SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Defensive carry handguns.
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the925life
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SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby the925life » Sun May 31, 2015 9:24 pm

I am considering picking up my first revolver in the near future. I'm not a revolver guy per se, but I would like to own a quality specimen at some point. I would OC it when in the woods but CC would be rare to never so I'm thinking 3" minimum.

Other than handling each to see which feels best in hand, how should I decide which model to pick up? What factors do I consider? Is the Colt worth the extra cheddar? How important is the extra round in the 686+ to you?

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Nathan » Sun May 31, 2015 9:31 pm

You don't buy a Python to carry; they are historic and should be preserved. The 686 is in my opinion the finest service revolver available today, bar none. They are tuned enough to be smooth (for a service revolver) without being delicate and are as rugged as they come. I own them in all configurations 686 and 686+ in 2.5", 4" and 6".
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Nathan » Sun May 31, 2015 10:38 pm

The forum logo (on a computer and some tablets) is my 2.5" 686+. With the warmer weather and lighter clothing it is my current daily carry. Seven rounds of 180gr SJHP .357 Magnum is quite reassuring.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby yankeejib » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:11 am

I will concur and differ (with Nate's future response to this post).
The 686 is an awesome gun. Best trigger of anything I own. I bought one with a 6" barrel, 7 shooter, so it's not really a carry gun. I can do it, just not so easy, and the barrel sticks out of the bottom of my shorts, but it handles .357 loads extraordinarily easy, is quite accurate (with the longer barrel, of course), I did I mention that sweet trigger.
I have an SP101 as well with a 2 3/4 barrel, and it gets carry rotation. Nate will go into his "cast vs. forged" construction argument, but all I can say about it is I've shot the crap out of it, and it feels great in my hand, and doesn't whack your hand too bad with heavier .357 loads. I like it much better than my little j-frame Smith and Wesson. I put Hogue grips on it and a Big Dot on the front.
IMO, if you already have your carry needs covered by a semi-auto, and you're wanting to get into wheelies, the 686+ is the place to start. Buy once, cry once.

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Nathan » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:40 am

Nah, I only go into the "cast vs. forged" explanation when someone suggests the Ruger is more durable because it's "built like a tank". At that point I need to explain that it has to be built heavier to offer equal strength because it is cast instead of forged like the Smith. Both are equal strength; the Ruger is bulkier due to being cast.
That said, I've nothing bad to say of the Ruger. I simply believe the Smith is superior.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby 1813Anschutz » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:01 am

My sentiments exactly Nathan!! That is why I have a whole herd of S&W revolvers and no Rugers.......

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby samuelrp » Mon Jun 01, 2015 10:46 am

Another vote for the Smith. This is a rhetorical question.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby hkguy » Mon Jun 01, 2015 3:35 pm

I own a GP100 4" .357, S&W 642, S&W PC 625, S&W 617, and a S&W 686. for what you want, i would get a 4 in 686 or GP100. There are many other 4 in models in the ruger and S&W N/K frame lines to consider but ill stick to what you have mentioned. I would skip colt unless you can get a good deal on a MKIII Patrollman. A Python is going to set you back roughly $2k and all they really had going for them was a better twist rate back in the day. they are a PIA to do a trigger job on and there are very few people that do them.


You can to equally as nice of trigger jobs on both rugers and smiths, but it is easier to do them on a smith. You will be happy with either one, i chose ruger because i got a brand new GP100 for $400 and i could not find a used 686 for that price.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Hand and Steel » Mon Jun 01, 2015 4:16 pm

Out of those listed I would suggest the SP101, but have you considered a GP100? They are available with 3", 4" and 6" barrels. Personally I find the revolvers with 3" barrels point the best.

I certainly can't speak to how any of these might feel in your hands, but to me the Rugers handle better than the Smith. They are also very easy to disassemble for detail cleaning, and are free of the lawyer lock.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Nathan » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:11 pm

hkguy wrote:A Python is going to set you back roughly $2k and all they really had going for them was a better twist rate back in the day. they are a PIA to do a trigger job on and there are very few people that do them.
I will cry foul on this one comment. I'm the most anal trigger snob you will ever meet. There is nobody in the world as hard to please as am I in regards to triggers. I own many guns purchased specifically for the trigger, and I have never felt any action or trigger anywhere near as smooth and crisp as is a Colt Python trigger and action (including my beloved P&R Smiths which are dang awesome too, but still the Python is just a touch better). I cannot speak for the later production Pythons (90s) as I have never handled one, but all previous versions were as smooth as smooth gets and that's right out of the box.

Now if you really want something you have to feel to believe, get trigger job on a Python. I held Lazy H's python a few months ago and working the trigger was almost sexual. I have never in my life felt a trigger or action truly comparable. One day he's going to sell me that Python; he just doesn't yet know it. :D


You can to equally as nice of trigger jobs on both rugers and smiths, but it is easier to do them on a smith.
You are talking about "equal" between the Smiths and the Rugers but not comparing either of them to the Python, right? Just for clarity.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby the925life » Mon Jun 01, 2015 6:22 pm

Hand and Steel wrote:Out of those listed I would suggest the SP101, but have you considered a GP100? They are available with 3", 4" and 6" barrels. Personally I find the revolvers with 3" barrels point the best.

I certainly can't speak to how any of these might feel in your hands, but to me the Rugers handle better than the Smith. They are also very easy to disassemble for detail cleaning, and are free of the lawyer lock.


