.40S&W vs .45ACP In Short Barrel Pistols


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KahrKarrier
January 21, 2004, 10:09 PM
This thread is about .40S&W vs .45ACP in compact pistols with short barrels. Please understand that this thread is not a "Brand Name" flame war so gun makers names won't be mentioned.
My Dad and I shoot together a lot and this topic comes up almost every time we go to the range. My gun is chambered in .40S&W and has a 3.08" barrel. His gun is chambered in .45ACP and has a 3.25" barrel. Two things we both agree on, first that shot placement is the most important aspect of so called stopping power the other is our self defense ammo which is Cor-Bon, mine is 135gr JHP (1325fps/526ftlb) his is 185gr jhp (1150fps/543ftlb).
Neither of these guns has a barrel long enough to take full advantage of these cartridges potential, we realize that. He subscribes to the "bigger hole" theory and swears that his .45ACP is a much better manstopper than my .40S&W. I maintain that both are pretty close in stopping power but IMO the .40S&W is the better of the two because it launches the projectile faster in a short barreled gun and that the .45ACP doesn't burn it's powder quickly enough to build sufficient energy in a short barreled gun to expand a JHP adequately and looses most of it's energy in a ball of fire at the end of the barrel.
Let's face it, either one is going to get the job done, we just argue over which one will get the job done better.
Opinions please.

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wally
January 21, 2004, 11:01 PM
At first I thought the .40 S&W was just a re-invention of the 185 gr .45 in a slightly smaller package and of dubious real utility.

But it does fill a niche. Look at it this way. For bullets of "similar" construction penetration depends on the bullet's sectional density and velocity. The sectional density of a 230gr .45 is equal to that of a 180gr .40 but in the same barrel length the .40 will get about 150+ fps more for better penetration with bullets of the same sectional density. In full size guns this is pretty much a yawner as .45 seems to have more than adaquate penetration -- unless you might have to shoot thru car doors and window glass -- hence a large reason for the .40 S&W's quick rise to popularity with LEO.

My first choice in a carry gun is my Kimber Ultra Carry .45, since I shoot 1911 style guns best and it has CTC Lasergrips. But when its too big, I choose from a S&W SC360 Scandium .357 (158gr .357 has even higher SD than 230gr .45) also with CTC Lasergrips which is the lighest, or a Kahr PM40 which is the smallest option beyond my better than nothing .380 P3AT.

Bigger holes are better only if they are deep enough!

First shot accuracy is why the Ultra Carry .45 is my first choice!

Personally I think your 135gr .40 is too light and you'd be better off with a 147gr 9mm, I wouldn't go below 155gr in .40 S&W

I'm under the impression that in general velocity loss with shorter barrels is proportionally greater with lighter bullets, but I'd welcome actual chronograph numbers to support or refute this -- although doing so is fraught with methodological difficulties

--wally.

DMK
January 21, 2004, 11:23 PM
I'd put my bets on whichever one was going to expand reliably(and of course feed reliably). I think that depending on the brand and type of bullet, either gun could do very well, or perform extremely poorly.

If you were sure that both guns were shooting the best performing ammo possible for that barrel length, then I'd go with the .45ACP due to it's heavier weight and larger bullet, but again that's only if it was had reliable penetration and expansion.

After mulling that over myself when deciding what to carry, I went with a 4.25" barrel and 230gr. 45ACP for my CCW.

KahrKarrier
January 22, 2004, 08:48 AM
In .45ACP, a 4.25" barrel has it all over a 3.25" barrel as far as energy and expansion goes. That's a given that everyone is aware of. My question was about compact pistols with very short barrels.
Here in Florida it's hard to conceal a full size pistol, I don't care who says what, hiding a 1911 with a 4 or 5 inch barrel while wearing shorts and a "T" shirt is practically impossible. Please everyone, don't start preaching about how you can carry a full size semi-auto in a Thunderware holster while wearing a thong bathing suit strolling South Beach, OK?
I really want to talk about which caliber, either .40S&W or .45ACP works best in a short 3" barreled pistol. Not what I should have or what I should go out and buy, just what I already own, please let's stay on topic.

PCRCCW
January 22, 2004, 10:47 AM
Well the tables are slowly turning on this comparison. Ill explain.

The 40S&W due to its higher pressure is gonna lose alot less velocity from the short barrelled gun than the lower pressure 45 ACP does. The tables being turned on this comparison are the 45 ACP load is being loaded to higher pressure all of the time. Companies like Corbon are pushing more and more velocity from them recently.

A higher percentage of velocity is lost in lower pressure rounds than in higher pressure rounds. A 9mm snub will loose some velocity compared to the same load fired from a 4" gun. The same length barrels used in a 45 ACP load will lose considerably more.

Yould need to chrono both loads from longer barrel guns and then from your shorty's to get accurate statistics..but Ill bet money your 40 is putting out more energy due to a faster bullet.

Thats why people in the know with 1911's sware by the Commander size = 4 - 4 1/4" barrel as a minimum.

Shoot well.

Sean Smith
January 22, 2004, 10:58 AM
Thats why people in the know with 1911's sware by the Commander size = 4 - 4 1/4" barrel as a minimum.

Actually, they swear by that barrel length because shorter 1911s tend to be less reliable, on average.

The 40S&W due to its higher pressure is gonna lose alot less velocity from the short barrelled gun than the lower pressure 45 ACP does.

I wouldn't be so sure about that. In fact, I suspect the exact opposite is true. But that's only a suspicion. :)

cratz2
January 22, 2004, 11:13 AM
Well, I've shot several small 40s and 45s and this is all I have come to the conclusion of... I'd feel a bit better armed with a G27 fully loaded with 135 Gr CorBons than with an Officer Model or Defender loaded with pretty much anything.

