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Old August 28, 2013, 11:08 AM   #1
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Blackhawk .357 barrel length?

What is the best barrel length for the Ruger Blackhawk in .357? I had thought about getting the shorter 4 5/8 barrel for looks. But after handling it; it seemed almost too short to handle the muzzle blast and recoil of the .357 magnum pistol. Any opinions?
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:20 AM   #2
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I have the 6.5" and IMHO it is a better choice to handle the .357 Magnum caliber. Also have the S & W M-27 in the 8.375" barrel...probably would have been better off with a 6"...

I have two identical Taurus .38 Spl revolvers---in 4" and 6" barrels...both are great, but I find I use/prefer the 6" more.
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:30 AM   #3
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Had both 4 5/8 and 6 1/2. For target practice, plinking and home defense I prefer the 4 5/8' barrel. If I was using it to hunt (which I didn't) then I'd go with the longer. It's all personal preference really.
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:33 AM   #4
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It is a personal preference thing. Really.

I like 5 1/2" ... But stuck with 6 1/2" as Ruger doesn't make a 5 1/2" .357 SA revolver. I also have a Ruger 4 5/8 barreled flattop SA. It shoots very well too and packs better on the belt. You will get more muzzle blast with the shorter barrel. Nature of the beast. But people 'usually' shoot longer barreled revolvers better (longer sight radius) . Trade offs! Personally, I don't shoot 'hot' .357 as if I need more power I just go up a caliber or two. My .357 velocity range is up to around 1100fps for 158g SWC bullets. Therefore I don't worry/or effected by muzzle blast.
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:35 AM   #5
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It always comes down to, what you are going to use it for.
Deer hunting, at least six inch. Just fool'en around, shorter.
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Old August 28, 2013, 02:44 PM   #6
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Well...what is now "Maurice" used to be a New Vaquero in 357, 4.68" barrel.

The NewVaq is of course mid-frame but the stock cylinder still has more "beef" to it than a Ruger GP100 or S&W L-frame (686, etc.). The NewVaq has a fatter cylinder, more meat between chambers. Frame size reflects this difference too.

The Ruger large-frame SAs in 357Mag are insanely stout - really 44Magnum class guns throttled back to 357.

Both can easily control full-house 357 one-handed, even with a 4.68" tube.

I would get a 4.68" if this is going to be a packin' pistol, longer if it's a range toy or only used for hunting trips.

(As to what Maurice is now...well Ruger would argue it ain't a New Vaquero no more, not with up to 14rd capacity without reloading, despite a 6rd 9mmPara cylinder...)
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Old August 28, 2013, 11:41 PM   #7
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You'll get higher velocity and less muzzle blast with the longer barrel. I have the 6.5 inch Blackhawk, a four inch GP100 and a 2.25 inch SP101. Chronographing the same loads through all three guns shows the velocity advantage of a longer barreled 357. The cartridge really comes into its own with a longer barrel. Unless you are carrying the gun or trying to conceal it go with the higher velocity and longer sight radius.
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Old August 29, 2013, 12:39 AM   #8
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A lot depends on your intended use, since you ask. Personally, I don't care to carry in a strong side belt holster any bbl longer than 5.25". Mostly because the longer tubes seem to always be gouging and catching in and out of vehicles, off and on AtV's and Mt. bikes. In a bench seat pick-up, seems like the seat drives the butt hard against my ribs and kidneys! And the longer tubes can be a tad heavier to tote, though weight is debatable shooter to shooter. All my favorite carry guns are 4" plus or minus, and my .357 b-hawk is 4-5/8.

Certainly the longer tubes are easier to shoot, reducing flash, flip and blast. And there is something to be said for increased accuracy due to more forgiving sight radius.

After years of 4" handguns though, I find that my 50+ eyes do not see the front sight on my ol'favorites like they used too. And ironically, its my Dad's long tubed Single-6 that I am now most accurate w/ just like he was at my age!
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Old August 29, 2013, 12:41 AM   #9
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Oh yeah, I don't load the .357 heavy enough to be to abusive. A 158 LSWC at about 1000 fps is a standard GP load for me.

Anytime I want reminded about full house .357, I trip off a 125 JHP and get all the flash/bang I can stand.
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Old August 29, 2013, 01:32 AM   #10
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Besides the other practical issues (carry style etc...) what are you going to shoot? I think full power factory loads (and handloads that duplicate them) deserve the 5-1/2" or 7" barrel. Convert that muzzle blast into velocity!

