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Can't decide between 4 and 6 inch 357 magnum

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by glug, Jan 16, 2012.

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  1. glug

    glug Member

    Sep 12, 2011
    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.
  2. shiftyer1

    shiftyer1 Member

    Jun 26, 2008
    central texas
    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 :)
  3. bikemutt
    • Contributing Member

    bikemutt Member

    Dec 24, 2010
    Renton, WA
    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.
  4. snakeman

    snakeman Member

    May 20, 2008
    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.
  5. chhodge69

    chhodge69 Member

    Jun 19, 2011
    CLT, NC
    Look into Dan Wesson revolvers and you won't have to choose.
  6. ArchAngelCD

    ArchAngelCD Member

    Nov 25, 2006
    Northeast PA, USA
    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.
  7. Confederate

    Confederate Member

    Feb 19, 2005
    Bethesda, MD
    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.


    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.


    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.


    You can see where S&W beefed up the cylinder. The gun
    exudes quality.
  8. scott5

    scott5 Member

    Feb 1, 2004
    northern New Mex.
    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

    Attached Files:

  9. briansmithwins

    briansmithwins Member

    Aug 1, 2005
    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".


  10. TreeDoc

    TreeDoc Member

    Oct 8, 2010
    Central Oklahoma
    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.
  11. content

    content Member

    Jul 27, 2009
    South Carolina, born in Valley Forge Pa.
    Hello friends and neighbors // I have the S&W 586, six round,.357 in 4" and 6".

    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.
    Last edited: Jan 20, 2012
  12. GP100man

    GP100man Member

    Mar 16, 2007
    Tabor City, NC.
    Problem , what problem ????

  13. Rshooter

    Rshooter Member

    Sep 29, 2007
    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.
  14. mdauben

    mdauben Member

    Jan 11, 2011
    Huntville, AL
    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! ;)
  15. Ky Larry

    Ky Larry Member

    May 22, 2003
    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.
  16. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    Apr 13, 2007
    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.
  17. JM Browning

    JM Browning Member

    Oct 9, 2011
    Sugar Land
    4 in.

    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.
  18. BCRider

    BCRider Member

    Nov 15, 2008
    Pacific North"Wet" Coast of Canada
    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.
  19. BYJO4

    BYJO4 Member

    Nov 28, 2010
    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".
  20. CSA 357

    CSA 357 Member

    Apr 16, 2006
    North Alabama
    if you cant hit with a 4 a 6 wont help you, the 4 is the way to go
  21. TwoEyedJack

    TwoEyedJack Member

    Dec 22, 2011
    Southwest Idaho
    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.

  22. RalphS

    RalphS Member

    Sep 2, 2010
    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.
  23. Armored farmer

    Armored farmer Member

    Mar 28, 2010
    South Eastern Illinois
    for me: trail, carry, defense=4"
    Hunt, targets= 6-7.5"
  24. Steve CT

    Steve CT Member

    May 19, 2011
    Central CT
    Take your pick, with Dan Wesson you can have it all


    Seriously, a DW revolver is a great choice
  25. Hotshot10

    Hotshot10 Member

    Apr 2, 2011
    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.
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