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Old February 20, 2009, 03:28 PM   #1
teemumm
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Barrel length and accuracy of .357

I'm about to buy my first .357 revolver, probably Ruger GP100 or S&W 686. The gun will be used mainly for non-competitive target shooting on 25 meter (about 27 yards) range using mostly .38 Special ammo, but also .357. I'm still wondering if I should buy 4" or 6" barrel length gun.

How much difference in accuracy on 27 yards I should expect between 4" and 6" guns?

Last edited by teemumm; February 20, 2009 at 03:43 PM.
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Old February 20, 2009, 03:52 PM   #2
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I prefer 4in if I ever plan to carry it around or use it in the house/truck. If it is solely a range gun, I really like the 6inch GP and smiths. Won't go wrong with either brand.
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Old February 20, 2009, 04:18 PM   #3
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There is (for me anyway) a noticeable difference in accuracy at 25 yds in going from a 4" to 6" barrel, but I think it's more due to the longer sighting radius than to any inherent difference in accuracy between the two barrel lengths. If you really plan to use the gun primarily for target work, an 8" barrel will be even more accurate, but I find it makes the gun too muzzle heavy.
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Old February 20, 2009, 04:31 PM   #4
Gun 4 Fun
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There is absolutely no potential difference in accuracy between barrel lengths. As stated above, it is solely a matter of having a longer sighting radius with the longer barrel, which does help most people aim more consistently.
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Old February 20, 2009, 04:36 PM   #5
teemumm
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Yes, I stated my question little bit wrongly. What I was looking for, was what kind of difference an average shooter should expect with 4" and 6" because of different sighting radius on 27 yards.
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Old February 20, 2009, 04:40 PM   #6
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Yes, I stated my question little bit wrongly. What I was looking for, was what kind of difference an average shooter should expect with 4" and 6" because of different sighting radius on 27 yards.
It's really impossible to say because all shooters are different. Many find the longer barrel easier to shoot accurately while others do not. I don't find my 4" revolvers any harder to shoot accurately than the 5 1/2-6 1/2" ones I've shot.
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Old February 20, 2009, 04:44 PM   #7
MADISON
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Barrel length and accuracy of .357

Some years ago I had two Ruger Security Sixes.
One was a 6 inch and the other was a 2 3/4 inch.
At 25 yards or less their accuracy was the same.
The only difference I found was you had to add 1/4 inch in sight at 200 yards. The 2 3/4 inch shot dead on at 85 yards.
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Old February 20, 2009, 05:10 PM   #8
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Yes, I stated my question little bit wrongly. What I was looking for, was what kind of difference an average shooter should expect with 4" and 6" because of different sighting radius on 27 yards.
Let’s take the shooter and the subjectivity out of the problem and see if we can get an answer based on just the geometry involved.

Assume that a 6” barreled gun has a sighting radius of 8” and a 4” barreled gun has a sighting radius of 6”. I didn’t bother to go down to the safe and actually get some revolvers out to measure, but that can’t be far off. Assume further that you have the sights misaligned (doesn’t matter exactly how) by 1/25th of an inch (.04”) – i.e., the front sight is .04” off of what would be perfect alignment - when the shot goes off, and all other factors, including (most importantly) the shooter's ability to align the sights as the shot breaks, regardless of barrel length, and the inherent accuracy of both barrels, are equal.

In the case of the longer barrel, the sighting radius of 8” is equivalent to a circle with a diameter of about 50”. There are 360 degrees in a circle and 60 minutes in a degree, so that’s 21,600 minutes of angle (MOA). Each MOA, then, is equal to a distance of .0023” on the circumference. The sighting error of .04” would then correspond to 17.3 MOA, which results in a “miss” of about 4.3” at 25 yards, using the well-known rule of thumb that 1 MOA = 1” at 100 yards (and therefore ¼” at 25 yards).

For the shorter barrel, the circumference is only 38”, so using the same math the same sighting error of .04” corresponds to an error of 22.2 MOA, which would translate to a “miss” of 5.6” at 25 yards, or a miss that is about 30% larger than we had with the longer barrel.

The entire system is linear, so the 30% would apply to all amounts of sight misalignment and all ranges.
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Old February 20, 2009, 09:41 PM   #9
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TEE

Tee, its just my opinion but from what ive heard both revolvers would be great. As for barrel length, i would go the 3 to 4 inch length for what youve described.
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Old February 21, 2009, 02:39 PM   #10
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I have 3 GP100's. 1 is a 3 inch .357 and the other a 4 inch .357, the third is a 4 inch .38 special. The 3 inch is the revolver I use for woods hiking. The 4 inch revolvers are for HD. I dont see any difference in barrel length for the extra 1 inch. To others that 1 inch could make a difference.
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Old February 22, 2009, 12:50 AM   #11
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I find about a 30% advantage in group size with a 6" versus a 4" barreled revolver, just as you would expect from the sight radius improvement. Furthermore, so long as you are comfortable with the mass, a long, heavier barrel will jiggle slightly less due to its greater inertia.

