Revolver showdown: Python vs. L Frame vs. Speed Six

Who wins the Miculek revolver showdown?

And if you could only have one, which would you prefer to own?

About the author: S.H. Blannelberry is the News Editor of GunsAmerica.

{ 9 comments… add one }
  • john hemeyer December 4, 2017, 12:02 pm

    Years ago, I had the opportunity to special order a then-unseen revolver when S&W factory reps were calling on the Missouri State Highway Patrol in hopes of garnering the bid on new revolvers. The rep said he had not seen one, but knew they would be stainless, .357 magnum, with a barrel shaped like a Python and would be called the “686”. I special ordered a 6″ with a target trigger, target hammer, and ramp front sight . Mine is the 286th one made. I carried the gun on duty for awhile, but the long barrel got in the way and chewed up holsters and uniform pants like crazy. It is one of the most accurate revolvers I’ve ever owned, especially single-action. I agree S&W factory grips are too large on the L-frame for many people, but a set of Hogue Monogrips solved the problem and, after decades of use, proved to be indestructible. I confess that all my S&W’s are from the 60’s, 70’s and 80’s, so I don’t know about the later productions. Prices have changed as well. That special order 686 was less than $300 (police price) delivered.

  • Panzer December 4, 2017, 7:31 am

    I own all three brands. My general opinion of Rugers is they are hell for stout/thick probably because of the fact that except for the barrel, they are made from castings. Deal with it. However their final finish is lacking. I have two Shopkeepers that had to be send back because the frame projected way past the grips leaving a sharp edge. The triggers on most of them are only OK at best. The SP 101 I have is terrible. Bottom line: Almost every Ruger I own required substantial tuning.

    All of my Colts are pre war except for my Python. Fit and finish is super on all of these. Colt is now pretty much out of the revolver business and unless their new Detective Special is a run away success, it could spell the end of Colt revolvers.

    Unless you get a performance center version, the fit, finish, and function is spotty but not nearly as bad as a Ruger. Like everybody else, I detest the side lock. Really? Just a sop to the lawyers. All my S&W’s required tuning but I do that myself. I bought a new S&W 500 last summer and the out of the box trigger was superb. All of the revolvers have their strengths and weaknesses but my observation is the more you pay the more you get. I tune my S&W’s but most of the Rugers I have defy making a marked improvement. That single spring thing is not real conducive to smoothing things out. I own them all, shoot them all, and love them all.

  • Bill September 5, 2017, 10:02 am

    I have had experience with S&W (through all it’s many ownerships) Colt, and Ruger. I currently own all three. But will never buy another S&W product again. No ones credibility, or honesty, can be verified online. I will just add that I was a recreational shooter before becoming a law enforcement officer, NRA certified firearms instructor, and recreational shooter after serving in law enforcement for over thirty two years. I sold my S&W semi-auto this year and have my four S&W revolvers for sale currently.

  • R. L. Kinsner September 4, 2017, 2:15 pm

    To Mr. Oldefart…
    Ok, we get it – you HATE S&W — But, just because they don’t work for YOU, doesn’t mean they should be reduced to the status of a sledge hammer. They simply aren’t yours, or your family’s preference (Gee, you think maybe YOUR influence had anything to do with your family “preferring” Rugers?? Of COURSE it did…). In any case, I personally own 7 S&W wheel guns, 4 Rugers, and 5 Colts. I like/love them all, have learned how to shoot them as they each have different idiosyncrasies and ‘requirements’ – personalities, if you will – But I need to say this: I am 6’0″ tall, about 30 lbs. too heavy for this height, haha, but am 68 years young, a Marine Corps combat veteran of Vietnam (carried a damn M-60 around for 11 months, 19 days and 7 hours, though I wasn’t really counting – got my 2nd wound and was shipped home a month or so early – Woo Hoo!) I tell you this because the previous comment left mentioned he felt that S&W, and other manufacturers make revolvers for people that live in the Land of Giants… My hands are of average size, and I shoot all my wheel guns just fine. But I digress – just because YOU aren’t a fan of S&W, doesn’t reduce their quality, effectiveness, durability, and overall fun-to-shoot-ness. I have preferences, too, my friend, and even though I like my Rugers and Colts, my S&W’s have NEVER failed me or broken – where I have had 1 Colt wheel gun and 2 Rugers that came out of adjustment during firing, or simply flat-out BROKE. Do I rant and rave about them?? Naw, just re-adjusted them, checked tolerances, or simply repaired them. Oh, and BTW, I own .22s, .38s, .38/.357s, .44/.44Mags, .45 LCs in all three makes. Been collecting them since I was old enough to do so, and own large frames, medium frames, small frames, blued, stainless, and parkerized.

