Can't decide between 4 and 6 inch 357 magnum


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glug
January 17, 2012, 12:15 AM
I know there have been threads before on this, but I still can't decide and am looking for anything to tip the scales one way. I am pretty set on a Smith and Wesson 686P in either 4 or 6 inch. I have shot both and they are both awesome.

If I were to only have one handgun I'd go with the 4" hands down since the 6" is just too big to carry. But I already have a Beretta 9mm and a 1911, and am just looking to add a nice revolver to my collection.

In particular, I'm looking for anyone who:

Owns both and prefers shooting one over the other? Why?
Owns one and wish they had the other? (Or are glad they don't have the other)

Thanks for your input.

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shiftyer1
January 17, 2012, 12:21 AM
I have a blackhawk and a security-six, I would like a 6 inch barrel for woods carry. I love the 2 I have and if I never find a 6 inch that I just gotta have i'd still be satisfied. But i'm pretty sure i'll stumble across one :)

bikemutt
January 17, 2012, 12:26 AM
For the range and target shooting I've settled on 6" plus, for woods carry I like 4".

Have you tried the 6-shot 686? I have not tried the 686+ but I have noticed that each frame size seems to have it's round count sweet spot, action-wise.

snakeman
January 17, 2012, 12:35 AM
I've shot both and for hunting I prefer the 6" but the 4 is serviceable. I use my 4 all year round for trapping and deer hunting. That said the 4 is easy to conceal and works for hunting/target work. So it's the 4" hands down for me.

chhodge69
January 17, 2012, 12:37 AM
Look into Dan Wesson revolvers and you won't have to choose.

ArchAngelCD
January 17, 2012, 12:46 AM
Like you said, both are nice. If you are going to use this revolver mostly at the range I would buy a 6" barrel revolver. If you are thinking about using it for home defense too I would go with the shorter 4" barrel. I have a 4" M686 and it shoots very well. A 6" would be easier to shoot well because of the longer sight radius.

In the end it will have to come down to what you will be using it for.

Confederate
January 17, 2012, 01:28 AM
I thought about it a long time and suddenly the solution hit me. It was so obvious I wondered why I hadn't thought of it before. I got all three barrel lengths and didn't want the hassles of buying a Dan Wesson Pistol Pac.

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh198/jriler/RugerSecurity-SixTrio_5.jpg

Seriously, though, I think the 4-inch is the way to go. It's great for plinking, self defense and casual shooting. I love my 6-inch Security-Six, but I don't have an ugly underlug barrel. They're too heavy and targets are more difficult to pick up on when they're moving. I'm sorry I sold my S&W 686 4-inch, though. They were beautiful guns and they are exceptionally accurate...or at least the first production models were. (They were intended to compete head to head with the Colt Python. They were gorgeous, too. Now they look like they've been sandpapered by chimpanzees! The rear sights are tapped on and the hammers and triggers are all Metal Injection Molding, which doesn't affect the function, but it just screams "cut corners!" I also like the rear sights to be an integral part of the barrel and I like the old wood grips that came with the 686).

I saw some new wood grips on a 686 recently and they were phenomenal. I just got through trading a shotgun for a 686 6-inch, and I'm going to spend a lot of time polishing the damn thing.

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh198/jriler/686.jpg

This is my "virgin" 686 which I'll probably never shoot. I wish
the new revolvers were this gorgeous. My 686 has a stamped
side plate, which is rare.

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh198/jriler/A686Cylinder.jpg

You can see where S&W beefed up the cylinder. The gun
exudes quality.

scott5
January 17, 2012, 03:00 AM
Hello glug,
Here is a picture of what I like to carry.:neener:

The top one is 8" DW and the bottom one is a 6" Ruger GP

briansmithwins
January 17, 2012, 03:14 AM
Personally I find 6" revolvers don't balance well for me so I would go 4".

Looks like you generally lose 200fps or so going from 4" to 6" but a tight 4" can have higher MV than a loose 6".

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html

LK

TreeDoc
January 17, 2012, 03:54 AM
If it were your only handgun, I'd say get the 4, but usually the only advantage of the 4 over the 6 is it's a little easier to pack and less weight. For what your wanting to do, I'd get the 6.

content
January 17, 2012, 06:23 AM
Hello friends and neighbors // I have the S&W 586, six round,.357 in 4" and 6".
157241

I'm kind of biased though the 6" balances so well for me it is my favorite revolver in .357 cal.

