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 In 357 Magnum, is there any real advantage of a 6 inch barrel over 4 inch?
JamesP81  [Team Member]
11/29/2009 9:16:39 PM
I was looking at this web page: Ballistics By The Inch

In the section where they tested real world weapons, the velocity differences between the 4 inch barreled revolvers and 6 inch barreled revolvers was negligible. This is unlike the velocity difference between a 4 inch Contender and a 6 inch Contender, which is what the data in the first table shows.

Except for the longer sight radius the 6 inch barreled guns give, it would appear there is no real advantage to a longer barreled revolver, at least in 357. I can only assume that the gap that exists between the cylinder and barrel of a revolver accounts for the disparity when comparing revolvers to the Contenders. Is there any reason to get a 357 revolver in a barrel longer than 4 inches?

I noticed on BBI's 44 magnum data that longer barrels did provide a clear advantage over the shorter ones.

Comments, thoughts, or insults?
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762mmFMJ  [Member]
11/29/2009 9:31:26 PM
I actually prefer a 6" .357 Magnum revolver for shooting. I find that the muzzle heavy feel and longer sight radius help with accuracy. I also like that when shooting full power magnum loads, there is less blast out of the longer tube. I've fired some pretty hot loaded magnums out of shorter barrels before, and the blast was downright ferocious, in the longer barrels, the blast is more tolerable.

Now, if I want to carry a .357 Magnum revolver, then obviously the shorter barrels make more sense for ease of carry. However, whenever I carry a shorter 2.5" to 4" .357, it isn't loaded with the hotest loads anyway. YMMV
Jeremiah29  [Member]
11/29/2009 9:45:20 PM
If accuracy and velocity is not an issue, I would think the heavier barrel would be better for follow up shots.
machinisttx  [Team Member]
11/29/2009 9:56:58 PM
I have a bunch of 4" .357 revolvers, and I'm sure one of them would post consistently higher velocities than the others if I cared to shoot them over the chronograph. One of them might post higher velocities than the 6" I have, or the 6" guns I could beg or borrow for testing.

Basic fact of guns...no two are exactly alike and you may find anomalies within any given quantity of "identical" make/model firearms. In general, I think a 6" is probably going to deliver higher velocities than any given 4" gun, but it's always possible to find a particularly "tight" 4" gun.
JamesP81  [Team Member]
11/29/2009 9:57:50 PM
I actually have a GP100 with a 4 inch barrel. I'm mulling over trading it for a 6 inch GP100. I like the idea of less recoil and longer sight radius with the 6 inch gun (and God knows I need all the help I can get shooting a handgun accurately), but I just don't care for the balance of the 6 inch gun. I'm quite unsteady shooting offhand anyway, the 6 inch barrel seems to make that condition worse. I'm really quite torn about this
Milo5  [Member]
11/29/2009 10:44:33 PM
Along with generally higher velocities of identical cartridges,the 6" barrel also offers the advantage of reduced muzzle blast and flash.
MaverickH1  [Member]
11/29/2009 10:45:23 PM
The longer barrel also gives you a longer sight radius. Very important.
EdgecrusherXES_45  [Team Member]
11/29/2009 11:13:28 PM
6 in advantage
Longer sight radius
Longer burn in the tube reducing muzzle flash
Extra weight making recoil feel a little less
Longer barrel increase velocity due to longer burn especially with hot loads

4 in advantage
Concealing is easier (less people ask if you are happy to see them)
Lighter pistol
With std loads IMO not much difference in flash and velocity
fatboy79  [Team Member]
11/29/2009 11:39:27 PM
I have a 6" .357 and a 4" .44 mag. I like the 6" barrel better. I wanted the 5.5" redhawk but found the 4" for a good price. I don't plan on concealing either one so the size isn't an issue. I like the longer sight radius and less flash with the 6" and it just feels more balanced and easier to point to me.
556fiend  [Member]
11/30/2009 1:53:36 PM
To confirm what others have already said, shoot a 4" vs a 6" with full power loads at night and notice the difference in the fireball. That extra fire coming out of the 4" is unburned powder.
vanilla_gorilla  [Team Member]
11/30/2009 4:04:26 PM
With the guns I've used, there is a definite difference in velocity, probably 50-70 fps increase with the extra 2 inches. Does it matter? Not really. Guns shoot slightly flatter at long range, but with most of the JHPs I use, and ALL the cast bullets I use, the extra velocity doesn't really do anything. A Keith SWC is going to punch through an animal or target just as well at 1300 fps as it will at 1350.

It's the extra sight radius that matters, and you really just need to figure out if it matters that much to you.

I split the difference between the two.
scottrh2  [Team Member]
11/30/2009 9:42:21 PM
Just food for thought......... a nice S&W 6" 686 is a pleasure to shoot, point and hold. It acts like an extension of your arm. A 4" is close but no cigar.
Walkure  [Team Member]
11/30/2009 10:12:32 PM
Originally Posted By scottrh2:
Just food for thought......... a nice S&W 6" 686 is a pleasure to shoot, point and hold. It acts like an extension of your arm. A 4" is close but no cigar.


Eh, I love my 4" 586. Damn near perfect wheelgun for me.
LuvBUSHmaster  [Team Member]
12/1/2009 12:01:09 AM
6" Stainless Steel Security Six .357mag is the perfect deer hunting handgun for me.

Open carrying it in the woods outside my coat on a separate/dedicated belt & holster for the 6" wheel gun works great for me.

My dad's 4" SW Trooper would be nice/my preference if I had to carry one for a living.


bradleyswine  [Member]
12/1/2009 4:23:47 PM
Vanilla Gorilla, "I keep an inch and a half guardrail nut on a loop of 550 cord. It's not whiz-bang tactical, but one smack in the grape and it's coloring books for Christmas."

Now that is funny, I don't care who you are. Personally on an airplane I was thinking possibly an unopened soda can in the toe of a pair of knee high cotton socks.
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