July 30, 2006, 05:24 PM
After seeing Harv's BEAUTIFUL SAA, I can't help but wonder....why does everyone seem to love the 4 3/4" Bbl. length for Single-Actions? Is there no love for the 5.5" or 7.5" anymore? Or am I just bizarre?

And if you got the longer barrel(s), how about some pics? Eveyone loves pics:D

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Harve Curry
July 30, 2006, 08:36 PM
I like the 4 3/4" because it is close to 5", it has enough sight radius to aim good. I can sit down in the truck, ride horse back, or walk.

Bill B.
July 30, 2006, 08:45 PM
Personally I think the Colt SA 4 3/4 is one of the most elegant revolvers ever made. I would have to say that the best shooting SA's I ever owned was a pair of 44/40's that were fully engraved with 7 1/2 in. barrels. You would think the longer barrels would make shooting them from a holster a bit slower but it never seemed to be the case with this pair. A friend wanted them a bit more that I did so I took his cash but still wish I had them. Currently I have the 5 1/2 version and it is a very good in between length. I still think there is nothing prettier than a nickle Colt SA in 4 3/4. :)

Jim Watson
July 30, 2006, 08:57 PM
The 4 3/4" SA sells today on sex appeal.
You will note that when it counted, the US Army issued 7 1/2" barrels for the purpose of shooting mounted enemies (and their horses), and 5 1/2" for the purpose of defending emplacements (the "Artillery model").
The 4 3/4" was for easy urban carry and shootouts across the card table.

I had a 4 3/4" put on my .44 Special when I bought the .44-40 cylinder for it. Sexy, man, sexy. Then found that it would not shoot the two rounds together. I had the 7 1/2" returned and it now shoots both near enough the same for CAS purposes.

Jim March
July 30, 2006, 09:12 PM
4 and 3/4" was the length of the ejector housing on all SAAs. Cutting the barrel flush with the ejector made for a good-looking, well-balanced gun. can always fill the end of the ejector housing with putty epoxy and then put a smiley face there and nail polish over it :).

Jim K
July 30, 2006, 09:28 PM
Well, I agree with John (Wayne, that is) that the 4 3/4" is just right. Actually, I just like guns that sit back in the hand. I have done some of my best .22 shooting with a 5" bull barrel Ruger and a 5" barrel S&W Model 41.

I think the 7 1/2 inch is too long and the result is that with the long sight radius, movement is multiplied making it look like I am less steady than I really am. As for longer barrels, let me say that I once knew a guy who owned a 16" barrel "Buntline" SA he carried in his belt. I had a low sports car at the time and one day when he sat down in it the end of the barrel poked into what I shall describe as an extremely sensitive area. Had I had any intent of buying a long barrel SA, his screams gave me a reason to stick to 4 3/4.


Old Fuff
July 30, 2006, 09:34 PM
As Elmer Keith once said, "long barrels went out when we started riding pick-up trucks instead of horses..." Then there is the myth that gunfighters in the old west prefered the short length. (Want to see my super-fast draw again??? :D )

Anyway I once won an early-day metallic silhouette match on the 200 meter course using a 7 1/2" Colt SAA and regular .45 Colt cartridges - why I did this is another story. The 1880's Army manual had trajectory tables for the Colt running out to 1000 yards!! :eek: This of course was for shooting at massed troops, not individual targets. My point: The 7 1/2" length will reach out and touch... whatever. The shorter lengths are easier to pack - especially in this day and age - so I usually opt for the 4 3/4" length, with a full understanding that I'm giving up something.

But then I have a Ruger Blackhawk in .44 Magnum, and find its 5 1/2" barrel is better balanced then a shorter length because of the Ruger's larger, heavier frame and cylinder.

My super-fast draw has also slowed down a bit... So I don't try any of that stuff anymore with a single-action. For the record the guys in the real wild west didn't either.

The best answer is to buy the length that will best do what you want too do. What somebody else likes is a moot point.

