.38 Spl Revolver: 4 inch or 6 inch barrel?


September 28, 2011, 07:36 AM
Which barrel length do you recommend for me to use on a .38 special revolver for home defense? Also, is Taurus a good brand?

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September 28, 2011, 07:47 AM
Four & no.

Expanded, the longer barrel length means the gun is easier to wrestle away from you (leverage) and harder to maneuver in close quarters.
A search on this and other forums will show a lsrge number of complaints about Taurus revolvers being non functional straight from the box. You may get a good one. You may get a lemon. If you get a lemon you will have to pay shipping to Taurus to get it fixes and they may take months to make good on it. Stick to S&W or Ruger.

September 28, 2011, 07:50 AM
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^ +1

September 28, 2011, 07:52 AM
I'm prejudice but I'd recommend a S&W 4", perhaps a Model 64. I have a 67, it has adjustable sights, the 64 are fixed, but simply for home defense the 64 is fine. And in case you're wondering, I would not recommend a .357 for HD, not good for shooting in confined spaces. Consider stainless steel as it's easier to maintain (the 64 is SS). Good luck.

September 28, 2011, 07:57 AM
Four, certainly. 6" revolvers are fine target or hunting guns, but not optimal for carry or defensive purposes. (Yes, they work fine, just not as well as a 3" or 4".)

Taurus is worth some research before you buy. Do a search here on Taurus quality or Taurus customer service and you should have plenty of reading material.

Some folks have gotten pretty terrific guns that they'll claim to like better than S&Ws or Rugers. Some folks (more folks, it seems, but that probably can't really be so...) have gotten guns that were very poorly made, and which took multiple trips back to the factory to improve -- if they could be fixed at all.

Personally, I'd look at CDNN's or J&G Sales' web sites and find one of their S&W Model 64s and have one shipped to my local dealer. These are security company trade-ins (carried a lot, shot very little), come in 4", fixed sights, round or square butt, and many are already DAO -- all for just a bit over $250! (Here's a bunch of them: http://www.jgsales.com/index.php/smith-wesson/revolver/cPath/16_211_431)

Best deal going, for sure!

September 28, 2011, 08:12 AM
There was a time when I would have said Taurus made good guns for the money. Maybe they still are when compared to new guns from Smith & Wesson or Ruger, but with the number of used Smith & Wesson, Colt and Ruger revolvers floating around on the the market, I can't really say that.

I'll look at a Taurus from time to time and think "This one ain't too bad.", but there's always a used Smith & Wesson around for about the same money. So why bother with "maybe?"

The Smith wins. And it will have a 4" barrel.

September 28, 2011, 09:10 AM
The 4" would be ideal but there is nothing cumbersome or unwieldy about a 6" K-frame. Or even a 6" N-frame for that matter. Many folks still depend on shotguns for home defense so I think a 6" revolver should be okay. :rolleyes:

September 28, 2011, 10:08 AM
4" and buy a used S&W over a new whatever.

Black Knight
September 28, 2011, 11:07 AM
A 4" barrel is suffucient for home defense. As for a Taurus being a good choice, with their hit or miss quality control (or lack there of) that I have been hearing about for the last several years I would not trust my life or the lives of my loved ones with a Taurus in any caliber. Also don't limit yourself to strictly the 38 Special. Remember that a 357 Magnum will also safely handle the 38 Special. A revolver in a medium frame from S&W, Ruger, or even a newer Colt would be plenty in 38 Special. Also a 357 Magnum from the same makers in a medium or heavy frame will do the job nicely. While I have 1 38 Special (S&W 10-8) I have six 357 Magnums. One has a 6" barrel, one a 2 1/2" barrel, one a 3" barrel and 3 with 4" barrels. Each has served me very well for their intended purposes. Five of these revolvers I have carried professionally as an armed security officer or Private Investigator/Detective and VA DCJS approved Security Firearms Instructor over the course of 15 years. Im sure you will find a nice revolver that will handle your needs quite well. BTW you can normally find good police trade in S&W's for less than some new Taurus revolvers. That means more money for ammo and training. Good luck and stay safe.