Confidence in your sidearm is, to me anyway, supremely important. If you are hesitant to put it to use when you need to or if you don't believe it will work as intended, I wouldn't carry it. In very small guns such as your 3" and 3.5" barrel examples, I personally have more faith in the reliability of the 40s and it would take some effort to get past that. Combined with the fact that many of the smallest 40s are going to hold more rounds than many of the smallest 45s, I'd just have more faith in the 40s.

tc300mag1
January 22, 2004, 11:53 AM
I have to go with the old classic the 45 .. or i would go for a 9mm not super impressed with the 40 just a personal thing i know

mete
January 22, 2004, 12:05 PM
In my experience in shooting woodchucks I find no real difference between 40 and 45, both are better than the 9mm.

PCRCCW
January 22, 2004, 12:22 PM
"Actually, they swear by that barrel length because shorter 1911s tend to be less reliable, on average."

Yep, good point..but they due tend to lose more velocity than the higher pressure rounds due also.


"I wouldn't be so sure about that. In fact, I suspect the exact opposite is true. But that's only a suspicion."

Well all suspicion aside............Chrono results from last summer.

Ballistics are available all over the net/gun rags......just look.

From a 4" Kimber Pro and a 5" Kimber Custom this is what we got.

5" 185gr GS averaged 1153 FPS 15' from the muzzle
4" 185gr GS averaged 1007 FPS " " " " " "

5" 185 +P Corbon avg. 1185 FPS 15' from the muzzle.
4" 185 +P Corbon avg. 1041 FPS 15' " " " " "

The percentage of FPE lost from the 1" in barrel length is
185 GS lost 24% or 5" = 546 FPE and 4" = 416 FPE or 130 FPE lost avg.
185 P+ Corb. lost 23% or 5" = 576 FPE and 4" = 445 FPE or 131 PFE lost avg.

Now my 40 S&W data is lost in my HD, but the ballistics are very similar to a hot 9mm in most regards from what weve done.........

BHP with 4 3/4" barrel and Kahr K9 w/ 3 1/2" barrel gave us stats below

4 3/4" 115+P Corb. avg. 1316 FPS 15' out
3 1/2" 115+P Corb. avg. 1278 FPS 15' out

4 3/4" 124 +P Hyd. avg. 1208 FPS 15' out
3 1/2" 124 +P Hyd. avg. 1154 FPS 15' out

The % of FPE lost from 1 1/4" in barrel length is......
115+P Corb lost 6% avg or 4 3/4" = 442 FPE and 3 1/2" = 417 FPE or 25 FPE lost avg.
124 +P Hyd's. lost 9% avg. or 4 3/4" = 402 FPE and 3 1/2" = 367 FPE or 35 FPE lost avg.

Note the barrels were longer with the 45 ACP test and the difference in length is less also. Higher pressure rounds were used in both examples for the sake of arguement and a more relevant comparison.
Lower pressure/heavier bullets like 230 gr FMJ target loads have an even farther spread in their loss as my memory serves me, but I cant find them either..........figures.


A lower pressure round just by its dymanics takes a longer barrel to built its velocity. A higher pressure round will get more velocity from a shorter barrel from its dymanics. The difference is also seen in rifles of these calibers. A 9mm will show less of a velocity improvement from a rifle when compared to a handgun. The 45 ACP will show more improvement, to a point, when doing the same comparison. The higher pressure round/quick burning powder cant take advantage of the longer barrel length thus has less advantage when compared to the lower pressure/longer burning 45
ACP load. But it all comes down to the CUP/Burn rates of each load and the given barrel length.

All of this is great for imformation and making a point........I still like the 45 ACP and the 1911 Govt. platform..........as I due my 9mm's.

Shoot well.

artherd
January 22, 2004, 05:26 PM
No offence, but you guys are splitting irrelivant hairs.

Any handgun, in my personal opinion, is insufficent to guarentee any kind of 'one shot stop.' For something like that, one needs a rifle with over 5x the energy of any handgun. (and even that is not a sure thing. I'd start betting heavily on 30mmHE however.) So for pistols, I am training myself 'FTS' (2 COM, one in the head.)

That said, your two handgun cartridges make decent sized holes, and contain similar energy levels. But for any kind of 'fight stop' wound, you must hit the CNS. I don't care if you blow off an entire leg with your .50AE, the guy can still stab you while he bleeds to death over 3-4minuites.


I'm a 9mm/.40/.357sig/.45acp fan, any will get the job done and with the right ammo, and are frankly equals ballistically.


I chose 9mm because in my gun the ballistics are similar to .357magnum with 127gr Win Ranger +p+ rounds. And I can carry 17 rounds. And I am back on target quicker than other calibers. 1911 Kimbers are sweet though, one is on my list.



It goes:

1) SHOT PLACEMENT!












2) Rate of fire. (time back on target)


3) Ammo choice


4) can you share it with friends, get more easially in an emergency?

(diiistant) 5) maybe caliber.

usnavymasterchief
January 22, 2004, 09:33 PM
What he say?:what: :evil:

litman252
January 22, 2004, 10:25 PM
Well, ahhh you see....................
All I can add is a 3" 1911 will shoot the 185gr cor-bon over 1000 fps. Measured with a cronograph. I saw the results from a known good man.
I'd take anything that worked and I felt comfortable with.
Tony

45crittergitter
January 23, 2004, 01:00 PM
For what it's worth, in all the Marshall/Sanow stopping power percentages, there is exactly one load that rated 100% stops. It is the 230 grain .45 ACP Hydrashok - but ONLY from 5" barrels.

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