Harve Curry
July 30, 2006, 09:57 PM
The short barrels will shoot accurately, they just don't have the longer sighting plane and the bullet won't be able to accelorate as fast.

Bob Munden has a part of his show where he shoots a 2" 38spl at a steel plate 100 yards away.

I had a very worn 1956 vintage 4 3/4" Colt Woodsman Match target 22 once and I could shoot it better then a single shot Merrill/RPM long barrel target pistol at that 3 Points Silioute range. I wish I still had it.

Old Fuff
July 30, 2006, 10:14 PM
Bob Munden has a part of his show where he shoots a 2" 38spl at a steel plate 100 yards away.

In the past I've done that too...:what:

But I've had more hits when the barrel was longer - up to 6 1/2 inches. :D

The longer barrels will give you a better sight radius, more velocity, and flatter trajectory. The shorter lengths are easier to pack. Take your choice. ;)

Harve Curry
July 30, 2006, 10:55 PM
Old Fluff has it right.

July 31, 2006, 08:51 AM
I just bought the Ruger in 7 1/2" because Dad has a Series I Colt the same size. I'll never own Dads gun :banghead: since my brother was smart enough to name his son after him so the Colt will go down to him. Even though I'm the gun collector in the family.:fire:

Chuck R.
July 31, 2006, 02:48 PM
I’ve got .45 Colt SAAs in all three lengths, to tell you the truth I prefer the 5 ˝”.

Maybe its because it was my first SAA, but it “feels” right to me. My 7 ˝” feels a little nose heavy. When I was shooting a lot of CAS, I’d always try to use my 5 ˝ inch on the “far” targets.


July 31, 2006, 07:43 PM
I have a Ruger Blackhawk with a 6.5" bbl. Nice gun, but I've always found it a little nose heavy. So when I started shopping for a New Vaquero I searched until I found one with the 4-5/8" bbl. I'm happy with the balance point being closer to my hand but what I like most about that length is that it is "handier" for carrying, riding, etc. (I'm not a CAS shooter... I carry it around loaded for snakes, javelina, and coyotes). And, to my eyes, it has a better look than the longer barrels.

I knew I was giving up about a half-inch of sight radius over the 5.5" model. Not much, really, especially when you consider they aren't match grade sights or anything.

I've often heard the point made that the longer barrels are going to give you better MV and, therefore, better ballistics. Anybody got any hard data? The only published MV data I've seen uses the standard 4" test barrel. Anybody know the difference in MV between a 4.75" bbl and a 5.5" bbl shooting a factory load of 38 or 357 or 45?

July 31, 2006, 11:13 PM
It seems I've opened a minor can of worms. Fun.

Given all the "compromise" arguments, it would seem 5.5 would be ideal--not too short, but short enough to carry and be accurate.

Jim March
August 1, 2006, 04:04 AM
Part of it may be about the caliber. My 4.68" barrel Ruger New Vaq is in .357, most of the ammo for which is optimized for 4" barrels. So for a home/carry defense gun (with improved sights) and maybe occasional woods defense in the lower 48, I don't think I'm losing much.

In a lower-velocity round like 44-40 or 45LC, a longer tube may give you more "oomph". Esp. if you're talking about 45LC in something close to it's original horsepower level and not the "might as well be a 44Mag" 45LC+Ps.

Sidenote: why did Colt standardize on 4.75" and Ruger 4.68"? Or is the Colt really closer to 4.68" and Ruger cloned that?

Old Fuff
August 1, 2006, 10:40 AM
Sidenote: why did Colt standardize on 4.75" and Ruger 4.68"? Or is the Colt really closer to 4.68" and Ruger cloned that?

Bill Ruger's first single action was the .22 Single Six, and he slightly downsized the ejector tube because is scaled better to the gun, and the rod was more then long enough to eject the .22 RF cartridge.

When the .357 Magnum Blackhawk came along he used the same ejector assembly for manufacturing economy - the slightly shorter length didn't matter.

When the barrel is made the same length as the ejector tube it comes out 4.68". Over at Colt it happens to come out 4.75". As a practical issue it doesn't matter. :)

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