Accuracy is definately with the 6",586 but it has had trigger work and the 4" has not.
I have also put more rounds thru it then any other firearm except my .22's.
This plus the added sighting radius and the 6" should me more accurate.

Return to target speed is less for me as well using the 6".

Additionally, I hope to take a Whitetail one day and 6" would be the least barrel lenght IMHO.

Hope you find what works for you.

GP100man
January 17, 2012, 07:43 AM
Problem , what problem ????

http://i746.photobucket.com/albums/xx110/GP100man/102_0333.jpg

Rshooter
January 17, 2012, 01:01 PM
I have had the 4 inch for about twenty years and finally got myself a 6 inch GP100. The 4 inch is great for carry and practice but the 6 inch is definitely a great gun. Accuracy of the 6 inch is outstanding and I would use it for anything but CCW. I have the half lug 6 inch.

mdauben
January 17, 2012, 01:09 PM
I have a 4-inch 686 that I absolutly love. Its great on my belt or at the range. Despite this, I have been tempted for some time to get a 6-inch 686, too. I think unless you plan on carrying this gun on a daily basis, I would get the 6-inch barrel. Its fine for occasional carry in a shoulder or cross draw holster, and I think a bit better at the range.

Or just get both! ;)

Ky Larry
January 17, 2012, 01:52 PM
I have several of both barrel lengths. As has already been stated, 4"for carry, 6" for the range. If I had to choose only one, I'd go with the 4". My 6" Python is more accurate than my 4" S&W 686 and my Model-19, but not by much.

MrBorland
January 17, 2012, 02:56 PM
The only reason I'd opt for a 6" is if it were for hunting (in which case, it'd be a .44mag). Outside of this, a 6" offers me little advantage over a 4". In fact, a 6" full-lugged gun feels muzzle heavy to me. Accuracy between a 6" and 4" is a shooter issue, and I do well enough with a 4" gun.

JM Browning
January 17, 2012, 03:44 PM
I had a 6" 586, traded it. When I started missing it, I went with a 4" Python. The Colt feels like an extension of my hand and it's more accurate IMHO. I don't carry, just punch holes in paper.

BCRider
January 17, 2012, 03:45 PM
It's really a toss up. There's no doubt that 4 inch balances nicer in the hand and would draw from a holster better if used either for carry or in compeitition. But then the slightly longer sights baseline let's me aim and shoot my 6 inch revolvers a little more accurately wihout quite the same care needed to line up the sights on a 4 inch.

Both are small issues though. The longer barrel balance issue is only noticable if you pick up or shoot both guns back to back. Similarly the sight baseline issue does not give the 2/3 size groups with the 6 inch barrel that the length difference would suggest. The eye and mind does give smaller groups with the 6 but only really by about 10 to 15%. And if extra care and time is given to the 4 inch sights I've found that the difference can be cut down to even less. But it's harder to do this if there's a timer running.

I shoot Speed Steel events at my local club with my 6 inch revolvers and with those the longer sight baseline is an aid. But it's not done from a draw. If it were I'd likely find that the 4.25" new 66 would be better since it would clear the holster that little bit easier and in less time. But I haven't had that gun long enough yet to try it in any SS matches.

I know I haven't told you which to buy. That's because it's you and not me buying and using the gun. Hopefully my own experience with shooting both lengths will aid you in figuring out where the emphasis should be placed in your choice.

Oh, and like MrBorland above I do prefer semi lugged barrels. The full length lugged ones do feel a little nose heavy to me. Mind you that becomes a good thing if you're shooting a steady diet of .357 vs mostly .38Spl like I do.

BYJO4
January 17, 2012, 06:29 PM
I have both the 4" and 6" model 686. While I enjoy shooting both, the 6" just feels better to me and I shoot it a little better. For range use, hunting, or home defense, I would definitely go with the 6".

CSA 357
January 17, 2012, 07:27 PM
if you cant hit with a 4 a 6 wont help you, the 4 is the way to go

TwoEyedJack
January 17, 2012, 07:52 PM
I had a S&W 686 6" and did not really like it for carrying in a holster. Now I have a 4" S&W66 in a very nice Milt Sparks Hackathorn Special crossdraw. For me, the holster/gun combination is almost more important than the gun itself.

http://img685.imageshack.us/img685/4705/sany0794s.jpg
http://img708.imageshack.us/img708/9794/sany0795.jpg

RalphS
January 17, 2012, 08:43 PM
I have a 4 inch 357 and am very happy with it. It's (one of) my woods/trail carry guns.

