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Are 1911 bull barrels stronger than standard barrels?

Discussion in 'Handguns: Autoloaders' started by Stinkyshoe, Jan 8, 2004.

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  1. Stinkyshoe

    Stinkyshoe Member

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    I see a lot of guns now in the magazines with bull barrels, full length guide rods, Tack rails etc. I am not sure how much of this stuff is really "better" and how much of it is just hype.

    I regard to the bull barrels, they appeared to be able to shoot high power loads looking at the bore end(they look really intimidating), but can they? I am thinking that they can't because the bull barrel probably has the same dimensions as the standard barrel. Is this correct or incorrect?

    Is the bull barrelled gun more of a novelty item? What are your thoughts on a 1911 with this barrel configuration?
     
  2. mtnbkr

    mtnbkr Member

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    I thought the purpose of a bull barrel was to eliminate the barrel bushing.

    BTW, why do people dislike the barrel bushing. It seems a good way to enable a "tuneup" on a high mileage gun.

    Chris
     
  3. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    You mean one of these? :D

    [​IMG]

    The point of the bull barrel is to make a HEAVIER barrel than standard. Getting rid of the bushing is more of a side-effect of making the barrel walls thicker. Cone barrels are basically the same as bull barrels, except that they are somewhat lighter, since they taper back from the muzzle evenly instead of being thicker for most of the length of the barrel.

    Why make a heavier barrel? The main purpose is to reduce muzzle jump and felt recoil, without the increased muzzle blast and decreased muzzle velocity that porting or compensators would cause. Bull barrels are popular in USPSA/IPSC (and restricted in IDPA as an unfair advantage) for that reason.

    As a practical matter, bull barrels are also used in sub-4.25" 1911 barrels because it is easier to make itty bitty guns work right with a bushingless barrel. The shortest 1911 barrel you will see with a bushing is usually 4.25". In that case, the bull barrel is just a practical solution to the problem of getting the gun to work at all.

    You can also argue for some theoretical advantages of the bull barrel. It should heat more slowly (greater mass) and cool off more quickly (greater surface area) than a standard barrel. The extra mass should lead to slightly delayed unlocking, which would be beneficial in guns running higher pressure cartridges. Bushings DO break on rare occasions, and a bull barrel eliminates that part entirely. The barrel itself should also be stronger and more rigid than a conventional barrel due to its greater mass and thicker barrel walls.

    I've had basically the same type of gun (10mm Delta Elite), 1 with a bushing barrel and 1 with a bull barrel. My opinion is that bull barrels make a small but noticeable difference in felt recoil and muzzle jump. I wouldn't put them in the same class as, say, full length guide rods, since they make an objective difference (hence IDPA not allowing them in >4.1" guns as an unfair competitive advantage) and serve a definite use in making smaller 1911s actually somewhat workable.

    Incidentally, you DON'T "need" to use a full length guide rod with a bull barrel, but almost nobody does a bull barreled 1911 without one.
     
  4. Zak Smith

    Zak Smith Moderator Emeritus

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    The purpose of a bull barrel is to increase the mass (specifically the non-reciprocating mass) of the pistol in order to reduce perceived recoil.

    You'll get case failure or a blown primer way before the barrel explodes.

    -z
     
  5. Nero Steptoe

    Nero Steptoe member

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    Could be wrong, but I don't think the chamber dimensions of a bull barrel are any different than that of a "regular" weight barrel. "Strength" of the barrel would only be an issue if you were using the barrel to hammer nails or as a lever of some kind. The purpose of the bull barrel has already been correctly stated. The chamber area is the only area of a barrel that's likely to cause a problem in case of an overcharge.
     
  6. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    True. If you want to play with higher pressures in a 1911, the issue isn't bull vs. bushing, but ramped vs. unramped.

    Or if you fired into an obstructed bore, in which case the thicker barrel walls may make it less likely that the barrel bulge under pressure or split like a bananna.
     
  7. 1911Tuner

    1911Tuner Moderator Emeritus

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    Bull?

    All this talk about one barrel being stronger than another! Ya'll GOTTA
    go twist Keenan's arm to post his experiment(s) with the 1911. The
    early ones are as good as the last one, but all will be a real eye-opener
    on the strength of the barrel.
    .

    But, on to the question. The strength of the gun isn't determined by the
    barrel diameter...It's determined by the strength of the action. F'rinstance, a bolt-action M-77 Ruger in .308 caliber is no stronger with a heavy target barrel than an M-77 Ultralight in the same chambering. I believe that the Ruger M-77 is proof-tested to 70,000 CUP, but I could be off the mark a little. The brass has a role in the equation, and is the weakest link in the
    potential strength, or lack thereof.

    TIP: When you start getting unmistakeable pressure signs, it's already
    too late. You've exceeded the maximum for that particular gun.

    TIP-2: Primers don't always tell the truth. Some primers will flatten with
    perfectly safe loads, and others will look normal with dangerous ones.

    Cheers!
    Tuner
     
  8. Kruzr

    Kruzr Member

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    The thicker the steel (of the same composition), the more pressure it can stand. Barrels are no different than any pressure vessel or piece of pipe.
     
  9. N3rday

    N3rday Member

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    Sean, everytime I see that picture I become extremely jealous.:fire:

    Anyway, i'm no expert, but I haven't read or heard that either is stronger, so unless you are firing some really, really hot loads, don't worry about it.
     
  10. Sean Smith

    Sean Smith Member

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    As a side note, I've read at least one guy (Wil Schuemann) suggest that it is safer for the barrel to split under extreme pressure, so even if the bull barrel is "stronger" under certain conditions, that might not even be a good thing. Food for thought.
     
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