The number of first time gun owners has been increasing non stop since the pandemic hit the U.S. in 2020. And while a huge majority of first time gun owners somehow end up purchasing a semi automatic, mostly Glocks, a significant chunk of those people still have a preference for revolvers.
If you think about it, when SIG revolutionized CCWs with the release of their P365 in 2018, revolvers should have gone the way of the dodo. Heck if we go back to the days of the Philippine American War, revolvers should have become extinct when the US Military adopted the M1911 as their standard issue sidearm in 1911. Yet, somehow, they keep clawing their way back into popularity.
Not too long ago, Colt revived their long discontinued legendary snake guns — the Cobra, the King Cobra, the Python, and the Anaconda. Charter Arms hasn’t shown signs of slowing down production of their revolvers.
And just earlier this year at SHOT Show, Taurus unveiled a handful of new exciting big bore hunting revolvers which include their Raging Hunter Model 500 with six variants, and their Raging Hunter Model 460 with two variants.
Surely, 2023 is a great time to be a revolver enthusiast. But as with all other types of firearms, there are revolvers that just make no sense to own. In this topic, I’ll talk about the five revolver models I WOULD NEVER buy.
5: Smith & Wesson Model 340 PD
Unlike some of the other models I’ll talk about later, there isn’t inherently anything wrong with the Smith & Wesson Model 340 PD as far as reliability. Big Blue touts this model as their lightest J frame revolver that is strong enough to handle .357 Magnum levels of pressure, and that is 100% true. In fact, you would be hard pressed to find any wheel gun that is smaller or lighter. You can check all of Smith & Wesson’s competitors’ catalogues. The Model 340 PD is one of a kind.
That’s because Smith & Wesson is the only firearms manufacturer that uses aluminum scandium alloy for their light weight revolver frames. Evidently, Big Blue has a patent for processing scandium to form the scandium aluminum alloy they use for their guns.
The Model 340 PD’s frame is made of scandium alloy while its cylinder is made of titanium alloy. This little wheel gun has no business chambering and shooting factory .357 Magnum rounds, but that is just a testament to Smith & Wesson’s engineering and years of gun making experience.
So if the Model 340 PD is so good, why is it on this list? Well, it’s because of the flinch I developed shooting the damn thing.
The .357 Magnum is powerful and it does kick, but it doesn’t have as punishing of a recoil as its bigger magnum cartridge brothers have when fired from an all steel revolver like a Smith & Wesson Model 66. And its recoil is even more manageable when fired from heavier revolvers like the Smith & Wesson 686.
But the Model 340 PD is an incy wincy little J frame revolver that weighs only about 11.8 ounces. Yes, its scandium alloy is strong enough to handle .357 Magnum pressure levels, but try emptying a box of full power 357 magnum loads in one sitting and you’re in for a world of pain. Palm and wrist pain, that is.
No matter how handy and durable the Model 340 PD is, its light weight makes it one of the most painful handguns you can ever shoot. To me, making it as light as it is, is pointless.
Granted, light weight models are great for concealment because you can lug them around all day without you feeling sore, but Big Blue could have just chambered this Model 340 PD in .38 Special plus P. It may not be as powerful as the .357 Magnum, but it can get the job done too, and without the kick.
But I understand there are masochists among us in the gun community. If you happen to own a Model 340 PD and you’re one of the very few who love the way it recoils, feel free to opine on the matter in the comments section.
4: Röhm Gesellschaft RG10
Very few people these days know what a Saturday Night Special is, especially as it relates to guns. I can be wrong, but if you’re a millennial like yours truly and all you really know about when it comes to guns is Guccifying your Glock, then there’s a pretty good chance you have no idea what a Saturday Night Special is.
I won’t get into it in great detail because it is a pretty broad topic, I think it deserves its own topic. If you want us to make a topic on it, just let us know in the comments. But simply put, a Saturday Night Special is a poorly built handgun made with pot metal, chambered in a rimfire cartridge, and can be purchased brand new for dirt cheap.
The Röhm Gesellschaft RG10 is a perfect example of a Saturday Night Special, though it has to be said that most Saturday Night Specials are semi automatic pistols.
As I said earlier, Saturday Night Specials are made of pot metal, typically zinc alloy or Zamak, or any kind of junk with a low melting point. It is primarily what makes the RG10 a Saturday Night Special. Given how much pot metal was used to build Saturday Night Specials like the RG10, the manufacturer Röhm Gesellschaft must have invested heavily in pot metal processing.
Back in the 1960s when they were first produced, RG10 revolvers were reportedly selling for ten bucks apiece. At the time, the most affordable Smith & Wesson revolvers were going for 60 dollars or so.
The RG10 is a double action revolver chambered in .22 Short and has a six round capacity. Yes, you heard it right, .22 Short. You may think this highly unpopular rimfire cartridge is hard to come by but surprisingly, you can find boxes and boxes of it on popular online ammo retailers like Ammo dot com.
The .22 Short, despite its light bullets moving at low velocities, is still capable of upwards of 80 foot pounds of force at the muzzle, which makes the RG10 more powerful than most non lethal CO2 powered guns so in theory, it should still be better than having nothing. But it has a reputation for being the most unreliable revolver in the world because of its poor use of pot metal.
The pins that hold the frames together are often made of more durable metal than the frames themselves, and with repeated shots, they would vibrate, loosening the holes causing the gun to rattle and affecting the cylinder’s timing. And if you know how a revolver’s cylinder work, an out of time cylinder means it’s only as good as a paperweight.
