Originally Posted by ZachRome
I've never owned a revolver and dont really know a lot about them but I would really like to pick one up for my next purchase. What would be a good choice for my first revolver. Mostly for plinking and target practice (don't want a 22)
Wow, talk about your open question. Revolvers are a big diverse world.
DA or SA? I prefer DA's myself, but I understand the appeal of a well done SA.
Caliber? As mentioned, .38/357 is probably your best option for informal plinking and such. At least from the value/versatility standpoint, if .22 is to not be considered. Reloading does broaden one's options a lot more, however.
New or used?
The used market has some truly excellent out-of-production options as well as some excellent values. Since revolvers have generally been relegated to second fiddle with the emergence of semi-autos taking over the world, there are a lot of low mileage treasures floating around out there.
Used K-frame S&Ws are relatively common and there are still good prices to be had. They have earned a reputation for exceptionally smooth DA triggers. They were pretty much the standard by which all others are judged. N-frames- Older S&W 27s were never especially cheap, they were a premium model set to compete directly against the Colt Python. While used prices were cheaper than the Colt they have been climbing recently. The Model 28 aka, Highway Patrolman is the 27's less highly polished brother. All the N-frame goodness but at a price that LE agencies good justify at that time. N-frame S&Ws are extremely strong (the N frame was initially used for big bore cartridges, (e.g. .45 Colt , .44 special/mag.) and still quite refined. L-frame (586, 686 and others) - Designed to to be more durable than the K-frame but still be lighter than the N-frame. Came out in the early 80s (IIRC), while very good revolvers, they never really seem to get the level same respect as the older designs. IMHO, somewhat unfair, but since the purists aren't terribly interested in them, they are a good used value.
Ruger Security Six - Overlooked for a long time, but built like a tank and IMHO, attractive...in a more old school way.
Dan Wesson - Not as overlooked as they used to be, but diligent searching might still turn up a deal. As accurate & durable a revolver as you will ever find. Popular in the 80s for Metallic Silhouette competition.
Colts - Pythons are nice, but stupidly overpriced anymore. Hunt down a first generation Colt Trooper .357. Affectionately referred to by some as the "poor man's Python." Same lockwork/frame, without the pretty barrel or the high polish. Still can be found at something resembling reasonable pricing. The later Troopers are excellent as well, though they have the newer design internals. Common wisdom is they give up a bit of refinement for better durability. Though, all Colts typically have nice actions as a general rule.
No-brainer new options:
The aforementioned Ruger GP-100.
Smith & Wesson 686.
Both very good options.
FWIW, I own a a Colt Python and a Dan Wesson 15-2. Both are lovely However, my favorite revolver is my S&W 627 PC. Yes, more than the 686, but sweet. Well worth the extra $.
Like I said, so many options. And tons of opinions. Enjoy the hunt.