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Old October 14, 2008, 06:04 PM   #1
NPS,LE
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.357 and minimum barrel length?

Somewhere I have read that the "minimum" barrel length on a 357 should be 4 inches -- does that make sense and is it because velocity is badly lost below that length? I'm pretty new to revolvers. Thanks much.
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Old October 14, 2008, 06:15 PM   #2
skydiver3346
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Barrel length of .357?

Well, I believe (from the experience I have had), that the 4" barrel is probably the shortest length I would reccommend. However, a 3" barrel could be argued to but if you want the best performance (all around), I would suggest a minimum 4" barrel for a caliber of .357 Magnum. That is just my opinion and experience.
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Old October 14, 2008, 06:17 PM   #3
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38 snub vs. .357 snub.
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Old October 14, 2008, 06:18 PM   #4
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No matter the barrel length, a .357 will always be pushed faster than a .38 special.

In a 1.875" barreled 642 S&W snubby, or in a 8" Freedom Arms single action.

The .357 is always more powerful than a .38 in the same package.

So, if all you have room for in your pocket is a 2" snub, one with .357 chambers will hit the bad guy harder than a .38 snub.

If you've got room to carry a 4" or larger revolver, then the same again holds true.
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Old October 14, 2008, 07:02 PM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by lee n. field
38 snub vs. .357 snub.
That was a good read, Thanks.
-Bruce
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Old October 14, 2008, 07:44 PM   #6
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Quote:
38 snub vs. .357 snub.
The implication from that article being that more kinetic energy automatically confers a proportional increase in effectiveness. I don't have a dog in the .38 vs. .357 fight, but that's just bad logic there IMO.

I would personally keep .357 in 4" and larger barrels just to cut down on the muzzle flip.
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Old October 14, 2008, 08:19 PM   #7
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The .357 will always move out faster than a .38 for any given bullet weight and barrel length.

However, I think there is a legitimate discussion involving the terminal performance of .38 vs. .357 out of a snubby.

As far as I know, most of the .357 magnum bullets are designed for 3"-6" barrel lengths. The velocity out of that barrel length gives the selected bullet the proper expansion and penetration. When cartridge manufactures design a cartridge, the choose or design from the ground up the bullet depending on the desired velocity. The Reminton/Federal 125 grain JHP at 1450 fps out of a 4" barrel is just about universally known as a man-squashing cartridge, but that is at that velocity which necessitates that barrel length. If shooting that same bullet out of a snubby yields a 12xx fps velocity, does the bullet still yield the same expansion or penetration? Probably not is the best answer I can give without actually conducting a ballistics gel test, which I am completely unable to do. Winchester's White Box 110 JHP may work as advertised out of a 4" barrel but at the lower velocity from a 2" it may not expand at all (but penetrate far more). It's all a balancing act.

The caveat here is that there are "Short Barrel" .357 loads available from several companies that are designed for expansion and penetration (sometimes even with reduced recoil and muzzle flash) from snubby barrels.

Disregarding those specific examples, however, I think it is best to rely on the typical "standard barrel length" .357 magnum cartridges from a 3-6" barrel length. And greater than 6" might yield too much velocity and expansion with reduced penetraion (IE, the bullet "explodes" just after impact with no penetration). Below 3", you might be sacrificing bullet performance and terminal performance to the .38 special bullet performance from identical guns, even though the .357 will have more velocity.

I don't think I've made myself as clear as I wanted. A bit of tequila and beer always erodes my succinctness. I could have said the same with fewer words, but now is not the time.
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Old October 14, 2008, 08:23 PM   #8
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Wayward son,
I'm with ya, tequila notwithstanding.
What really matters is the terminal ballistics, not the muzzle velocity.
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Old October 14, 2008, 09:31 PM   #9
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From 1982 to 1988 I was a cop in Ft Worth, Texas. I saw a lot of shooting victims and the 357, 41, and 44 Magnums worked very well. I was so impressed with the 357 I still have 2 that I carry regularly. The 38 special hurts and makes people angry when shot with it, the 357 STOPS them. Anecdotal to be sure, but it beats theory and jello all day. The best 38 load going is the 158 LSWC HP +P. That being said 145 grn STHP's move out of my 1.8" BBL 360 PD at 1250 FPS.
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Old October 14, 2008, 09:48 PM   #10
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As long as you avoid the airweight guns, shooting .357's out of a 2" snub-nose is not bad. I shoot .357's all the time in my stainless model 60 (2" barrel). I know I give up energy versus a 4" or 6" barrel but if it can't be concealed it doesn't do much good. And yes, there's a _big_ difference between .357's and .38's in that gun.

