Is longer better?
March 17, 2005 9:19 PM   Subscribe

The decision is made, and a Ruger Blackhawk .44 mag pistol I will buy. But, is the longer barrel better?

For concentrated accuracy, obviously the 10 and 1/2" barrel is superior. It's also harder to find or make a holster for, harder to draw, and harder to keep clean in field conditions. I really want the firearm for field conditions. I desire maximum accuracy with one shot of powerful damage. But I also want a certain ease of use. Is the extra barrel length really a plus over the 7 and 1/2"? I've never fired a handgun with a barrel length over 6" so I really need to know from those who have. Hope me, gun gurus ...
posted by Wulfgar! to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (16 answers total)
That's a long barrel; it seems like the extra three inches wouldn't add considerable accuracy, but I could be wrong.
posted by reverendX at 9:33 PM on March 17, 2005

The biggest advantages are the increased muzzle velocity and greater sight radius. Unless you’re using it for hunting or target shooting I don’t think these benefits outweigh the drawbacks.
posted by Tenuki at 9:47 PM on March 17, 2005

For your benefit, here's a follow-up thread answering the next logical question.
posted by ori at 10:16 PM on March 17, 2005

And a past thread predating the next logical "Your kind isn't wanted around here" response.

Wulfgar!, I'm no fan of guns, but I know my father had a smaller barrel on his .44 for easier cleaning, and because his previous larger version felt too unwieldy--just one tidbit I picked up on.

posted by dhoyt at 10:57 PM on March 17, 2005

Way too long if you're going to carry. If I may ask, why are you decided on the Blackhawk .44? Is it stopping power? Modern munitions offer impressive stopping power in smaller, more manageable packages. A Colt .45 with a compensator and frangible shells comes to mind...
posted by Lactoso at 11:16 PM on March 17, 2005

As an urban Canadian totally unfamiliar with firearms, can I enquire as to what is meant when the poster says "I really want the firearm for field conditions." When and where do "field conditions" apply?
posted by dbarefoot at 11:29 PM on March 17, 2005

I am not a gun owner, but until one replies:

Field conditions probably boil down to "It will get dirty and maybe muddy and I won't be in my garage with the requisite gun widgets to clean it up real purty."

Given that Wulfgar! lives in Montana, I gather he wants something for the woods on the offchance that he encounters Something Big And Nasty like, say, a bear, or Grizzly Adams*, or the wandering undead corpse of Vic Tayback, hungry for your grits?

*I mistyped that first as Grizzly Adama. Which is its own nightmare, unless you're into that sort of thing.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:56 PM on March 17, 2005

Thanks, ROU_Xenophobe, for the first (and possibly only) big laugh of my day...
posted by benzo8 at 12:13 AM on March 18, 2005

My uncle had one with the 7 1/4 inch barrel. I was probably 14 years old the only time I had a chance to use it, and, because I was a scrawny weakling, I fired from a sitting posture with the aid of sandbags. I think that you would need to have very strong wrists to use this in field conditions (i.e., outside of the shooting range or similar situations). Also I think that either it came with a hair trigger, or he had it modified to be that way. If you even thought about firing the gun would go off; it was very scary.
posted by mokujin at 3:29 AM on March 18, 2005

Best answer: You've got to define the requirements you're looking for (not sure exactly what you mean by field conditions, other than if you're planning on carrying it as a defense sidearm when out in the woods, etc.) - a 10 1/2 inch barrel is going to be awkward if you're at all thinking quickdraw (which I assume you're not). That being said, the extra inches over a 7 1/2 or 8 3/8 barrel (as in the S&W model 29) aren't going to produce all that much more muzzle velocity/footpounds of energy UNLESS you tailor your loads (read type of powder and burn rate) to take advantage of the extra barrel length. If you are into reloading you can pretty much max your performance for any barrel length.

Unless you're planning on using it for a handgun hunting, I'm not sure the extra length/potentially greater accuracy is worth the hassle of the longer barrel either. Of course, if you're planning on scoping it some of these comments may be moot. One thing in particular worth considering is balance. I have a S&W 29 with 8 3/8-inch barrel & a Colt Python with a 6-inch barrel. The Colt, due in part to the ribbed barrel, weighs more up front and is not at all as well balanced as the S&W (which is truly a joy to shoot) - leading to more fatigue.

If you're worried about cleaning frequency go stainless.
posted by Pressed Rat at 6:22 AM on March 18, 2005

Response by poster: That's what I get for posting a question right before bedtime. In answer to the question of "field conditions", yes I want it for sidearm defense in the mountains while fishing or hunting. I am also toying with the idea of hunting with it, but a scope would make it a rather unwieldy hiking sidearm. I have no intention of concealed carry with this weapon, because you don't need a fat .44 slug to drop a human; a cougar or bear on the other hand ...

And thank you, Pressed Rat, for a great answer. It is my hope in the future that I can get reloading equiptment (and claim a space to do it) but that's pretty far off. What I'm hoping for is best accuracy, as opposed to nominally more power. With the single shot, I absolutely want to hit what I'm aiming at. A good friend advised to steer clear of the double action Redhawk, because the recoil will fowl up any quicker response you'd get from the action anyway.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:39 AM on March 18, 2005

Response by poster: And in response to Lactoso I decided on the Ruger because its a LOT less expensive than a comparable S&W or Colt.
posted by Wulfgar! at 8:51 AM on March 18, 2005

A good friend advised to steer clear of the double action Redhawk, because the recoil will fowl up any quicker response you'd get from the action anyway

I'm puzzled by this. If you don't have much handgun experience I highly suggest you go to a range and try a few, single-action (SA) and double-action (DA), before making an investment.

I don't see how an SA revolver is any quicker than a DA in any situation, unless you're Billy the Kid and that's what you've been shooting every day of your life.

You'll have massive recoil either way, and before shooting an SA you'll have to take one hand out of firing position to cock the hammer -- probably even bringing the muzzle off-target while doing so.

A DA lets you concentrate on acquiring the target; your hands never move, you have better control, faster target acquisition, and faster recovery to the next shot. (And if you want to pre-cock the hammer for some reason, you still can.)

I participate in an after-work shooting league with 15 or so guys, all with semi-autos (SIG, Glock, H&K, S&W, etc.) but one DA revolver shooter. Guess who's the speed champ? The DA man.
posted by Tubes at 9:10 AM on March 18, 2005

Response by poster: Unfortunately, I have to defer to the experience of others on the speed issue, Tubes. All of my revolver experience has been with hand load replicas, or very light calibres (.22 - .25). Also, my only real interest in speed is simple amusement. If I ever need to use this weapon for the purpose I intend, I'm not likely gonna get more than one shot anyway.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:36 AM on March 18, 2005

Response by poster: And just to add full disclosure, I have a fair amount of experience with auto handguns, but I've decided that I want the superior accuracy of a fixed barrel in this case.
posted by Wulfgar! at 9:39 AM on March 18, 2005

If you're going to be lugging it around with you in the woods and fishing, then a shorter barrel means less steel to lug around all day.

/lazy optimist

posted by -harlequin- at 3:47 PM on March 18, 2005

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