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Strength wise, I'm not sure between a 617 and an SP101. They're both snubbies that will ride nice on your belt. But the 617 holds 7 rds while the SP101 holds 5. I'd think a better comparison to the 617 would be the 3" barreled GP100 from Ruger.

It you're going to be shooting mainly max or near max loads for the life of the gun and shooting many of them a year then you should be looking at the medium to large framed guns. I'd suggest a Taurus 608 (as its built on the large frame), the Ruger GP100 (or a Redhawk 357 if you can find one used) or a used Smith M27 or 28 as they're 357's built on the N frame.

Brent_Bowser, I'd suggest first deciding what is the intended use of this gun. Once you know what you want to use it for, then you can begin looking at specific models that will fit that idea.

If its to be a smaller, relatively lightweight carry gun then a Taurus M605 or a Ruger SP101 would be a good choice. Even the Ruger won't hold up as long as some medium sized guns to many heavy loads over time. It is still a small frame gun, even though it is the toughest of the bunch. Yes, you can drop the weight more with exotic materials (titanium or scandium) but the gun costs more and the reduced weight increases recoil and in some guns limits the available loads you can use to the bullets removing themselves from the cases due to the sharp recoil.

If you're looking for more of a home defense weapon, trail gun, range gu, larger carry weapon (more weight on the belt and more work to conceal well) then you're looking at a Taurus M65/66, Taurus 357 Tracker, Ruger GP100 (or old Security Six/Speed Six etc), or any Smith K or L frame 357. Some guns in this size range are available with exotic materials. Many guns in this size can be found with adjustable sights so you can set the gun for your preferred load, but some people prefer fixed sights as they effectively can't be damaged.

The medium/compact frame snubbies are a combination of the two categories. They're easier to conceal due to the shorter barrel but they are easier to shoot due to the larger frame (more weight to absorb recoil) and the larger grips (more to hang on to).

Here's something else to think about. Taurus and Smith both use a removable side plate to access the internals of the gun. Ruger does not, both sides of the frame are a solid unit (with the hammer and other stuff between the sides of the frame). This makes the Ruger much stronger. But Smith revolvers were used for the development of the 357 magnum and the 44 magnum so the side plate guns aren't exactly weak either. Most people won't shoot enough of the heavy stuff for this to matter.

And here's a final thought to this lengthy post of mine, many people don't find the perfect gun right away. They end up going through a few different models. Or they find that 1 gun can't do it all for them.

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