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View Full Version : .357 Magnum revolver: 4 inch or 6 inch


Army GI
09-12-2010, 4:28 AM
There have been a handful of threads in the past asking everyone what barrel length they prefer, but I've never seen it in the form of a poll. I'd really like to see some quantitative data, so I'm starting my own.

It seems that the general reasons for choosing one over the other are as follows:

Four inch barrel: More versatile, lighter, less bulky, faster to draw, used as a general purpose sidearm.

Six inch barrel: Recoils less, used for "specialist" purposes such as hunting or target shooting at long range.


I'm not asking anyone's opinion on what I should buy. I just want to know what YOU like better and the the reason why you picked one over the other. I already own my Ruger GP 100 with 6" barrel, and I've held the 4" model in the gun shop. Honestly I love both, but the reason I went with the 6" was that I would eventually like to get into long range hand gun shooting...and I just liked the looks better:p.

Miltiades
09-12-2010, 5:12 AM
For my particular application I prefer the 6 inch (or longer) barrel, and have 4 of them in .357 caliber. The long barrel seems to facilitate accurate shooting. I don't really have a 4 incher, but do have snubby revolvers in .357, which weren't covered in your poll.

http://i116.photobucket.com/albums/o25/pogo2/SW68631-1.jpg

http://i116.photobucket.com/albums/o25/pogo2/SW2720.jpg

NapaCountyShooter
09-12-2010, 6:47 AM
There's just something right about a six inch revolver chambered in a magnum cartridge.

nn3453
09-12-2010, 7:20 AM
6" is fine, but especially with a full lug, it is going to get tiring if you plan to shoot it for an extended period. The accuracy advantage that you lose with a 4" is not significant enough IMHO. I don't shoot bullseye but I
shoot plates/pins at 50yd and I've never felt under gunned with a 4".

I have both, but i prefer the 4". Actually I prefer the 5" barrel on my 627PC :)

den888
09-12-2010, 8:31 AM
6 inch, more sight radius and more accuracy. The 4 inch is too large to conceal anyway. For CCW, I would get a 2.5 inch .357 or an auto.

Just my thoughts.

jazman
09-12-2010, 8:43 AM
Really like my four inch wheel guns, but both are fine with me.

GM4spd
09-12-2010, 8:44 AM
6"---- if I need something shorter to conceal I'll use my Govt 45ACP(plus it's
flat). Pete

lazs
09-12-2010, 8:46 AM
I voted for four inch but really.. I think that for most folks a 5 inch is ideal. I think that unless you have perfect uncorrected vision that you can use a 4 or 5 inch sight radius a lot better than a longer one.

I don't shoot .357 much anymore but a .357 does have a lot of muzzle blast and sharp noise level.. I like to get the same or higher energy levels out of lower pressure 44 mag reloads and 4" works well in those guns.

WileyWilly
09-12-2010, 8:52 AM
For proper proportions, 4" for a "K" frame, 5" for a "N" frame pleases my eye. What you like is up to you.

scobun
09-12-2010, 8:53 AM
I'd be hard pressed to imagine a more versatile tool than a 4in Smith K frame. They carry light, point well, and are hard not to love. I still have my 4in 19-2, but the 6in 19-4 I had just didn't point as well or feel as good.

I have a love affair with my 1961 Smith 28-2, it eats everything and that big N Frame really soaks up the recoil. I want to find a 5in Model 27 at some point to go with it.

I just never liked the 6in barrel length and found it never draws as easily or points as naturally for me.

redcliff
09-12-2010, 9:00 AM
For double action shooting I like the 4" models, for single action shooting I like the 6" models.

I find the 4" models the most versatile and wish some of my 6"-6.5" models were equipped with 4" barrels instead. It's much harder to find 4" barrel models on consignment in my experience, and also it's hard to find 4" barrels if you want to have an older Smith re-barrelled. I'm actually re-barrelling my 617 to 4" next week.

I pretty much only buy pre-lock Smith & Wesson revolvers as I feel you get a better built gun for less money than a new one. Don't worry Colt fans, I have those coverred already :)

trashman
09-12-2010, 9:01 AM
6" with a caveat - make it an N-frame (i.e. Model 27 or 28) that has the tapered barrel with no underlug.

You get all the benefits of a longer barrel (longer sight radius, slightly bullet higher velocity, better pointability, higher mass to absorb recoil of hotter rounds) with only a slight change in the center of gravity of the gun.

With the tapered barrels even 8 3/8" 27's feel "muzzle light".

--Neill

RedFord150
09-12-2010, 9:22 AM
4" just feels right to me for the generic all around HD and 'take it to the range' gun.
I have never carried for a living or hunted with a handgun. Maybe if I did, my opinion would change.