    I suppose my whole point is the hard to refute old axiom that ‘One man’s meat is another man’s poison’ (No, I’m not sexest, that’s just always they way I’ve heard or read it). You don’t care for S&W?? No biggee, carry on, buddy, and shoot your Rugers. More power to you – just don’t denigrate a great, super quality company like S&W — Hell, leave ’em alone, and there will be more for me to buy!! Semper Fi, all!

    • Gary Heaton September 5, 2017, 10:41 am

      Well put. I couldn’t agree more.
      As for Rugers, I own a few but they would never be my go to gun in a battle or hunting situation. I have never really found them comfortable to shoot for some reason. But for the price, a good enough gun.
      I have a old K15 S&W combat mag. With a 4″ bbl. Easy to carry, shoots both .38 & .357 great. I have had it for over 30 years. My Python is a great shooter, better than the model 15, but a LOT more gun with it’s 6″ full lug bbl.
      My all time favorite revolver to shoot however is my .41 mag S&W from their custom shop. To ME it is the perfect revolver! It’s a N frame, but feels super. I shoot light loads 90% of the time as I hand load. When I hunt with it, I use full house loads, and at 50 yds off a bench it will shoot either load into half dollar size groups as long as I do my part. It will drop a big NY white tail in it’s tracks if placed right. S&W did a perfect job building that revolver. I plan to be burried with it! 😉
      I shoot autos for bullseye, mainly colts in .45 for center fire. High standard Victor in .22. I have a great .22 Smith as well as a back up, but it’s like New. Never could shoot it as well as the high standard.
      So, buy what fits ya, and Learn to shoot what ever it is like it was born with you, and what it says on the side won’t ever matter to you in the end.

  • mars61 August 7, 2017, 4:16 pm

    L frame S & W is large for anything except outside the belt carry…
    Colt Python is in the same class…too large for daily carry…
    Ruger Speed Six or Security Six is heavy for size but small enough to fill role of belt carry all day everyday with .357 Magnum power performance available and also .38 Special…Ruger is very durable
    The S & W K frame is quite portable…we have decades of proof for this size revolver…S & W were the top of the heap for revolvers until the 1960s….perhaps the fall began during World War II with the need for many handguns and reduction of standards…
    S & W is crawling back into the revolver market..the rebirth of the older Molder 66 .357 Magnum would be a grand step. The introduction of a five shot L frame sized .44 Magnum gives hope that understanding will replace idiot engineers…some ” experts ” claim the average person is 70 inches tall…why are so many pistols and some revolvers are made for a hand that belongs to a man 78 inches tall ? Beretta M9 9mm European American Armory large frame size pistols …the S & W N-frame…ParaOrdnance 14 shot .45 ACP M1911….too thick the handles….too long the trigger reach….and no consideration for a left hand revolver from any company except Charter Arms….perhaps itistime to return to break open revolvers such as the Iver Johnson .32 or .38 and S & W American .44…upgrade the engineering with some intelligence…remove the space between the grip and trigger guard…put a double action cam driven system to work and make it strong enough for a minimum of .357 Magnum… the hand of the market… the K-frame size market…a revolver quick to unload for either hand…a speedloader would be easy……

  • Brad January 18, 2017, 7:26 pm

    Like you, I also prefer Ruger’s. Perhaps because they are generally more affordable and therefore much more abundant. I currently own few Ruger pistols in different varieties, etc.. With the .45 long Colt Vaquero (which I have a polished pair of) hands-down being my favorite pistol of all time. Regardless of the action, effectiveness, etc., I like just about everything about Vaqueros.

