Barrel length for a .357 magnum

Discussion in 'Firearms' started by WesternAngler, Sep 13, 2012.

  1. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    I've got a Ruger SP 101 in .357 mag with a 2.25" barrel on hold right now at a local shop. I was looking at this as a conceal carry gun that is capable of being a decent woods gun when I'm not in grizzly country and don't want to carry my beast of a .44 mag. I'm debating the merits of a magnum cartridge out of such a short barrel though. I'm thinking I may hold out and try to find a 4" version which would also get me adjustable sights which I see as an advantage (maybe I'm mistaken) in a field gun. I wonder though if that one may be too difficult to conceal carry with. I've been mulling this over in my head for a few days, then it occurred to me, I have a great resource with some very smart people right at my finger tips so I decided to post this question here. Does anybody have any experience or opinions that may help me decide?

    Another advantage of the snubby is it is there, I could go home with it tonight. I don't know when I'll see a 4" version around here, could be a week, could be years.

    Thanks for the help everybody.
     
  2. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    Always carried a 4inch. That was good for duty gun and still carried okay under a shirt. Just depends on how big you are and how deep you want to conceal.
     
  3. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Thanks GreyOne. Yeah, I'm not that big of a guy. 5'9" and maybe 165 lbs. I don't even need to conceal in the woods but I don't want people seeing it around town. Any thoughts on the performance of .357 mag from that short of a barrel (2 inches)? I want it to be capable against smaller 4 legged threats, like black bear and mt lions I guess. I've been reading that you lose a significant amount of velocity from that short of a barrel. Guess you can't have it both ways though. It will have to be some sort of a compromise between concealability and performance. I'm just not sure where I want to draw that line. I know nobody has the answer for me either, I'm just fishing for some opinions. Maybe somebody has something to add that I haven't thought about yet.
     
  4. brionic

    brionic Blissful simpleton Supporter

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    2.5" SP101 is a good, practical platform. Easy to carry and conceal, and stout enough to last forever under sane use.

    Shot placement and gun handling are what's important.

    While the shorter barrel will not goose out the performance gained from longer barrels, it is no slouch as evidenced by widespread use of the S&W M19/66 snubbies through the early 1990s.

    I found with mine that report from light/fast ammo was the least appealing part of shooting, and that perceived recoil from heavier loads was easier to deal with.
     
  5. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Yeah, muzzle blast bothers me more than felt recoil too. I can take the beating, the noise gets me a bit shooting magnums. Even out of my 7.5 inch .44 mag I don't like the muzzle blast.
     
  6. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    You lose about 100 - 125 fps per inch. Two inch is too short. Two and three quarter or three inch is beter.

    Whatever you lose in velocity you gain in muzzle blast, pretty much. :)
     
  7. Code Red

    Code Red Supporter Supporter

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    357 from a short barrel is still pretty potent. On average it runs about 100fps faster than 9mm +p from 3.5 inch barrels on 125gr rounds favored in both calibers. I would (and do) feel well armed with the 9mm +p gold dots. I think that terminal performance will be adequate with either on 2-legged and small four legged game. The difference between a 2.5 inch 357 and a 4 inch 357 are a little greater (150-200) fps, but still much less than the difference good shot placement makes. I would go with whichever one you shoot better. The ballistics out of those two barrels are not going to make as much difference as where the hole ends up.
     
  8. ezra45

    ezra45 Supporter Supporter Bushclass I

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    3" model 66 And model 65 S&W revolvers strike the balance for me. For a hunting gun, a 6" .357 or a 4" .44 mag are the tickets.

    Regards,

    ezra
     
  9. Adam

    Adam Guide Bushclass I

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    The difference in velocity between a mid-lenth barrel and a longer barrel are not as drastic, but a snubby vs a mid-length is pretty considerable.

    My thoughts? 2" guns are compact and handy to carry and that's it. The weight of the 2" SP101 is 26 oz and the 4" is 29.5 oz. When you're carrying a gun already that heavy, an extra 3.5 oz isn't much of a sacrifice for a longer sight radius, making an overall easier to shoot revolver. The SP101 isn't an airweight pocket gun so a good belt and holster will already be paramount in my opinion.

    Check out this link on velocity by barrel length.

    http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com/357mag.html
     
  10. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    The accuracy thing is a good point too. I don't know, not having shot the 2" gun yet, but I would bet that I would shoot the longer barrel better. Couple the longer sight radius with adjustable sights and it may make a big difference. Honestly I don't shoot any handgun all that well, but I've been trying to remedy that with more and more practice. Any accuracy advantage is probably a good thing for me.
     