Legasat
09-12-2010, 9:54 AM
4" barrel is plenty long enough to be accurate with (unless you are trying to shoot 100yds with it), and much easier to tote around.

That's my story and I'm sticking to it! ;)

jdg30
09-12-2010, 10:18 AM
I prefer a 4" revolver. I've shot a S&W 686 and Ruger Security Six with 6" barrels and they were very accurate and easy to shoot but the longer barrels felt kind of heavy and I knew I would enjoy a 4" barrel more. I just started DROS on a new 4" Ruger GP100 and I can't wait to go shoot it.

I can see myself eventually getting a 6" revolver as well. There's just something about revolvers that would make me like them no matter what the barrel length is.

BillCA
09-12-2010, 10:21 AM
I usually gravitate to the 4-inch guns or "duty guns" as I call them.
The Six-inchers are good for longer distance shooting. I figure with a 4-inch revolver, I can hit out to 25 yards well enough and I can, with a few seconds aim, make defensive hits at 50 yards with a .357. If I need any more distance than about 40 yards -- or more power than the .357 at that range -- I'll reach for the 12-gauge or a rifle.

Now, if I spent almost all my outdoors time in the mountains or on open range land, I might select a 6-inch (5-inch would be better IMO) for the extra range and sight radius.

six10
09-12-2010, 11:14 AM
4" feels better balanced to me

shooting4life
09-12-2010, 11:20 AM
I am picking up at 6 inch 586. I think 5 inch balances the best on n frames and 4 inch on k frames. Have not made up my kind about the l frame though.

scarville
09-12-2010, 11:53 AM
I voted for a 6". I can shoot 8" or less groups out to 120 yards with a 686 loaded with full powered 357's. It's too long to carry conveiently in a hip holster but a grizzy tough chest holster works well for me. If I were to carry one for "social" purposes I actually prefer the three inch barrel over the four inch.

rgs1975
09-12-2010, 1:16 PM
I'm partial to 3" myself.

http://img202.imageshack.us/img202/9983/68995177.jpg

ojisan
09-12-2010, 1:18 PM
^
:drool5:

3" and 5"...why do we always want that which is hard to find?

So I voted 4", but I sure regret selling my 6" back when.

IrishPirate
09-12-2010, 1:23 PM
Four inch barrel: More versatile, lighter, less bulky, faster to draw, used as a general purpose sidearm.

this sums it up for me....





but i like 3" too......

Rotten
09-12-2010, 1:51 PM
My first handgun purchase was a 6" GP100 back in '85, the year they first came out. The 6" model did not have the full ejector shroud yet. That was introduced a couple years later and for that reason alone I almost bought a 4" barrel instead. The gun was defective from the factory. when fired from pre-cocked SA mode the gun would decock itself and push the trigger forwards rather than fire. I saved a lot of ammo that way. It took Ruger about four months to return it fixed and it worked flawlessly until stolen a year later.

My current wheel gun is an older N frame highway patrolman's model 27 S&W. I've had it about 17 years now. The Smith is MUCH higher quality workmanship with superior fit, finish and feel. I haven't forgiven myself for letting it get rust spots on it from condensation after sitting in a case all winter. It was perfect when I got it. I have ditched the Pachmyer grips in the photo in favor of Houge's. Plasticy feel, very unlike Houge rifle stocks but superior ergos than the Pachmyer presentation grips it came with.


http://i18.photobucket.com/albums/b109/Rotten_Totten/112_1219.jpg

regalado1
09-12-2010, 1:58 PM
I have a Ruger GP100 6" in SS and I want a 4" and probably a 3" after that...why not.

You can't go wrong, get whichever is the best deal for you right now, then just keep adding.

For the record I really like my 6" Ruger. My next 2 will probably be Rugers also.

D.M.C.
09-12-2010, 4:19 PM
My thoughts are that the most perfect barrel lengths made for .38 and .357 are 3" and 5" respectively.

The King
09-12-2010, 4:46 PM
I have owned my share of six inch barrel handguns but feel the 4" and 8 & 3/8" barrel smith & wessons are the ticket. 4 inch for defense, or three or five if you insist, and the long tom for hunting or long range can busting.

23 Blast
09-12-2010, 5:06 PM
6" is fine, but especially with a full lug, it is going to get tiring if you plan to shoot it for an extended period. The accuracy advantage that you lose with a 4" is not significant enough IMHO. I don't shoot bullseye but I
shoot plates/pins at 50yd and I've never felt under gunned with a 4".

I have both, but i prefer the 4". Actually I prefer the 5" barrel on my 627PC :)

5" barrel FTW!

Seriously, like Goldilocks, it's neither too long nor too short. Wondering why Smith or Ruger don't offer 5" barrels as a compromise.