3: Smith & Wesson Model 350
If you’ve never heard of Smith & Wesson’s new Model 350, don’t worry, there are many of us in the community who weren’t paying attention when Big Blue released it in August of last year.
The Smith & Wesson Model 350 is a new wheel gun that the company built on their monstrous X frame, which makes it the company’s third X frame model, the other two being the Model 500 and the Model 460 XVR. The Model 350 is chambered for a similarly new cartridge, the .350 Legend.
The .350 Legend is a straight walled rifle cartridge developed by Winchester. It is relatively weaker compared to most rifle cartridges, but it’s vastly more powerful than most pistol cartridges.
It was primarily designed for use in some states where specific regulations are in place as far as hunting deer with straight walled centerfire cartridges.
With its 180 grain bullet capable of 2,100 feet per second out of a 20 inch barrel, the .350 Legend is capable of generating 1,762 foot pounds of force at the muzzle, which gives it the necessary firepower to take deer out to a maximum range of 250 yards. But again, that’s out of a 20-inch rifle barrel. By comparison, the Smith & Wesson Model 350’s barrel only measures 7.5 inches.
Looking at the .350 Legend’s ballistics, I can’t help but feel underwhelmed. Out of the Smith & Wesson M350’s 7.5-inch barrel, a 170-grain .350 Legend bullet can reach 1,551 feet per second which equates to a muzzle energy of only 908 foot-pounds of force. That is effectively only half of its ballistic potential.
What a letdown, especially considering the gun’s dimensions and MSRP. Measuring 13.5 inches long, 1.92 inches wide, and 6.375 inches tall, and weighing 71.5 ounces, the Model 350 is humongous, and for $1,599, it isn’t exactly wallet friendly.
By comparison, a Ruger Super Redhawk with a 7.5 inch barrel chambered in .454 Casull costs only $1,469 and is smaller and much lighter with a weight of only 53 ounces.
2: Taurus Model 856 Executive Grade
It wasn’t too long ago when Taurus released their Model 856 Executive Grade. In fact, as of the making of this topic, it has only been nine months since it was released. But it has already managed to gain notoriety online.
A popular YouTube gun channel, The Gun Collective, showed in a topic how a brand new Taurus 856 Executive Grade could fall apart moments after taking it out of the box for the first time and shooting a couple of boxes of ammo through it.
The Taurus 856 Executive Grade wasn’t built for the big bore magnum revolver enthusiast, because it will only safely chamber and shoot .38 Special plus P ammo, nothing more.
It has an MSRP of $689, which, for its value proposition, is a pretty good price. Looking at the revolver’s dimensions, weight, and its bobbed hammer, anyone who knows firearms will quickly assume that it was built for concealed carry. And that assumption would be correct.
Built on Taurus’ small frame, the Taurus 856 Executive Grade is a snub nose revolver that weighs in at 25 ounces unloaded. It is relatively light considering that except for its wood grips, the whole firearm is made of heavy stainless steel. But it’s also for this reason that the Brazillian company decided not to chamber it in anything more powerful than .38 Special plus P.
With a barrel length that measures only 3 inches, the Taurus 856 Executive Grade has an overall length that measures 7.5 inches. Taurus decided to do away with adjustable rear sights and instead use notch style rear sights cut into the stainless steel frame, which gives the 856 Executive Grade an overall height of 4.80 inches.
This makes the revolver shorter than even something as easily concealable as a Glock 43X. But since it is a wheel gun, its 6 shot cylinder measures 1.41 inches wide which still makes it a bit more challenging to conceal.
And lastly, the 856 Executive Grade has a brushed satin finish that does give it that custom gun shop look and feel, not too different from the more expensive Smith & Wesson Performance Center models. There isn’t a single machine mark to be found, but if you know Taurus, you know how they make their guns look beautiful but they tend to use subpar parts or flawed designs?
$689 may seem like a good price, but for that kind of money, I would much rather buy a Police Trade in Ruger Service Six. It’s a proven revolver design that is built like a tank and will happily shoot full power .357 Magnum loads all day without falling apart. And the best thing about it is, it can be purchased for around $550 in mint condition.
1: Korth Classic or Vintage Model
A German firearms manufacturer with a focus on producing luxury offerings, Korth Waffen was established in the early 1950s by railway engineer Willi Korth. Since then, the company has been building superb pistols and revolvers for both civilians and law enforcement, but it was the Korth Combat revolver chambered in .357 Magnum that helped cement its reputation as the maker of the finest revolvers in the world.
Back in the early 2000s, the Korth Combat had an MSRP of $4,700. Among the richest of revolver collectors, there is a presumption that in the race for quality, the Korth Combat will always come first, the Manurhin MR73 will be a close second, and the Colt Python and the Smith & Wesson 686 will both finish a distant third.
Each Korth is constructed over the course of anywhere from three to four months, with all the hand fitting done by a single master gunsmith. And unlike most production revolvers on the market today which use MIM parts, Korth revolver parts are painstakingly hand ground from forged and thoroughly hardened proprietary steel.
And because every Korth revolver is built differently depending on a specific customer’s needs, these revolvers are unmatched in terms of smoothness of function, fit, finish, durability, and accuracy, even after firing well over 50,000 rounds of full power 357 Magnum loads.
But — no matter how good these revolvers are, I never would buy a Korth Combat for $4,700 let alone a Classic or a Vintage model for its current MSRP of NINE GRAND. Even if I win a Powerball grand prize, I still wouldn’t buy one. There are just so many good guns I could buy for that kind of money.
But If you happen to own any Korth revolver model, tell us how you like it in the comments section.