September 28, 2011, 11:08 AM
4" is plenty accurate.

Taurus is OK. I own an '82 vintage & it's fine. But...

If it was going to be my only wheelgun I would opt for a used S&W tho.

September 28, 2011, 11:11 AM
Unless your house is very small, the extra 2" wont hurt and may help you shoot better. If there is somebody pulling on your gun, pull the trigger? Try to find a smith model 10 practice a ton.


September 28, 2011, 11:21 AM
Try to find one of each to handle and perhaps shoot. See which balances better for you. The 6" isn't a terrible burden in home defense. I would only pack one that long if I were hunting with it, but that's me. People do it all the time.

For packing around on a regular basis, 4" is about as long as I'll go. I have a S&W M&P revolver (later got named the model 10) that is a 4", and I've had a couple of others. They are great, and will serve you well. I also have a 3" Model 13 (.357), and it is just a neat, neat gun. I would not tell you not to get a .357, but if you do, you'll probably not want to load it with the heavy hitters in your house. Just some simple, basic 158 gr lead semiwadcutter hollow points in .38 Special will do fine.

That being said, a trade-in model 10 or 64 (blued or stainless, take your pick) would be what I would get over any Taurus, or over any other less expensive brand. They are selling for a LOT new, and they are still making them after over 100 years in production. That should tell you something about those guns! One of the best designs ever.

September 28, 2011, 01:23 PM
Don't know if it's still made, but years ago I lusted for a GP100 .357 with a 3-inch barrel. LGS couldn't get one so I ended up with a 4-incher.

Resist Evil
September 28, 2011, 01:39 PM
I would choose the 6" barrel since it will be a home defense gun and not one you'd be concealing. You will have a longer sight radius but, more importantly, you will experience less felt recoil due to a little more weight up front, so you will enjoy it more while practicing.

If you get a blued revolver, don't store it for extended periods of time in anything that will trap moisture against the gun's finish. You want to avoid rust. Just remember to keep your revolver clean and wipe it down after handling it.

Have fun practicing with it, but I hope you'll never need it.

I own a Smith & Wesson .38spl revolver. My only experience with Taurus was with a semi-auto I used to own, so not relevant here.

September 28, 2011, 01:50 PM
I vote 4-inch...with fixed sights for social purposes and adjustable for recreation. A matter of personal preference.

On Taurus:

I've been into the lockwork of a few Taurus revolvers and I was...underwhelmed. Stick with Smith & Wesson and Ruger...with the former getting the nod from me. Of course, I'm biased, so take that for what it's worth. ;)

Oh. Older pre-lock Smiths. I've been into a couple of the new ones, too...and I wouldn't give two squirts of sour owl spit for'em. If ya gotta have a new one...Ruger.

September 28, 2011, 05:16 PM
Four - Fixed - Smith

Can't go wrong with those three words.

September 28, 2011, 06:15 PM

September 28, 2011, 06:24 PM
My wife has a Taurus .38 spc. 4" at the bed side and it works great at 50 feet she can hit 9 of 10 soda cans. had it for 8 years a few k rounds thru it factory and hand loads. All with no issues I know a lot out there don't like Taurus but we have 2 and both work fine. 6" would be better at longer ranges but at home I think 4" with +P ammo is fine.

September 28, 2011, 06:24 PM
If you get a Taurus, shoot it a whole bunch before you trust it.

A 4-inch revolver is huge by today's standards anyway.

Compared to a "full-size" Glock 22.

September 28, 2011, 06:39 PM
Also asking a brand is like asking is ford or g.m. better? you will get a hundred "THE BEST IS" if it works and is on target what more can it do? Hell my son has a high point .45 I can't hit the ground with but he is good with it and it fires every time with anything he feeds it. So in my opnion brand don't matter it's what works. I had a S&W .38 revolver and gave that P.O.S. away and then had great luck with other S&W's but with the luck on that one I would question trusting my life to it and the New Glock 40 I had it would only eat some ammo so got rid of it also. But my Rugers, Taurus, no question. My kel tech .380 I carry every day (first K.T.) but at 30 feet can cover 10 rounds with 1 hand and never fails to fire. So I have had the best luck with the "chaep stuff"

September 28, 2011, 08:25 PM
Either will work for for pure home defense. In all honesty if you go to shoot someone who has broken into your house you are not going to spend the extra second or two to get a perfect sight picture.

