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I'm a newbie. I have a S&W 357 with a 6" barrel. Also a High Standard Military HD 22LR. I enjoy shooting these pistols but I'm considering a concealed carry weapon and neither of these is suitable. What I'm wondering is - is it possible to be accurate enough with the higher caliber "pocket pistols" with 3" barrels, for them to actually be useful in anything other than very close quarters self-defense situations?
 

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I would say yes. It's generally not the accuracy of the gun, it's the shooter. If the grips and sights are adequate, I don't see why a 3" snubby or pocket auto couldn't be accurate.

SS
 

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The short sight radius makes it more difficult to place shots precisely with a short-barrelled pistol... but, as you alluded to, their real purpose is to be able to hit the center of mass on a man-sized target at 5 yards or thereabouts.

You don't see a lot of snub-nose guns at a bullseye match.
 

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Yes. As noted, the limitation is more the shooter than the firearm. I have a 2" bbled snubbie - .38 Spl.
With wadcutters, and when I haven't had too much coffee, I can hold the 8 ring on a 50 ft. slow fire target (about 5-6 inches dia.)
A better shooter could surely improve on that.
Pete
 

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I love my steel J-frames, barrel length less than 2". They are very accurate with practice. I don't like the alloy frame J's because I just can't shoot them as well.

I also have a 3 1/2" barreled 1911 Compact Armscor pistol and it has been more accurate than I expected and very reliable.

The secret really is practice - keep your grip and sight picture consistant, and practice with the ammo you will carry.
Dry firing is a great help.
IMO, learning to shoot a short barrel handgun will make you a better shot overall.

mark
 

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Back when I had to qualify every year, one of the guns I had to shoot was a 2.5" S&W Model 19. Never scored under 100, but I practiced with it a lot. It was like pointing your finger. Like others have said, it's not barrel length that makes your gun accurate, however, the length of your sight radius makes longer barrels easier to shoot well. I saw Bob Mulden (ms?) shoot balloons at 200 yards with a 2" S&W snubbie. I'll never be that good, but the key is practice, practice, practice.

You asked if a 3" barrel is actually "useful in anything other than very close quarters self-defense situations?"

Probably not. A longer barrel is better for target shooting, greater velocity for hunting, greater comfort when shooting, and just simply more fun. Short barrels are for hiding on your person and close quarter self-defense.
 
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