If you're going to carry it, get the 4 inch.

If you're just going to target shoot with it, get the 6 inch.

kbbailey
January 17, 2012, 09:17 PM
for me: trail, carry, defense=4"
Hunt, targets= 6-7.5"

Steve CT
January 17, 2012, 10:51 PM
Take your pick, with Dan Wesson you can have it all

http://i175.photobucket.com/albums/w160/sdrct/DSCN0418-1-2.jpg

Seriously, a DW revolver is a great choice

Hotshot10
January 17, 2012, 11:05 PM
I bought a 4" 686 a few months ago, while a friend of mine bought the same with a 6" barrel.

I don't see too much of a difference. Mine feels slightly more balanced, whereas his feels just slightly front-heavy. However, his has less perceived recoil than mine does. (These are my own opinions, of course.) If there is a difference in accuracy, I'm not proficient enough yet to notice it.

TimboKhan
January 18, 2012, 01:32 AM
Like virtually everyone else, I say go with the 4 inch. My main reason is simply that it is easier to handle. There may be some minor tradeoff in accuracy or power, but I can't shoot to that tradeoff, and so I go with what feels more lively in my hand.

jhvaughan2
January 18, 2012, 01:58 AM
I agree with virtually everyone here. To sum it up: 4" if you want to quickly draw it from a holster. 6" if you want to hunt. DW if you want both.

Ralph G. Briscoe
January 18, 2012, 02:12 AM
I have Colt Trooper III's with 4 and 6 inch barrels. I seem to always go to the 6" when I head for the range. That 50% longer sighting radius makes it easier for me to hit what I'm shooting at. Less muzzle jump and more velocity with heavy loads too. Since you already have a couple of CC guns you might consider the longer barrel.

VeeArDoubleyouSee
January 18, 2012, 02:56 AM
I have a 6" .357 that's delightful, never tried a 4" but no desire to either.

skidder
January 18, 2012, 03:23 AM
I Couldn't Decide, So....
I thought about it a long time and suddenly the solution hit me. It was so obvious I wondered why I hadn't thought of it before. I got all three barrel lengths and didn't want the hassles of buying a Dan Wesson Pistol Pac.

http://i256.photobucket.com/albums/hh198/jriler/RugerSecurity-SixTrio_5.jpg


WOW! Nice pistol pack, I'm still in the hunt for a short Six.


Confederate-- I like the way you think. The Ruger pistol pack is a solid choice.

http://i1212.photobucket.com/albums/cc456/exlogger/ruger/357s2.jpg

Zoober
January 18, 2012, 03:48 AM
I have a 4" 686 and just yesterday fired a 6" Highway Patrolman. Between the two with 158gr loads, I didn't notice the difference between the two, and that's saying a lot considering how big the HP is.

In an L-Frame, a 4" barrel is the best balanced IMO.

Ala Dan
January 18, 2012, 12:42 PM
4" for carry, and 6" for shoot'in~! ;) :D

The longer sight radius from a 6" barrel tends to lend its-self to better accuracy.

LNK
January 18, 2012, 12:57 PM
All good answers. You have to decide if hunting (6")with it or carrying (4") it is in your future. If so, decide accordingly. There is not enough of a difference in performance/accuracy to matter. Handle them both and decide which feels better. Then buy that one.

LNK

NG VI
January 18, 2012, 01:06 PM
Personally I like the balance of a 4" revolver much better than the same sized 6".

glug
January 18, 2012, 05:17 PM
Thanks for all the input guys, I didn't expect so many replies! Still seems pretty close with good points on both sides.

I notice many folks saying 6" for hunting, but wouldn't a 44 magnum be better for that? I don't hunt, at all, btw, I just want a nice looking revolver that goes boom and will be fun to take to the range... At this point I'm ever so slightly leaning toward the 4" just out of personal aesthetic preference, but all my friends are telling me go big or go home :P I may have to make another trip to the range and rent both at the same time to make the final call.

