357 barrel length


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colorado_handgunner
October 14, 2012, 04:08 PM
I have read many times on here that the 357 magnum needs a sufficiently long barrel to burn the extra powder to reach the rounds full effectiveness. I was wondering what the general consensus is for what this barrel length is. Thanks.

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56hawk
October 14, 2012, 04:31 PM
Around 16" is going to give the maximum velocity.

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/mepngs/357mag.png

CraigC
October 14, 2012, 04:32 PM
The .357 will continue to accelerate right up to 18-20". As will the other magnum revolver cartridges. So I'm not sure how to answer your question. Yes, you get more velocity out of longer barrels but that doesn't make shorter barrels useless.

beatledog7
October 14, 2012, 04:50 PM
And it's pretty hard to conceal and comfortably carry a .357 revolver with a barrel longer than about 6". Most find 5" or so about the practical limit for CCW. YMMV.

Mine's a bit over 2", way down on the wimpy end of the scale. Yet nobody's volunteering to stand in front of it.

R.W.Dale
October 14, 2012, 04:56 PM
Contrary to popular wisdom even in a 2" barrel 357 will outperform its lesser 38cal cousins.

It just doesn't outperform them BY AS MUCH as it can from a longer tube.




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Checkman
October 14, 2012, 06:04 PM
Contrary to popular wisdom even in a 2" barrel 357 will outperform its lesser 38cal cousins.

It just doesn't outperform them BY AS MUCH as it can from a longer tube.

Yes indeed. An article about this very topic from the late Stephen Camp's website http://www.hipowersandhandguns.com/

.38 Snub Vs. .357 Snub



For as long as I can remember, the question of whether or not the .38 Special snub is as potent as the .357 magnum in a snub-nose revolver has been debated again and again. This is not an extensive article, but I think the answer becomes pretty clear.



I didn't have a .357 with a barrel as short as the 1 7/8" barrel on my snub thirty-eight's so I just fired the .38 Specials out of a 2 1/2" Model 19. The magnums were fired from the same revolver. It is true that .38 Specials will lose a little velocity when fired from a revolver chambered for the slightly longer .357 Magnum. The figures are slight, but later on, we'll "give" another 50 ft/sec (which is a generous amount) to the measured thirty-eight special velocities.





A stock S&W Model 19 2 1/2" revolver, except for the stocks, was used for the chronograph results shown below.



Velocities are based on 10-shot strings of fire about 10' from the chronograph screens.



Ammunition Average Velocity (ft/sec)



Federal .38 Special 129-grain Hydrashok +P 846



Winchester .38 Special 158-grain LSWCHP +P 858



Remington .357 Magnum 125-grain SJHP (Full-house load) 1243



Handload: Rucker 158-grain CSWC 1100

7.0 grains Unique

Winchester Small Pistol Primer

Starline Case



At this point, I'll have to ask you to accept that the 129-grain .38 bullet is approximately the same as the 125-grain .357 and that the 4 grains would not make any real difference. Also, the handloaded .357 round was used simply because I had no data on any factory magnums in that bullet weight. Note that this is not a "hot" handload in that caliber and bullet weight.



Now add the 50 ft/sec we spoke of earlier to each of the .38 average velocities and we get an "adjusted average velocity" of 896 ft/sec for the Hydrashok and 908 ft/sec for the LSWCHP. Compared to the 125-grain .357, we see that the magnum bests the .38 by 347 ft/sec. I find this a significant gain. With the heavier .38 Special bullet compared to the same weight slug from a .357 handload, we find a difference of 192 ft/sec in favor of the magnum and a medium handload.





The data provided was not extensive, but based on it and what I've seen on more than one occasion in the past, the little .38's main advantage as a carry gun or BUG is that it's light, small, and easy to conceal. Its ballistic payload is not equivalent to the .357's in most cases. While it is true that both S&W and Taurus offer .357's in very nearly the same size package, it's been my experience that they border on being uncontrollable when shot in rapid-fire. Others may have had better luck. I'll take my .357 magnums in a K, L, or N frame.



