Quantcast
  1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.

does two more inches of barrell really make a big difference

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by Ian's Dad, Mar 22, 2010.

Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.
  1. Ian's Dad

    Ian's Dad Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    131
    Ok,

    I understand that in general, a longer barrell means more accuracy, all other things being equal, and i think i understand why..

    my question is, how much difference is there between a 4" and a 6" barrell in the same model, regarding accuracy.. let's say more specifically i am shooting offhand (not from a rest) at 25 yards and less.. will a 6" barrell make a noticeable difference over a 4" barrel? how much difference? would an 8" barrell be even better..

    looking for any thoughts... thanks
     
  2. Radagast
    • Contributing Member

    Radagast Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    8,085
    Location:
    Australia/OZ
    Mechanical accuracy is the same for 4 or 6 or 8 inch barrels, as long as the bullet has been spun up and stabilised.
    Real world accuracy, I can achieve a three to 4 inch group at 25 meters with a four inch barrel gun, I have achieved 1 to 1.5 inch groups with six inch barreled 686s. I see a similar tightening of groups when I shoot a Glock 17L against my Glock 17.

    If you put a red dot sight on both you would probably see similar group sizes.

    As usual, IANAL, YMMV and this advice is worth what you paid for it.
     
  3. SharpsDressedMan

    SharpsDressedMan member

    Joined:
    Feb 18, 2007
    Messages:
    5,957
    Location:
    NE Ohio
    I think you would notice a 10-20% increase in practical accuracy going from the 4" to the 6", but at 25 yard or MORE. Maybe ony 5% better from 6" to 8" barrel. The long range silhouette shooters use 10" barrels, so you have to know that longer barrels DO help, but they shoot 100 & 200 yards, etc.
     
  4. Ian's Dad

    Ian's Dad Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    131
    thanks and keep it coming

    exactly the kind of real world info i'm looking for.
     
  5. Radagast
    • Contributing Member

    Radagast Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    8,085
    Location:
    Australia/OZ
    Just on Silhouette shooting, the longer barrels are also to gain velocity and energy, many shooters with the longer barreled guns are using telescopic sights, so the longer barrel length = longer sight radius does not apply.

    The first time I shot my Model 66 was at the 100m field pistol silhouettes, I managed 4 targets for 5 shots (four inch barrel, Federal 130 grain fmj .38 specials) so the short barreled guns can do it. But there was no wind, the lighting was perfect and I was in a fantastic mood at the time. I doubt I could replicate it.

    The first time I shot a 686 six inch was at the 25 meter field pistol targets, 10 targets for 10 shots, rapid fire, double action. Load was the owners homebrew .38 specials. That was an adjustable front sight model with the 4 postion sight for 25, 50, 75 & 100m. To this day I still want one of those fine weapons.
     
  6. Ian's Dad

    Ian's Dad Member

    Joined:
    Jul 24, 2009
    Messages:
    131
    so are you saying that the difference is the longer sight radius allowing you to "aim better" and not the gun actually being more accurate?
     
  7. Radagast
    • Contributing Member

    Radagast Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Dec 24, 2002
    Messages:
    8,085
    Location:
    Australia/OZ
    Correct.
     
  8. PT1911

    PT1911 Member

    Joined:
    Feb 27, 2009
    Messages:
    3,139
    Location:
    alabama
    the longer the sight radius, the better one can effectively line up the sites correctly... a small error in lining up the sights on a shorter barreled gun is exaggerated when compared to the same error made with a longer barreled gun.

    It is best to think of different length straight lines... a small degree of change at one end is a much larger change at the other. This change is greater depending on the length of the line... I am sure there is an equation or better illustrate this... give it time, someone will be along to better explain it.
     
  9. MrBorland

    MrBorland Moderator

    Joined:
    Apr 13, 2007
    Messages:
    4,270
    Location:
    NC
    One ought to shoot open sights more accurately with a longer barrel, but in reality, there's a few reasons why there's no guarantee that you'll actually notice a difference:

    For one thing, the theoretical improvement of accuracy assumes your fundamentals are strong, i.e. you're holding the gun steady and getting a good sight picture, and holding it through the trigger pull then watching the front sight through the shot. A longer sight radius can't fix sloppy fundamentals.

    Secondly, you might find the longer-barreled gun muzzle heavy, any advantage the longer sight picture offers might be offset by your inability to hold the muzzle as steady.

