Hunting barrel legnth


September 2, 2007, 07:33 PM
I知 looking for a revolver for backpacking and deer hunting this fall. Because it will be used for Backpacking, I知 leaning toward a .44 S&W 629 5 inch barrel. I知 also still considering a GP-100. The problem is that Wisconsin has a 5.5 inch minimum barrel length for handgun hunting. The exact wording of the reg is as follows (To be legal for deer, handguns must larger and have a 5 1/2 inch minimum barrel from the firing pin to muzzle with the action closed.)

The way I read this, a 4 inch barrel may be legal as long as the cylinder is 1.5 inches or longer. Is this correct or does a revolver advertised as a 4 inch gun include the cylinder?

Also, it always seems to rain on the days I choose to hunt. Is this a gun anyone would have a problem taking into the rain for a few days? I know any gun will rust in time, but I'm wondering how the S&W would fare against the Ruger.

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September 2, 2007, 07:45 PM
Revolvers are measured from the forcing cone to the muzzle, so the cylinder is not counted. If, as I read it, the charge hole of the cylinder is counted as additional length of barrel for the state's purposes, the 4 inch S&W comes in with about a tenth of an inch to spare.

Having owned a GP-100 and (right now) 4 Smiths, I'd happily take the 629 5 inch. I was perusing the funshop last week and found a 5 inch 629DX that balanced just perfectly, and felt great in the hand. I would have gladly traded my 4 inch for it immediately, if they would have gone for it.

September 2, 2007, 07:53 PM
At first I was looking at the 6 inch, but decided that shorter would be better for backpacking. Any idea how much accuracy and velocity I would be giving up with a .44 with 5 inch barrel. How about a 4 incher.

Snapping Twig
September 2, 2007, 08:03 PM
It's on the order of 60fps per inch of barrel. You wouldn't lose enough to worry about with a 5" and if it measures to be legal for your purposes, the 4" would be good too. Elmer Keith carried a 4" and dropped a deer at @ 600 yards with it. Plenty of power.

As to accuracy, depends on how much you practice with it. I have a 3" 629 that I can hit a 12" plate at 100 yards, so whatever you decide on, settle on a load and practice.

September 6, 2007, 10:25 AM
Thanks, that's exactly what I was looking for. I guess the other question is could a guy comfortably fire 20 shots in a day through a 5 inch S&W .44. I do handload, but I'd probably want to practice with the load I plan to hunt with.

What about .44 specials? I've never fired them, but I'd imagine that you could comfortably go all day with them.

September 6, 2007, 03:50 PM
I guess this pretty much depends on you, your loads, and your gun. Personally, I have been out on several occasions with my bud's Vaquero and gone through 50rnds in a day shooting 240grn factory loads without suffering any repercussions whatsoever. Maybe start out with a box of 44spcls to learn the dynamics of whatever particular gun you get, then step it up to your hunting loads to practice for accuracy. Shoot I don't know, maybe I am just rambling on here...


September 6, 2007, 06:07 PM
.44 S&W 629 5 inch barrel.

I just bought one. It's agreat gun. I'd highly recommend it. I bought is specifically for hunting and to partner with my Marlin 1894SS .44.

As far as shooting it...20 rounds is not bad. After 50 your hand may feel it a little. The first time I shot it however, I was done after 20 and after 50 my hand was numb. The more I shoot it the better it gets.

Finally, The balance of the 5" full lugged barrel of the 629 classic IMHO is perfect.

September 6, 2007, 08:10 PM
I've never hunted with it, but my .45 Colt 4 5/8" Blackhawk is accurate enough with iron sights to hunt with out to 50 yards which is about my limit with irons anyway. I've been thinking about using it on deer and hogs for stand hunting. I mean, I've carried it on dog hunts for hog for back up, but we always used knives to make the kill. The gun was for emergencies. At the range, though, I can put 6 shots off a rest into 2-2.5" at 50 yards. I think my field accuracy should be plenty adequate with it at that range for hunting.

There are sure some weird hunting regs around the country.

September 6, 2007, 10:03 PM
I've got a couple 4" S&W .44's. Stainless (629) is my preference for a "bush"/hard use gun. The 4" is decidedly more difficult to shoot with pinpoint accuracy than a 6" (or longer) barrel. A lot of practice helps. For carry purposes the 4" barrel is substantially easier to pack than the longer barrels. I guess like everything, it's a trade off.

September 6, 2007, 10:05 PM

Yes there are some weird hunting regs. floating around the country. I know a state where you can use ANY centerfire revolver . . . but only hollowpoint bullets.:eek:

Thus, I'd be "legal" shooting my little 4" barreled S&W in .32 long with a hollowpoint . . . but not with a big, heavy lead flat nose bullet like Elmer Keith liked in a .44 (and that he killed a deer with at over 600 yards).:rolleyes:

Crazy indeed.

My .44mag is a S&W 29-5 with a six in barrel, topped with a Holosight. I have simply lost count of the deer dropped in their tracks with this wonderful revolver in the past decade or more.

I've come to the conclusion that its 6" tube is just about perfect for a good shootin' .44mag.

Ummm . . . it is also danged accurate too!

Here is the one and only target I fired at recently at the range . . . standing, unsupported or braced . . . at 50 yards. BTW . . . the two high shots were called flyers too! No kidding.

This is one sweet hunting wheelgun!


September 6, 2007, 10:29 PM
I retired my rifles several years ago and began hunting with scoped S&W .44 Mags. Tested pistols with 4", 5", 6", 6.5", and 8 3/8" barrels with scopes of 2X and 4X. My final choice was 6.5" barrel M629 Classic revolver with 2X Leupold EER scope. Worked great for me. I even made a shoulder holster to carry the scoped pistol under my coat. The accuracy of a 6.5" S&W .44 with 2X scope is very surprising and got the job done! Good luck with your choice.

Good shooting and be safe.

September 7, 2007, 01:47 AM
4 and 5 inchers are good hunters and hikers,my 6.5 taurus is just a little on the long side for hiking but makes a great hunter.Someday I plan on getting a 4 or 5 incher for hiking to go with my Marlin 1894ss 44mag.

September 7, 2007, 11:21 AM
Not much to say except my personal opinion on barrel length for hunting firearms. A 6" barrel is about right overall. I feel a 4" is too short unless you use it as a backup piece. 5"; I could probably live with that barrel length. I like my 8 3/8" Smith Model 57 for hunting. I don't know why exactly, but I shoot that one better than my 4" models. (I don't have a 6" in that model.)

Choice of a particular firearm is always a compromise. Shorter barrel because they are easier to carry or longer barrel because most people shoot them better? I lean to the shooting better as the higher priority.

I have a 9.5" SRH and in hindsight, I wish I would have gotten the 7.5". But the gun is used strictly for hunting or at the range. So other than the extra weight of the extra 2", there isn't much difference for me.

I think a 5" to 6" length (depending on model) is a great compromise barrel length for the purpose you plan.

September 7, 2007, 03:42 PM
Thanks for all the info. Sounds like the five inch S&W is the way to go. I just got done ordering it so it should be here in a week. $735 at a local store was the best price I could find. It sounded pretty good compared to the $900 price tag that Gander Mountain told me.

September 7, 2007, 03:48 PM
Thanks for all the info. Sounds like the five inch S&W is the way to go. I just got done ordering it so it should be here in a week. $735 at a local store was the best price I could find. It sounded pretty good compared to the $900 price tag that Gander Mountain told me.

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