Little in this world is a hard and true fact and the same applies here. I note that out of a 1 7/8" barrel S&W Model 642, Corbon's 115-grain +P+ JHP averages an amazing 1188 ft/sec. This is in the .357 range of velocities and might be thought of as a "quasi-magnum" load. A Ruger SP-101 averages 1278 ft/sec with Triton 125-grain Quik Shok +P ammo, so we see the magnum winning again, but the .38 load does surprisingly well. Sadly, both of these loads are discontinued, as Corbon no longer uses and Triton's out of business. Out of the 2 1/2" Model 19, Winchester's 110-grain .357 JHP averaged 1166 ft/sec so the Corbon .38 Special load beat it slightly in both velocity and bullet weight. These are exception to the rule. FWIW, with the thin forcing cone in the J-frame S&W, I've quit using the 115-grain load for fear of cracking it.



The notion that the .357 is so inefficient in the two-inch guns that it's no more effective than a hot .38 Special just doesn't seem to be true. While neither is at its best in the snub, the magnum is the more potent of the two with most ammo.



Best.

Checkman
October 14, 2012, 06:10 PM
Mr. Camp always did good work and he applied common sense to his writings. He is missed.

22-rimfire
October 14, 2012, 06:21 PM
For me, choosing guides me to the following barrel lengths: 2-3" for concealed carry or everyday carry for defense; 4" for general carry, shooting, woods critter defense, or home defense; 6" or more for general shooting and hunting. If you carry a 357 as a hunting backup, I go with a 4".

Regardless of the barrel length chosen with a revolver, full power 357 loads will result in a portable flame thrower.

BaltimoreBoy
October 14, 2012, 06:22 PM
56hawk's chart however, shows also that there is a big payback in going from 2" to 4" - on the order of 300 ft-lbs. Going from 4" to 6" buys about 200 ft-lbs. Going from 6" to 8" only maybe another 100 ft-lbs.

So, it would appear you pay dearly for going down to 2". But beyond 4", each additional inch contributes progressively less.

I suspect the late Bill Jordan chose the 4" for this reason. It is probably the best comfort/power tradeoff.

colorado_handgunner
October 14, 2012, 06:24 PM
Thank you gentlemen.

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Vern Humphrey
October 14, 2012, 08:14 PM
The problem with the .357 in short barrels is not loss of velocity -- it's that as the gun gets lighter, recoil impulse increases. A gun writer whose name I forget at the moment said, "With light-weight revolvers made from exotic metals, gunmakers have managed to change the .357's recoil from merely unpleasant to downright painful."

By the way, short barrels don't burn less powder -- by the time the bullet is in the forcing cone, all the powder is burnt. From that point on, expanding gas drives the bullet.

If you find unburned grains of powder, it's not because of the short barrel, it's due to incomplete combustion, usually traceable to inadequate bullet pull.

nofishbob
October 14, 2012, 09:00 PM
56Hawk-

What is the source of your chart?

Thanks!

Bob

ArchAngelCD
October 14, 2012, 10:57 PM
IMO the best barrel length for a magnum revolver is 5".

tipoc
October 15, 2012, 01:23 AM
The original question was...
I have read many times on here that the 357 magnum needs a sufficiently long barrel to burn the extra powder to reach the rounds full effectiveness. I was wondering what the general consensus is for what this barrel length is.

Quite a bit can vary on the load being used...bullet weight, type bullet being used, type of powder, the velocity you are looking for etc.

The .357 Mag is at it's most effective, in terms of the power it can achieve, from a long gun. Meaning a carbine.

Try looking here...

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

The op did not say what they were looking to do with the gun or the round. Depending on the type powder used you can have unburnt powder. But if the load is right for the gun being used a good match can be had for the purpose.

tipoc

56hawk
October 15, 2012, 12:42 PM
56Hawk-

What is the source of your chart?

Thanks!

Bob

Here your go:

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/

Oh, and I see it's already posted above.

R.W.Dale
October 15, 2012, 01:51 PM
It bears repeating though that BBTI's test barrels are measured like you would measure an automatic or rifle NOT like a revolver that doesn't include the cylinder or chamber


For example their 2" inch figures on their test gun would = a revolver with a 1/2" tube



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nofishbob
October 15, 2012, 03:24 PM
Thanks R.W. Dale. That's what I was hoping to confirm.

It seems that many threads bemoaning the lack of velocity from short .357 revolver barrels reference BBI data that is being misunderstood.

Bob

jmr40
October 15, 2012, 06:23 PM
BBTI's test barrels are measured like you would measure an automatic or rifle NOT like a revolver that doesn't include the cylinder or chamber




They also show test results from actual guns with representative barrels. The results are not the same, but are pretty close. In many cases only 15-20 fps difference. In some as much as 75 fps.

