45-ACP
Velocity vs Barrel Length


Overview

For years "conventional wisdom" has told us that the .45 ACP cartridge requires a five inch barrel to get the "heavy, fat" bullet up to speed. Lately the reviews for one of the concealed carry specialty guns (manufacturer doesn't matter for this page) have shown that the four inch barrel will churn out virtually the same velocities as the five inch one. Obviously the four inch models are easier to conceal so I went looking on the Internet for published statistics on .45 ACP velocities at various barrel lengths.

The information below is from published reviews done by Shooting Times Magazine on different guns over the last eight or so years. Fortunately they included velocities for various commercially available ammunition types and those results are the basis of this page. I tend to believe the results more because they were not attempting to prove or disprove any given item. Rather they were out to show what a given gun did with various manufacturers ammunition offerings.

What I see is that a 3.5" or longer barrel will do a very nice job of getting that bullet up to an effective speed for self defense. The only down side that I see is the shorter sight radius reduces long range accuracy (DUH!). For personal protection, 3.5" or longer does VERY well and the shorter ones are easier to conceal.

NOTES

I have seen this web page referenced in several firearms forums and it is amazing, at least to me, the number of people that read the material and do not understand any of it. THEREFORE, I have changed the table you see, and have removed the color coding and added spacing.

Velocity vs Barrel Length - 45 ACP
Gun * * * Factory Load * * * Velocity Groups
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Black Hills 185-gr. JHP * * * * * * * * * * * *
Les Baer 5" Barrel
870
1.75
Beretta 3.6" Barrel
867
2.50




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Cor-Bon 185-gr. JHP +P * * * * * * * * * * * *
Glock 3.8" Barrel
1104
3.00




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Federal 185-gr. JHP * * * * * * * * * * * *
Glock 3.8" Barrel
908
3.25




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Hornady 185-gr. XTP * * * * * * * * * * * *
Glock 3.8" Barrel
925
2.38
Ruger 4.2" Barrel
873
2.25
Taurus 3.25" Barrel
815
2.25
Kimber Ultra 3.0"
805
1.12




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Remington 185-gr. Golden Saber +P * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ruger 4.2" Barrel
1092
2.25
Taurus 3.25" Barrel
1021
2.13




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Speer 185-gr. Gold Dot * * * * * * * * * * * *
Kimber Ultra 3.0"
924
1.60




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Winchester 185-gr. Silvertip * * * * * * * * * * * *
Les Baer 5" Barrel
902
1.75
Beretta 3.6" Barrel
900
2.50
Glock 3.8" Barrel
912
3.50
Kimber Ultra 3.0"
860
1.13




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Speer 200-gr. JHP +P * * * * * * * * * * * *
Glock 3.8" Barrel
1017
2.75




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Black Hills 230-gr. JHP * * * * * * * * * * * *
Les Baer 5" Barrel
803
1.25
Beretta 3.6" Barrel
802
2.00
Glock 3.8" Barrel
786
2.25




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Cor-Bon 230-gr. JHP +P * * * * * * * * * * * *
Les Baer 5" Barrel
860
2.25
Beretta 3.6" Barrel
857
2.75




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Federal 230-gr. Hydra-Shok * * * * * * * * * * * *
Glock 3.8" Barrel
847
2.68
Kimber Ultra 3.0"
765
1.46




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Federal 230-gr. JHP +P * * * * * * * * * * * *
Les Baer 5" Barrel
840
2.00
Beretta 3.6" Barrel
834
2.50
Glock 3.8" Barrel
854
2.25




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Winchester 230-gr. SXT * * * * * * * * * * * *
Ruger 4.2" Barrel
828
2.33




* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * Speer 230-gr. Gold Dot * * * * * * * * * * * *
Glock 3.8" Barrel
847
2.68

Barrel Lengths vs Velocity

I ran my own tests on three different loads (two factory, one reload) to see what the differences in velocity would be for a three inch barrel, a four inch barrel and a five inch barrel. All three were Kimbers and all testing was run within about an hour and one half.

I used a 230Gr ball, a 230Gr HP, with a 185Gr HP as the reload.

I found that the 5" had the highest velocity (DUH!) but only by about 75fps over the 4". The three inch was again about 75fps lower than the four inch.

TA-DAH! 150fps difference between the three inch and the five inch! I'll bet many would have said more.

As a P.S., I used a CEDM Chrono at fifteen feet from the muzzle.



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