Smith & Wesson Forum

Go Back   Smith & Wesson Forum > Smith & Wesson Revolvers > S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present
Forum Register Expert Commentary Members List


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
  #1  
Old 01-12-2011, 07:01 PM
iyn iyn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: hawaii
Posts: 41
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default accuracy difference from 3" to 4" barrel

is there any accuracy difference form a 3" to a 4" barrel when you are shooting at 25 yards? I was think of getting a SW 686 in 3" for home defense, a gun that both my wife and I can shoot. The 3" is a little lighter than the 4", heavy enough to help with recoil and it does not eject shells like semi's which bothers her. our public range target distance is 25 yards which more than likely be the only place it will be fired. anyone have shooting experience with these barrel lenghts?
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01-12-2011, 07:10 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2009
Posts: 378
Likes: 32
Liked 16 Times in 14 Posts
Default

There will be no appreciable difference in accuracy or precision barring any defect with either barrel length. However, a longer sight radius does help when seeking precision from a particular weapon. Sight radius is not dependent upon the barrel length. Without going into serious details I can say with confidence that having a 3 inch barrel will in no way decrease the effectiveness of your weapon for the intended purpose.
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-12-2011, 07:31 PM
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,057
Likes: 107
Liked 371 Times in 180 Posts
Default

No real difference in the accuracy from the barrel. I do, however, find a 4" barrel just about perfect as far as handling and shootability. I would take a 4" over a 3" any day.
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-12-2011, 11:43 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2010
Location: Southern California
Posts: 299
Likes: 8
Liked 20 Times in 18 Posts
Default

Personally I like the 3" for SD. I think it is just "handier" than the 4" but doesn't have the short ejector rod the 2" bbls have.

At 25 yards my 6" and 3" shoot about the same size groups if they're shooting the same ammo. At longer ranges the 6" has a clear advantage -- especially with 357 magnum loads.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-13-2011, 01:27 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 16
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

3" is a bit easier to conceal and draw rapidly but the 4" is a very well balanced revolver that shoots accurately.
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-13-2011, 01:53 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: Wyoming
Posts: 2,182
Likes: 415
Liked 790 Times in 361 Posts
Default

My agency's issue gun years ago was a 3". In theory there is no accuracy difference between that and a 4", but practically speaking the 4" is much more forgiving and usually a better pointer as well. It also gives a little more velocity which never hurts. It doesn't matter much for plinking or target shooting but under pressure I would rather run a 4incher. I carried one concealed for most of my career and liked it very much.

A thought: if a 3" is the choice I think the M60 S&W in either .38 Spl. or .357 is a darned good gun and a nice compact package to boot.

They will all do if you do.
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-13-2011, 07:21 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Clearwater, FL USA
Posts: 260
Likes: 34
Liked 34 Times in 22 Posts
Default

This has been my dilemma for a couple months. I see myself carrying, but also want to be able to shoot and practice, relatively comfortably, at the range. I've pretty much settled
on the 3" for it's ease of carry over the 4", and will put up with it at the range.
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-13-2011, 07:30 AM
SWCA Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2009
Location: North Carolina
Posts: 3,057
Likes: 107
Liked 371 Times in 180 Posts
Default

You could get the 3" 686, as well as a 4" or 5" police trade model 10 for fun at the range. Best of both worlds and still relatively inexpensive. Plus you give yourself a lot more options for your home defense plan with two guns.
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-13-2011, 07:50 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Oct 2009
Location: Clearwater, FL USA
Posts: 260
Likes: 34
Liked 34 Times in 22 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dragon88 View Post
You could get the 3" 686, as well as a 4" or 5" police trade model 10 for fun at the range. Best of both worlds and still relatively inexpensive. Plus you give yourself a lot more options for your home defense plan with two guns.
Good point. However, I fear, your "relatively" is way different then my "relatively"..........
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-13-2011, 07:57 AM
murphydog's Avatar
SWCA Member

 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 10,106
Likes: 10
Liked 1,611 Times in 1,159 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve_NEPhila View Post
There will be no appreciable difference in accuracy or precision barring any defect with either barrel length. However, a longer sight radius does help when seeking precision from a particular weapon. Sight radius is not dependent upon the barrel length. Without going into serious details I can say with confidence that having a 3 inch barrel will in no way decrease the effectiveness of your weapon for the intended purpose.
Sight radius is dependent on the barrel length, if the sights are on the barrel?