    And by the way, the “chap” you are referring to in the above-referenced story is none other than the one and only Jerry Miculek. Mr. Miculek is the virtually undisputed all-time greatest revolver shooter that’s ever picked-up a six-shooter. Not only is he “the” noted expert with revolvers, his life-time list of competitive shooting accomplishments in almost every type of shooting event, with virtually every type/form of firearm are truly unequalled. And on top of all that, he’s truly an extremely nice and honest person, who’s admitted bias towards Smith & Wesson is somewhat warranted since they’ve sponsored Mr. Miculek for over the past 25-plus years.

    So while everybody has their own opinion of what feels the best for their own personal reasons, Mr. Miculek’s opinion, biased or not, should be taken with an appreciable amount of consideration. After all, when it comes to actual hands on experience, few if anyone could honestly compare with Jerry Miculek.

  • Oldefarte January 17, 2017, 4:13 pm

    I’ve owned S&W, Ruger (Security Six, not Speed Six), and Colt. I’m glad this guy declared his prejudice for (and financial interest in) S&W, because I HATE S&W. The only good thing I can say for their revolvers is that, if you miss with all your shots, you can use the things to beat your opponent to death – yeah, heavy, chunky, clunky, uncomfortable to hold, and awkward to shoot given the weight and balance. If it were a sledge hammer, I’d have good things to say about it and that’s the nicest thing I can say about it. The Colt is modestly more “user friendly” but grossly expensive, even compared to S&W (which are over-priced). By contrast, I love my Ruger Security Sixes. They’ve done service in war (officers’ permissive carry), at sea (in its later, stainless version), and in more situations than I can name. It’s accurate, light enough and well balanced enough and ergonomically refined enough that even my wife and daughters like it (it’s my wife’s favorite). Speed and accuracy are at least as good as the other contenders AND it’s the most economical of the three (by a significant amount). So, I’m glad this guy is a loyal S&W flack. Having “eaten their salt”, he’s done his duty by them. For me, however, I’ll never buy another one if there’s any other option available. Ruger, regrettably, in their post-Security Six offerings, have gone a bit too “S&W” for me, losing, in the process, many of the advantages they had over S&W, which now has me going with the Chiappa Rhino (6D), paired with Chiappa’s utterly beautiful (damn near perfect) lever action in .38/.357 (I like my pistol/carbine combos). Bottomline: Different folks like different things in a revolver. This chap is probably sincere in his preferences, but his comparison is less than compelling, uncontrolled for variables (e.g., a tricked out S&W vs. an “out of the box” Colt and a short barreled Ruger which he admittedly seldom shoots), and, in the end, highly idiosyncratic. Fire ’em all, pick the one you like. For my part, S&W isn’t even a contender.

    • Ben December 4, 2017, 11:10 am

      Ruger is a strong solid heavy six gun but not too graceful or sleek on the presentation/carry and here their bulk/weight hinders them. I think their speed 6 was their best defense revolver & I still like it today. Smith has many different sizes/weights and their actions are usually very very good. Smith makes a sleek graceful fast revolver and they are predominately my choice across the board. I don’t have too much experience with Colts but tight now they are very expensive and moving toward collectors items. Their modern New Frontier is however, a very nice hunting revolver for those who would pay that much and take care of its fragile but beautiful finish properly. Their Det a Special will not be a hit. Just pray their custom shops stays open.

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