For range shooting 4" or 6"

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Center fire

Jun 9, 2014
San Jose, CA
I was looking at the Ruger GP100 today while at the indoor range. They have both the 4" and 6" models. I am thinking about adding a 357 to my collection. Since this will be for recreational purpose only which of the two barrel lengths would you recommend? My target distances are as follows:

5 to 15 yds 15%
25 yds 50%
30 to 50 yds 25%
Beyond 50 yds 10%
If it's a range only gun I'd say go with the 6". I shoot a bit better with the 6 incher and you get just a bit more power :)
I prefer my S&W 586 6" to all others in .357.
I would recommend the S&W 617 6" .22 as well....similar feel and balance, also great to start out with at the range.
Gets me warmed up and saves money because I use less .357 to get on target at longer ranges.
whichever one feels better and balances in your hand better. to me, sight radius doesn't matter much.

It sure sounds like you're doing primarily traditional bullseye style shooting. So a 6" would be hands down the way to go. And a longer barrel would not be amiss at all.

If at some point you move towards action style shooting and competition then a 3 to 4 inch would be the way to go.
I was thinking in line with the previous posts. THEN I thought, what age is the shooter? If we are talking about a range gun we don't need to be thinking about developing maximum velocity. If we are talking about aging eyes ( a "law of physics" development, not an eye disease ), then it may actually be more difficult to focus on the longer sight radius.

I am a "senior" shooter who finds that about 5" is the optimum for my current eyesight.

All shooters are at the mercy of father time. Just how old a man are you?
whichever one feels better and balances in your hand better. to me, sight radius doesn't matter much.


My experience would agree that balance is the most important quality in a range/target gun.

Sight radius only comes into play mostly at longer ranges (100 yards+)
I'm in my mid 50s. Most of my guns are autos with 5" barrels. I do have one revolver a Dan Wesson 44 with an 8" barrel. It's a beast and fun to shoot, but 100 rounds is where I stop as fatigue takes over and my shot groupings begin to suffer.
I have several 4" and 6" sets.....Past 25 yards or shooting very small targets, I pick the sixers every time.
I had a Colt Trooper Mk.V with a 6" barrel that felt perfectly balanced to me, compared to 4" barreled Model 686 or GP100. For me not it's not so much the sight radius but more like the overall balance and handling between different guns with various barrel lengths.
5 to 15 yds 15%
25 yds 50%
30 to 50 yds 25%
Beyond 50 yds 10%

With 85% of your planned shooting being 25 yards or greater, I'd usually pick the 6" GP100.

It is not a light gun and the full underlug on 6" of barrel adds to the feeling of weight due to being muzzle heavy. So, definitely hold both of them side by side to see what you prefer.

Also be sure to see if one offers a clearer view of the front sight compared to the other. Unfortunately, my eyes have gotten to the point where handgun sights aren't in focus for any barrel length so there is no advantage to a longer sight radius. I'm slowly but surely going the red dot route which means at this point in my life I'd probably pick the 4" GP100 and mount a red dot on it. :D
Not only will a 6'' gun give you a longer sight radius, it will also recoil less than a comparable 4'' gun. I have 4'', 5'' and 6'' .357s and find there is little difference in balance once one develops the muscles in the arms/wrist to shoot them.
You've got a DW .44 already?

Assuming you reload for it what about making up some reduced power loads? That should remove much of the fatigue and hand shakiness that comes from beating yourself up over a longer session. Work on getting your bullseye loads down closer to .44Spl like speeds or even milder if the gun will shoot them accurately enough.

Or if you find the gun is a little muzzle heavy with the long barrel switch to a shorter one. Or do you not have the barrel "kit"?

On the other hand if you simply NEED to buy another revolver I sure won't hold you back.... :D
When I shoot my Dan Wesson .357 for punching paper at the range it always sports it's 6" barrel. When practicing "Move and Shoot" outside it's always the 2 1/2" barrel.

I do like my 6" barrels for target range shooting but I do little of it.

@BCRider I've had the DW since around 1992. It's my only revolver. I like my autos, but I love the revolver. I want another :D and I like the versatility of the 357.
I like to thank everyone for the replies. I'm leaning towards the 6" configuration as this will be a target gun. I have autos for HD purposes if the need ever arises.
I recommend a 4".

Not only is a 4" .357mag about the most versatile gun there is, a gun with a 6" full-underlug barrel feels too muzzle heavy to me. And if your technique and fundamentals are good, the shorter sight radius doesn't make that much difference at common handgun distances (<50 yards) IME.
I met in the middle and bought the 5". They can be hard to come by but they are not all that rare.

The balance is perfect IMO and it is a good compromise between size and sight radius.
The 5" as mentioned above is available, but maybe a bit harder to find. One of my LGS's stocks all the barrel lengths of the GP100, 3", 4.2" 5" & 6" and the 5" is about $20 more. They also have the 3" Wiley Clap model that's pretty neat.

I have a 6" I bought for range use and possibly deer hunting, but have been heavily tempted by the 5". For 4" I went with a 4.2" SP101 and like it very much as it's substantially lighter to carry if that's your intent.
For target shooting and plinking I would take the 6" revolver over the 4" revolver almost every time. I like 38/357 Magnum revolvers a lot, they are a lot of fun, powerful with .357 Magnum ammo and a good for a lot of different uses.
I shoot Dan Wesson revolvers, so barrel length is more easily managed. I only shoot .357 out to 50 feet, and I have settled on 4" as the best choice for my kind of shooting. If I shot at longer distance regularly, 6" would be a better choice.
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