Re: thoughts on a 357
Unless you have a lot of experience with them, I don't believe you will like either one.
A 357 has a fair amount of recoil, and to make it fun to shoot you need a fairly heavy gun. Smith originally put it in the large frame gun (same size as your dad's 57) for a reason. The K-frame (the mid-size frame) Smiths are not really fun to shoot 357s out of for long periods of time, unless you get one with a long barrel. The long barrel adds weight, which helps tame recoil.
A 5-shot S&W is a J-frame (the smallest frame size). A J-frame 357 is going to weigh in the neighborhood of 18 ounces. That's too small. It's going to hurt. It's going to be fine for carrying, but not for shooting.
If you want a 357, get a bigger gun. Get a used Ruger Single Six, or a new GP100. Get a Smith 686 or a N-frame.
Now me, I got a pair of 6 1/2 inch Ruger Blackhawks and a 6" Python. Fairly heavy guns and fun to shoot with 357s all day long. I also have a 2 1/2" Model 19 and a 3" 65. Both Smith K-frames, and while fun for occasional 357s, they are much more fun with 38s.
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