When I really want everything a .357 has to offer I shoot it through my Marlin's 18.5" barrel. The difference in accuracy is considerable. But the Marlin doesn't conceal well at all!
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Old October 14, 2008, 09:57 PM   #11
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For concealed carry I like a 3" barrel sometimes a 4". 4" or longer for other.
I think 3" is minimum for good control and power.
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Old October 14, 2008, 10:37 PM   #12
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My 2 1/4" SP101 produces 1300 fps, give or take 5, with either Blazer or Federal 125 grain magnum loads.
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Old October 14, 2008, 10:45 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarge
My 2 1/4" SP101 produces 1300 fps, give or take 5, with either Blazer or Federal 125 grain magnum loads.
That's respectable. I'm highly interested in the findings for the 2 1/4 SP101.
I've been using Winchester 110 grain bullets thinking that the lighter slug will aid in gaining velocity out of the short barrel. Thoughts on this?
-Bruce
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Old October 14, 2008, 10:56 PM   #14
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I don't know Bruce, I don't carry anything lighter than 125's.
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Old October 14, 2008, 11:29 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sarge
I don't know Bruce, I don't carry anything lighter than 125's.
Fair enough, and thanks for the reply.
I know that 125 grain slugs are considered optimum out of a standard length 357 barrel (4-6 inch), and after reading your muzzle velocities with them out of the short tube SP101, I might just switch back. You did chronograph them, right?
Does any one else know the velocities of the 110's out of the 2 1/4 SP101?
-Bruce
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Old October 15, 2008, 12:00 AM   #16
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It's been some years but I did measure some 110s with a chronograph some years ago out of a 640-1 when it first came out as a magnum. As I remember, they were in the vicinity of 1150 plus or minus fps. My understanding is that most factory 110 grain loads are loaded less hot than the 125s and their nominal velocity from a 4 inch barrel is usually listed as 1295 fps versus the 1450 of full power 125 grain loads. I believe loads like Corbon are an exception which is, I believe, listed at 1500 fps from a 4 inch. Powerwise, I consider a 110 grain load from a snub to be roughly the same as a standard pressure 115 grain 9mm from a service pistol. Even if you were to get 1200 fps from an SP101 it would still be less power than the 12xx plus fps of the 125 grain load but with less blast and recoil. I don't like the 125s and with Speer's introdution of the 135 grain short barrel .357 load, I no longer rely on the 110s, though I still have plenty of them and wouldn't be concerned if that was all I had. Remington Golder Saber 125s at 1220 fps from a 4 inch is another good option which should also give you at least 1100 fps from a snub.
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Old October 15, 2008, 07:26 AM   #17
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The .357 typically uses a heavier bullet at a faster velocity than a .38 spcl. However, a lot of that advantage is lost as the barrel gets shorter. Both bullets will be slower from a shorter barrel. With the .357, though, you'll still have the muzzle blast, noise, and recoil.