    Bottom line, IMO, is you just have to try any particular gun to see if you shoot it better.
     
  10. snooperman

    snooperman Member

    Joined:
    May 4, 2009
    Messages:
    2,143
    Barrel vibration...

    occurs when a bullet travels down towards the muzzle. It has been proven that this vibration occurs less in longer barrels because the bullet stabilizes more so , hence the use of longer barrels in competition shooting such as silhouettes. Many years ago I competed in this type of shooting and my Dan Wesson supermags were used exclusively because of their inherent accuracy. For competition shooting in silhouette matches, Dan Wesson dominated . Longer barrels in revolvers are inherently more accurate because of less wobble by the bullet as it proceeds towards the muzzle. That is if the shooter has the proper bullet for that barrel and his sighting is correct as well. This is however a simplistic explanation for a complex issue for sure and there is more to it than I have space or time to explain it fully.
     
  11. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,346
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    extra barrel increases accuracy in several ways

    1-longer sight radius makes shooting more accurate easier
    2-the longer heavier barrel helps with the harmonics of the barrel, improving accuracy
    3- the bullet is being pushed by the expanding gases longer, improving velocity and rotational stability, improving accuracy
    4-the bullet being in rifling longer, controlling the rotation longer improves accuracy

    Did I forget any of the ways that it makes a difference?
     
  12. Sam1911

    Sam1911 Moderator

    Joined:
    Oct 22, 2007
    Messages:
    33,540
    Location:
    Central PA
    Perhaps when you have a free extra moment you should take the time to explain this fully. Somehow, I don't think the bullet wobbling down the barrel is what you meant to say.

    But I could be wrong.
     
  13. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,346
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    time to upgrade from a blunderbuss :neener:
     
  14. 22-rimfire

    22-rimfire Member

    Joined:
    Jun 11, 2005
    Messages:
    11,286
    Location:
    TN
    When I first started shooting revolvers, I always favored a 6" barrel length. Why? The choice was mostly because of what I read in gun magazines which provided the same basic information as this forum.

    Lately, I have favored 4" revolvers. But I can tell you without hesitation that I shoot my 8 3/8" M57 better than the 4" M57. The inherent accuracy is the same. But there are practical aspects like eye sight, sight radius, weight, trigger, and personal preference that affect the shooters ability to put holes in a target down range consistantly. So, for general shooting, I prefer a 4" in my 41 mag, but I prefer a 6" Colt Trooper Mark III for my 357 mag shooting.

    It comes down to how good is good enough and how much effort are you willing to expend to improve. With my 3" GP100, I am comfortable hitting a 4" target at 15 to 25 yds. With the others, I prefer to do a bit better or in the 2" group size area. With 22's, I try for 1" groups at that range, but rarely do that well except with target pistols. With my 480 SRH, if I can hit a 6" target at 100 yds, I feel very good. Eye sight is very important to being able to shoot well. Oh almost forgot... protect your eyes! Protect your ears! You only have two of each.
     
  15. Carne Frio

    Carne Frio Member

    Joined:
    Aug 28, 2008
    Messages:
    745
    Location:
    Near Fairbanks
  16. content

    content Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,015
    Location:
    South Carolina, born in Valley Forge Pa.
    Hello friends and neighbors // Shooting offhand with longer barrel

    I have the S&W 617 6" .22lr ten shot and the S&W 586 6" .357 6 shot.

    The weight of a longer barrel seems to be the greatest factor for offhand accuracy. If you can keep it from tipping down go for it.
    The longer barrel does help in the ranges you are asking about.

    The other greatest factor is grip and trigger pull while controling the extra weight.

    When I bought my Ruger Redhawk .44mag 7 1/2" barrel (in the 1980s). The Fellow included a magazine article with a hunter shooting ,sitting with his arm supported on a 55 gal drum, other drums at 200-350 yards.
    Apparently (according to him ) it is legal to hunt elk at 250 yards with a .44mag. I believe the barrel has to be at least 6" so it must make some difference.

    I was never that good I'm afraid.
     
  17. shockwave

    shockwave Member

    Joined:
    Jan 8, 2010
    Messages:
    1,182
    Location:
    Florida
    In my case, I prefer range shooting the 686+ 6" because it's accurate and the weight makes shooting even .357 fairly comfortable. For HD, this is my go-to gun.