Stainz
January 18, 2012, 05:43 PM
My first ever .357M was a new 6" 66-6, bought on closeout 9/03. I added Ahrends grips and a HiViz sight the day it arrived. I have never shot 'real' Magnums in it - fun/accurate/balanced shooter. Sadly, I added a new 5" h-l 686P '04 Stocking Dealer Exclusive' 12/04. Even more fun - 7-shooter, too. The 6" 66 would languish...

Skip ahead - 5/08 - I went into a LGS to buy a new 4" 686SSR... left with a new 4" 627 Pro. Moonclip-ready, spring-loaded front sight, great balance... an 8-shooter! Now the 5" 686P and 6" 66 both have cobwebs...

http://s171.photobucket.com/albums/u307/Stainz_2007/IMG_0622.jpg

Now, my 6" 66 does balance pretty well... but, it even looks long!

http://s171.photobucket.com/albums/u307/Stainz_2007/IMG_3463.jpg

The 4" 627 Pro is pretty hard to beat. Of course, my 2 5/8" PC627 UDR is just as much fun.

Stainz

jmr40
January 18, 2012, 05:52 PM
I've always felt that if I needed a handgun with more than 4" in barrel length to get the job done I'd rather carry a rifle. Handguns are meant to be small and easily carried. But that is just me.

Coyote3855
January 18, 2012, 05:57 PM
When I was young and foolish (say in 1962), I sold a 4" S&W Combat Masterpiece and bought a 6.5 inch Ruger .357 Blackhawk. I still have the .357, but seldom carry it. I'm a small guy, 5'7" and 150 pounds. The Blackhawk was too long to be comfortable for daily carry when I was in and out of pickups and on/off horses all day. My go to carry revolver now is a 2 3/4" Ruger Speed Six. So I vote for the 4" barrel over the 6"..

Nutbustd
January 19, 2012, 06:12 PM
I say get both!. I have a Dan Wesson in .22 with large frame and the interchangeability is awesome. In fact I am looking to find the 2" barrel in blue if any body knows where to find them or other lengths drop me an Email thru THR. 4" for carry 6" thru 7 1/2" for hunting. pretty simple. Good luck

230therapy
January 19, 2012, 10:38 PM
Get the gun with the 4" barrel. It's more handy in case you decide to carry it.

Olympus
January 19, 2012, 11:41 PM
Why not split the difference and add an extra 2 rounds to your capacity?

S&W 627 Performance Center 5" 8-shot .357
http://i787.photobucket.com/albums/yy151/brownscustomgrips/P9190062.jpg

http://i787.photobucket.com/albums/yy151/brownscustomgrips/P9190059.jpg

barnbwt
January 19, 2012, 11:47 PM
Why not split the difference?
THANK YOU!
I can't believe it took 41 posts for someone to say it! I personally find my 5" eight-shot TRR8 to be a great compromise: nearly the sight radius of a 6", and probably weighs less (without the goofy rails) than a full-lug 4" steel frame. Oh, and it carries as many shots as a Coonan, too.

TCB

cerberus65
January 20, 2012, 08:16 AM
I would go with the 4". To me the height of an N-frame looks best with a 6" barrel. The shorter height of an L-frame looks best with a 4" barrel. Honestly, though, you're picking between better and best. It's hard to go wrong with a .357 Mag. I have a J, a K, and a L. And if I really want site radius I grab the 1894C. I've been tempted to get a SA of some sort but haven't done it yet. I've also been tempted to get a N-frame .357 but I have done that yet either. I never seem to have enough rounds loaded for the ones I already have to feed.

AFDavis11
January 20, 2012, 08:57 PM
I prefer the 4inch. I feel more recoil flip with a 6 inch and more push with a 4 inch. I like the comment about rifles, I only buy handguns with the potential to be carried.

Once you see the simplicity and power in action you may not want to carry an auto very often, then you'll be kicking yourself if you get the 6inch. You'll have no desire to kick yourself over the 4 inch, cuz you'll not be using it for hunting anyway.

bikemutt
January 20, 2012, 10:31 PM
I notice many folks saying 6" for hunting, but wouldn't a 44 magnum be better for that? I don't hunt, at all, btw, I just want a nice looking revolver that goes boom and will be fun to take to the range...

