4", 6" or 8" Barrel for .22LR Plinker


December 20, 2010, 04:18 PM
I'm looking to get a .22LR revolver for general target shooting and plinking. In short, something just for fun.

The plan was to get a used S&W or Colt, but I'm not sure about the barrel length. All of my prior revolvers have been centerfire with a 3" or 4" barrel, so I lean toward a 4" barrel, but since It's not like I'm using it to "train" for my other revolvers, I can also see the benefit in a 6" or 8" barrel.

I noticed 6" guns do tend to be a bit pricier, but not that much more. Assuming gun costs are the same, any thoughts on the best barrel length or will it even matter? Thanks.

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December 20, 2010, 04:21 PM

Couldn't help myself. :D


Vern Humphrey
December 20, 2010, 04:23 PM
There isn't that much difference between a 4" barrel and a 6" barrel. Ask yourself this, are your current 6" barreled guns inconvienient? Is there a time when you wish you had a shorter barrel? If the answer is yes, then go with the 4".

But if the answer is no, then there is no penalty for 2" more sight radius.

December 20, 2010, 05:03 PM
If I wanted to spend the extra money to get something just for target shooting I would probably do 6". 4" would be too close to what I already have (my .22 has a 3" barrel), and 8" is a bit too unwieldy for me.

December 20, 2010, 05:52 PM
I bought a Heritage Arms Rough Rider, It's a SAA "Clone" with a transfer bar safety. I got it with the standard sights, and a 6 inch barrel. I paid 140 for it with a .22LR and a .22MAG cylinder.

Personally, I'd go with the 6in barrel again, get both cylinders, but I'd splurge for the adjustable sights. This gun is ridiculously fun I spent a few hours and 1K rounds through it at the range not too long ago and had one helluva time.

December 20, 2010, 07:01 PM
A 4 or 6-inch barrel works for me. For a "range" gun, I would probably lean toward a 6" barrel, but I absolutely love my Smith M57 with an 8 3/8" barrel. The only Colt DA revolver that comes to mind with a longer than 6" barrel is the Trooper Mark III. Got nickel one in 22WMR with the 8" barrel. But it is not a shooter for me.

December 20, 2010, 07:16 PM
For just plain fun, a long barrel is great. My 9.5" Single Six...
When squirrel season is over in Feb., the scope will come off and irons back on for plinking.

December 20, 2010, 07:53 PM
Find a Dan Wesson .22 revolver "Pistol Pack"....then you can change to whatever barrel length needed.

Here's one that has the 8" barrel, 6" barrel, 4" barrel, 2" barrel.....NIB. http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=207422226

December 20, 2010, 08:36 PM
To help narrow down your search, do you have a preference as far as DA or SA?

December 20, 2010, 09:04 PM
I've always been partial to the 4 inch.

5 or 5 1/2 is a close second. 6 is ok.

8 is just too long for me.

December 20, 2010, 11:00 PM
I'm looking for a DA revolver. I expect it'll be shot about 75% in SA, but I do like shooting in DA as well.

"I would probably lean toward a 6" barrel, but I absolutely love my Smith M57 with an 8 3/8" barrel."

I actually ran across an M57 with 8 3/8 barrel locally for $525. I was just hesitant about the barrel length since it seemed a bit too much. You like it though?

December 21, 2010, 01:10 AM
I'm not going to be a lot of help, but I'll offer some guidance in how to choose....it is all about the balance in your hand.

I have two go to .22lr DA revolvers: a 4" Colt Diamondback and a 6" S&W M-17. They both balance very much the same as the 4" tube is heavier with it's underlug.

I tried a 6" Diamondback when they came out and it was just too nose heavy, I also tried a 4" M-18 and it didn't have enough front weight.

If I had it to do over again, I would be very tempted to seek out a Dan Wesson .22lr Pistol Pack...besides the different barrel lengths, it was also available with heavy and light barrel shrouds to tailor it's balance to your preference

December 21, 2010, 04:51 AM
I don't think it makes much practical difference. If you're shooting seriously, a longer barrel gives you a longer sight radius and in theory more precise sight alignment, but for plinking I doubt it makes a lot of difference.

For what it's worth, most of my 22 handguns are in the 5-6" barrel range.

December 21, 2010, 06:15 AM
They are all fun.
I have a custom S&W 8 3/8 inch model 17 that is almost boring it's such a good shooter.
Then, like you, I wanted to know if a shorter barrel would be more fun. So, I went out and found a 4 inch S&W model 18. Turns out they are both equally as much fun.
I think I enjoy the shorter barrel just a little bit more for just being able to whip that short barrel around easier and hit multiple targets.
Here's a couple pics.
Both are very accurate guns.
Good luck on your choice.




December 21, 2010, 08:17 AM
I finally bought my first decent .22 revolver - a 4" 617 - new 9/08. It was followed a year later by the then only SS J-frame choice, a LNIB 5" 63 from a friend's estate. Both got larger grips, lighter springs, and HiViz front sights. Great plinkers - but I kept thinking how nice the 3" 317K would be - if it was in SS! Then - last January - S&W announced a new 3" 63 for 2010. Unfortunately, they were a tad slow in their building them, not shipping until last month. My back-ordered one arrived just before Thanksgiving - and was an instant hit.


It looks different now, as I have since added a set of the 60 Pro wood grips from S&W. I put 200 more rounds downrange with it yesterday - making 500+ since it's first cleaning - maybe 700+ since new - all Fed 36gr HP's from WallyWorld 550 packs (Yeah, I spend the money on the revolver - then it's el-cheapo for ammo!). The 60 Pro grips really help, too, as I found out yesterday. Oddly, my lockwork is factory stock - and still as good as my tricked-out 5" 63. I don't know how much lighter it would be with other springs - the stock 5" 63 was like the stock 317K's I've pulled the trigger on - horrid DA. Far better now - but that 3" 63 was better right 'out of the box'. Of course, the 4" 617 is better still.

Now - barrel lengths... the 4" 617 will likely be here when the others are gone - supurb range gun. The 5" 63 probably points better, but it's larger 'square conversion' Hogues are still rubber - and I am not fond of rubber grips. The 3" 63 is so handy - and a super-natural pointer. It's hard to put down. Of course, the X8 DS-10 speedloader and 4 x 8 base plate help there, as does the 60 Pro wood grip. A 6" 617 is too 'front heavy' for me. Sorry, not much help, other than to say that I'd probably opt for a 3" 63 or 4" 617 - but a good price on a 5" 63, no longer available new, would be an attention getter, too.

I did have a beauty of a Ruger SS - but I was tired of SA's. I love DA shooting - probably 99% of my shooting is such.


December 21, 2010, 09:36 AM
"I have a custom S&W 8 3/8 inch model 17 that is almost boring "

True, I have my father's Model 17-4 with an 8-3/8" barrel and a 2x Burris scope.

You want really boring, try a S&W 647 K-frame. It's a .17 HMR with an 8-3/8" barrel and a scope. It was my father's too. I replaced the rebound spring for him when it was new and got the SA pull down to 2.5#. He was 80-something and shot from the bench. He'll be 89 in two weeks, but doesn't shoot anymore.

I also have a 4" Model 17-6 and a 38-year-old 5.5" Single Six Convertible.

I think I need a 6" K-22 to fill the gap. :)

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