Personally I have no use for a 357 shorter than 4". Yes a 2-3" 357 will outperform a 38 from equal barrel lengths. But with barrels that short a 9mm +p will equal or beat a 357. And do it in a smaller gun with less recoil, less muzzle blast and considerably more ammo. A 4" Glock 19 will be 1.5" or more shorter and as much as a full pound lighter than many 3" 357 revolvers. And still get 1250 fps with 125 gr bullets.

I happen to own and like 357 revolvers, but prefer them with longer barrels and heavier bullets that allow you to take advantage of their capabilities.

Rail Driver
October 15, 2012, 08:20 PM
Something I've always wondered about .... How does the cylinder gap in a revolver affect the velocities given with longer barrels? The numbers for the longer barrels look similar to numbers I've seen out of lever guns and other solid action firearms, but I've never seen any numbers generated using a revolver, so I don't really know how to compare them.

I would think that once you get to a certain point, the cylinder gap negates any velocity gain from having a longer barrel (thus longer pressurized time) since the chamber doesn't contain the pressure - it all goes out the cylinder gap.

Vern Humphrey
October 15, 2012, 08:34 PM
By and large, a reasonable cylinder gap has very little effect on velocity at any barrel length. There are currently some carbine-length .45 Colt/.410 shotgun revolvers and they seem to develop about the same velocity in .45 Colt as similar loads from a fixed breech carbine.

Warp
October 15, 2012, 08:57 PM
At any barrel length the .357 puts out more than a .38 spl. If you can handle the .357 in a little 1 7/8" barrel, go for it. It'll hurt more, on both ends, than .38

I'm happy with the 4" barrel on my .357 wheelgun

beag_nut
October 15, 2012, 09:43 PM
Rail Driver:
Here's the link to tests concerning cylinder gap. You may notice the same parent website:

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/gaptests.html

Rail Driver
October 15, 2012, 10:01 PM
Rail Driver:
Here's the link to tests concerning cylinder gap. You may notice the same parent website:

http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/gaptests.html
Thanks much for the link! I didn't look at the first link, so I didn't notice the same source until I went back and looked when you mentioned it. After a bit of reading I've deduced that the gap doesn't make that much difference under 3" barrel, but past that the gap makes a larger difference. There's very little difference where snubnose revolvers are concerned (which is what I was particularly interested in since I carry one every day).

Remllez
October 16, 2012, 09:41 AM
I'm pretty sure that all practical length handgun barrels are too short to optimize their respective cartridges speed. In that respect a person that handloads and uses a chronograph will be at an advantage in finding the "best" load for any particular caliber/barrel length handgun they own.

For those not privy to test equipment, factory load data is a good starting point in choosing a load, but must be carefully interpreted by the end user. A .357 load that is optimized at 16-20 inches is moot when extrapolated over practical handgun barrel length's. Long story short we are reminded yet again just how anemic handguns are for self-defense.

Effective shot placement then becomes the single most important factor in stopping threats with handguns. Training and much practice regardless of what round one uses are variables we have control over and should be our top priority.

CraigC
October 16, 2012, 12:10 PM
A .357 load that is optimized at 16-20 inches is moot when extrapolated over practical handgun barrel length's.
Hogwash. Powders are chosen for the cartridge and its pressure range, not barrel length. The same powders that will yield the highest velocities in rifle-length barrels will yield the highest velocities in revolver barrels. Those would be H110/296 and Lil Gun.

beatledog7
October 16, 2012, 12:58 PM
...we are reminded yet again just how anemic handguns are for self-defense.

No doubt. But when concealment is required, or even when one can open carry, toting around a rifle with a 16-20" barrel is a non-starter. Handguns have their role, and always will.

CraigC
October 16, 2012, 01:19 PM
I really don't think "anemic" is the proper term.

Remllez
October 16, 2012, 04:28 PM
Lol,

I really don't think hogwash is the proper term!! I'm not sure your "theory" makes a hoot of difference out of a 1 7/8 inch barrel.

CraigC
October 16, 2012, 07:01 PM
It's not a theory or an opinion, it's proven fact. Your statement is pure myth.

