? They'd starve.

Unrealistic? Maybe. But shutting down the power grids and constricting the banking system are each VERY imaginable.
 

hittman

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If paper currency won't work, I doubt carrying in a chunk of gold and chipping off a piece the right "amount" be good either.
 

Star43

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If paper currency won't work, I doubt carrying in a chunk of gold and chipping off a piece the right "amount" be good either.
That's why Gold would not be practical. If the dollar became worthless, to me the default would have to be Silver, and small increments of Silver at that. Silver would work as people know and perceive its value. Also if constitutional silver is used, again people are familiar with that. What would work is what people are acquainted with. Silver to be used in bartering or outright buying would be the best medium....and yes, one would need his guns and ammo to not just protect his Silver, but what is even more valuable to him, his wife and family, and friends. We would definitely need our guns and ammo. Hopefully this whole scenario doesn't happen in our lifetime, but we would be foolish to not think about it and as a good Boy Scout, "To Be Prepared". 🙂👍👍
 

hittman

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Most of the people with gold and silver have it "on paper" which is the circle back thingy making it not available since the banks will be closed, electronic transfers be illegal, etc. ……
 

Star43

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Very true, it is amazing that people are happy with a piece of paper stating they own gold or silver. They think they can "invest" in precious metals and that certificate makes it valid. ..I don't want to get into these 3rd party transfers here as that would a whole new thread......I would never personally participate in something like that, because if the SHTF, that paper certificate you have in your hand is completely worthless. Think of owning Silver as owning a Ruger Blackhawk. You want to be able to hold it see it, handle it, in your own hands......Do you want just a certificate saying you own a Blackhawk ?? You want the real thing, as anything else would be virtual, and in the end, the term "virtual" means it's not real. In bad times things on "the cloud" or on the internet would be basically gone, in my opinion. Make sure what you ""0wn" is what you can access.
 

Star43

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One more thing about the above. I am not a financial planner, and what I mentioned is my own personal thoughts on the matter. You guys do what you want when it comes to these things. For the record, I am not rich and don't even own any gold as I think it is too expensive to buy and not practical. I would rather buy another Single Six preferably in .327 if I had a choice. Back to revolvers, I guess...but one more thing, if the poop hit the fan, one of the most valuable things we would need is "water".....just a thought. 👍 Now, I like Ruger better than S/W.....🙂🙂👍
 

J. Yuma

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Very true, it is amazing that people are happy with a piece of paper stating they own gold or silver. They think they can "invest" in precious metals and that certificate makes it valid. ..I don't want to get into these 3rd party transfers here as that would a whole new thread......I would never personally participate in something like that, because if the SHTF, that paper certificate you have in your hand is completely worthless. Think of owning Silver as owning a Ruger Blackhawk. You want to be able to hold it see it, handle it, in your own hands......Do you want just a certificate saying you own a Blackhawk ?? You want the real thing, as anything else would be virtual, and in the end, the term "virtual" means it's not real. In bad times things on "the cloud" or on the internet would be basically gone, in my opinion. Make sure what you ""0wn" is what you can access.
I bought a SBH and a SRH partly because useful things are more valuable than whatever form of currency you choose.
What's more valuable, a quart of water, or a diamond? If you're in a desert, dying of thirst?
I'm trying to read Adam Smith's Wealth of Nations. The move away from barter to currency was simply because it's difficult to make change for half a cow.
All currency are nothing more than representations of value, or worth.
You can't shoot a deer with a gold coin, but someone may TRADE a SBH for a coin, someone else may trade a SBH and a box of ammo for that same coin. So what's the coin worth?
As an aside, back in the day, gold coins, and their worth, were decreed by the king. NEW COINS were more valuable than OLD, WORN COINS, because NEW, UNWORN COINS WEIGHED MORE.
also:
Crooked kings would issue coins made from less pure gold, resulting in more coins, made with less gold, a form of...wait for it, INFLATION!
 

TINCANBANDIT is back

Single-Sixer
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Dec 2, 2023
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Arizona's Redneck Riviera
Here is my $.02, I like the older S&W revolvers, but the new ones do not compare to the pre-80's revolvers, Whereas Rugers have not declined in quality over the years (in my opinion).
Ruger (Harry H Sefried II) did their home work and built a better mousetrap in my opinion.

I did a write up on my blog 10 year ago about Ruger's 1st double action revolvers...the Six line. I also compared my Security Six to my S&W model 65. Feel free to comment, if I missed anything or got anything wrong.

 

Star43

Buckeye
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I agree about the quality of the older ones compared to today. The last 2 Smiths I saw at gun shops, as I mentioned before in another post, I even asked the clerk if the guns were new or used ?? He just laughed and said they were new. The cylinder play was way too much, and the finish was definitely not what I remember. I am not a Smith guy at all, but I remember quality, and I definitely did not see it these last 2 examples.
 

Onty

Single-Sixer
Joined
Dec 17, 2000
Messages
497
I am not by any means expert on S&W revolvers, but for what I learned, after owning several (K, L and N frames), and handled-shoot dozens of them, -3, -4 and some -5 (those with firing pin on hammer) are in my humble opinion the best; parts manufactured on CNC machines, those critical ones were made from stronger steels, no MIM parts and all were quite nicely fitted. If somebody wants "cream of the crop", the answer is get M29/629 Classic DX. With 1.5" group at 50 yards (each single one verified for noted accuracy before leaving factory) just doesn't get better than that, even from 2-3 times more expensive revolvers.

And this is from the guy who likes Ruger 41 Magnum, 7.5" Bisley, more than any other revolver.
 

buckeyeshooter

Blackhawk
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Nov 8, 2004
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883
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Ohio
I find pinned and recessed Smith and Wessons to be great handguns. I find they have better trigger pulls than Rugers. I also find that the SW Target grips fit my hand perfectly. Rugers are built heavier and I would say stronger but they do not fit my hand and the action feels heavy and is not as smooth. In single actions, I exclusively buy Rugers.
 
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