Why are 3" revolvers rare?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Revolvers' started by rs525, Apr 14, 2022.

  1. rs525

    rs525 Member

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    I've been looking around at revolvers and their barrel lengths and something that comes up frequently is the coveted 3 inch length barrel. Everybody praises them, singing their virtues of weight, balance and shootability compared to a 2"/2.5" or a regular 4" barrel. And yet...they're very rare specimens with some being more scarce than others. Why is that? Many revolvers were offered in such a length: S&W Model 10, 13, 19, Colt Detective Specials and Pythons just to name a few. If people love them so much as the ideal carry revolver, why did companies make so little of them? I want to hear your thoughts on this.
     
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  2. unclenunzie
    • Contributing Member

    unclenunzie Contributing Member

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    Odd numbers freak people out ;)

    Ok - more seriously I think the common 2 and 4 inch revolvers probably sell at a much higher rate than the 3" variety. That could change, but the history of police use - snubs and service revolvers probably set the standard at 2 and 4.

    I actually want a 3" 38 special to go with my 2",4",6" 38/357 revolvers. I figure it would work on a belt inside or out, provide a longer sight radius and a little more oomph than the 2" and be lighter and more concealable than a 4 inch.
     
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  3. Dave T

    Dave T Member

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    I don't think manufacturers, particularly the MBA bean counters who make a lot of the decisions, give a (expletive deleted) about what the buyers want. They sell all the revolvers they are willing to make now and they see the future in plastic squeeze tickers.

    YMMV,
    Dave
     
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  4. rs525

    rs525 Member

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    I should also say this is only about the Old School revolvers, not ones currently manufactured.
     
  5. Rule3

    Rule3 Member

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    Rare? Because they don't make many:)
     
  6. .455_Hunter

    .455_Hunter Member

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    I always thought a 3" Model 12 would have been a good seller.
     
  7. Kleanbore

    Kleanbore Moderator Staff Member

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    That is all that they do care about. That's basic business.
     
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  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    The only official use of a 3" revolver I can think of offhand was the last FBI issue before they went auto.

    Now the 3" .38 is a cult object and gunsmiths are making good money by sawing off police trade-ins.
    The Taurus 856 Defender is selling well, even to people who would prefer a US brand, because it is such a convenient size; 3" barrel, 6 shot cylinder, 17 or 23 oz.
     
  9. Dframe

    Dframe Member

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    I don't know why. I am one of the many who love them. As mentioned, handiness and balance are two attributes I enjoy.
     
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  10. DR505

    DR505 Member

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    No photos yet? Need to fix that! I like 3" barreled revolvers.

    51833855747_90382d6e26_b.jpg
    3" Model 13-4 .357 Magnum

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    3" Model 625-3 .45 ACP

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    Two 3" Model 657 .41 Magnums

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    Cheating a bit: 3.5" Model 27-2 .357 Magnum
     
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  11. Speedo66

    Speedo66 Member

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    If people indicated a large preference for more 3" guns, they'd make them.

    As usual, because they didn't make many, and as a result are rare, people want them. The typical "people want what they can't have".
     
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  12. Dunross

    Dunross Member

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    Because a 3" barrel is a compromise between concealment and accuracy that just wasn't very popular back in the day. Either you wanted a pistol that would conceal well or one you weren't going to conceal at all thus 4 to 6 inch barrel lengths.

    Only in recent decades has that particular compromise started to become more popular. I have one myself.
     
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  13. Fyrstyk

    Fyrstyk Member

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    Keep your eyes out for a S&W Model 60. I have one and really like it for shootability and concealment.
     
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  14. rs525

    rs525 Member

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    It's baffling that people believed that. It sounded like ways of thinking were more black and white than they are today.
     
  15. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    Most revolvers were designed as Duty Guns. Concealed Carry by the masses is something of a new thing over the last few decades. 4” is perfect for a Duty Gun, 2” is an off duty, Detective, Supervisor armed Civilian mode. The Federal Government used 3” revolvers prior to the transition to semi autos. A few other departments authorized 3” guns but although it sounds funny now it was for the ladies. But predominantly revolvers that were to be carried were 4 and 2”. I agree that 3” is a great carry/self defense option. This is the new market for revolvers though, not the traditional one.
     
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  16. rs525

    rs525 Member

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    Like Jim Watson said, the FBI is the only agency I know of that used 3" revolvers, specifically the Model 13. I believe the Secret Service actually used the Model 19 in 2.5". I would think the only other agencies that had them were small departments that allowed their officers to carry a personally approved firearm.
     
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  17. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    NYPD used 3” guns at points also. 3” Model 64’s and Rugers. Matrons (Women before they became Patrolman) carried Model 30/31 .32 Longs and Model 36 3” with square butts. I may have missed a few but not the only department. I think the Treasury Department had 3” K frames at some point as well.
     
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  18. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    To answer the OP's question, I haven't a clue. Some of the finest carry revolvers I have ever owned were 3 inch barrel.
     
  19. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    A685B223-2E89-4D82-9AFA-9A6928E3217C.jpeg E8BCD595-0F38-42E3-A16D-2E895F34F429.jpeg A685B223-2E89-4D82-9AFA-9A6928E3217C.jpeg

    Both these models were made for the NYPD
     
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  20. JeffG

    JeffG Member

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    Sigle action to be sure, but this 3 3/4 inch Vaquero carries and shoots very well.

    thumbnail (3).jpg
     
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  21. lincen

    lincen Member

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    Can’t explain why but 3” barrel revolvers are appealing to me.

    upload_2022-4-14_14-0-22.jpeg

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  22. rs525

    rs525 Member

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    Can I just go on record and say that I hate it when they cut the spur off the revolver hammer and make it DAO? I understand why they do it, so you can't have an accidental discharge if you cock the hammer back, but it just looks ugly. They should have just trained cops better to just not use the single action mode.
     
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  23. wcwhitey

    wcwhitey Member

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    Politics, revolvers were used for over 100 years. I agree with the spur less not my thing. I am having my Bulldog 3” DAO out back to a spur as we speak. Some people love them though. To each his own.
     
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  24. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    If I were named King revolvers with 3" and 5" barrels would be the standard common lengths rather than 4" and 6".
     
  25. reddog81

    reddog81 Member

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    2" or 2.5" is better for carry. 4" is better for shooting. 3" is kind of no-mans-land. 3" can work great for either roll, but most people will want something shorter than 3" for carry and prefer longer for range shooting.

    If 3" and 5" were the popular lengths then people would be asking why more 2", 4" & 6" weren't offered.

    FWIW there have been a very wide variety of 3" offerings by S&W, Colt, Ruger and many other manufacturers over the years. If 3" was the preferred length manufacturers would standardize on it rather than making it more limited model.

    For collectible models the 3" is often times the more desirable option because so few were made. Not because it's necessarily any "better" than other barrel lengths.
     
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