Question about barrel length

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Joined
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Who came up with the "standard" revolver barrel lenghts? 4 5/8" or 5.5" or 6.5" or the 30 carbine in 7.5 (I do understand the longer barrel is needed for the 30 carbine.) But why are they not 5 inch or 6 inch as they are in semi automatic pistols?

The thread in the rimfire section about the custom Bearcat by Bowen got me to thinking about this. Even in custom revolvers, at least the ones I read about, have "standard" barrel lengths.

A custom revolver is on my list, even though it's about 4 or 5 years away, but would a non "standard" barrel length be sacrilegious?
 
Joined
Dec 11, 2002
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Ohio , U.S.A.
from what we've been told and have seen over the years, most of these "numbers" arise from just how many "pieces" they can get out of a barrel blank.............then divide accordingly............
for the magnums, it takes so much of a length to attain "magnum velocity" so that number is usually around 6- 61/2" minimum........
even with the 30 carbine revolver at 7 1/2 inch length, LOTS of powder is still burning out in front of the barrel ( observe the muzzle blast ) in the dusk , evening or nightime....awesome ( but a waste......)
just for your info, today we see some gun companies "adding" on a bit to allow for "sale", guns that were NOT avaible to be shipped to Canada........
 

Sacramento Johnson

Blackhawk
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Nevada
Howdy!
You're not going back far enough in history. Revolvers came about in the black powder era of the 19th century. Black powder does not work like smokeless powder (which arrived around 1895). The longer barrels allowed more powder to ignite and thus the velocity and foot pounds of energy went up. Early cap and ball pistols had long barrels, 7-8 inches, if I recall, to take advantage of this. Shorter barrels became more popular as time went on; the Colt SAA initially came out in a 7 1/2 inch barrel in 1873, but by the late 1870s or early 1880s, shorter barrels were showing up. Some were probably from the factory, some were probably gunsmith cut downs. I suspect convience of carry was the main reason.
As for why 4 1/2 or 4 5/8 specifically, I suspect it's somehow related to the minimum length needed for the ejector rod (and thus housing) given the size cylinder and case length of the old Colt SAAs.
By the time semiautos showed up, the smokeless era had dawned, and barrel length wasn't as critical.
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
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Kentucky
Dan is of course referring to the fact that Ruger has changed the 4" barrels on the Bearcats and some GP-100's to 4.2" in length to comply with Canada's 105mm minimum barrel length. Yes, I realize 105mm would actually be 4.13" but I'd guess Ruger didn't want to take any chances . . .

Opens up a whole 'nother collecting variation in barrel lengths for the persnickety among us.

I would also guess that other manufacturers will do likewise, but have no info on that.

:)
 

flatgate

Hawkeye
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Jun 18, 2001
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Star Valley, WY
I'm certain the Ruger Blackhawk in .30 Carbine, during development, was tested with several barrel lengths. Since the cartridge was Military Surplus and was cheap, the best way to get the most out of the round was to utilize a 7-1/2" barrel.

Now days you'll find, in general, several options with barrel lengths so the shooter can choose the one he likes.

The fractional size increment scheme is probably the result of a compromise......and, as mentioned above, somewhat related to the effectiveness of the ejector assembly performance.

Note that Ruger has installed longer ejector assemblies on certain models.

Of course, the discriminating shooter has to have a broad variety of barrel lengths and calibers and grip designs and hammer styles and...... :D

flatgate
 
Joined
Oct 24, 2007
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Kentucky
Yeah, the .30 Carbine Blackhawk is the oddball because it's chambered for a cartridge designed to operate in an 18" barrel. Not wanting to go to that length for obvious reasons, Ruger likely just decided the gun was essentially a "blasting" gun for those wishing to have fun with the cheap, readily-available surplus ammo and went with a barrel length already in the lineup, and realized the 7-1/2" would get the most possible out of the cartridge.

Other rounds chambered in the Blackhawks were essentially handgun rounds that would work in more "normal" barrel lengths, with actual lengths chosen as described above . . . holster availability not the least of this.

JMHO
:)
 
Joined
Nov 5, 2007
Messages
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Dallas, TX
I am also intrigued by the 9 1/2 inch single six. I know Flatgate has posted pictures of his several times before. One gun store close by always seems to have one in the case. The old Colt Buntlines also interest me.
 

Tommy Kelly

Buckeye
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Apr 24, 2008
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MISSISSIPPI
I am a 4 5/8"bbl nut and have every caliber offered in the 4 5/8". The 30 carbine wasn't offered in it but I bought one anyway and had it cut to 4 5/8". With the 7 1/2" I just didn't like it but with the 4 5/8" it's a nice little pistol. I seem to shoot better with the shorter bbl's. My eye's aren't good and the sight's seem a lot clearer closer together. For me the shorter the bbl the better I shoot it. I have a 500 S&W with the 4"bbl and a 454 casul in the alaskan with a 2 1/2" bbl I shoot it great. I also have a mod 29 S&W with a 3"bbl it shoots great also. For comparison I have a super blackhawk 44mag in 4 5/8" and 2 in 7 1/2" on a target my groups with the shorter bbl will be about 1 1/2" at 25 yds with the 7 1/2" guns it will open to around 2 1/2" on the same day at the same distance. I have done trigger jobs on all my pistols and have all set to about the same pull.
 

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