I carry .38 spcl. +p in a 2" barrel. I wouldn't carry a .357 mag. in anything shorter than 4".
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Old October 15, 2008, 07:39 AM   #18
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Quote:
I carry .38 spcl. +p in a 2" barrel. I wouldn't carry a .357 mag. in anything shorter than 4".
+1. 357s from my 2.25" SP101 are very loud even with earplugs. I would not want to shoot one in a confined space such as a house or car. I'm sure serious hearing damage would result from even one or two shots.
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Old October 15, 2008, 09:47 AM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Laz
It's been some years but I did measure some 110s with a chronograph some years ago out of a 640-1 when it first came out as a magnum. As I remember, they were in the vicinity of 1150 plus or minus fps.
Thanks Laz, This is the kind of info I was looking for. I would think this should be sufficient from a compact weapon for self defense. I know (before anyone says it) that a 4 or 6 inch barrel would be better, as would a long slide 45, or even a 44 Mag, but we're talking compact, easy to carry here.
Also thanks to Keltyke, and ActivShootr for your input. I agree that 38 +P may be a viable alternative in the short barrel SP101.
One more question, Does anyone feel that the extra 3/4 of an inch on a 3 inch tube makes that much much difference?
If memory serves, I read a long time ago that for every inch shorter or longer in barrel length will make roughly a 50 ft per second difference.
-Bruce
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Old October 15, 2008, 10:48 AM   #20
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I carry a 3 inch, ported .357 mag. I carry 125 grain Corbon DPX + P and my muzzle flip is nill. I'll trade the 100 fps loss due to porting over the ability to place fast multiple, accurate rounds on target.

Reality trumps theory every time. I was taught: 1. Bullet placement 2. Bullet Placement and finally, 3. Bullet Placement.

I don't care what length barrel you have...the first person who achieves accurate bullet placement with a .357 mag will stop that fight.
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Old October 15, 2008, 12:50 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dawgfvr
I don't care what length barrel you have...the first person who achieves accurate bullet placement with a .357 mag will stop that fight.
Not if the guy with the 38 Special hits first.

...or if the guy with the 357 misses on the first shot (which probably happens a lot!), and is himself shot while his gun is up in recoil and the guy with the 38 (or even 22!) drills him.

I'm with Keltyke & AcveShtr on this one.

357 magnums out of a CC-sized gun kick hard.

NPS,LE - I think in that context, "minimum" means the minimum to achieve a big advantage from the extra, slower-burning powder charge with factory ammo available at the time.

The short barrel rounds make this less true. Those of us who handload have the option of loading faster-burning powder so that more of it is burnt by the time the bullet leaves the barrel. I just shot some "light magnums" last night consisting of 158 gr. RNFP hardcast bullets out of my 3" SP-101 with 5.8 gr. of Bullseye. Man, those were some kickers. I cut my trigger finger on the edge of the trigger from shooting them. There's no way I could make an accurate follow-up shot after one of those. I'd be betting my life that I hit on the first try. I'll stick with +P 38s and have the option of a follow-up in less than a second.
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Old October 15, 2008, 01:29 PM   #22
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Well, I have .357's in 2.5" (S&W 66-4), 3.5" *(S&W 27-2), 4" (S&W 19-3),
4-5/8" (Ruger Blackhawk 50th), and 6" (S&W 686-5). They all shoot well.

*FootNote- except for the 3.5" S&W model 27-2, which remains UNFIRED~!
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Old October 15, 2008, 02:18 PM   #23
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The ballistics on the 2" barrels vs the 4" is interesting ..... but personally, I stay with the 4" because I find the gun has a lot less muzzle rise when I shoot it. I understand the issue of concealability on the 2" - but the combination of decreased performance / and the increased muzzle flip on the 2" just doesn't make it a good combination for me ( but in .357 mag I prefer a 158 gr bullet too - and its a little stout for a 2" gun ). If I carried a 2" , I would shoot .38 spl's in it ..... and I know that's not my best option .......especially vs something like a Sig 239 (single stack) in .40 that's a smaller weapon as well ( with a 7 round mag in it ).

I really like the 4" .357 mag ( like the older model 19's in blued or nickel K frames / or 66's in stainless K frames ) as carry weapons / general purpose weapons. For general range shooting / target practice, plinking - I usually stick with the model 27 6" N frame / or the 627 6" in stainless.
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Old October 15, 2008, 03:05 PM   #24
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Nothing wrong with 38 special in + P. I own them, fire them...but have to tell you that my ported .357 has the same muzzle flip and is far more accurate. My 38 special is a pop gun.

If I have to pull my weapon...I'll go for the .357 magnum. You can have the .38 special...k?

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Old October 18, 2008, 03:45 AM   #25
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Speer is making a golddot especially for snubbies. I think they are designated with an "SB" for example:

38
GDHP SB
135GR
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