  11. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    As far as weight goes, anything will be a relief after carrying that 7.5" Super Redhawk I take when in grizz country lol. Sometimes I wonder if I might as well be packing my shotgun.
     
  12. Code Red

    Code Red Supporter Supporter

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    The longer barrel is going to be easier for most people to shoot. More weight, more sight radius,and better sights according to your description. All of these contribute to putting the hole where you want it.

    The only downside in my in my opinion is the ease of carry. That's a personal choice, but for most people it will have more to do with the holster than the extra 1.5" of barrel. The extra 150fps is just gravy.
     
  13. pinetree64

    pinetree64 Tracker

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    I had a 4" 7 shot 357 for woods carry. Though easier to carry than my 629 44mag, I still found it bulky. I opted for a 3" SP101. I can wear it concealed as well as in the open while in the woods. I've worn it on several work days at my hunting leases. All day in 90+ heat is no problem. If running to the nearby quick mart for ice, etc, a long tee covers it. I prefer shooting semi's but love the utility of a revolver. Five shots its plenty for the woods. I load 2 snake shot followed by 3 158g 357. At home or urban carry, it is stoked with 125g +p. I like the 3" barrel - for me it is easier to shoot well than a snubby, concealment imho is enhanced by having a little extra barrel (doesn't want to flip out...).
     
  14. tennecedar

    tennecedar Bushmaster Bushclass I

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    The deciding factor for me choosing a 4" over a short barrel was TN regs requiring a 4" barrel for hunting. I wasn't planning on it being a hunting gun but liked having the option. Now that I have shot it for a couple of years my snubbies hang out in the gun safe. It's my go-to firearm. Home defense, woods bumming, hiking in bear country, everything.
     
  15. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Yeah, I suppose I should hold off and wait for the 4" model to show up. I really like the idea of going home with a new gun today but I'd hate to make an impulsive decision and get something that isn't as good for me in the long run. I did some looking online and noticed that there is also a 3" version available at a shop about 30-40 minutes from me so might as well throw that one into the fray. However I think the adjustable sights are still making me think the 4" one is a better choice, not sure why Ruger only offers adjustable sights on the one length. There are a couple other shops around that I can check too, but the last several times I was in those ones they didn't have any of these guns in stock.
     
  16. Regionrat45

    Regionrat45 Tracker

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    .357 Magnum was designed to function in a longer barrel. Standard rounds are designed for no shorter than a 4". If you use anything shorter, you may want to look into a speciallty round for defense or carry. Much of the powder in a standard round will not burn completely. Also in many states, a 4" in the minimum length to hunt with.
    A 4" gun isn't that difficult to conceal.
    If looking for a one gun, multi-use situation, go with the 4" IMHO
     
  17. three50seven

    three50seven Scout

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    I would lean towards a 3 or 4" given the choice. Like others have said, the SP is already a hefty gun for EDC, so an extra inch or two of steel is going to have more benefits than drawbacks.
     
  18. fotomaker57

    fotomaker57 Guide

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    Check out a 3 inch GP 100. Not as concealable as the sp101 but not bad
     
  19. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    I was looking at a GP 100 too, not sure what the barrel length was. It just seemed a bit bulky to be my "small" revolver which is why I was leaning towards the SP101. Maybe I should give it a second look though.
     
  20. barnes3126

    barnes3126 Scout

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    I carry a 2 1/8" Smith model 60 in an IWB appendix holster, I don't think a much longer barrel would work for this type carry.

    If you are going with an IWB 4 o'clock or an OWB holster you should be able to use a 4".

    If I could have only one pistol/revolver it would be a Smith 3" Model 60 Pro.
     
  21. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Thanks. I'm probably crazy but Smith & Wesson just don't appeal to me. First of all they are too darn expensive and second of all I like the robust overbuilt character of a Ruger. I can run any hot bear-killer rounds I want and not worry about damaging the gun. You pay the price with carry weight though.
     
  22. bearhunter2

    bearhunter2 Guest

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    I've always been a Ruger fan myself.
    You really can't go wrong with the 100 or 101.
     