In any case, there will probably not be a noticeable difference in accuracy between a 3 and 4" 686. If you are not planning on carrying it I would opt for the 4", however.
__________________
Alan
SWCA 2023
Reply With Quote
  #11  
Old 01-13-2011, 08:15 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: MA
Posts: 3,688
Likes: 861
Liked 720 Times in 441 Posts
Default

There might be a slight practical difference, but it could be either way, depending on your wife's eyesight and your eyesight, your wife's experience and style, and yours. Usually, in the 3" bbl - 4" bbl range, one might expect the 4" to have a slight advantage, but it is definitely not always the case. For reasons stated above, the 3" is often a great choice.

Last edited by Model520Fan; 01-13-2011 at 08:18 AM.
Reply With Quote
  #12  
Old 01-13-2011, 09:21 AM
5-Shot's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Hills of East Tennessee.
Posts: 521
Likes: 406
Liked 454 Times in 154 Posts
Default

I'll not bore you with the (very) messy mathematical details, but there is a way to calculate the probable difference. Given 20/20 shooter eyesight and the difference in sight radius between a 3 inch and 4 inch J-frame Smiths, the shorter gun should, on average, produce 0.12 inches larger 5-shot groups at 25 yards.

Ed
Reply With Quote
  #13  
Old 01-13-2011, 12:45 PM
iyn iyn is offline
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2010
Location: hawaii
Posts: 41
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

Thanks guys for your input.
Reply With Quote
  #14  
Old 01-13-2011, 07:47 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Location: AR
Posts: 19
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Talking

Long story short, Wife loves her 586 4" and I prefer my PC shop M13 3".... answer.... 2 night stands !
Reply With Quote
  #15  
Old 01-13-2011, 08:11 PM
Member
 
Join Date: Dec 2002
Location: MA
Posts: 3,688
Likes: 861
Liked 720 Times in 441 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by 5-Shot View Post
I'll not bore you with the (very) messy mathematical details, but there is a way to calculate the probable difference. Given 20/20 shooter eyesight and the difference in sight radius between a 3 inch and 4 inch J-frame Smiths, the shorter gun should, on average, produce 0.12 inches larger 5-shot groups at 25 yards.

Ed
It is just barely possible that in the 3 - 4 inch barrel range, the mathematical calculations are relevant. However, in the summer of 1931, then-Major Julian Hatcher fired a "possible" at the British Nationals at Bisley with an H&R pistol with 8" barrel rather than the customary 10" barrel, with Ensign Harry Renshaw taking second place with a 98, using the same H&R pistol. The following year, interest in short-barreled H&R pistols increased considerably. Walter Roper subsequently did a limited study of the effect of sight radius on accuracy (three shooters, extensive shooting with more than one sight radius), and concluded, IIRC, that the shorter sight radius was better for one (top) shooter, longer for another, and unclear for the third. Roper reports all of this in his book Experiments of a Handgunner. There was also published an article by him in the September 1946 American Rifleman, in which he noted that after over a hundred shooters purchased short-barreled H&R pistols, a majority of the 65 who reported back to him reported better scores with the short pistol.

It seems quite clear to me that the arithmetic involved is often less important than other variables in the individual shooter, and the actual practical result can usually be determined only by extensive experimentation.
Reply With Quote
  #16  
Old 01-13-2011, 08:48 PM
David LaPell's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Mar 2008
Posts: 4,820
Likes: 268
Liked 2,244 Times in 782 Posts
Default

Get the 3 1/2 inch barrel, the best of both worlds!

__________________
Vaya con Dios
Reply With Quote
  #17  
Old 01-13-2011, 09:42 PM
Member
 
Join Date: May 2009
Location: Texas
Posts: 2,070
Likes: 5
Liked 380 Times in 236 Posts
Default

Baised on my experience I would say, "most likely no".

