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Old August 24, 2001, 02:28 AM   #1
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357 Magnum - 4" vs 6"

If you were going to choose a wheelgun chambered in 357 Magnum for duty use, would it have a 4" or 6" barrel?

You will want to get good performance from 38spl, 38spl+p, and 357 Magnum. I know that the longer barrel will give better performance, but it can also slow down your draw. So I guess I am wondering how much difference the 2" of barrel will make.

The above can apply to any brand or model, as I am just concerned with barrel length. However, for those that are curious, the model I am thinking about is the Taurus Total Titanium Tracker. Something tells me that the 4" model is the better duty weapon. I already have a S&W 586 with an 8 3/8" barrel in case I ever want to go handgun hunting. I also knowabout the concerns about ported barrels. I like the way these are designed to not be on center. The extra round won't hurt either.
Old August 24, 2001, 03:00 AM   #2
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Preserve Freedom
When I first became an LEO I carried a 4" Smith model 66 for two years. I switched to a 6" version for two weeks and then switched back. My reasons for going back to the 4" were that my draw was slower, my accuracy did not really improve with the extra two inches of barrel, the 6" was more cumbersome, but mostly the 6" was much more uncomfortable on my 12 hour shifts. The extra two inches of holster dug into the car seat, which hitched up my gunbelt, which in turn pushed up my vest, which then rode uncomfortabley up against my throat. The 6" was also heavier on the belt and seemed to forvever be hanging up on things, moreso than the 4". As you can already guess I would urge you to go with the 4" version of your choice. You won't be sorry. Hope this helps. Stay safe.

"We sleep safely in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence upon those who would do us harm."...George Orwell
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Old August 24, 2001, 03:41 AM   #3
Ala Dan
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Greeting's All,

As a former LEO, I have carried damn near
everything you can think of in design,
caliber, and barrel length. When I did
carry the Smith & Wesson 6" model 19, it
was in a Safariland high ride basketweave
holster. But, being a "young buck" I
switched to a 6-1/2" Smith & Wesson model
29; that I carried in a Safariland swivel
basketweave holster. It dosen't take
a rocket scientist to know when to switch
back to a 4" wheelgun!!!

Personal Opinion: Yes, you give up a bit
of accuracy with the shorter barrel; but
to carry a 6" comes at the expense of
comfort. If I were to go back to active
duty status today and wanted to carry a
wheelgun; it probably would be a Smith &
Wesson 4" 686 with cocoabolo wood grip's.
Otherwise, I would stand by my Sig P220A.

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, N.R.A. Life Member

Best Wishes,
Ala Dan, Life Member N.R.A.
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Old August 24, 2001, 04:12 AM   #4
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I would also opt for the 4" revolver. I wouldn't go with a ported gun like the Taurus Tracker. Just wouldn't want to chance loosing my night vision due to the gases escaping thru the ports. A Ruger KGP-141 fits the bill very nicely for this mission.
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Old August 24, 2001, 06:41 AM   #5
Dan Morris
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I lean toward the 4", especially in a car seat.
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Old August 24, 2001, 06:51 AM   #6
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As most skirmishes happen within 7 yards, there is no tactical advantage in carrying a 6" bbl.
You will appreciate the reduced weight and handiness of the shorter bbl and as others have mentioned it's quicker to draw. That's the reasons I carry a 3" every day.
I used to believe this hogwash about porting affecting your night vision until I tried it. Most duty ammo now uses flash suppressed powder. Even if they don't, you get so much flame coming out of a revolver a little more does not make any difference. Porting helps to keep the muzzle on target for the second and third shot, and that's good.
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Old August 24, 2001, 08:31 AM   #7
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My favorite barrel length for carry revolvers is the 4" barrel. It's enough barrel for the .357 to work up steam, and it helps keep the gun anchored inside the waistline. A 6" barrel makes the gun so much less handy for CCW purposes, while not adding much practical value other than giving the BG two more inches of barrel to grab in a close-quarters confrontation.

I have a few 6" revolvers, but they never get carried and consequently only used as range guns and plinkers.
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Old August 24, 2001, 08:41 AM   #8
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Good morning, PF. Have you actually handled that model Taurus, in Ti or stainless? They just don't 'feel' right.