    However, for IPSC, I found that I got much better results with a Rossi 46202 4", which is basically a 686 clone with 2 inches less barrel. When you're running around, firing from different positions at relatively close ranges, the 4" .357 works a lot better for me.
     
  18. content

    content Member

    Joined:
    Jul 27, 2009
    Messages:
    2,015
    Location:
    South Carolina, born in Valley Forge Pa.
    Hello friends and neighbors // ^+1 from my two LEO family members

    They say 4" much more practical.
     
  19. Sniper X

    Sniper X Member

    Joined:
    Jan 3, 2007
    Messages:
    2,635
    Location:
    New Mexico
    I'll have to personally mirror the comments about only at range. I personally own a couple 6in revolvers and 4in revolvers all in .357mag, all shoot great and are probably almost exactly as accurate as each other up to about 20m but the 6inchers are way better for me past that especially out past about 30m.
     
  20. JimGnitecki

    JimGnitecki Member

    Joined:
    Mar 28, 2010
    Messages:
    45
    I'm not seeing many people talking about the additional bullet VELOCITY gained by using a longer barrel. It IS a factor in both trajectory at longer distances, and also for sheer stopping power.

    In a recent gun test I found on line a magazine writer (may have been Taffin, but I am not sure) tested two S&W Performance Center 357 Mag revolvers against each other for accuracy and muzzle velocity. One was a 5" barrel and the other a 2" or 3" (I cannot remember which).

    The accuracy results were no surprise - the 5" was on average porducing tighter groups, because of the longer sight radius. Then, he installed a holosight on each and repeated. The accuracy diffeence basically disappeared - both guns could now shoot 1" groups at 25 yards with the best ammo types.

    The muzzle velocity results were much more dramatic. The shorter barreled gun cnsistently delievred about 150 to 200 fps less than the longer barreled one. The smallest difference was around 100 fps, with a factory ammo oad that used a quicker burning powder.

    That 200 fps difference would be quite a factor in energy delievred and dumped into the target, since energy of a projectile is proportional to velocity SQUARED. So, for example with say a 125g bullet, 1300 fps versus 1500 fps would mean 469 ft lb of energy delivered just outside the muzzle versus 625 ft lb of energy, or 25% less energy dumped into the target.

    Now, even if you like Dr. Fackler instead of Marshall and Sanow, and therefore tend more towards the "momentum is stopping power" versus "energy is stopping power" side of the debate, you'd STILL have only 1300/1500 = 87% of the momentum.

    Either way, the loss of bullet velocity is a factor. It would be ESPECIALLY so if we are discussing using a 38 Special versus a 357. The 357 Mag ammo cna afford to lose some of its stopping power, and STILL hit the perp like "a bolt of lightning" ( per the Texas Rangers :) ), while the rather marginal 38 Special really can't afford to give up any velocity at all.

    Jim G
     
  21. jhvaughan2

    jhvaughan2 Member

    Joined:
    Jun 29, 2009
    Messages:
    182
    One quick add-on in the name of a new term I'm making up "total accuracy". When hunting, a 6" barrel give you better ability to use a rest (tree stand, limb, shooting sticks). Possible with a 4" but sometimes the shroud/ejector rod may get in the way.
     
  22. Guillermo

    Guillermo member

    Joined:
    Feb 20, 2008
    Messages:
    6,346
    Location:
    Austin, Texas
    how about "applied accuracy"?
     
  23. Slamfire

    Slamfire Member

    Joined:
    Dec 29, 2006
    Messages:
    7,526
    Location:
    Alabama
    If you go with an 8" barrel make sure it is a crewed served weapon. Might need wheels and a traversing mechanism too. :D

    The difference between two inches and four inches of barrel is real.

    The difference between four inches and six inches, I believe the hit probability is higher at 50 yards, but it is such a small difference, I am not sure.

    Every thought of five inches?

    [​IMG]
     
  24. .45FMJoe

    .45FMJoe Member

    Joined:
    Dec 31, 2002
    Messages:
    531
    Location:
    Tampa, FL
    5 inches indeed.

    [​IMG]
     
  25. bflobill_69

    bflobill_69 Member

    Joined:
    May 30, 2008
    Messages:
    305
    Location:
    Northcentral, AZ
    2" to your sight picture can be substantial...
     
Thread Status:
Not open for further replies.

Share This Page