View Poll Results: Which barrel length has the best combo of accuracy and balance?

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  • 3 Inch

    0 0%
  • 4 Inch

    12 32.43%
  • 5 Inch

    24 64.86%
  • 6 Inch

    1 2.70%
  • 7 Inch

    0 0%
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Thread: Barrel Length

  1. #1
    JONSCH's Avatar
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    Barrel Length

    which barrel length (not for carry) would you consider the best balance of accuracy and balance/holding comfort?

  2. #2
    James NM's Avatar
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    Gonna depend on which gun you're talking about.

    A small frame pistol will balance better with a shorter barrel. A large frame pistol will balance better with a longer barrel. For example, a Keltec P3AT balances nicely with a 2 3/4" barrel, and a 1911 balances nicely with a 5" barrel. However, if you put a 5" barrel on the Keltec and the 2 3/4" barrel on the 1911, the balance is not so nice anymore.

    Since you discounted carry, the main reason to go with a longer barrel in a handgun is velocity, and thus power.

    The perceived accuracy improvement actually comes from the longer sight picture, not the barrel length.
    Last edited by James NM; 07-10-2008 at 07:13 PM.

  3. #3
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    About 24", with the .30-'06 cartridge loaded to about 3,000fps. and a 165-grain, boat-tail bullet.
    Oh—you were asking about pistols! Sorry.

    Barrel length itself is not the most important issue in accurate pistol shooting. Sight radius is.
    ...And a steady hand, and a smooth trigger press, and superb breath control, and a bunch of other, non-pistol factors.
    You'd be surprised at what kind of accurate long-range shooting a short-barreled pistol can do...in the right hands, that is.

  4. #4
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    Quote Originally Posted by James NM View Post
    Since you discounted carry, the main reason to go with a longer barrel in a handgun is velocity, and thus power.

    The perceived accuracy improvement actually comes from the longer sight picture, not the barrel length.

    As has been covered before on this forum, poor horse, Velocity gained by additional barrel length is inconsequential as you only get about 20-30fps per inch of additional barrel length.

    Also, accuracy improvement actually does come from a longer barrel in the sense that you cannot really have a longer sight radius unless the pistol is longer as a whole. I've never seen a 7" sight radius on a 2.5" barrelled pistol. The longer the barrel, the longer the sight radius.

    I also think that accuracy comes much more from how tight the gun locks up and shooter skill and comfort with the gun. I've had shorter pistols I shoot better than longer pistols even at longer ranges. Either way, buy a pistol that fits what you need it to do, for instance if you are looking for a range gun for precision shooting/bullseye, I'd say get something longer, if you are looking for something to conceal well, the obvious choice is something a bit smaller.

    Zhur

  5. #5
    Wandering Man's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    Barrel length itself is not the most important issue in accurate pistol shooting. Sight radius is.
    I've read this a lot, and I wonder why no one has yet developed a rear sight that slides out toward the shooter, giving the shooter an extra few inches, and a longer sight radius ...

    Hmmm ....

    Anyone know a good patent attorney?

    WM
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  6. #6
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Answers for zhurdan and Wandering Man:
    1) Olympic-competition .22 Short pistols are, or used to be, arranged with their magazines up in front of their trigger guards, à la Mauser. This gave a much longer sight radius than their barrel length (restricted by regulation) would otherwise allow. Short barrel, long sight radius.
    2) In NRA pistol competition, it used to be common to see front sights cantilevered out in front of a pistol's muzzle by a couple of inches. I don't know if this is still done.
    3) Having a slide-out front (or rear) sight, to increase sight radius at will, leads to lots of other complications, not least of which is a difficult-to-suppress tendency to wiggle. I bet you'd lose more than you'd gain. Besides, for most shooters, the small increase in sight radius would be overcome by their (relatively) poor technique.
    Practice makes lots of sense, but gadgetry won't make up for lack of practice. "There is no miracle cure that will absolve you from having to practice, if you want to be a superior shot." —Michael Harries

  7. #7
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Wandering Man View Post
    I've read this a lot, and I wonder why no one has yet developed a rear sight that slides out toward the shooter, giving the shooter an extra few inches, and a longer sight radius ..
    It's been done in reverse: http://www.calzaretta.com/scans/52-s.jpg and http://www.gunbroker.com/auction/Vie...?Item=99596844. This used to be somewhat common on pistols used in NRA 2700-type pistol matches.
    Last edited by Mike Barham; 07-11-2008 at 04:33 PM.
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  8. #8
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Mike;
    Yeah, that's what I was writing about.
    But it's a fixed extension, not retractable. Wandering Man wants to invent one that'll give it to you both ways.

