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Old July 30, 2002, 08:17 AM   #1
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3 vs. 4 inch barrel?

I intend to add a new revolver to my collection, the S&W 681 from their Performance Center. This revolver comes magna-ported to reduce muzzle flip. I plan on using this gun as my "primary" concealed carry (alternating with a 340PD). Can't decide on the 3 or 4-inch barrel, however. Weight difference is 3 ounces (35 vs 38 oz). I know the 3-incher would conceal more easily, but then there's the slight loss in muzzle energy. Any comments out there as to which way I should go? Comments from 681 owners especially appreciated. Thanks.
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Old July 30, 2002, 08:43 AM   #2
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3 vs. 4 inch barrel

Figure your Muzzle Velocity from taking 33 feet per second off the muzzle velocity for each inch the barrel is shortened from your KNOWN figures.
Take a SPEER MANUAL and figure both velocity and energy.
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Old July 30, 2002, 11:06 AM   #3
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Often the velocity difference between LIKE guns is greater than the difference between guns with an inch of barrel difference.

In other words, don't sweat it, get the size you want.

Inspect thoroughly for fit, function and finish before comitting.

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Old July 30, 2002, 11:11 AM   #4
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The velocity loss is dependant on a ton of different things. For example, I'm losing an average of 20fps in a 2" barrel compared to a 4" barrel with fairly fast powder. Slower powder will show larger differences, bullet weight it going to make a difference as well as several other things.

I agree with C.R.Sam, get the size you like...
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Old July 30, 2002, 12:57 PM   #5
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I have one of the PC 681 in 3" barrel and love it. I don't think I've seen in person the 4". I have a standard 681 with a 4" barrel and the PC gun is the sweeter shooter by far. The sights aren't perfect by any means, but its not a target gun. Feel free to ask anything else you may want to know, but I find the 3" to be the perfect barrel length. Velocity loss is minimal enough that you could compensate easily just with different ammo manufacturers. I would choose based on what feels right and balances best for you, the barrel length difference is so small.
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Old July 30, 2002, 02:32 PM   #6
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If you are going to carry concealed...

then give some serious consideration to the kind of holster you will use. The difference between a 3" or a 4" barrel is, IMHO, negligible if you have selected a well designed, well constructed holster and hung it on a good belt designed for the purpose. Good shooting
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Old July 30, 2002, 06:55 PM   #7
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I'll take the three inch any day for the sex appeal and bragging rights. However, I've never found the four inch barrel any harder to carry or conceal. For many years the only gun I could legally carry was a 4" M-10. Carried IWB or Mexican style, the four inch stays in the holster better than a shorter barrel. I think the shape of the butt is more critical in concealment (round butt v. square butt).

Since the PC 681 is round butt, I think the difference is pretty subjective. Given the width and weight of the gun, an inch of barrel will not make any difference in carrying or concealing.

The older I get, the smaller my daily carry choices. I tell people that my daily carry piece is a custom 3" m-65 RB. I have a matching m-13 with the same work, but its too pretty for someone as clumsy as me to carry. In reality, the M-65 rides around in my car a lot, but really doesn't get carried on my waist much at all any more. In truth, a 642/442/37/38 lives in my right front pocket from the time I get dressed in the morning until I retire at night. I guess none of us are as tough as we used to be.
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Old August 1, 2002, 06:25 AM   #8
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My vote 3 inch ,Little easier to conceal ,but if you use IWB holster doesnt really matter, Get what you prefer. Mexican carry I do it a lot with an auto ,kinda rough with a revolver.
" Have gun will travel" Springfield if your listening make a 10mm 1911.
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Old August 1, 2002, 06:59 AM   #9
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I've always like the 3" S&W model 65 .357 magnum; so why
not a 3" S&W model 681? I think its a compromise of fire
power and conceal ability.

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member
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Old August 1, 2002, 02:23 PM   #10
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Won't the porting reduce the muzzle velocity as well?
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Old August 1, 2002, 03:06 PM   #11
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Porting might lower the velocity compared to what that gun did before it was ported but still the velocity is going to vary more from gun to gun. My 8 3/8" M27 only shoots about 30-50fps faster than my 4" GP100. And that's using 2400 or H110 (slow powders) which should give an advantage to the long barrel.

You'd think that more than 4" of barrel would account for more, but each gun is a law unto itself.
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