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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #1
HI James,
      Just wondering what barrel length you and the fellows on the river down there are using on your 686's? I'm thinking of adding a .357 to the collection and I'd like to gather some data.
       What it comes down to is this - I want a 4" barrel for convenience but the 6" seems to hold steadier and point/balance better. I've asked this question before but I'll ask again. What real difference in accuracy can one expect between the barrel lengths? My VERY limited experience indicates that I shoot a 6" better, but I have shot so few handguns that it could be a difference in accuracy potential of the individual firearms.
       I hate to beat a dead horse, but I know that if I can't get a gun to shoot as well as I want I won't carry it, even if it is more convenient.
      Thanks all, for your input.        IDShooter
 

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A longer barrel is not mechanically more accurate, but the longer sight radius may make it easier for you to shoot the weapon to its potential. I have a 4" barrel on my 686 and like it very much.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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ID,

If I may presume to jump in, I'd like to make a couple of comments. Most of my magnum revolver shooting has been with the .357 and I've owned many. In my experience the 6" guns will improve most people's practical accuracy beyond 25 yards or so. Under that it's a wash.

Velocity really picks up with the extra two inches when using the .357. I had a 6" S&W M27 that touched 1600 fps with one batch of Federal 125-grain JHP's, when the best any of my 4" guns could get was about 1400 fps from the same lot of ammunition. Now I will grant you that gun had a tight cylinder gap which helps a great deal in extracting the last few fps but I've had similar results shooting other 6-6.5" .357's and loads.

Right now I'm deciding on whether to rebarrel my 4" M686 to six inches or to sell it to make way for a 6" GP-100. So you can see what I think of the idea. If concealed carry isn't in the cards, get the 6-incher.
 

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IDShooter,

The 686 Plus also came in a 5" Barrel with a HI-VIS
front sight and a v-notch rear sight. This is the .357 that currently own, and it's a great gun. The only thing I did was to change the rear sight blade to a white outline square notch. This gave me a left/right and top/bottom referance that I did not have with the v-notch.

I wish you the best of luck. <!--emo&:D--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':D'><!--endemo-->

Ray C.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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ID, I think that James may be having computer problems.  But it looks like some other people have been giving you good feedback.

My favorite .357 for hunting had a 6.5" barrel.  So I guess I'm with Bill as far as barrel lengths go.  It's a little more cumbersome to pack around but I hit so much better with it.
 

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Sorry Mike......I got lost out in La-La-Land and just found the post. You know when you get to my age , you forget where you were!!!!!
O.K.....You see all the great answers and they are are correct. All the 686's I know of in this neck of the woods are 6". We all carry them crossdraw...handy in the boats and trucks. I think the added velocity with the heavy bullets, less noise blast with slow burn powder, less flash, better sight radius, all add to a plus with the 6".
It is true that in theory the 4" will group with the 6", but most shooters I know seem to hit better with the 6"
As for dumping Smith & Wesson (boycott)....I have some problems with that. I know the working people at S&W. If the customers kill the company only the Anti's win. I think, from private conversations, that their management sees where they screwed up, however, when you deal with the govt and unions, it takes time to turn things around. A better situation would have been to pick their premi line and boycotted that.....They would have seen to power of the consumer just as well. I know I will get flak on this, but "To kill to horse because the saddle doesn't fit" leaves a lot to be desired. You don't have to jump my arse, I've heard all the arguements before.
So....If I see a Smith, new or used, I may buy it. I just don't know right now!
Let me remind everybody...the dealers boycotted Winchester-Western over the post 1964 line of guns. Before W-W could turn around, they were killed off. Winchester-Western sells only ammo now. U.S. Repeating Arms is owned By a holding company overseas. I also want to point out that all major gun companies supported the Gun Control Law of 1968!!!!!!!!!!!!
Well, enough said! I just think we all better think about all of this.
Best Regards To All, James
 

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Beartooth Regular
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This is the most accurate wheelgun I own.

With a load of 13.5 grs. of 2400 behind a good hardcast SWC 158 grainer and standard primers, it will shoot into a 1 to 1 1/2" cluster at 25 yds from a rest. Laughably, I've never chronoed this load.

DB Wesson would have loved this 8 3/8" model.


Regards
 

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IDShooter,

If you plan to hunt with this arm, you might check into your state's reg's on barrel length.  Here in Oregon you need a 6" barrel on handguns last I checked....may have changed.  