  23. Tanner68

    Tanner68 Tracker

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  24. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Ballistics by the inch was the site that got me second guessing a 2" barrel for a .357. I've read some criticism about their methodology, but it is certainly a good place to get some base statistics to work from. And I've had my problems with Rugers too, but I think all in all they make the revolvers that I like the most. I also really like my 10/22. What a fun little plinker.
     
    Last edited: Sep 13, 2012
  25. PMSteve

    PMSteve Old Time Outdoorsman Supporter

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    When I was a LEO I carried a S&W mod 19 in .357 with a 4" bbl. I carried it on duty and off. With the right holster it can be carried concealed but almost any revolver is difficult to conceal and they're uncomfortable as well. For CCW I'd get a small auto like a Ruger LCP .380 or a Kahr 9mm.

    For a woods gun a .357 is a good all-around choice. There isn't enough difference between a 2.5" over a 4" barrel to notice in a real world situation other than the shorter sight radius and fixed vs adjustable sights.

    Steve
     
  26. gm42

    gm42 Scout

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    Barnes 3126,

    The S & W Model 60 Pro Series is what I bought about a month ago. The weight is right and the size is right.

    Geoff
     
  27. FourAcreFarm

    FourAcreFarm Supporter Supporter

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  28. plattj1

    plattj1 Tinder Gatherer

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    Be sure and take driving and sitting into your selection process, it is the reason I prefer a 2 1/2" K frame. Both barrel lengths will work just fine if you place the shot correctly. Practice is the most important part of the equation.
     
  29. Gav

    Gav Scout

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    I'd go with 4". It's a good size and accurate enough for short woods ranges.
     
  30. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Thanks everyone. I think I've made up my mind that I will call the shop and tell them they can take the snubby off of hold. I will wait for a 4" SP101. Now the problem is finding one. We unfortunately don't have really any good gun shops in my town. They don't ever seem to bring in any new stock. I saw one 4" SP101 right after Ruger came out with it handled it, almost bought it, but didn't really have the money to spare at the time so I let the guy put it back in the case. 2 days later it was gone and I haven't seen one since. I've checked every shop in town and the only one around is that 2" model I had on hold, and apparently they have a 3" one at the shop that's a good 45 minutes away. It's the same as the 4" Redhawk I wanted to buy and have kept an eye out for probably 2 years now and have given up on, which is why I ended up buying the Super Redhawk a year and a half ago, there's still a bare spot on the wall at the shop where it was too. Apparently Rugers are rare as hen's teeth around here. I suppose I could order one off the internet.
     
  31. bearhunter2

    bearhunter2 Guest

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    Your in Montana right?
    I think they have a small cabelas in billings. There are Bob Wards & sons in Billings, Bozeman, Butte, Helena, and Missoula.
    There's never a shortage of guns in Montana :D
     
  32. barnes3126

    barnes3126 Scout

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    I am a die hard Ruger fan. I bought the first 10/22 Deluxe I ever saw, the first M77 (tang safty) I ever saw, one of the first Red Label 12 guage that was made. I have owned a Mark I, II and III, GP100, Still have a bull barrel MkII, .357 Vaquero and 45 Vaquero. The SP101 was the 2" bobbed hammer. It shot good, but my son got a Smith Model 60 and the difference was like a hardware store axe and a Gransfors Bruks.

    The Smith action is like a Swiss watch. Also, too me, the felt recoil is better with the 2 finger peanut grip on the Smith than the SP101 with a 3 finger Hogue rubber. But that is just me.

    There is nothing wrong with the SP101, it is solid, reliable and accurate as a snubbie needs to be, it's just not a Smith. My son sold his Model 60 for 350, I am sick I did not buy it, would love to have a pair.
     
  33. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Yep. I'm currently living in Bozeman. I've scoured the shelves here for that 4" Redhawk .44 mag for a couple of years, and now been keeping an eye out for this 4" sp101 for months...no luck. I suppose I could drive over to Billings but that's a long drive, and for some reason my background check almost always comes up delayed so I'd have to drive over there twice. With the prices of gas these days that's not possible.
     
  34. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    I have no doubt they are a decent gun. I was turned off on S&W when I was shopping for a .44 mag and learned that they can't handle hot loads well, and some they can't handle at all. I don't know if that's a problem in other calibers or not, but I don't like to worry about wrecking a gun, and especially a really expensive gun like one of those. That's my main issue with them. Also I can get a similar platform for almost half the money with Ruger. And no internal lock. But to each his own, I'm glad to hear you like yours. Maybe one day I'll save up enough cash to give one a try and who knows, maybe I'll be converted.
     