I'd suggest practice with each if possible by raising it an firing ASAP, and get used to aiming by "feel". For some this may be with a 4" others a 6" Remember that concealabilty is not really an issue in home defense. If you can point and shoot a 6" better than at 4" then that is what you should get.

Personally I'm a 6" fan at the range but I find a 4" more "pointable".

September 28, 2011, 09:05 PM
With out question it would be a 4" fixed sight S&W K frame ala M10, M64, I prefer the M10 myself. Here is a great story about one man and what he has accomplished with his. He has done some extensive reloading and experimenting with old M10 over the years as well, and it's still going strong.
This poster has opened more than a few peoples eyes of just effective the .38 SPL can be including myself. It's a shame that people relegate this fine cartridge to snubbies now a days.


September 28, 2011, 10:28 PM
4" Ruger, Smith and Wesson or Colt chambered for .357mag would be my vote.

September 28, 2011, 10:44 PM
4" and buy a used S&W over a new whatever.

With out question it would be a 4" fixed sight S&W K frame ala M10, M64...

Absolutely. And a .38 is perfectly adequate for all indoor and most outdoor scenarios.

September 29, 2011, 01:34 AM
I would opt for the extra performance of a 6" barrel. But it really depends on which particular 4" and which 6". I hated the 6" 686...too muzzle heavy and unwieldy. The 4" 686 is just about perfect. On the lighter K frame, the 6" Model 14 is just perfection.

September 29, 2011, 02:27 AM
model 10 revolvers can be had for well under $300 and they are great guns. oh and 4 inch.

September 29, 2011, 09:53 AM
I'd also recommend a 4" barrel as it's the best compromise of accuracy and handling for a home defense revolver. I will however speak up for Taurus as the one I had (650 CIA all steel .357 magnum snubby) was accurate and reliable. I never needed to make use of their customer service so I have no opinion on that. That said, I now only own S&W and a used 4" Model 10 can be had for peanuts.

September 30, 2011, 02:12 AM
4" I suggest a S&W model 64 A Great revolver

Peter M. Eick
September 30, 2011, 08:14 AM
Given the choice I would go with a 4" but my preference is 5" 38's


The 4" is on the bottom and the 5" is in the middle. 6.5" is on the top. I just find the 5" to be the optimal general handling size.

September 30, 2011, 09:38 AM
My answer would be a 4 inch. A S&W model 10/64 or a Ruger Police Service Six. The Ruger Service Six was made in 38 special or 357 magnum. Both of these revolvers are affordable and very reliable.

Onward Allusion
September 30, 2011, 01:20 PM
.38 Spl Revolver: 4 inch or 6 inch barrel?
Which barrel length do you recommend for me to use on a .38 special revolver for home defense? Also, is Taurus a good brand?

Go for a 4" barrel. Taurus revolvers are ok if you get the slightly older ones. Just not the crap in the last couple of years, but that's just my opinion. Heck, for a SD/HD revolver, go with a Smith or Ruger!

September 30, 2011, 01:29 PM
get the 4" S&W and run away from Taurus I had one I learned my lesson.

September 30, 2011, 01:36 PM
get the 4" S&W and run away from Taurus I had one I learned my lesson.

I'm not sure why so many people take the risk associated with purchasing from an inferior company. Considering the cost of a firearm, ammunition, range time, training, eyes, ears, targets, more ammunition, more range time, etc, the slight difference in price between something like a Taurus and something like a Smith/Ruger is almost trivial when you weigh that cost vs the risk of a less-than-adequate product. IMO, of course.

September 30, 2011, 07:44 PM
Since this is for home defense and range shooting, either barrel length will work. Buy whichever feels best to you. If you carry, the shorter barrel has advantages. I also recommend S&W for the quality and action. While more expensive, it will be worth more if you ever want to sell or trade it.

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