Remllez
October 16, 2012, 07:44 PM
I'll make this as simple as I can. Using "Your Theory".......Explain Gold Dot Short Barrel loads.....Buffalo Bore short barrel loads, I can go on but why? Licensed ammunition manufacturers can "Optomize" their powder blends for any bullet weight, caliber and barrel length they want.

That's not myth, that's facts!!! Just because you can't do it with your pet powders doesn't mean it can't be done. So I'm not going to argue with you. Go research the Speer or Buffalo Bore web sites, maybe then you will understand what I'm saying,if not too bad so sad!

R.W.Dale
October 16, 2012, 09:43 PM
Do research on several of the short barrel offerings and you'll be shocked to discover that a couple of the speer offerings are merely reboxed gold dots.

A couple others have more flash retardants

And in the case of the 357 its just long cases 38spl +p+ using a softer bullet.

"Short barrel" loads are primarily a marketing ploy and if there is a difference it typically revolves around using a bullet that will expand at lower velocities.

The old axiom the fastest powder for a long barrel will be fastest in a short remains almost universally true.


http://www.thehighroad.org/showthread.php?t=653813

My own testing




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CraigC
October 16, 2012, 09:53 PM
Explain Gold Dot Short Barrel loads
Bullets that are designed to expand at lower velocities. Has nothing to do with the powder.


So I'm not going to argue with you.
That's good because you're dead wrong. Period. My initial statement stands as irrefutable fact.
"Powders are chosen for the cartridge and its pressure range, not barrel length. The same powders that will yield the highest velocities in rifle-length barrels will yield the highest velocities in revolver barrels."

Remllez
October 16, 2012, 10:04 PM
RW.

With all due respect the shortest barrel you used is 5 inches. BB uses 2 inch barrels for their tests. I don't think you're telling me the velocities they get are from using shelf powders with just flame retardants.

Maybe I should have been more specific, I don't reload, Craig is the one that made that assumption as did you....So handloads are moot to me. Now that's clarified maybe everyone's on the same page.

R.W.Dale
October 16, 2012, 10:07 PM
RW.

With all due respect the shortest barrel you used is 5 inches. BB uses 2 inch barrels for their tests. I don't think you're telling me the velocities they get are from using shelf powders with just flame retardants.

Maybe I should have been more specific, I don't reload, Craig is the one that made that assumption as did you....So handloads are moot to me. Now that's clarified maybe everyone's on the same page.

Buffalo bore gets the velocities they get by not adhering to SAAMI pressure specifications.

If everyone could do it within saami maximums they would




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Remllez
October 16, 2012, 10:21 PM
You're trying to introduce a new component that leads down a different trail....you and Craig try to refute what a custom licensed ammunition manufacturer claims that has access to very sophisticated equipment. I stand by my initial statement so let's agree to disagree.

gspn
October 16, 2012, 10:52 PM
sounds like we need extendable barrels. There...I gave you the idea...go make it and split the money with me.

Revoliver
October 17, 2012, 11:56 AM
Where has it been problven or shown that Buffalo Bore, Double Tap or other full power load manufacturers do not adhere to SAAMI specs? I thought the consensus was that they powder blend?

In any case, yes, one can as a matter of fact choose to use specific powders for round performance and velocity gain based on barrel length if one wants. There are also powders that will work equally well in either long or short barrels.

http://www.leverguns.com/articles/paco/357_magnum_and_the_literature.htm

CraigC
October 17, 2012, 12:45 PM
Buffalo bore gets the velocities they get by not adhering to SAAMI pressure specifications.
Buffalo Bore gets their velocities by using non-cannister powders. I know they use a non-cannister version of, you guessed it, H110/296. Any loads that are over standard pressures are clearly labeled as such.


You're trying to introduce a new component that leads down a different trail....you and Craig try to refute what a custom licensed ammunition manufacturer claims that has access to very sophisticated equipment. I stand by my initial statement so let's agree to disagree.
I can't agree to disagree because this is not a difference of opinion. You are wrong. PERIOD. I can't make it any plainer than that. It doesn't matter one bit who is doing the loading, whether it's a handloader or Buffalo Bore. I also am not sure exactly what claims by an ammunition manufacturer you think I'm refuting.


I don't reload, Craig is the one that made that assumption as did you....So handloads are moot to me. Now that's clarified maybe everyone's on the same page.
I did not make that assumption. If anything I would've assumed you didn't. That and the underlined section brings us to the bottom line, you don't know what you're talking about and are arguing with those who do.