The trigger is shaped more like the letter J, than a C. The leverage point where the finger makes contact is all wrong. It's too far toward the top of the trigger which has the effect of feeling like a heavier trigger than it actually is. I don't know why this did this, as their other large-frames have more of a S&W feel. To top it off, the actions on the Tracker are nowhere near as good as Taurus' other revos. I can 'understand' it in a Ti gun, but not in the stainless version.

And to answer your question, FOUR INCH.
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Old August 24, 2001, 08:56 AM   #9
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A 4" revolver is exactly right.
"all my ammo is mostly retired factory ammo"
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Old August 24, 2001, 09:12 AM   #10
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Old August 24, 2001, 09:35 AM   #11
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For duty use?


I like a 6" tube at the range, but schlepping one of those things around all the time? Not for me. Besides, the 4" tube gives the .357 mag enough room to hit its stride (unlike, I feel, the snubs).
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Old August 24, 2001, 09:56 AM   #12
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Well I had a feeling this morning before I read the first reply that 4" would be the right choice.

VictorLouis -
Thank you for the heads up on the trigger. Now I'll definately have to try one out before I drop a wad of cash on it.
Old August 24, 2001, 11:29 AM   #13
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A 24 oz. 357 Mag?? Ouch!
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Old August 24, 2001, 01:37 PM   #14
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rock_jock -
I am planning on getting one that's 16 ounces for a backup.
Old August 24, 2001, 06:53 PM   #15
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I picked up the Stainless steel Tracker in March of this year. I opted for the Stainless cause the wife loves to shoot 38/357 wheel guns. I figured the Titanium would kick too much for her. I do like the grips. They help dampen the recoil. The trigger pull isnt as bad as some people say it is. I think the trigger pull is better on this model than my S&W 686. I am completely happy with this addition to my collection.
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Old August 25, 2001, 07:22 AM   #16
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For uniformed carry a 4" bbl is optimal. Before they converted to HK P7M8's, the NJSP carried 4" Rugers with 38 Special +P JHP ammo. I still see NYPD uniformed officers carrying 4 inch S&W's. A 4" can be carried concealed but takes a little more work.

Many federal agents used to carry 3" or less .357 S&W's. Leroy Thompson, in a HANDGUNS article (August 1991, p. 48) pointed out that the Secret Service and BATF used to carry 2 1/2 inch Model 19 and Model 66 revolvers. The FBI just about carried everything in existance at one time or another, may with 3 inch bbls. US Customs carried Model 686's with 3 inch bbls.
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Old August 25, 2001, 03:54 PM   #17
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The only way I've found to carry a 6" revolver in comfort during normal activities is a cross-draw. I would never be comfortable using a cross-draw for a uniform duty rig.
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Old August 25, 2001, 09:10 PM   #18
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I'd only go with a 6" tube if the gun was expected to occasionally serve as a hunting piece.
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Old August 25, 2001, 09:46 PM   #19
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Ports on a Defensive Handgun?

I would never use a compensated gun for defense. The ports will send up substantial muzzle flash into your line of sight, giving you temporary night-blindness. (that's not what you want in a night-time shooting situation.) Also, the muzzle blast is noticeably increased with a ported gun.

But the most dangerous thing about using a ported gun for defense is this:

You do not know where your hands and face will be, relative to the gun, when you are forced to fire. (You may be in a struggle for the gun, for instance.) Or you may be holding the gun in a close-to-the-body retention position.
Hot gasses, lead, jacketing material and burning powder will emanate from the ports when the gun is fired, possibly badly burning or pemanently blinding you.

Take a look at this photo:

Now, on the subject of 4 inch versus 6 inch barrels -
I would choose a 4 inch, with .38 Special +P if working in the city.
If I were a Game Warden, Forest Ranger or Highway Patrolman, I would choose a 6 inch, with .357 Magnum rounds.

Good luck on your new job, PF!

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Old August 25, 2001, 11:55 PM   #20
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I have a mint condition 6" S&W 686 that I bought in the late 80's. My only regret over 10 years later is that I didn't go for a 4" version instead.

Now, unless I find a 4" that is every bit as clean as my 6" (hard to do!) I am stuck because I won't by a new one unless the agreement is repealed

I'd opt for the 4" gun.
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