Pistol Barrel Length ??'s


April 10, 2011, 12:31 PM
I know in a rifle it's primarily the velocity of the projectile that changes and not really the max effective range but how does the barrel length effect a pistol.

Comparing three specific pistols I've owned, The Glock 26 w/ a 3.46", The SR9 w/ a 4.14" and the soon to be in my hands P226 w/ a 4.4" what is it that changes?

Use as an example Federal 115gr FMJ w/ a MV of 1125, 50 yards at 1046 and 100 yards at 975.


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Jed Carter
April 10, 2011, 09:20 PM
I just chronographed Winchester white box 9mm out of a 5" STI Trojan at an average of 1185 fps with a high of 1205 fps. If the rating from Winchester is 1125 fps from a 4" barrel then it may vary 60 fps per inch, at least on the plus side as far as length. I have yet to have my Glock G34 5 3/8" barrel chronographed at a match, 1210 to 1215 fps perhaps? I understand the negative effects of shorter than 4" barrels on velocity are greater than the positive for longer barrels. Chronographs are not too expensive, if you want to really find the answers to your questions, get one and let us know your results. I would be curious to know how the shorter barreled pistols fare.

April 10, 2011, 09:41 PM
Most "short barrel" 9mms shoot just fine---often the velocity is very close to "service" length barrels---the 9mm is a high pressure cartridge compared to most handgun cartridges.

April 10, 2011, 09:45 PM
for less than 1/2 and inch? not much.

April 10, 2011, 09:52 PM
check out ballistics by the inch, www.bbti.com, they have a bunch of stuff. Generally you aren't going to have any significant difference between your 26 and SR9, shorter barrels than the 26 might lose more speed, and sometimes Glock barrels run a little faster than conventionally rifled barrels. Sometimes, and usually not by much. Every pistol is different.

Ala Tom
April 11, 2011, 02:45 PM
The web site is www.ballisticsbytheinch.com. (http://www.ballisticsbytheinch.com)

The primary effect of barrel length is muzzel velocity. I expect accuracy may also suffer but have not seen any studies on that. The amount of change 3/4 inch will make is about 4% from studies I did recently with the BBTI data.

April 11, 2011, 02:50 PM
Well too, specific Cartridges are loaded or charged in anticipation of probable or average Barrel Lengths.

This might not be the most effecient for the length of Barrel one happens to have, if one's Barrel is longer or shorter than usual.

Cartridges loaded for medium length Barrels, or shorter Barrels, will have different propellent types with different burn rates or other properties than those loaded for longer or long Barrels.

Some Cartridges, their Bullet will be actually slowing down before it leaves the Barrel, if it was intended for shorter Barrels, and, is being shot in a long Barrel, or if it a Pistol Cartridge being fired in a Carbine, etc.

So, the loading specs for any given Cartridge, ought to be appropriate for the most effeciency possible, for the Barrel length which is anticipated for it specifically.

If one wishes to have the best FPS/Velocity for any particular Barrel Length, then the Cartridge needs to be loaded with deference to that.

April 11, 2011, 02:51 PM
The loss of sight radius affect the accuracy more than the shorter barrel itself.

A shorter sight radius allows a larger angular error when aligning the sights.

If you align the sights to within 0.001 inch when they are 10 inches apart, you would have half the angular error compared to the sights being only 5 inches apart.

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