4-5/8" is plenty for .38 spl loads or mid-range hand loads.

Recoil is a wash. Any weight gained by a longer barrel is offset by the added recoil from the extra speed.
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Old August 31, 2013, 07:54 AM   #11
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Not less than 6.5 in.

A Blackhawk is not a CCW gun. Might as well reap the performance benefits of a longer barrel. Among SD calibers, .357 Mag in particular goes nuclear in longer barrels unlike any other I can name. Take a medium to hot .357 and very hot 9mm +p+ and compare them in 18" barrels and see what happens. You can get near 30-30 performance out of the .357, while the 9mm gains are tiny over the handgun in comparison.
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Old August 31, 2013, 04:08 PM   #12
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carry gun use

My primary use for this pistol will be as backup pistol when hunting. I will be stationed in SD for the next couple of years. However my home is in TN and SC where you often run into hogs when hunting. I have an Uberti Frontier SAA 7.5 that is impractical to carry. The Blackhawk in 4 5/8 seems to be a great carry gun; but is also accurate.
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Old August 31, 2013, 07:32 PM   #13
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Your needs, mainly as a back up while hunting hogs, would indicate the 4 5/8" Blackhawk might be prefered. Easier to pack and faster to get into action when the hog huntin gets fast and furious.
My experience with hogs makes me want a 12 gauge for a back up, things can get ugly quick and a mad boar in close quarters is no fun.
Years ago when I bought my Blackhawk the 4 5/8" barrel was the one I wanted, the dealer only had 1 Blackhawk in 357 mag., it was 6 1/2" and $75.00 so I took it. Never did get a 4 5/8" and still wish I had one. That was 1972 time sure flys.
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Old September 1, 2013, 10:07 AM   #14
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my tastes in SAs runs toward shorter barrels. Both my OM and 50th anniversary blackhawks are 4 and 5/8 inches.
For your purpose go with the short bbl.
rather be judged by 12 than carried by 6
originally posted my Mike Irwin
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Old September 2, 2013, 06:05 PM   #15
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Check your local laws as here in Ohio it is illegal to hunt with anything shorter then a 5" bbl. I know this would be your backup but would be better if you had to use it on game if it were legal to actually hunt with too.
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Old September 3, 2013, 08:26 AM   #16
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Balance aside, 4 3/4" is fine for a .357. Shooters may know the difference in MV but a critter doesn't. The longer barrel may have a SLIGHT accuracy advantage due to increase between the sights but IMO if that 2" makes a difference than you probably ain't gonna hit spit anyway. I'm most accurate with my 4" DA that has even shorter sight radius.

Personally, I won't own 6" or 6.5" handguns. The advantage of handguns over long guns is ease of carry and if I need the extra the couple inches gains me more in the real world I plain and simply need more gun period.
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Old September 3, 2013, 09:00 AM   #17
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I like longer barrels. I think 6 inches is about ideal but i'm likely to be in the minority.
Shot placement is everything! I would rather take a round of 50BMG to the foot than a 22short to the base of the skull.

all 26 of my guns are 45/70 govt, 357 mag, 22 or 12 ga... I believe in keeping it simple. Wish my wife did as well...
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Old September 3, 2013, 02:58 PM   #18
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I reccomend a longer barrel. My experience is that SAs balance better and simply feel better in my hand with a 6.5" or longer tube.
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Old September 3, 2013, 03:46 PM   #19
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I had both, a 4 5/8" and 6 1/2" barrel 357 Blackhawks. I much preferred the 4 5/8" one. The accuracy was a wash between the two, my handloads with 296 maybe had a bit more muzzle flash out of the short one but not enough to be noticeable.

I hunted with them both and the deer I shot with the 4 5/8" barrel didn't notice that the barrel was almost 2" shorter.
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Old September 4, 2013, 03:16 AM   #20
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No "best," just personal preference. I've had Ruger 4 5/8" and 5 1/2" .357 single actions. The short gun is still heavy enough to handle recoil with no discomfort at all and the barrel is still long enough for good ballistic performance. Factory Federal 158 grain jsp at an average of 1332fps from the 4 5/8" .357 Ruger is pretty good I think. And, the shorter guns are actually handy to carry. I admit I prefer the shorter barreled single action revolvers. For example, my Freedom Arms .454 Casull has the short 4.75" barrel and "only" averages 1585 fps with factory Hornady 300 grain jsp ammo. I know the Long Tom Hawglegs produce more velocity, but I don't think it matters much to anything on the receiving end with either the .454 or .357...ymmv
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