You would have to test a bunch of 3" vs. 4" to reach a positive conclusion.

I can say this, I had a 2.5" Mod 19, that at 25 yards would shoot as good as my 2 custom 6" PPC guns. It was a tack driver.

I do seem to shoot a 6.5" 44 Mag a little better at 25 yards, and much better at 50 yards than a 4".
Reply With Quote
  #18  
Old 01-14-2011, 08:56 AM
5-Shot's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Feb 2010
Location: Hills of East Tennessee.
Posts: 521
Likes: 406
Liked 454 Times in 154 Posts
Default

520Fan,

I actually agree with you on this. Back when I did a lot of serious target shooting I had a Mod 46 with both a long and short barrel. I found I preferred the shorter of the two. It's easier to keep both front and rear sight in focus when they are closer together.

My calculations are based on the (somewhat) questionable assumption that the shooter is able master that task as well as keep the target in focus. (A Merit eye disc helps a lot here!) Since a person with 20/20 eyesight can resolve one minute of angle, the rest is pure probability and arithmetic.

The point in my earlier response was to demonstrate that any theoretical advantage for the longer barrel was so small that it was bound to get lost among all the other shooting variables.

Ed
Reply With Quote
  #19  
Old 01-14-2011, 10:20 AM
m657's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: sunny Orygun
Posts: 2,439
Likes: 59
Liked 97 Times in 60 Posts
Default

For "minute of grapefruit" at 25 yards, my 3" vs 4" 629s have no practical difference in accuracy.

There is considerable difference in muzzle blast though, using the same 900-1000 fps 240 gr SWC loads with the same powder.

Recoil is insignificantly different in my hand. Accuracy on paper targets is virtually identical.

The anticipated muzzle blast does tend to affect my accuracy more out of the 3" though.

When using identical 44 special loads in the 3" and 4" from the bench at 25 yards, there is no significant difference in my own test.

I don't have 3" 38 cal to test with 4". Probably the 38 level loads have little difference in muzzle blast. I'd expect 357 level loads to exhibit the same kind of blast characteristics as the 44 mag experiment.

Personally I prefer the 3" barrels for belt carry.
__________________
Dum vivimus Vivamas
Reply With Quote
  #20  
Old 01-16-2011, 09:44 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: ohio
Posts: 403
Likes: 6
Liked 78 Times in 52 Posts
Default

Groo here
The difference in accuracy between a short and a long barrel has more
to do with the way you see the sights than most anything else.
Most shooters who are near sighted will go to a shorter barrel
[closer to the eye ] as they age,, far sighted will go to a longer.
Got to see the front sight well!!!!!!!!!!!
Reply With Quote
  #21  
Old 01-16-2011, 11:01 AM
Member
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: Metro Detroit, Michigan
Posts: 4,328
Likes: 61
Liked 1,160 Times in 708 Posts
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Groo01 View Post
Groo here
The difference in accuracy between a short and a long barrel has more
to do with the way you see the sights than most anything else.
Most shooters who are near sighted will go to a shorter barrel
[closer to the eye ] as they age,, far sighted will go to a longer.
Got to see the front sight well!!!!!!!!!!!
Or just say NUTS and mount a reflex sight.

From a purely engineering standpoint, with a one piece barrel the shorter barrel will actually be more accurate than a longer barrel. When a barrel is attached to the frame at just one end it becomes in effect a Cantelever Beam. Since a bullet transitting the barrel will cause that beam to bounce like a diving board, a shorter barrel will be "stiffer" in it's response and the end will deflect less during the transit event. I suspect that if a 2 1/2 inch 686 and a 6 inch 686 were both equipped with a good handgun scope and fired from a rest by a real good shooter, the short barrel would just trounce the longer barreled gun in group size. However, in order to prove this out completely, each gun would have to use a load that was optimized for the barrel length. Because Harmonics can have a distinct effect on any vibrating system and barrels do vibrate in response to a bullet transitting them. Ideally you want a load and bullet mass where the end of the barrel is passing through it's Neutral position when the bullet exits the muzzle. Ask anyone who's worked up loads for long range rifle shooting, just a 100 fps difference in velocity can make a distinct difference in group size downrange.