There are those who say they can shoot short barelled pistols just as well as long, and maybe that's true. In any case, you won't find very many competitive shooters using them, and competitions that restrict firearm specs, restrict length, not shortness.

For primarily target, IMHO there is only one choice - the 6-inch.
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Old February 22, 2009, 02:24 AM   #12
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I'd go with the 4in JHO YOU May want to carry one day Just my 2cts
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Old February 22, 2009, 02:33 AM   #13
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I have a GP100 357 with the 6 inch barrel. If you're not going to carry it concealed and are going to use it mostly at the range...which is what I do, I think the 6 inch barrel balances better and helps with recoil. JMO

BTW...I don't have any experience with the S&W 686 but, I really like the Ruger. It's a good solid revolver with a good fit and lockup. The trigger, in my opinion, is just about as good as a Colt Python that I had before...at least in single action. I particularly like the design of the cylinder release.

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Old February 22, 2009, 03:16 AM   #14
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I have a 6" w/a 4x leupold on top. extremely accurate at the range or in the field. If you might carry some day go w/ the 4"
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Old February 22, 2009, 06:07 AM   #15
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two; why

A pair of 4" GP100s live here (WESHOOT2); they both are superbly accurate.

Fret not that extra 2"; buy the one YOU like best.

Around here my oldest kid, wife, and I, all prefer the 4" feel.
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Old February 22, 2009, 08:57 AM   #16
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I have a 4" Python and a 6" Model 19. I don't see any real accuracy distance at 25 yards.

But, I sometimes do what I call my "hunting accuracy" test, seeing how far out I can keep all 6 shots on a 6" paper plate.

The Python will go to 50 or 60 yard, but I can get the Model 19 out to 85 yards or 100 yards on a good day.

YMMV.
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Old February 22, 2009, 09:43 AM   #17
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4in . My Vote But Thats Me
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Old February 22, 2009, 09:55 AM   #18
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I find the 6" more comfortable. /Longer sight radius and the additional weight absorbs the recoil better.
For carry, yes a 4"

AFS
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Old February 22, 2009, 01:17 PM   #19
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6

For the purpose that you describe, the six inch barrel.
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Old February 22, 2009, 01:30 PM   #20
CraigC
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There is absolutely no potential difference in accuracy between barrel lengths. As stated above, it is solely a matter of having a longer sighting radius with the longer barrel, which does help most people aim more consistently.
What he said! Barrel length alone has no bearing on raw accuracy potential. The only advantage is a little more sight radius and muzzle-forward weight. Not an advantage you will see at such short ranges. Buy the one you like best, the one that feels best and do some shooting.

Personally, I prefer shorter barrels and usually shoot them better. I'm sorry but I don't buy the 30% difference. I have nary a problem beating a paint can to death at 100yds whether the barrel is 4" or 7½".
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Old February 22, 2009, 01:56 PM   #21
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I'm sorry but I don't buy the 30% difference.
I buy it - it's simple physics, after all, and switching from my 4" 617 to my 6" K-22 gives just about exactly 30% reduction in group size.

It's important to keep in mind, though, that the 30% is no guarantee - just what's possible. It's up to the shooter to make it happen, and there are many offsetting reasons why you might not see any improvement: Maybe you can't hold a 6" gun quite as steady. Or maybe the longer sight radius makes the rear sights just that much more fuzzier when focusing on the front sight, making it more difficult to achieve a good sight picture. Or maybe because the rear sight's just a little fuzzier, you tend to take your focus off the front sight, trying to get the rear sight a little more clear. Lots of reasons.
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Old February 22, 2009, 04:27 PM   #22
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Well, pardon my skepticism but on internet message boards, "simple physics" is usually oversimplified and incorrectly applied.
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Old February 22, 2009, 04:38 PM   #23
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Around here my ... wife, and I, all prefer the 4" feel.
Tee hee
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Old February 22, 2009, 04:39 PM   #24
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Well, pardon my skepticism but on internet message boards, "simple physics" is usually oversimplified and incorrectly applied.
If you disagree with my analysis of the situation, please explain why. I mean that sincerely - I don't claim to have all the answers, and I don't know if the analysis I posted earlier is correct.

This is a question that I've seen come up before, and while pretty much everyone seems to agree that a longer sight radius is advantageous, I've never seen anyone try to actually quantify how much. So, I shared my thoughts. If you disagree that's fine, I'm here to learn as well, but you should provide a more rational criticism than one based on your personal ability to shoot a paint can (which I think is some pretty good shooting, depending on the size of the paint can, of course. )
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Old February 22, 2009, 06:00 PM   #25
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I have a 4 inch 66 and it is better than me at 25 yards+
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