Kodemonkey
09-12-2010, 5:08 PM
I shoot IDPA with a 4" S&W 686P. I can't see trying to holster a 6" barrel effectively.

Turo
09-12-2010, 5:18 PM
6" barrel for a range gun, If I'm going to carry one concealed it'll be 2" barrel or shorter, I couldn't conceal a 4" barreled revolver very well. Besides, I can put all 6 rounds of .357 mag into a 12" plate at 100 yards, why get a shorter barrel?

bombadillo
09-12-2010, 5:25 PM
I have a Colt Trooper .357 in 4" and I would prefer the 6" if I could get it. I only got this one because it was a $300 trade for it!! I would love to get a 6" Smith 686 and a 6" super redhawk cut down a little bit if it were ideal in .44 mag. Then I would have all my bases covered.

Grumpyoldretiredcop
09-12-2010, 5:27 PM
When I first got hired at my former agency, I was issues a 6" S&W Model 66. It was a huge pain in the rear, that extra 2" was always in the way and it just wasn't that much more accurate. Additionally, I hate S&W revolver target triggers... the square edge bites into my trigger finger.

I eventually managed to get issued a 4" with the smooth "combat" trigger. That's my preference, except for special purpose pistols (concealed carry, target, etc.)

neuron
09-12-2010, 5:43 PM
I have a 3" S&W 686 Plus, which is a sweet .357 wheelgun. Easier for CCW than the 4" version. I also have a 6" Ruger (KGP161), which is not so CCW adept, but balistically is superior to any 4" or shorter revolver. The 6" barrel of the KGP 161 allows you to shoot 180-200 grain hardcast bullets from Buffalo Bore and Double Tap at near 44mag energies. That's what I carry with me in the woods when hunting, mainly as a backup SD trail gun.

A lot has been said about the relative virtues of the S&W and Ruger triggers. The newest Ruger GP100's are in my opinion as smooth as glass in DA and especially in SA mode, and the Ruger frame is as solid as the proverbial brick **** house. :)

faterikcartman
09-12-2010, 7:14 PM
4" or 6"? Yes, absolutely!

762cavalier
09-12-2010, 7:18 PM
well I like a 2" for concealability, a 4" for general plinking and a6" for longer distances. Just swap barrels when you want.




I have a Dan Wesson with a pistol pack. three guns in one;) three times the fun.:D

nemisis1400
09-12-2010, 7:36 PM
I voted both, just because you can never have enough wheelgun.

Army GI
09-12-2010, 7:44 PM
I voted both, just because you can never have enough wheelgun.

Indeed.

You guys know that you can vote for more than one option in his poll right?

Even though I currently own the 6" model, I plan to eventually get a 4" model later on down the road for plinking up to 25 yards.

pyromensch
09-12-2010, 8:31 PM
i have had 3 357's all 6", the recoil is a non-issue, the blast, might be considered, and the draw time is also a consideration, but the looks, is a winner

Army GI
09-17-2010, 1:13 PM
I guess the only solution is to get them all :cool:

trob
09-17-2010, 1:28 PM
2.5" - 4" is perferred. The 6" barrel is too long for anything i would want to do with it, except the range. But i dont shoot a .357 at the range for target practice...thats expensive.

trob
09-17-2010, 1:29 PM
2.5" - 4" is perferred. The 6" barrel is too long for anything i would want to do with it, except the range. But i dont shoot a .357 at the range for target practice...thats expensive.

here's my 4" 686ssr
http://i149.photobucket.com/albums/s51/trob500/CopyofFamilyphoto-pistolsJune10.jpg

Army GI
09-17-2010, 2:17 PM
Very nice!

There just something about those revolvers with 4" barrels that seem "right". They are just better balanced in the hand as well as aesthetically.

bombadillo
09-17-2010, 2:31 PM
2.5" - 4" is perferred. The 6" barrel is too long for anything i would want to do with it, except the range. But i dont shoot a .357 at the range for target practice...thats expensive.

here's my 4" 686ssr
http://i149.photobucket.com/albums/s51/trob500/CopyofFamilyphoto-pistolsJune10.jpg

Thats near a perfect family with the exception of a pocket gun or snub.

bucktooth7
09-17-2010, 9:56 PM
I feel very strongly,,, Both ways.

Army GI
09-18-2010, 10:21 AM
A lot of people voted both, but I see a very strong trend towards the 4" barrel at 65%. That is very telling.

Army GI
10-27-2010, 8:59 AM
Alright, I'm going with a 4" Ruger GP100. I tried to get the half-shroud but it's not on the DOJ list.

gorenut
10-27-2010, 9:01 AM
I have a Ruger GP 100 6" - gun is still the most fun gun to shoot. That said, I think 4" is more practical, but I would without a second thought go straight to 6" again if I had to buy my Ruger over again.