.44 mag may be better for hunting depending on what you are hunting for. Unless you reload though, .44 mag gets real expensive at the range. As hard as I try, still can't think of my .44 mags as fun guns, they are my serious guns. Fun guns are .357 mag :)

Bullz
January 20, 2012, 10:37 PM
Some points to considering on the barrel length:

1) You'll get higher muzzle velocity out of the 6" barrel and better bullet stability.
2) The action should be more manageable out of the 6" barrel (this is obviously subjective)
3) Depending on where you live, the 6" barrel might be legal for hunting applications.

NOLAEMT
January 21, 2012, 12:10 AM
Split the difference...

Get a 5" barrel...

http://www.smith-wesson.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/Product4_750001_750051_766340_-1_757895_757775_757751_ProductDisplayErrorView_Y

GP100man
January 21, 2012, 08:30 AM
Go ahead & "Make your Day !!!

Pull the trigger .


http://www.gunbroker.com/Auction/ViewItem.aspx?Item=269872349

Vlad357
January 21, 2012, 08:53 AM
I have to agree with a lot of the other guys. I have had a 4 inch Colt for 30 years for day to day carry (when I'm not carrying the wife's LC9). But most of the 300 to 400 rounds I shoot each week come out of a 6 inch barrel, it just feels better.

stormborn
January 21, 2012, 04:50 PM
You guys are really making me question my decision to pick up a 4" GP100 as my first non-.22LR firearm.

308win
January 21, 2012, 05:01 PM
I have a -4 Model 19 target model with a 6" barrel. Nice gun, accurate, reliable. But, look at a picture of a 4" Model 19; IMHO there is no better looking revolver as far as the proportions.

smithnut357
January 21, 2012, 05:10 PM
I prefer shorter barrels personally. Not to brag or anything but I've pulled off better shots with my Smith 66 with a 2.5" barrel than some people I've seen with rifles.

glug
January 22, 2012, 02:00 AM
I really appreciate all the input on this thread. Sounds like I really can't go wrong with either. I went back to handle both guns side-by-side yesterday and, man, it really makes me just wish I had both!

The 4" definitely felt 100% better in my hand and I slightly prefer the look of it. Perfectly balanced and points easily, and much easier to hold steady on target. I think this would be the most fun for practice shooting 38 specials or just to pull out of the safe and fondle once in a while. And hands down the winner if I had to carry it on a daily basis.

The 6" was much heftier and I felt a lot less nimble with it. But the longer sight radius was *very* noticeable so that's a plus. I also like the idea of getting the increased velocity to make the most out of those 357 magnums, and reduced recoil and muzzle flash from a longer barrel. Plus-- having the biggest, meanest looking gun on the range would not suck :P

All in all I'm starting to see that they each have their own role and there really is no 'best' choice, it's just up to each person and their likes and needs. I think the tiebreaker for me may be the simple fact that in the good old Peoples Republic of California I'm not allowed to carry a handgun at all (neither concealed nor open unloaded as of Jan 1 thanks to Jerry Brown), so going for the larger 6" as a dedicated home defense / range shooter may be the best fit for me right now. At least.... until I can afford the 4" to go with it :)

230therapy
January 22, 2012, 02:24 PM
I think the tiebreaker for me may be the simple fact that in the good old Peoples Republic of California I'm not allowed to carry a handgun at all (neither concealed nor open unloaded as of Jan 1 thanks to Jerry Brown)

Yes, you can. California does issue concealed carry permits and you may be able to get one. However, you'll have to navigate through that with the Calguns.net folks.

Also check:

http://www.calccw.com/Forums/

There's a county FAQ that may be helpful.

glug
January 22, 2012, 02:53 PM
Yes, you can. California does issue concealed carry permits and you may be able to get one. However, you'll have to navigate through that with the Calguns.net folks.

Also check:

http://www.calccw.com/Forums/

There's a county FAQ that may be helpful.
Thanks for the link.

Sadly, I live in one of the brown "No issue to regular citizens" counties: http://www.calccw.com/Forums/county-faq/7158-county-map-california-ccw-issuance.html

LTR shooter
January 22, 2012, 03:05 PM
The 4" definitely felt 100% better in my hand and I slightly prefer the look of it. Perfectly balanced and points easily, and much easier to hold steady on target.

Then by all means go with the 4".

I have magnums in various lengths and shoot the longer ones better in regards to accuracy. But given a choice between a 4" and 6" where the 4" felt 100% better that is what I'd get without hesitation.

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