  35. Guy

    Guy Founder Staff Member Administrator Vendor

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    Here is a real-world result.

    When I was in the military I participated in a 6" falling plate match. I had my Ruger Blackhawk with a 6 1/2" barrel.

    After about 5 hours it was down to me and one other guy. He was an MP of 20+ years with a 2" barreled .38 S&W. We started at 10 yards and moved back 5 yards after each single elimination round. At 45 yards he missed one and I didn't. It all came down to a single round. All things being equal, if the weapons were the same that guy would have kicked my butt. Of that, I have no doubt.
     
  36. GoodOlBoy

    GoodOlBoy Guest

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    Practice practice practice with the rounds you are going to carry in the gun you are going to carry. For concealed carry protection remember most shootouts statistically take place at around seven feet. Yep you heard me seven feet. Now look at the statics for misses at that range and whimper to yourself and pray for the bystanders. Even with a snubby you should be able to shoot 25 yards with practice no problem.

    my 2 cents

    GoodOlBoy
     
  37. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    I have no doubts that a well practiced shooter can make hits at reasonable ranges with a snubby, and that a not so well practiced shooter can miss with any length barrel. My doubts are more about whether a heavy .357 slug is moving fast enough to crunch a black bear's skull out of a short barreled gun. This is a very unlikely thing to need to do, but if I'm buying a revolver that will see woods time, that's what I want it to be capable of doing. Maybe .357 isn't even the best caliber for this, but there's no way I can conceal that monster of a .44 I currently own. A 4" sp101 sounds like the best compromise for what I want to do unless there are some options that I'm missing and I'm sure there are.
     
  38. GreyOne

    GreyOne Elder Lifetime Supporter

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    Mmight look for a used Ruger Security Six. Same frame size as Smith K frame gun. Made in stainless and 4 inch. Lot of law enforcement guns were traded in a few years back. Well made.
     
  39. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    I'll keep an eye out for one. Thanks GreyOne.
     
  40. TWBryan

    TWBryan Tracker

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    I've been carrying a 2.25" Sp101 for the past five years or so. I'll try to boil down my advice . If you are going to shoot .357 in the gun use the Hogue grips. Replace the springs with Wolff's and spend time deburring the action.Ruger's guns come out of the factory very rough these days. I would suggest at least the 3" model. Be aware the the gun is heavier than a S&W of similar size,a problem to carry,but better for shooting.

    Mine has proven to be quite accurate and reliable. To get good results learn trigger control and practice dry firing religiously. Just my two cents.
     
  41. swoody126

    swoody126 Guest

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    of all the guns i've had, i regret letting my security six escape, the most

    when you were talking about CCW's vs WOODS WEAPONS, i guess i missed the part about how most folks usually use a CCW

    IMHO, a CCW is used quickly & most often fired from the hip or just pointed, instead of being aimed

    therefore, the adjustable sights & sight spacing wouldn't enter into my decision

    fixed sights are the least prominent/protruding & would be smoother when accessing from a concealed location

    the .44 RED HAWK would be my WOODS WEAPON

    the .357 SECURITY SIX or SP101, in any length, would be my CCW

    i think i remember that both the SECURITY SIX & SP101 were offered in the THUMBLESS HAMMER versions, making them even smoother, yet

    don't get in a hurry

    hit a few gun shows & pawn shops

    that's my 2ยข worth for today

    sw
     
  42. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Thanks, money is a bit tight right now, I have a vehicle to replace and a wedding coming up so I can't have a gun for every occasion at this time unfortunately. As much as I'd like to be able to do that, at this point, I'm looking for two handguns that can sort of take care of most situations. I've already got the big ole Super Redhawk .44 for grizz country or hunting, and I think the 4" SP101 should take care of light woods carry when not in grizzly territory and carry around town when I feel the need. I'll just have to wear heavier clothing when I do carry it I guess. Good thing we get a lot of winter around here. I know it's a compromise but that's the way it is when you can't afford a lot of specialized gear. Someday I'll get all of the ones I want/need, the short barreled Redhawk and probably a little .380 or 9mm pocket gun, but for now that won't fit into the budget. I'm pretty young, I've got time I suppose. Patience is a virtue they say, one that I've had to work very hard to develop. I'm still trying to learn to be patient.

