Barrel Length - Revolver versus Semi-Auto

Not open for further replies.


Jul 26, 2007
Pullman, WA
Discussion Topic?

Revolver Barrel Length
measured from the forcing cone to the muzzle

Semi-Auto Barrel Length
Measured from rear of the Chamber to the muzzle.

So, I shoot a Full size 1911 5" Bbl.
& a S & W 625 5"Bbl.

the revolver has a full 5" of barrel rifllig
whereas the 1911 5" - 0.9" chamber

Note: Overall LEngth = 4" of barrel rifling
1911 5" O.A.L. 8.75"
S&W 625 JM 4" Bbl. O.A.L. 9.5"
S&W 625 5" Bbl. O.A.L. 10.5"

The revolver lloses somme pressure/velocity
due to the barrel to cylinder gap, so
is it 'fair' to compare the 19115" to a 625 5" Bbls
or should the revolver be a 4"'er?

perhaps somebody has some data via chronograph


Compare how? In a BS session anyone can compare anything to anything, and that is the only place questions like that get asked and argued over.

I can think of no reason those measurements would make any real difference to anyone.

I've seen this debated before and it is usually hard to compare apples to apples because there are only a few revolvers and semi's in the same chambering and similar barrel lengths. I've seen other posts where 9mm revolvers have been compared to similar length semi's over a chronograph. From the numbers I've seen posted the revolver should be a little faster with the same ammo and equal barrel lengths.

But if you measure them the same way, in other words if you included the length of the cylinder on a revolver and added it to the barrel length. And compared it to a semi with a similar length barrel, the semi will be a bit faster. I'm sure the cylinder gap accounts for this loss. It is not as much as a lot of folks think from what I can tell.

This would be like taking a 3" revolver, adding about 1.5"" for the cylinder, and comparing it to a 4.5" semi. I've not done this myself, but this is pretty much the results I've seen posted from others using a 9mm. I see no reason why a 45 would be any different. Hopefully someone has done this with a 45 and can post the results.

* 9x19 doesn't have as much percentage velocity loss
in barrels 3.5" or less compared to .45 ACP

* adding the length of the cylinder to the semi-
auto's Barrel length

How about 5" 1911 vs the 625 4" JM
they are near in OAL 9.75" vs 9.5"
for a service/belt handgun & they
both have a nearly identical length of barrel rifling?

I guess yuou could also do this with a
Colt Delta Elite and a S&W 610 4" bbl.

Last edited by a moderator:
Are there similar differences with the
listed barrel lengths for different types
of rifle actions i.e Single shot, botl action

Blind, FWIW I have been able to do some chronographing between pistols and revolvers of the same caliber, 9MM, 10MM and .45ACP. I won't bore everybody with all the barrel lengths and specific factory and reloaded ammo used. What I found was, that in similar barrel lengths, the revolvers most always produced higher velocities than semi-auto pistols. This may be counterintuitive due to the revolvers having a flash gap where pressure is obviously bled off, but that's what the chronograph indicates. For example, 9MM standard pressure, +P and +P+ fired from my 3" Ruger and a previous 3" S&W generally gave higher velocities than my 4" semi-autos. With some factory ammo, my 5" S&W Model 610 revolver avarged 100+ fps more than my 5" 10MM S&W semi-auto pistols. One thing I have learned, is that you can't take anything for granted as far as what kind of velocities handguns, or rifles, will actually produce unless you chronograph a particular firearm with a particular load....ymmv

Jim K, there is no real reason that these results should be of interest to anyone. But, I admit to being curious, and interested in ballistics, so have done a fair amount of chronographing over the last 30 years or so...
Last edited:
Thanks Rock.

Speer Ballistics tables

The detail for each load/cartridge offered
has Velocity Muzzle/50 yds/100 yds, and
and KE Ft Lbs for the same distance
then a trajectory given at 25 yds/50/75 & 100 yds
given it's sighed in at 25 yds.
bottom right hand corner it gives
barrel length for the advert. velocity.

9mm 4" & 3.5" SB*
40 S&W 4" & 3.5" SB
.45 ACP 5" & 4" SB
then the traditional Revolver rounds,
.357 Magnu 4V & 2V SB
.44 Special 6" & N/A SB
.44 Magnum N/A & 4V SB
.45 Colt 5.5" & N/A SB

* Magnums get the V suffix = vented
* seems to give velocity for
a 'typical' user's handgun.

.44 Special w/6" Bbl. seems curious
but then there's lots of 29/629 and Rugers out there in
.44 Mag.

& Speer seems lacking in .38 SUper
10mm AUto & .41 Mag.

Digression Drift , more coffee.

But if you measure them the same way, in other words if you included the length of the cylinder on a revolver and added it to the barrel length.

This would be like taking a 3" revolver, adding about 1.5"" for the cylinder, and comparing it to a 4.5" semi.

Why would you count the length of the cylinder, if the semi barrel length is measured from the chamber? If the OP is correct, and a 5" semi barrel is effectively 4.1" long, then it should be compared to a revolver with a 4" barrel.

In any case, the revolver should be more accurate.
I have always assumed that the barrel-cylinder gap just about compensates for the different means of measuring barrel length. Or that it comes close enough to it that I don't worry about the difference. If someone wanted to post actual chrono results shooting the same round out of a revolver and pistol with the "same" (but not really same) barrel length, I would read it with great interest. Anybody have such data?
ATLDave, I have 30+ years of chronograph notes that have a few examples of "same" barrel length pistol and revolver velocities with same ammo.

Comparing S&W Model 610 revolver with 5" barrel and S&W 1006 semi-auto pistol with 5" barrel. Factory Remington 170 grain jhp: Revolver =1288fps, S&W 1006 pistol with 5' barrel=1250fps. Norma 200 grain JTC: 610 revolver=1221fps, 1006 pistol=1218fps. Winchester 175 grain Silvertip: Revolver=1267fps, 1006 pistol=1224fps. Winchester 180 grain FBI type ammo: Revolver=989fps, Pistol=935fps. CorBon 135 grain jhp: revolver=1585fps, pistol=1475fps. The trend of the revolver demonstrating higher velocities continued with 10MM reloads. Same trend continued with 9MM revolver and auto pistol chronographed velocities...ymmv
Last edited:
Rock185, thanks VERY much! Looks like the velocities are quite close, but with about a 50fps edge to the wheelie. I love data!
Not open for further replies.