3" vs. 4" barrel .357mag .... ?


August 15, 2003, 02:18 PM
Ok, I am on a revolver kick big time. After shooting a friends model 19 I just gotta get one. Now my delima is down to what barrel length to get. The gun will be for shooting pleasure, trail gun, possible carry. I can't decided if I want a 3" or 4" though. I know I will mostly be range shooting and I want adjustable sights. I also know that I want a GP100 or L-frame (686) because i enjoy shooting .357mag loads and I want the gun to hold up. I will eventually decide on the balance of the gun, but wanted to hear some performance input on accuracy and velocity loss b/t the 3" and 4" (assume only 50 to 100 fps?). I understand the whole sight radius thing, but the 3" just 'looks right' to me. The problem is that the Ruger's have fixed sight only 3" and I think (THINK) that all new production S&W's in 3" are only in the K-frame with exception to the 2-1/2" 686.

So here is the question, if I won't be carrying that much, but would like the option to, is the drop in barrel length and weight that big of a difference when carrying or can it be done with the 4" (BTW current carry is 5" Colt Govt 1991A1)?

I am looking for a fun utility gun. My other option is getting a 4" .357mag and then a lightweight snubbie in .38spl +P for carry (cuz I won't shoot .357's out of those little beast). Or I could get a GP100 in 4" and a 60/66/64/SP101 in 3" I guess, but I would like to have an all in one.

Basically I think I would go with a L-frame/GP100 3" if I knew it could be as accurate/shootable as the 4" (I am still young and the eyes are still working well). :confused:

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August 15, 2003, 02:41 PM
I am going through the same dilemna at this time. I have decided on the GP100 but can't decide on the 3" fixed sight with full underlug or the 4" with adjustable sights. The 3" feels great but so does the 4". I plan to use it primarily for recreational/range shooting so most people are telling me to get the 4" but am still very much undecided. I'll be following this thread and very anxious to know what others recommend. Best, Mike

Ohen Cepel
August 15, 2003, 03:01 PM
I like the DA Smiths better than the DA Rugers.

I have several of each. I would really suggest looking at a 686 in 4in. Great all around gun! Little large, but not bad.

I think 3in Smiths are usually limited runs. Not sure.

August 15, 2003, 03:50 PM
Just to double check ...

60 3" .357mag is a J-Frame
66 4" .357mag is a K-Frame
686 4" .357mag is a L-Frame

Or is the 60 a K-frame?

If I was shooting 70% + or - .38's, will the K frames hold up to the other 30% or so of shooting .357mag loads?

I really liked the balance of the 19 4", so I am considering the 66 more and more. I hate making choices like this. :confused:

For those with the 3" 60, how are .38's (perceived recoil) to shoot? I enjoyed shooting medium .357 loads out of the 4" 19, so if it is < or = than that, it may be in the running!

August 15, 2003, 04:00 PM
I liked my old 4" 686 A LOT, it is still a great .357 but a friend won't sell it back :(. I could be happy with any 3" to 4" Smith, used or new. They are all good, each with specific strong points and a lot of history.

The 3" M65 is handy and the fixed sights work better than I expected.

A 3.5" N frame .357 (like the "pre" M27) really brings smiles to my face; I don't know why but they just feel great. The 4" N frames are great too.

A 3" or 4" K frame (M19 or M66) is a great classic with adjustable sights. Dittos for the 3" and 4" L frames (M686 or M586). Some folks like their fixed sight L frames (M681 or M581). I don't know that I'd shoot enough magnums to wear out a K frame.

The J frames, like the M60 & Centennial & bodyguard, are really handy. I'd get one in .357 "just in case" I ever only had magnum ammo to load it with. But the .38's certainly have worked for a lot of folks for a long time.

These are just the .357's. Try out the .44 Specials sometime and see what you think.

August 15, 2003, 05:48 PM
I held a few different lengths of 686+ and decided on the 4". Seems like it weighs too much to 'only' get a 3". I also read statements from people more experienced than I saying 4" was the most flexible length.

August 15, 2003, 06:09 PM
The 4" length is almost perfectly balanced and has nearly as good accuracy as a 6" gun out to a range of about 25 yards. I would get a SW686 or Model 66 rather than a taurus, because smiths have better triggers and actions.

Standing Wolf
August 15, 2003, 10:03 PM
...a lightweight snubbie in .38spl +P for carry (cuz I won't shoot .357's out of those little beast)

My pre-agreement Smith & Wesson model 60 with 2.125" barrel is nowhere near as uncomfortable to shoot with full house .357 magnum rounds as I expected. It's not a target gun, nor is it my first choice for a day's worth of plinking, but it might be worth your while to rend a compact .357 magnum before crossing it off your list.

Gary A
August 15, 2003, 10:51 PM
Just FYI, the 3 inch version of the GP100 only comes as a fixed sight gun.
If you want adjustables you have to go to 4 inch.

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