    Thanks everyone for the comments on this thread. I knew you all would have some good input and you have certainly helped me think this decision over pretty thoroughly I think.
     
  43. gila_dog

    gila_dog Guide

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    I have various handguns that I've acquired over the years, but if I had to get rid of all but one, I would keep my 4" S&W model 19 .357 (my late brother's old cop gun). It's not the most powerful, and it's not as easy to conceal as a small 9mm. But if I were in a situation where my life depended on a handgun, what I would want in my hand would be that gun. It's not hard to carry all day in a hip holster, it's not too hard to conceal, it will eat any kind of ammo, it's very accurate, and it's rock solid dependable. Ruger makes guns like it, which I would also feel comfortable with.
     
  44. BillO1s

    BillO1s Tracker

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    I've shot a 3" SP101 quite a bit over the last several months. To me it is a very good compromise/do everything gun. It is small enough to conceal with the right holster but a better sight picture than a snubby. Stainless is easy to maintain. The action in the one I shoot is very smooth but there are DYI instructions out there to take care of yours if it isn't to your liking. The sights are adequate but can be upgraded with a night sight front or a full j frame target set up. And of course the .38/.357 choices in ammo are nearly endless allowing you to pick the right round for everything from field mice to hogs.

    I think my decision would be between the 3" and 4" and for me it would be the 3".
     
  45. EdD270

    EdD270 Guide Bushclass I

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    Your SP101 is a great little revolver. It's very powerful and concealable in a pocket carry gun. I think you'll be hard put to find a 4" barrel SP101, though. I don't think they make one, a 3" is about it for the SP101.
    A 4" barrel GP100 is easily found, though. and it's a 6-shot instead of the SP101's 5-shot.
    I carried a 4" .357, either S&W or Ruger at various times, concealed with no problems. the hardest part of a revolver, or any handgun, to conceal is the grip, not the barrel. The longer barrel does make a difference in the draw, but not really in concealment. Get a small grip, and you'll do OK.
     
  46. WesternAngler

    WesternAngler Scout

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    Thanks EdD270. They do indeed make a 4" sp101. It was a new model this year and apparently is pretty popular judging by how long the one I saw locally lasted on the shelf. The only problem I think I'd have with the barrel from a conceal carry point of view is sitting down. I don't know if it would be a problem or not though. I suppose it would really depend on the way in which you are carrying. The grip is one of the main reasons that I want an sp101 over a gp100. I believe the gp100 uses the same grip as my Super Redhawk and that is a chunky piece of rubber to try to hide. It's a nice grip though and shoots quite comfortably but it really does take up some space. Not a big deal on a huge gun like a SRH but I want my second revolver to be a lot smaller and easy to carry.
     
  47. BillO1s

    BillO1s Tracker

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    "Your SP101 is a great little revolver. It's very powerful and concealable in a pocket carry gun. I think you'll be hard put to find a 4" barrel SP101, though. I don't think they make one, a 3" is about it for the SP101."

    Here's your choices in SP101s, including a 4" .357.

    http://www.ruger.com/products/sp101/models.html
     
  48. PeterCartwright

    PeterCartwright Guide

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    The 2.25" SP is a very nice carry gun. If you're very concerned about giving up too much fizz with the snubby barrel, you might check out Speer's short barrel load. I'm very happy with my DAO SP snubby. It has sights big enough for a dude approaching 60 to see. I've used Remington's Golden Saber round as a carry round. It's considered a "mid-level" .357 load which is very comfortable in the SP. Like G1, I prefer a 4" gun for woods carry, but there's a trade off. My GP100 is nearly a pound heavier than the SP. Bottom line, I think they're both fine shooters Why not start with the one you have on hold and make plans to get it a big brother?

    PC
     
    Last edited: Sep 15, 2012
  49. EdD270

    EdD270 Guide Bushclass I

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    Thanks for the update, guys. I'll have to try to stay better informed.

    Hey, it worked. This is the first time I've successfully done a "multi-quote"!!
     
  50. bourbon&bisquits

    bourbon&bisquits Scout

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    i own 3 " s&w k frame -- 4.25 " freedom arms (on a rest shoots 1 ragged hole at 25 yards) -- 7.5 " ruger bisley

    even though as a gun the 4.25" freedom is more accurate----i'm personally most accurate w/ the ruger 7.5 "

    with the 125 grain hot stuff the shorter barrels are flamethrowers
     

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