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  1. #1
    Plinker
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    .45 ACP and 3 inch barrels

    Hey all, a friend of mine and I were discussing the merits of a small .45 with a 3 inch barrel for concealed carry. He talked to some kind of an "expert" who told him that while the .45 is normally a good round, from the short barrel it loses more than a third of it's velocity and becomes borderline ineffective. He went on to recommend a 9mm in that barrel length because he thought it didn't suffer so much and was therefore clearly the better choice in a 3 inch barrel.

    Of course, I know that ANY firearm with a shorter barrel will have some negligible fps drop compared to the same firearm and ammo from a longer barrel. That said, my gut instinct is that the short barrel .45 for carry would be just fine. Can any of you shed some light on this?

    As a side note, my friend lives out of state in an area where there are numerous black bears (not grizzlies), and without having unlimited funds, would ideally like a carry gun that could reliably dispatch a black bear as well. We both agree that the average 9mm might be a little weak for a 400 pound black bear charging you and your family. Of course, everyone is going to want howitzers and .500sw huge guns for that, but realistically, would a .45 or any other normal carry gun do the trick in a pinch? He would rather not buy 2 guns! Any thoughts?

  2. #2
    USS Jonas Ingram - DD 938 quicksdraw's Avatar
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    My EDC piece is a High Standard Crusader with a 31/2 inch barrel. While there is a slight drop in performance, compared to my full size 1911, it isn't enough to adversely effect terminal performance. I still get good penetration in ballistic gel at 7-10 yards and the hydrashocks still open up nicely.
    As for carrying a defensive pistol in bear infested country, I would prefer something full size for the longer sight radius (if I see a bear charging me, I ain't waitin' 'til he's 10 yards or less away from me. I'm gonna start unloading as soon as I get a bead on him.) and I think I would be more comfortable with something along the lines of a 10mm or a .357 or even a .44 magnum, for extra penetration. (Actually, I would prefer a .308 or a 30-06, but it isn't always convenient to carry a rifle, even in bear country.)
    A black bear may not be as bad as a grizzly, but he could still turn me into bear chow if given the chance. I don't intend to give him the chance.
    Just my . Other opinions may vary.
    "One man's theology is another man's belly laugh"
    Robert A. Heinlein



  3. #3
    Grandmaster JohnP82's Avatar
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    Like you already said any caliber will lose performance the shorter the barrel, that's just the way it is. A .45 out of a 3 inch barrel is still plenty effective provided you can hit what you are aiming at. Accuracy is more important here. As long as you can confidently hit the target with the shorter barrel then I say you are good to go.

  4. #4
    Shooter
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    For people a 3 inch 45 ACP will do just fine, for bears i wouldn't go any less than a 41 MAG(which are hard to find) so go with a 44 MAG.

  5. #5
    Marksman
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    A 1911 that has been redesigned to function with a 3 in. bbl. is running right at the ragged edge of being reliable (or not). Slide velocity is increased drastically (to the point that the mag spring is barely able to get a round up out of the mag in time for the slide to chamber it) and barrel fit and link down has to be right on the money. They can be made to work 100% but IMO it's more trouble than it's worth. As mentioned it also degrades the performance of the cartidge. The 3 to 3.5 in 1911 was originally designed to be used simply as a decorative ornament on a General Officer's uniform. Chopped down 1911s were and are a goofy idea. A 5 in 1911 is not that hard to carry. Lastly, unless you make a precisely placed shot into a vital area on a bear you're probably just going to piss him off. When going into bear country carry a big bore revolver (.41 Mag. and up) with at least 5 in. of barrel and a heavy hard cast SWC. Also consider taking someone who runs slower than you do. Remember, where you hit them is MUCH MORE important than what you hit them with.

  6. #6
    Expert
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    Interesting.... after 2k rounds pumped through my 3.5" 1911, I've had less than 10 failure to feeds. I'd say that's pretty damn reliable.

  7. #7
    Shooter
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    I've heard too many complaints about the 1911 platform with the shorter barrels (3 or 3.5 inches), but wouldn't hesitate to carry another platform in .45 ACP with a shorter barrel, like a Kahr CW45, Taurus PT-145 or Glock 30, all which have barrels shorter than 4 inches. Most standard pressure defensive .45 ACP will go about 850 feet per second in a 5 inch barrel, and maybe lose 50-100 fps in a shorter barrel. Maybe a little more, depending on the load selected.

    The nice thing about .45 ACP is, if velocity is insufficient to open up the hollowpoint, you still have a .45 caliber hole, and the lack of expansion will ensure sufficient penetration. Expansion is nice, but penetration is an absolute necessity. I'd carry 230 grain ball ammo before I would use some of the super lightweight 165 or 185 grain stuff that runs faster to ensure expansion. A 1" hole that doesn't reach the vitals doesn't do a whole lot of good in a self defense situation.

    If you feel that you need the velocity of a standard load out of a 5 inch 1911, you could always run +P in a shorter barrel.

  8. #8
    Marksman Bang-bang's Avatar
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    I have the Glock g36, barrel length is 3.78 in/ 96mm, this is a very nice model, no problems. (glock makes it, it must be good to go)

  9. #9
    Grandmaster melensdad's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by PTinbound View Post
    Hey all, a friend of mine and I were discussing the merits of a small .45 with a 3 inch barrel for concealed carry. He talked to some kind of an "expert" who told him that while the .45 is normally a good round, from the short barrel it loses more than a third of it's velocity and becomes borderline ineffective.
    . . .
    I know that ANY firearm with a shorter barrel will have some negligible fps drop compared to the same firearm and ammo from a longer barrel. That said, my gut instinct is that the short barrel .45 for carry would be just fine. Can any of you shed some light on this? . . .
    Be happy to help you out, courtesy of Shooting Times magazine, which did some tests on velocity of 45acp out of various barrel lengths.

    They tested several different guns and different ammo.

    A 5" Les Baer fired Winchester Silver Tip 185gr JHPs at 902fps
    A 3.5" Kimber fired Winchester Silver Tip 185gr JHPs at 860fps

    The same two guns above:
    5" Baer firing Federal 230-gr. JHP+P at 840fps
    3.5" Kimber firing Federal 230-gr. JPH+P at 765fps

    So yes, there is a velocity trade off with the short barrel. It is NOTHING CLOSE to a 33% decline in velocity. Further, the new bullet technology being used today is helping to increase handgun bullet performance in all calibers. Ammo makers are looking at the increased trend to have citizens carry weapons and are making ammo for the guns being carried, most of which are smaller than "duty" weapons. They have improved the ability of bullets to perform and some even make ammo specifically marketed for short barrel guns.

    .45 ACP +P Compact | 160 gr. Barnes TAC-XP | 1050 FPS-Wilson Combat

  10. #10
    Expert Plinkuh's Avatar
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    Why not a 10mm?

    "The Government of Denmark has issued the Glock 20 pistol chambered for the 10mm Auto cartridge to members of the Sirius Patrols in Greenland. The pistols were issued as a defense against polar bears which the patrols encounter."

    Polar bears are serious bidness...
    "A man with a briefcase can steal millions more than any man with a gun."

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