I briefly considered the 4" GP100 but an extra $70 I can get a 686+. To me an extra ounce and one less round requires a bigger discount. Maybe I could find a better deal on the private/used market but I haven't looked around yet. If I find a deal I'd give the GP100 more consideration.

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby hkguy » Mon Jun 01, 2015 7:50 pm

Nathan wrote:
hkguy wrote:A Python is going to set you back roughly $2k and all they really had going for them was a better twist rate back in the day. they are a PIA to do a trigger job on and there are very few people that do them.
I will cry foul on this one comment. I'm the most anal trigger snob you will ever meet. There is nobody in the world as hard to please as am I in regards to triggers. I own many guns purchased specifically for the trigger, and I have never felt any action or trigger anywhere near as smooth and crisp as is a Colt Python trigger and action (including my beloved P&R Smiths which are dang awesome too, but still the Python is just a touch better). I cannot speak for the later production Pythons (90s) as I have never handled one, but all previous versions were as smooth as smooth gets and that's right out of the box.

Now if you really want something you have to feel to believe, get trigger job on a Python. I held Lazy H's python a few months ago and working the trigger was almost sexual. I have never in my life felt a trigger or action truly comparable. One day he's going to sell me that Python; he just doesn't yet know it. :D


I am not talking from the factory. A factory python may very well have the best production trigger on a revolver made. Im talking if you want a trigger job preformed on a python, they are many times more difficult to complete due to the complex lock work involving a leaf spring. there is many more hours that go into hand fitting the leaf spring (ie mainspring) than compared to a S&W or ruger. shit for $30 i can buy a drop in spring kit for most S&W N/K frames and improve the trigger in less than 30 minutes. in 60 minutes i can do the same and polish/stone the engagement surfaces. Same for Rugers.

since you dont believe me, here is some light reading on python trigger jobs.
http://www.trapshooters.com/threads/red ... ch.101734/

You or i could do a decent job stoning the engagement surfaces on a ruger or a smith. Honestly though, most just polish the engagement surfaces and drop in a reduced power spring kit that anyone with time, patients, and youtube can do.


You can to equally as nice of trigger jobs on both rugers and smiths, but it is easier to do them on a smith.
You are talking about "equal" between the Smiths and the Rugers but not comparing either of them to the Python, right? Just for clarity.

correct, if i were to rank them in order of difficulty to improve the trigger (Ie. do a trigger job) it would be colt, ruger, and smith as the easiest.
Last edited by hkguy on Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby hkguy » Mon Jun 01, 2015 8:25 pm

Just so we are clear, I like both ruger and Smiths.

I just picked up a brand new 6" full lug 686 for less than $650 :D Then there is the PC 625, 617, and 642
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a couple of vids of me running the GP100.



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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby the925life » Mon Jun 01, 2015 9:28 pm

Alright so what about a Model 66? K frame, not L like the 686 correct? Harder to find I'm sure. Would it be any less durable with a lighter frame or is that mostly a non-issue? I want this to handle full house loads.

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Nathan » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:09 pm

All S&Ws handle full loads. It hurts like a bitch, but I shoot full potential 180 grain SJHP .357 Magnum loads in my scandium two finger J-Frame as well.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Nathan » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:12 pm

The 66/19 are absolutely beautiful options as well. They don't soak up recoil like the 686 does but it's not bad at all.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby the925life » Mon Jun 01, 2015 11:45 pm

Nathan wrote:All S&Ws handle full loads. It hurts like a bitch, but I shoot full potential 180 grain SJHP .357 Magnum loads in my scandium two finger J-Frame as well.


True indeed. 340PD is no picnic.

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby lazyh » Tue Jun 02, 2015 6:29 am

I'll leave it to you in my will Nathan. I have quite a few years on you so hang in there!

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Nathan » Tue Jun 02, 2015 7:43 am

lazyh wrote:I'll leave it to you in my will Nathan. I have quite a few years on you so hang in there!
I suppose this is a far better choice than my other option, robbing you at gunpoint to take it. :D

...I'm honored. Yours truly is the single finest trigger I've ever felt in my life.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby 1813Anschutz » Tue Jun 02, 2015 10:59 am

Colt Pythons have a fabulous trigger, the biggest problem is that they don't stay fabulous for very long. It is not uncommon for a Colt Python to need re-timing in under 2000 rounds. Pythons have also gotten too valuable to even think about shooting it.

My local gunsmith on S&W revolvers guarantee's his work for 100,000 rounds and I can take them to the range and shoot the heck out of them and not worry that I have destroyed any collector value.

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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby Hand and Steel » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:32 pm

the925life wrote:Alright so what about a Model 66? K frame, not L like the 686 correct? Harder to find I'm sure. Would it be any less durable with a lighter frame or is that mostly a non-issue? I want this to handle full house loads.


K frames can handle full power loads, but they developed a reputation several decades back for not being able to handle prolonged use with hot cartridges, breaking forcing cones and suffering other high-mileage related problems after some thousands of rounds of .357. I do not know whether modern K frames still have this problem, but I believe that the 686 was developed specifically as an answer to this challenge.

The GP100, which I personally feel is the best production revolver on the market, was also built specifically with the intention of being able to handle many thousands upon thousands of full power magnum cartridges without faltering.
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Re: SP101 or S&W 686(+) or Colt Python

Postby 1911junkie » Mon Jul 27, 2015 6:53 am

I am using a Ruger LCRX 3" for carry more and more each day. Not sure if it is offered in .357 or not. I am OK with the +P so no problem.
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