When is a barrel too short for a .357 magnum?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by jski, Sep 1, 2018.

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  1. Eddietruett

    Eddietruett Member

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    I agree 100% on the 3". Its about as easy to conceal as a 2 or 2.5" and does give slightly better velocity. Since I'm a 3" freak and have about a dozen, I have done a lot of testing with SD rounds. While not as scientific as luckygunner, etc. I have come to basically the same conclusions. The ammo available today for the short barrel revolver performs mostly as advertised.
    I see no reason to use full bore .357 rounds for SD. The +P .38 does just as good in most cases and with a whole lot less recoil which would make follow up shots much quicker and more accurate. While barrel length does play a part in the velocity and performance, the bullet weight and type of powder is just as important. I spent several months testing the most popular short barrel loads and also loaded a lot of different bullets and powders just for my own satisfaction. Using water jugs and soaked newspaper I found that there is a critical balance in SD ammo. You sacrifice penetration for expansion or expansion for penetration. It is almost impossible to improve on the factory loadings for self defense. You can get plenty of velocity out of a 2.5" or 3" barrel to make many different bullets perform for self defense and even a bear if needed.
     
  2. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I wouldn't. Unless I wanted for some reason an almost, but not quite full powered load.

    In 44mag I load quite alot of almost, but not quite full power loads but use Unique for that purpose as shooting only full bore 44mag takes it out of me. In 357 out of my 686 which I shoot mostly I can handle hot 357's all day. If I need less, I'll usually just go down to 38's.
     
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  3. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    I go along with gotboostvr here, jski - "I wouldn't. Unless I wanted for some reason an almost, but not quite full powered load."
    I suspect part of the problem we're having is due to the rather vague descriptions of "fast burning" or "slow burning" powders we are using. You yourself wrote, "True Blue (or powders of its ilk, i.e., fast burners)." Yet according to the burn rate charts I'm looking at, True Blue is almost (but not quite) as slow as 2400. And 2400 is my favorite "slow burning" handgun powder. Notice the emphasis on "handgun" - 2400 is way "fast" compared to most rifle powders.
    Furthermore, also according to the charts, True Blue is not as "fast" as Unique - my favorite "medium" burning handgun powder. And it's a long ways from being as "fast" as Bullseye, or even TITEGROUP - two of my favorite "fast" burning handgun powders.
    Therefore, like gotboostvr, I wouldn't use True Blue for 357 loads. If I want full power 357 loads, I use either 2400 or 296. If I want medium 357 loads, I use Unique. And if I wanted (which I never have) powder-puff 357 loads, I would use either Bullseye or TITEGROUP. For me personally, buying a can of True Blue for 357 loads would be like trying to fill a niche that doesn't exist.:)
     
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  4. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    I like 2400 and have plenty, but my trifecta is 4227, Unique and Bullseye.
     
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  5. jski

    jski Member

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    Question: If I want "full power 357 loads" shouldn't I go with Hodgdon's H110? "Whatever is fastest in a longer barrel will be faster in a shorter barrel." Wouldn't that lead me to H110, which appears to have been the powder developed by Winchester for the .30 Carbine round at the start of WWII.
     
  6. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    Correct, H110 will give you high velocity fire belching full bore mangel-em's.

    I also highly recommend 2400, or my favorite IMR 4227. 4227 won't give the absolute highest velocity, but will get close and gives superb accuracy in my guns as well as being a very safe powder. It's almost too voluminous to over charge.
     
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  7. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Yes, and I think, at least I've heard and read that H110 is the same powder as WW296.
    Like gotboostvr, I too highly recommend 2400 for full power loads in a 357 Magnum, or a 44 Magnum for that matter. I've never tried IMR4427, but gotboostvr makes it sound good - it might be worth a try.:)
     
  8. WrongHanded
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    WrongHanded Contributing Member

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    I've tried 4227, it was my first powder and
    .357 mag was my first cartridge. I never got it up to compressed levels, but I also never liked it that much. It did seem quite accurate at mid levels though (as far as I could tell). But at mid levels and below it left unburnt kernels and was pretty sooty. I think 15.5gr under a 158gr LSWC was the highest I got. I also didn't like how it metered, or the smell when shooting.

    Now I stick to 2400. But everyone has their preferences.
     
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  9. NMPOPS

    NMPOPS Member

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    While I have owned both a 3" 66 [sold :( ] and a 3" 65 [stolen] I rarely shot .357 out of either. I personally think 4" is short enough.
     