  9. #9
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    @ Steve

    I do recall seeing one of those competition .22LR's at one point but never looked into them when the owner told me how much it cost. I couldn't justify a .22LR for my needs at the price point he mentioned. Pretty neat looking gun though. As I recall (it's been about 8 years) it was a Russian design. Good point though, I wouldn't have recalled it had you not said something.

    Zhur

  10. #10
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Steve M1911A1 View Post
    Mike;
    Yeah, that's what I was writing about.
    But it's a fixed extension, not retractable. Wandering Man wants to invent one that'll give it to you both ways.
    Not sure when such a device would be practical.

    A defense gun doesn't need a long sight radius, since shots are almost invariably at very close range. Heck, some people even argue that a defense gun doesn't need sights at all.

    There's no reason not have a long barrel on a hunting gun, which gives you both increased sight radius AND a velocity edge.

    Competition guns almost uniformly wear optics now, and even those that don't wouldn't need a retractable extension, since competition guns by their nature just go from shooting bag/box to the firing line and back.

    Maybe I am missing something...?
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  11. #11
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Barham View Post
    ...Maybe I am missing something...?
    Yup. Go back and read the previous posts, Mike.
    On second thought, don't. It's not all that important.

  12. #12
    Mike Barham's Avatar
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    Hmmmm. Okay. I read the posts again. I still don't see how a retractable sight extension would be practical on a defense, hunting or competition gun.

    Possibly I am being unintentionally dense, which is hardly a rare condition with me. Help me out here.
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  13. #13
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    The point I think you're missing, Mike, is that it wouldn't be practical at all.
    (I'll quote myself: "Having a slide-out front (or rear) sight, to increase sight radius at will, leads to lots of other complications, not least of which is a difficult-to-suppress tendency [for it] to wiggle. I bet you'd lose more than you'd gain. Besides, for most shooters, the small increase in sight radius would be overcome by their (relatively) poor technique.")
    That's why I wrote that it wasn't really necessary for you to review the previous posts.
    I think that the subject has been demolished to everyone's satisfaction.

  14. #14
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    Hijack over?

    Sorry Jonsch.

    WM
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  15. #15
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    For all around use but mostly just the range, I prefer the 5 inch on autos and revolvers. It is the best compromise of balance, ease of carrying, and accuracy to me. For a gun dedicated to hunting I like a longer barrel and for CCW a shorter one.

  16. #16
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    i realize there is a thread for expert vs elite on the Heckler koch page...but im still really wondering how much difference the extra inch of barrel length makes. Ive only shot the expert. someone said theres no point of them making the elite because theres no difference between it and the expert accuracy but those guys at HK arent stupid of course there is a difference. but how much.

  17. #17
    Steve M1911A1's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by JONSCH View Post
    ...but im still really wondering how much difference the extra inch of barrel length makes...
    In the hands of the normal, average shooter, one inch of barrel or sight radius means very little. It probably makes no difference at all.

  18. #18
    JONSCH's Avatar
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    so the elite is made only for professionals?

  19. #19
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    A pro makes the difference no matter the gun. I see it at the range all the time. It's the old Indian not the Arrow deal.

  20. #20
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    Sights

    I think having some kind of sight path at one's disposal is better than none for self defense. But minimal sights are quite enough, even out to ten yards or so. Point shooting is eye/hand coordination and does not even use the sights.

    What you are talking about is for target shooting and that has already been done, as we have read. And who would have time and presence of mind to pull out the sights before engaging an active foe? Just something else to go wrong.

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