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Old May 12, 2013, 10:27 AM   #1
Dunecigar
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.45 Within A Small Barrel

American citizen (Bersa, SW442, DP51, CCWP) living in Guatemala City, Guatemala, Central America:

Dear Firing Line fellow readers and writers,

A joyous and heart felt hello to each and every one of you on this fine and glorious day.

Allow me to set up my question:
I'm interested in purchasing a .45 to add to my cache of weapons so as to rotate my stock and since one weapon doesn't fit every situation. Now, being that I live in a Central American third world country, the selection from which to choose from is lackluster at best.

The .45s I have found are mostly huge GI 5' slides (too large for my needs since I am not a bodyguard). I believe that a Commander 4' slide or a compact 3.25' slide would be better however that is where the concern lays.

Hence the question:
Does a .45 caliber round loose all its quote ".45 punch" being fired from anything shorter than a 5' barrel? Kind a like a 357 round being fired from a snub nose.

Your answers are very important and valuable since the crime rate here is so intense.
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Old May 12, 2013, 10:45 AM   #2
mete
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Not by much and since ammo makers are now making ammo specifically for short barrels there isn't a big difference.
One difference is that once you go below 4" barrel you're more likely to have a gun that is sensitive to ammo as far as feeding.
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Old May 12, 2013, 11:13 AM   #3
arizona98tj
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For a comparison, I'll use a box of Hornady 200gr JHP/XTP ammo. Hornady rates it at 900 FPS but I don't know the barrel length they used.

Out of my 4" Springfield XD compact, it runs 894 FPS over my chronograph.

Out of my 3.3" Springfield XD-S, it runs 851 FPS.

While there is a reduction in velocity, it isn't that bad, in my opinion. I typically carry the shorter barreled XD-S.
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Old May 12, 2013, 11:17 AM   #4
MLeake
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There may be more issues with loss of reliability than with loss of velocity. Barrels shorter than 4.25" can be problematic with 1911 platforms.
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Old May 12, 2013, 12:44 PM   #5
45Gunner
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My EDC gun is a Commander Size 1911. I own many 1911's including the 5", full size models, those with 4" or slightly longer, and the 3" model. I have never had a problem with ammo as my guns eat any thing I feed it. In my opinion, the key to reliability of ANY 1911 is to keep it clean and change the springs on a regular basis. What's a regular basis? For me, it's usually every 1000 rounds unless I notice a difference where the brass is ejecting (usually a good indication that a recoil spring needs changing) or if the gun begins to exhibit feeding problems. Some of my 1911's get their springs changed a little more frequently than others as per the manufacturers recommendation while others go on a bit longer. Not one of the smaller model 1911's is any less accurate or any less reliable than it's bigger brother as long as one keeps a tight grip on the gun (no limp wristing) as follow the recommendations as I stated above.

Springs are a cheap insurance to keep your guns running in tip top shape. I buy my springs by the dozen and have experimented with different weights until I found the particular weight that is right for a particular gun.
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Old May 12, 2013, 01:26 PM   #6
Wreck-n-Crew
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Quote:
Does a .45 caliber round loose all its quote ".45 punch" being fired from anything shorter than a 5' barrel? Kind a like a 357 round being fired from a snub nose.
The majority of it's "punch" as people relate to it is more from the diameter and bullet weight.
The loss of velocity, if any, is not enough to lose all it's "punch" or even enough to make a big difference..
So my answer would be no it would not lose all it's punch.
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Old May 12, 2013, 02:29 PM   #7
MLeake
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Some of the shorter barrels will drop some bullet weights below a muzzle velocity of 800fps, which can be below the threshold for hollow points to expand. If using JHP in a short barrel, make sure you have modern bullets that will perform at the attained velocity.
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Old May 12, 2013, 02:35 PM   #8
Aguila Blanca
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dunecigar
The .45s I have found are mostly huge GI 5' slides (too large for my needs since I am not a bodyguard). I believe that a Commander 4' slide or a compact 3.25' slide would be better however that is where the concern lays.

Hence the question:
Does a .45 caliber round loose all its quote ".45 punch" being fired from anything shorter than a 5' barrel? Kind a like a 357 round being fired from a snub nose.
First, a Commander is a 4-1/4 inch, barrel not 4-inch. If you are thinking primarily 1911s, nobody makes one with a 3-1/4-inch barrel. The Colt Officers ACP and clones thereof are 3-1/2-inch, and the Colt Defender and a number of "subcompact" 1911s have 3-inch barrels.

A couple of years ago I set out to examine velocity loss as barrel length decreased. I had 1911s with barrel lengths of 5", 4-1/4", 3-1/2" and 3". My preliminary results weren't consistent enough to "take to the bank" and I haven't had the time (or ammo) to run a new test with slightly different parameters. What my first results indicated was that compared to a 5-inch Government model, with a Commander you lose about 7% muzzle velocity, with an Officers ACP you lose about 10% muzzle velocity, and with a 3" subcompact you lose about 12% muzzle velocity.

This was based on one pistol in each barrel length, all from the same manufacturer. I tested each pistol with eight (8) different ammo types, and measured muzzle velocity for each with a chronograph.
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Old May 13, 2013, 09:36 AM   #9
MagnumWill
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My daily carry is a Colt New Agent 1911 3" barrel in .45 ACP. You will naturally lose FPS with a shorter barrel, but--

Does the .45 lose the ability to expand? NO.

Do you lose all the .45's energy from the FPS loss compared to other calibers? NO.

Is there a magic threshold of unreliability once a 1911 has a barrel shorter than 4"? -NO.

Maybe I'm an exception to the rule, but my 1911 has had *zero* problems with punch and reliability. Believe me, you still feel substantial recoil compared to the same weight platform in 9mm (my father in law's 9mm is the same weight as my 1911). If you were losing the "punch", you would equally be losing the recoil as well.
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Old May 13, 2013, 10:00 AM   #10
MLeake
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Do some searches, and one will find that Colt tends to have the best reliability in short barreled 1911s. One will also find plenty of chronographs showing 750ish fps with 230gr from short barrels. Once again, bullets have to be selected properly for the velocity a given barrel produces.
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Old May 13, 2013, 10:06 AM   #11
Constantine
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MLeake


Quote:
There may be more issues with loss of reliability than with loss of velocity. Barrels shorter than 4.25" can be problematic with 1911 platforms.
Quote:
Some of the shorter barrels will drop some bullet weights below a muzzle velocity of 800fps, which can be below the threshold for hollow points to expand. If using JHP in a short barrel, make sure you have modern bullets that will perform at the attained velocity.

Yes, I know this all too well. I wouldn't go any lower than 4.25 in a 1911. I currently only own government models. 5 inch barrels do add much more velocity and the .45acp was intended to be launched from a government model anyways.

Also, Colt is one of if not is my favorite 1911 manufacturer. Springfield Armory is another. I've seen some good shorties with Colt and SA.
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Old May 13, 2013, 11:42 AM   #12
hardhat harry
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Sig Sauer 1911 Ultra .45 3.3 inch barrel http://www.sigsauer.com/CatalogProdu...-two-tone.aspx
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