My .357 is a Taurus.  Much more comfy to shoot than my brother's S&W.  This is not a brand thing....they are the same for practical purposes....his has a 4" barrel, mine has a 6" barrel.  Less jump, a lot less jump!  <!--emo&:D--><img src="http://beartoothbullets.com/iB_html/non-cgi/emoticons/biggrin.gif" border="0" valign="absmiddle" alt=':D'><!--endemo-->

Just boils down to your expected uses, I reckon and your tastes.
 

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Beartooth Regular
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Discussion Starter #9
Thanks everyone for your input! It seems that we're leaning toward 6", which is the way I was leaning myself. But the guys at the gun shop keep trying to talk me into 4" for some reason, saying a 6" inch gets in the way when carrying it. But I want to be able to HIT with whatever I carry!
    Bill, so far my experiences have mirrored yours as far as distance is concerned.  My 4 5/8" SBH is the only handgun I have shot extensively (and that is just since last summer), but  I have had great difficulty getting groups past 50yds. Up to 50yds I can get about 3 inches, but when I move out to 100 yds I usually don't get all the shots on the paper. With my father-in-law's 6.5" .357 I do much better at the longer ranges, though I've only shot it a little and haven't had a chance to develop any real proficiency yet.
      Hotrod53, I appreciate your advice about game laws, too. But here in Idaho you can legally use any centerfire firearm to hunt big game. So far they still believe we citizens have enough intelligence to decide for ourselves what is adequate. Quite unique in these modern times!
       Anyone else who wants to jump in, please do! Thanks again everyone...    IDShooter
 

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Beartooth Regular
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ID,

As far as holsters go for the hunter outdoorsman, I whole heartedly second James' suggestion of the crossdraw. If you look at old photos from the West you'll see how common this style of carry was. Not just among cowboys, but also sheepmen, miners, railroad police, and yes even many gunfighters. It really stays out of the way on horseback, in a vehicle or any time when seated. Yet is fully accessible. When you wear a pack or carry your rifle slung, it's not banging away into either. If you're preoccupied with your strong hand, a weak hand, cavalry-style draw is no problem with the crossdraw. And I find it to be especially comfortable when using handguns over 4" barrel length. Anything beyond that seems to disappear with the crossdraw until you slap leather.
 

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The Hog Whisperer (Administrator)
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Cross-draw is definitely the way to go.  I can put up with a barrel as long as 7.5" this way, although 6 or 6.5" is more comfortable yet.

Sound to me like the gun shop just really wants to sell you a 4" gun.
 

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So James, let me get this straight.  You think we should continue to support Smith & Wesson even though they tried to sell their customers' wishes, and the rest of the firearm manufacturing industry, down the river?

I was going to just ignore the post, I know your friends at S&W need jobs.  But it is not a case of shooting the horse because of a bad saddle.  It's the choice of buying a horse that you know will do what it can to give you future grief, or buy a Ruger or Colt horse.  My money is on Ruger, Colt and any other firearm manufacturer that will respect its customers wishes and not try to force restrictions down their throat just because the company doesn't have a backbone.  Good Riddance to Smith & Wesson if they don't change their ways.

I don't mean to mean, but I can't think that way because I can't think that way.

I apologize to you Marshall, Bill or anyone else that I may have offended, but with currently 93% poll voting the way they have, I think it is just.
 

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Sir, I think you misread my post or taking a purely emotional approach to the situation. I think evryone has the right to buy and own anything. I only stressed that we all should consider the long range ramifications of a boycott.
My second point is...This poll is not a true cross section of the American buying public and is somewhat specialized. In fact, the poll only represents a small portion of our viewing public. The results may, or may,represent all.
I totally agree that the path that the management of Smith & Wesson was wrong. Just as I felt at the time the support the major manufacturers gave to the Gun Control Law of 1968 was wrong. Support that was fully supported by the makers you mentioned.
Competition between manufacturers has always been healthly for the consumer. If Ruger, or any other maker, was the sole supplier.....quality would fall.
Another point is...you can bet there are dealers out there that are happy to pick up any S&W business that anti-S&W dealer turns away.
I did not post my original statements to be supportive of S&W management moves at all. I don't! I stressed then, and I stress now, that all should not approach this emotionaly and rather think about the long range ramifications.
Best Regards, James
 
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