Now, if you are still young enough that you don't need to cheat with Optics, Sight radius Rules. Even the eagle eyed pro who never even smells caffiene will shoot more accurately with a longer sight radius. However, since most of us don't fall into the eagle eyed, caffiene free, category, I don't think the difference between a 3 or 4 inch barrel will be very noticable. The plain truth is that most of us can't come close to shooting to the accuracy our guns are capable of. Fact is for offhand shooting almost all of my practice is spent at 15 yards or less, for anything longer I look for a rest because most days I'm just not as steady as I would like to be.
Reply With Quote
  #22  
Old 03-07-2011, 10:19 PM
windstrings's Avatar
Member
 
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 2
Likes: 0
Liked 0 Times in 0 Posts
Default

I too am debating on a 3" nice and tidy verses a 4 or even a 5".
Seems most of the "visibility" while trying to conceal is the handle anyway.

Added barrel length adds weight but also adds speed and I expect gets more spin???

My gunsmith told me that .45acp like to tumble after a certain distance.
Bad news for someone contemplating buying a Kimber Ultra raptor or similar.

I'm wondering if a little added length gives better speed of revolution on the bullet allowing further distance and accuracy before the "tumble" starts?

I expect if your shooting FTX hornady ammo thats pointed cutting through the wind rather than "bucking" the wind may help too.

With that being said... I now wonder if .45 acp is still ok to get or whether I should consider 10mm "seems those are never ultra though" or maybe .40mm?
.40mm's shoot like pussycats, so I'm not afraid of the idea of shooting a 10mm.

Maybe thats cause I cut my teeth with my first pistol being a .460

Seems just about the time I think I know what I want, I learn more and am glad I waited.
Reply With Quote
  #23  
Old 03-07-2011, 10:31 PM
one eye joe's Avatar
US Veteran
 
Join Date: Dec 2008
Posts: 1,539
Likes: 391
Liked 152 Times in 92 Posts
Default

There is NO appreciable difference in accuracy @ the range you describe between two good revolvers. I have a 2 1/2" 686 that prints one ragged hole groups @ 50 ft. off the bench. Can't get much better than that.........
__________________
'Nam 1968-69.DAV,VFW,NRA Inst.
Reply With Quote
Reply

Tags
357 magnum, 45acp, 586, 686, concealed, ejector, gunsmith, hornady, kimber, m13, m60, model 10, model 60, ppc, rifleman, roper, scope, sig arms

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Posting Rules
S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present Thread, accuracy difference from 3" to 4" barrel in Smith & Wesson Revolvers; is there any accuracy difference form a 3" to a 4" barrel when you are shooting at 25 yards? I ...
Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
CZ 527 .223 bolt rifle, "Mini Mauser" accuracy and goodness (pics).... canoeguy Firearms & Knives - Other Brands 17 05-29-2013 07:00 PM
2" barrel revolvers, will +P make a difference? john1951 S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present 14 02-14-2011 10:12 PM
Anticipated Accuracy from 5" to 2.625" Barrel? dwever S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present 6 09-13-2010 08:39 PM
"SOLD" DeSantis holster for "K" 2 1/2" barrel Right Hand HAWKEYE10 Accessories/Misc - For Sale or Trade 4 04-20-2010 11:22 PM
Model 617 .22cal 4" or 6" 10 shot - would there be a big difference in them?? .460V & XVR Magnum Man S&W Revolvers: 1980 to the Present 12 09-27-2009 05:52 PM

Powered by vBadvanced CMPS v3.2.3
smith-wessonforum.com tested by Norton Internet Security smith-wessonforum.com tested by McAfee Internet Security

All times are GMT -4. The time now is 01:54 AM.


S-W Forum, LLC 2000-2015
Smith-WessonForum.com is not affiliated with Smith & Wesson Holding Corporation (NASDAQ Global Select: SWHC)