Hammerdown77
October 17, 2012, 12:57 PM
Pretty easy argument to prove. Find the fastest load amongst rounds loaded with different powders/weights out of a long barrel (let's say a carbine, 16"). Drop that load along with the others in a sub 2" gun. I think you'll find the fastest load is still the fastest load, however the difference between them will not be as much as it is in the longer barrel.

I anything, going to a shorter barrel gives you more options for powder choices to achieve desired ballistics.

R.W.Dale
October 17, 2012, 01:26 PM
CraicC there are no fewer than 60 incrementally slower burning powders suitable for 357 magnum.

As a critical thinker do you REALLY believe BUFFALO BORE has found some magic in-between burn rate that allows 200fps PLUS more at the same pressures. And if so why doesn't everyone do it?

Look at Buffalo bores descriptions for their high energy loads. That list of guns they say isn't suitable for their ammunition. That's a big tip off because if pressures were within saami maximums it would be safe in ANY firearm in good condition so chambered.

Lastly look at this.... who do you not see listed?

http://www.saami.org/member_companies/index.cfm


You come across as a smart guy and a critical thinker Craig. You'll learn much once you developed the ability to sort the advertising BS from the facts in all things firearms.

Once again the fastest loads in a short barrel will still be fastest in a longer one.



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CraigC
October 17, 2012, 02:20 PM
I reckon Tim Sundles lied when he said the used non-canister powders? If I remember right, Winchester 297. I didn't get my info from advertising BS. I got it from the horse's mouth. I really don't have a horse in this race because I have NEVER fired a single round of Buffalo Bore ammunition. I only take issue with the statement that all their ammo is over SAAMI pressures standards. Because I know it is not. If it is over pressure, it says so right on the box. Some loads are unsuitable for some guns strictly due to overall length.

I never said they didn't have ammo that was over pressure.

The fact that they are not listed as a SAAMI voting member is irrelevant. CorBon is listed and they load ammo that is over SAAMI pressure standards so I'm not sure how it's a relevant point.

R.W.Dale
October 17, 2012, 02:29 PM
Nobody disputes that an ammunition manufacturer uses non cannister powders. Quite frankly that's blatantly obvious common knowledge that applies to all makers.

I'm disputing the assertion that these "magic" blends allow a free lunch of so much more velocity with no added pressure.

Take their +p 40 cal loads. What does the +p designation mean for 40 s&w How much more pressure is it and does saami recognize a standard for +p 40?




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CraigC
October 17, 2012, 03:37 PM
I think I stated rather explicitly that over pressure loads were so-marked. So I don't know how a marketed .40S&W +P load refutes what I said.


I'm disputing the assertion that these "magic" blends allow a free lunch of so much more velocity with no added pressure.
They do and it's two-fold. Non-canister powders that are much more consistent from lot to lot and careful loading of components, much more than a high volume manufacturer, allow them to play closer to the line. Which is one reason why they cost so much.

Pick up the phone and call Tim Sundles if you have questions beyond that.

R.W.Dale
October 17, 2012, 03:45 PM
allow them to play closer to the line..




Thank you very much for making my point that higher pressures are involved




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CraigC
October 17, 2012, 04:20 PM
I thought your point was...
Buffalo bore gets the velocities they get by not adhering to SAAMI pressure specifications.
Which is not the same thing.

horsemen61
October 17, 2012, 04:25 PM
MY snub 357 does just fine with my handloads.

R.W.Dale
October 17, 2012, 04:52 PM
I thought your point was...

Which is not the same thing.

There's plenty of loads they offer that do not.

40 +p
44 mag +p
380 +p
9mm +p+
"Heavy" 357

What are the saami pressure limitations for these designations



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CraigC
October 17, 2012, 05:37 PM
I'm not sure we're even on the same page any more. I never said they didn't have loads that exceeded SAAMI specs. I said that you cannot assume they ALL exceed them because not ALL of their loads do. Those that do are clearly labeled. So your examples above all SUPPORT my statement.

captain awesome
October 17, 2012, 10:25 PM
By and large, a reasonable cylinder gap has very little effect on velocity at any barrel length.
I have found this to be true at least in one situation. I had a 6" barreled desert eagle in 44 mag, and a 6 inch model 29. Firing the same exact loads over a chronograph, the velocities were identical in both guns. Neither one had a velicity spread above or below the other.

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