Effect barrel length has on ballistics?

Discussion in 'Technical Questions & Information' started by Ferrethunter, Feb 10, 2006.

  1. Ferrethunter

    Ferrethunter New Member

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    Hello all! I'm fairly new here, with a question about the new S&W 460 xvr.
    Their website lists a 'standard' revolver with 8 3/8 inch. barrel, and a more special one with a 'Lothar-Walther custom german rifle barrel of 7.5" length.
    Other than a different look, what possible reason would they have to make the barrel a custom job, and what difference in hunting would the barrel length make in the ballistics? I'm wondering why the non custom barrel would be longer than the special one. (note, they do make a much longer special barrel as well and also a shorter one than the normal revolver with the 8 3/8" barrel)

    Can anyone offer a suggestion as to what difference these Lothar-Walther barrels make, and if there would be any reason to purchase a shorter 'special barrel' over the longer standard one, if hunting/ target was the use. The prices aren't that much different, so I'm at a loss as to why the special barrels are used. (They don't look as good as the regular barrel does, IMHO).

    Anyone have one of these critters (of any flavor?)?
    Thanks in advance for your responses.
    FerretHunter.
  2. LDBennett

    LDBennett Well-Known Member

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    Ferrethunter:

    Lothar-Walther barrels are renown for there quality and accuracy. I think it an advertising ploy to capture those interested in maximium accuracy potential.

    Barrel length changes the muzzle velocity. The longer the barrel the longer the pressure pushes on the bullet and the higher the exit velocity. There is a limit where the friction of traveling the barrel length offsets and can reduces the muzzle velocity gain from a longer push. In 22LR that is about 18 inches. Handguns of course never reach that limit until they get to barrels near rifle lengths.

    That being said the velocity diference between 8 3/4 inches and 7.5 inch barrels has got to be minimum and I doubt that there is any significant difference in the real ballistics. Barrel length on a revolver is usually a personal choice based on the buyer's idea of what the correct proportions are for the look of the gun. I like 4 inch revolver because they are more handy than 8 3/4 inch guns but I might accept 6 inch barrels as a compromise. If I were hunting the longer barrel would give me a longer sight radius (distance from rear sight to front sight) increasing my accuracy potential. But since I just plink with my revolvers, the short barrels are more fun for me to shoot. The difference between 8 3/4 and 7.5 inch barrels velocity wise, sight radius wise, and handling wise is insignificant, in my mind.

    Buy the Lothar-Walther barreled gun if you want bragging rights or like the look of the slightly shorter gun. Standard S&W barrels, in my experience, are very good indeed and I really see no need for the Lothar-Walther barrel for the average shooter or pistol hunter.

    LDBennett
  3. Xracer

    Xracer *TFF Admin Staff Mediator*

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    Minn-eeee-sota, ya, sure, you bet!
    Hi Ferrethunter......welcome to TFF! :)

    Well, LDBennett has pretty much summed it up (and given you some very good advice, as he usually does). And, since most firearms are capable of shooting more accurately than the person shooting them.....unless you're a "World Class, Super-duper Shooter", you probably wouldn't be able to tell the difference between the two.

    So, just go with whatever turns your crank.....and have fun! :D
  4. Ferrethunter

    Ferrethunter New Member

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    Thanks so much, LDBennet, and XRacer, for your imformative and practical advice! I knew velocity was going to be different with the two barrels, but overall accuracy due to barrel construction? You pretty much summed it up!! The Lothar-Walther barrel is perhaps bragging rights, but I'm sure, like most people say, and I probably would be, that the guns of any type barrel both shoot better than I do!!
    Personally, I think the standard S&W barrel looks 'better'!
    Thanks again, for the answers. I'm downright amazed at this forum for the quick, helpful and non-biased advice I've seen both in my posts, and in general browsing. Everyone moderates their opinions with their experiences and thus keeps the door open to learning something new. I like that!
    Cheers to The Firearms Forum!!
    Ferret.
  5. Country101

    Country101 Active Member

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    Unbiased? Have you looked at the 1911 vs. Glock threads? :D :D :D

    Well, when we are biased, atleast we usually say we are.
  6. Ferrethunter

    Ferrethunter New Member

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    Thats what I like about this forum and the people on it!!
    Everyone pretty much states their experience and bias', so you know why they say what they say. :D
    I can only imagine how many chances there are for differences of opinion on almost any topic. So far, I haven't seen any one leaving in a huff for having their feelings hurt. Kind of like the maturity in this forum.
    cheers, FH
  7. stash247

    stash247 New Member

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    Ferret, welcome to our wierd world!
    Lotsa people have asked the same question, in re, barrel length, and the same answer still applies; without knowing your exact load, nobody can say, for sure.
    The optimal length, for velocity, would be to cut the barrel at the point where all the powder is burned, and the pressure starts to decrease, in the weapon.
    Next best is to juggle the load, based on barrel length, and pressure limits.
    In the blackpowder days, one shot in the snow, and, when black spots (unburned powder) were seen in the snow, back up on the load, slightly.
    This will NOT apply to smokeless, directly, as pressures are relative to powder brisance, and pressure curves, which vary much more than in Black Powder; if you really want an accurate answer, you need a chronograph, and a 'pressure gun', to be safe.
    Since 90% of hunting, and 100% of target shooting is based on bullet placement, not velocity, my personal approach would be to buy the gun I want, find the load it likes best(ie, most accurate) in the 'safe' range of a loading manual, and shoot that, period.
    Just my .02
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