I doubt you are going to find a consensus on any gun related topic but I will offer my view. This is only my view as an old guy who has carried a 357 for 48 years. Self defense requires good control, a modicum of accuracy, and the possibility of rapid follow-up shots. If you have to port a gun to get that then use porting. Any flash is likely to be worse for your target than it will be for you. My 357 fires a 140 grain bullet at 1599 FPS using H110 and it has a scary fireball that exits the barrel with the gun. In 48 years I have only had to draw the gun once in self defense and I have never had to fire it. I practice and drill in all light conditions and to be honest I have never noticed the fireball when shooting. I see it dramatically when watching my brother or my sons fire it but I never notice it when I am behind the gun.
Others may have had different experiences so that is what it is.
The flyweight snubbies are excruciating enough to shoot with porting (mine anyway) and I do not think that I would want to shoot one without. Like catching a fastball barehanded. Muzzle blast is excruciating, but I doubt that porting makes it all that much worse in a 2" .357, with full power loads (125gr. Cor-Bon).
Unless you can find two near identical guns, one ported and one not, not much to do but flip a coin.
S-I-L has a ported S&W 9mm that is identical to my non-ported model. Muzzle blast is a bit more, recoil, such as it is in a 9mm, is less. Porting a .357 snub would likely reduce recoil, but by how much is a guess on my part. You could also handload your personal defense loads somewhere between .38+P and full on .357. That makes a lot of difference in any .357.
Any way you do it, a .357 snub is gonna' be a hand full.
IF you need a gun, the first miracle is that you have one. The rest is just details. I have a short, SS, .41 mag with ported barrel in the door pocket of my pickup. IF NEEDED, I wouldn't hesitate to use it, but I don't 'target shoot' with it. The .25 or .380 in my pocket don't 'need' porting. Nothing does unless you competing in rapid fire matches.
I don't know about a concensus but I'll throw in mu two cents !
In 2004 I bought a Taurus model 455 , 45 acp , 5 shot , 2 inch ported barrel , fixed sights , stainless steel . A primo big bore belly gun ... self defense is it's only aim in life .
I like the porting ...of all the 45 acp's 1911 the 455 recoils the least , is the easiest to shoot quickly and I can shoot it more accurately than my target grade Colt Gold Cup Match pistol .
The holes like to get together on the target ... it's spooky how accurate this gun shoots ... my Gold Cup is jealous ! When shooting I don't notice any difference in loudness but do notice less recoil . J-frame sized , 5 shots of 45 acp , loads with full moon clips , fits in a pocket ...
for me it's about as perfect a self-defense gun as I've found . I shoot a lot of cast bullet loads and the ports pick up some grunge but clean right up .
My vote ...the ports aren't a problem and may be a boon to reduced recoil / controlled shooting / good accuracy . I don't remember any muzzle flash even on dim indoor range ...could be a ported 45 acp just doesn't have a big flash like a 44 Magnum but my experience shows muzzle flash is a non problem with ported 45 acp .
I can tell you from experience ...during a gunfight time slows and the shots sound far away and muffeled . I'm not going to worry about my hearing ...just staying alive .
While it's not a carry gun, I use a 4" S&W Model 29 for home defense. The Magnaporting does a great job of reducing muzzle flip for fast follow up shots. I shoot 200 gr. Gold Dots at 1,000 fps, which are very accurate and controllable. The 7½ lb. double-action pull doesn't hurt, either.
#1. I'm not shooting people in secret. The louder /bright flash, the more attention to any shot shot... I WANT attention..w\ant "everyone and their mamma" to know something bad is going down, the more witnesses that can't reasonably claim ignorance, the better.
#2. Not really sure how much porting really helps...but if you are a true-believer..go for it.
#3. Every actually fire a hot-revolver inside of a car with all the windowns rolled up but one....and the one you left down is a "cheat"in winteror in mid-summer. YOu (and me) aren't ridding aound with one window downand are not driving around with muffs on our ears.
The rolled upwindowns one cost me maybe 5% of my hearing,and a new windshield...besides which,with a stick shift, had the choice of shooting or driving away..but not both.
Do what you want...but at least test in real-life condtions.
Really short barrled .45 Colt revolvers/derringrs, don' t do badly with short barrels and black powder. Lets the whole neighborhood know you had a problem...big boom,big flash/jet of flame...big cloud of smoke...have no problem with that. If I could rig it to sound-out "CALL 911, would be prefect.
A consensus here? Ha, good one. I don't own a ported handgun in any caliber as I have never felt the need to shoot very rapidly and accurately. I carry a 45 cal pistol for defense and, should I ever be required to shoot in defense, the 45 will do just fine with a shot or two. I have always thought of porting as more marketing than necessary but I guess there could be situations where it was helpful. I've just never encountered one.
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