  10. .308 Norma

    .308 Norma Member

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    Yeah, me too. In fact, when it comes most any revolver that I'm not going to try to carry concealed, I prefer a 6" barrel. Although, I do have an old Model 63 4", as well as an old Model 15 4" that are both real sweet.
     
  11. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    4227 seems to do better the harder you push it. It "works" when reduced but without a heavy crimp and high pressure it's real dirty.

    I don't have a sense of smell really, but yeah it's got a distinct uh, aroma.
     
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  12. golden

    golden Member

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    I will not use a .357 magnum with less than a 4 inch barrel. I was issued a 3 inch S&W model 13 when I first started in law enforcement. It was a great carry gun, but muzzle blast was worse than a 4 inch and you loose to much of the velocity that makes the .357 magnum so effective, in my experience. I want at least a 4 inch barrel on any revolver that I use. Snubbies have their place, but only when you cannot conceal anything larger.

    Jim
     
  13. bsms

    bsms Member

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    Another approach would be to ask what the minimum GRIP size is for shooting 357. For me, a thick, rubber Pachmayr pistol grip makes a Model 60 a .357 revolver. But my 649 uses a much smaller DeSantis Clip Grip, and it is a 38 Special gun. I've fired 357 out of it and suspect 357 would work fine for it in a self defense situation, but the bigger rubber grip makes a huge difference in control.

    Ballistically, the results I've read about indicate a 357 fired from a 2" barrel will expand more reliably and still penetrate well. Better than the same in 38 Special. Does it matter? Probably not. Might provide a slight edge. I think a realistic self-defense scenario for where and how I live would include using my weapon as a belly gun. If nothing else, the 357 ammo might burn the BG to death. Or burn his clothes and leave him naked...

    Just kidding.
     
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  14. gotboostvr

    gotboostvr Member

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    bsms, grips (and fitment) and frame materials (steel vs alloy) are huge considerations certainly!

    I know for me the smallest grips I can shoot are factory magnas, preferably with a T-grip.
    I find they're thicker across the back than many boot grip options which help asorb and spread out the recoil.

    An all steel pistol helps considerably too. Shooting my snub nosed M19 is a walk in the park compared to a thin gripped airweight.
     
  15. jski

    jski Member

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    This data is from Buffalo Bore's website. It seems to clearly show the 3" barrel is the sweet spot.
     
  16. fxvr5

    fxvr5 Member

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    No it doesn't. Those rounds were fired in different guns, and different guns (barrels) produce different velocities that might not reflect barrel length speeds except in those specific barrels.

    The best way is to conduct all tests from the same barrel, and cut if off as you test different barrel lengths. This is how ballistics by the inch does it, and their data does not show a sweet spot at 3".

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

    gotboostvr Member

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    BBTI also measures barrel length from breech face to muzzle, not forcing cone to muzzle. So subtract about an inch and some change to get a "revolver" barrel length
    They also do not account for velocity lost due to cylinder gap. So it's not exactly an apples to apples comparison.
     
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  18. MidRoad
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    MidRoad Contributing Member

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    Cyclinder gap can play a good role in velocity loss. Hence how some folks get better velocities out of a 4" than a 6" barrel on the rare occasion. Only true way is to lop inches of the same barrel and compare the results,need a constant control to test against.
     
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  19. jski

    jski Member

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    After all that's been written here, I'm not quite sure there's any conclusion. But this from Buffalo Bore is an interesting take on:
    VELOCITY VERSUS BARREL LENGTH

     
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  20. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    Every revolver is a law unto itself but there are generalizations that can be made. It doesn't at all alter the slow vs fast powder debate.
     
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  21. Fiv3r

    Fiv3r Member

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    As far as grip sizes/styles go, I don't notice much. I actually prefer a more streamlined grip for carry over a large chunk of rubber.

    However, the caveat of that is that I only carry all steel, full size guns if I am packing .357. I could not find a grip comfortable enough that didn't over shadow the designed use of a 642, and that's just shooting .38 +p. No reason for me carry a fist full of rubber if it's on a air weight pocket revolver and makes print like a brick. I put boot grips on my lcrs as well. However I really only tolerate shooting the steel frames versions over the aluminum .38.

    I've just made friends with the fact that if I'm carrying a cartridge that is designed to perform better out of a longer barrel, I should just carry a longer barrel gun with a heavier weight. I could shoot rip-snort 125grs through my Blackhawk all day with it's simple slab grips. It just rolls in my grip like a SAA. 50 rounds of +p .38 out of a 642 and I'm ready to call it a day.
     
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  22. CraigC
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    CraigC Sixgun Nut

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    I'd rather shoot the .44Mag, .454, .480 or .500JRH than any .357 J-frame, any day of the week.
     
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