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Thread: Accuracy--which barrel length ??

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    Didn't see this one addressed in previous posts, sorry if redundant. I am new to handguns and wonder just how much MORE accurate a 4" barrel is vs. a 3". In particular looking at the XD's subcompact and compact models (3" & 4"). I'm aware that practice improves accuracy, but my question just pertains to the facts. I.E. mount the 2 guns side by side and test fire at targets. Will the 4" be more accurate? if so, HOW much more? I want the gun for CC protection but will want to shoot some targets I am sure.



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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    In general a longer barrel makes for better accuracy.

    For self defense you are dealing mostly within 21 feet. So the question is whether your gun is accurate withing the distance you plan to use it.

    For example I have Sig P220's in 3.9 and 4.4 inch barrels. At 21 feet I don't notice any difference in accuracy but if I go out to 25 yards I think the longer barrel wins.

    Each gun/manufacturer is different. I have a Taurus PT145 which is shorter than either Sig and it is also less accurate. This can be a function of barrel length and manufacturer design. I also have a NAA 32acp Guardian that ain't accurate beyond 9 feet.

    So how you plan to use it determines what you get. If you are planning to be match-shooting a longer barrel is better but for self defense 3.9, 4, 4.4, are all acceptable lengths. Since you mentioned CC-ing it a 3 or 4" barrel makes that easier.

    It is conceivable that a good-manufacturer with a shorter barrel could be more accurate than a cheaper longer barreled gun. If you can rent/borrow as many as you can to get a feel for what is right for you.

    Edited to add: My Kahr MK40 is a 3" barrel. It is less accurate than my Sigs but acceptable for Self Defense distances.


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    The answer to your particular question is not as simple as yes or no.

    No. On a bench test, I would not think that barrel length makes that much of a difference.

    But.........................................
    With that said, a bench test is not the same as draw and fire accuracy. If you are worried about self defense accuracy, the longer the barrel the more accurate the firearm will be, assumng there are no defects in ammo or the firearm itself.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    rmansu2 wrote:
    ... With that said, a bench test is not the same as draw and fire accuracy.
    Yes, the longer barrel allows for a longer/more-accurate site alignment/picture. So while the bench wouldn't be much different, your skills would be aided by the longer site picture.

    I still think a 3" barrel is "ok" for self defense but still "just" ok. On the flip side of that is any gun is better to have than no gun so buy the gun you will carry with you and not leave at home.

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    45acpForMe wrote:
    rmansu2 wrote:
    ... With that said, a bench test is not the same as draw and fire accuracy.
    Yes, the longer barrel allows for a longer/more-accurate site alignment/picture. So while the bench wouldn't be much different, your skills would be aided by the longer site picture.

    I still think a 3" barrel is "ok" for self defense but still "just" ok. On the flip side of that is any gun is better to have than no gun so buy the gun you will carry with you and not leave at home.
    Thanks! I did not consider the enhanced accuracy of the sight picture with a longer distance from rear to front sights. That's possibly MORE important than how the barrel length alone affects accuracy. Good point--something to consider. But I'm leaning towards the 3" for CC reasons.

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    Regular Member Alexcabbie's Avatar
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    I like the 4-inch S&W K-frame for concealed and open carry. The extra couple inches mean better accuracy at any range, and the weapon is still compact enough to be easily concealed. My fave revolver as is well known is the Model 15 Combat Masterpiece.

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    The chances of you using your sights in a SD situation are slim. Pick something that pionts naturally for you because point shooting is what you'll be doing.

    When you're target shooting, the longer sight radius will likely mean more than the extra barrel length due to shooter skill.

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    Regular Member 45acpForMe's Avatar
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    bobbybob wrote:
    But I'm leaning towards the 3" for CC reasons.
    My main CC gun is the Taurus PT145 which has a 3.25" barrel. And yes what is said above about not using your sights in a SD situation is probably true.

    As I have said on several other thread, you can always own/acquire more than one gun so start out with what you like the best and add to your collection as you discover different needs or wants.


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    Regular Member Dreamer's Avatar
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    Any firearm that is not accurate within the "average SD range" of 21 feet is probably not something I would want to trust my life with anyway...

    But you don't need something that will drive tacks at 25 yards either. If you find a gun that you can comfortably carry, fits your hands well, and enables you to hit the "10 ring" at 7 yards with repeated regularity, that is the gun for you.

    Some of us have had our "carry pieces" serviced and "fluffed and buffed" by professional gunsmiths so that they are reliable carry pieces AND can drive tacks at 25 yards. Owning a gun like that is a real joy, and the workmanship in such a firearm is a thing of pride. But I know that my Para Ordnance's accuracy is much tighter than it really NEEDS to be for it's intended purpose. The fact that it enables me to punch 10-rings at any distance out to 25 yards is just "bragging rights", and those bragging rights certainly DID come with a price tag. But some of us feel that such a high level of functionality and reliability is worth every penny...

    All that said, my NEXT purchase probably won't be nearly as expensive, probably won't have NEARLY as much "work" done on it, and probably won't be as accurate. But then again, it will probably be less than 1/3 the price of my Para, and will function just as well, within the standard "SD Range"...
    It is our cause to dispel the foggy thinking which avoids hard decisions in the delusion that a world of conflict will somehow mysteriously resolve itself into a world of harmony, if we just don't rock the boat or irritate the forces of aggression—and this is hogwash."
    --Barry Goldwater, 1964

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    There is great wisdom in what has already been said about trying as many different guns as you can beg borrow or rent to find one that suits you. It is also true that sight radius plays a big part in target shooting. In a self defense situation, however, many forces come into play that are not part of the norm. Since the average person faced with a situation where use of a firearm is necessary immediately goes into a "fight or flight" response. Heart rate increases, blood pressure rises, fine motor skills diminish etc. In those few moments the only thing you will be able to accomplish will be actions that you have practiced so often that you have built something called "muscle memory" to accomplish. The brain will be so involved with other things that you won't remember to do things like take a safety off or pull a slide etc. BTW don't take my word for it you will find library s full of science on it. At that point the only thing you can reliably count on is actions that you have practiced until they become second nature (automatic if you will). So no matter what brand, style, size gun you choose, be sure and follow that old adage practice, practice, practice. It is the only way to have much of a chance that things will turn out in your favor. Since I believe you post suggests that you are new to guns in general I would also advise getting some expert training since I have generally found that no matter how hard and long I practice, it doesn't help if I am practicing doing the wrong thing. Just a little ramblin thought from someone who has been around the block a couple of times.

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