357 magnum revolver

3 Classic Magnum Revolvers That Won't Break The Bank

Anyone who likes old guns and wants a classic .357 Magnum will probably find themselves wanting a Colt Python. Why not? They're beautiful, they're iconic, they're handfitted and are renowned for a trigger that's as smooth as room temperature butter.

All those things also make them ridiculously expensive, as you can expect to plunk down $2,000 or more for one.

Are there any classic revolvers that will work almost as well, still look good and not wreck your wallet? Actually, yes! Here are three worth your attention. You will need a good gun belt if you want to carry, however.

Colt Trooper

colt revolver

The Colt Trooper, initially a bull barrel model of their Officer's Match pistol in .22LR and .38 Special, was launched in 1953 and marketed as a target/training pistol in the former chambering and a budget-friendly service gun in the latter case. Just like the Python, it was built on their medium "I" frame and eventually offered it in .357 Magnum and dropped the .38 Special version in 1963.

The first version was bare bones, with adjustable iron sights for target models or fixed sights in service models, with no ejector rod shroud. The Mark III Trooper was released in 1968, which featured an ejector rod shroud and top rib. There was even a budget model of the Trooper (a budget model of a budget model!) called the Lawman, which was much like the original Trooper in that it wore a bull barrel and lacked an ejector rod shroud.

The Mark III series was discontinued in 1983, replaced by the Mark V series, which only ran for another two years.

Consensus is that the original and Mark V series are the ones to acquire, though they are rarer. The originals had the same internals as the Python but far less in adornment, and the Mark V's improvements (better internal parts) made the gun much more refined compared to the Mark III series. In either case, you can expect to part with about $1,000 at top-dollar. Is it a Python? No...but it's about as close as you get.

Smith and Wesson Model 19

model 19

The Smith and Wesson Model 19 was the answer to the policeman's prayers, according to legend. It was made for .357 Magnum but was smaller and lighter than the N-frame magnum revolver models that S&W made at the time, such as the Highway Patrolman and Registered Magnum revolvers.

S&W were talked into it by Bill Jordan, the legendary lawman, US Marine and shooter extraordinaire, who knew about such things.

S&W has just resumed production, so you can get the new ones or fettle about on the used market for bargains or if you just hate the Hillary holes. In any case, the Model 19 wears adjustable sights but lacks the full-length ejector rod shroud of the Model 586.

It was the standard S&W service gun for the magnum round, just as the Model 10 is/was in .38 Special, and for good reason. Easier to handle than an N-frame, accurate and in the right hands, absolutely devastating. Older models can be found with a nickel finish if desired; the new models are blued steel with walnut.

You won't shoot like Bill Jordan...but you can get the gun he helped design. New models list for about $900; used models generally go for about $500 to about what you'd pay for a new one.

Ruger Security Six

Ruger revolver

Here's a dirty secret. Thing about S&W and Colt revolvers is that they can't handle a regular diet of the hot stuff. S&W revolver cylinders have been known to slightly warp after a few thousand rounds of hot loads (even the N-frame is known for it) and Colt lockwork - including the Python - goes out of time with a few hundred rounds of hot self-defense ammo.

What classic .357 Magnum isn't, though? The Ruger Security Six.

Ruger doesn't mess around with revolvers, as their wheelguns tend to be overbuilt compared to their competitors. "Ruger handload" is a term in reloading manuals for a reason. That durability has endeared the Security Six to a number of people over the years, so if you want a classic magnum that you can shoot a lot...it's the ticket.

There were three trim levels, the Security Six (adjustable sights) the Service Six (fixed sights) and the Speed Six, a round-butt, snubnose model for plainclothes work and/or concealed carry. All models had a partial underlug shroud, so think of it as a smaller Redhawk.

They're tanks, no doubt about it, but handsome in blue steel and wood grips and also quite reasonably acquired as you can pick them up for $500 and up.

Sam Hoober  

About The Author

Born in southeastern Washington State, Sam Hoober graduated in 2011 from Eastern Washington University. He resides in the great Inland Northwest, with his wife and child. His varied interests and hobbies include camping, fishing, hunting, and spending time at the gun range as often as possible.

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