Look, it’s OK. If you have a short barrel, you need to compensate. The sooner you face that fact, the happier you’ll be. My barrel is about 3 1/2 inches and I’ve learned to deal with it.
But just because your barrel is short, it doesn’t mean that you won’t be able to achieve great performance. Time after time after time. You’ll be popular, good-looking and fun-loving. Just like in the commercials.
Actually, I have several short barrels. I have a Springfield Armory XD-S. I’ve got a Springfield Armory EMP. And I’ve got a Glock 26. The longest of the bunch is about 3 1/2 inches.
Why the big fuss about the length of your barrel? Shorter barrels mean lower velocity. Modern self-defense handgun bullets are carefully designed to operate within very specific velocity parameters. Designers need to ensure that hollow-point projectiles will expand, but not over-expand. They need to penetrate, but not over or under-penetrate. All of this delicate balance is designed for an expected velocity range.
if your barrel is shorter than average, your bullet is going to travel at lower velocity. There are 362,176 different factors at play, but you can assume that losing an inch of barrel length will reduce your expected velocity by 20 to 80 feet per second in a handgun. That’s a big rule of thumb, so don’t hold me to the specific numbers in every case. Just know that the velocity of a given projectile from a five-inch barrel is going to be more than the speed of the same bullet fired from a three-inch barrel.
The engineers at Speer have addressed this challenge by designing special loads for compact guns with shorter barrels. The projectiles are designed to expand properly and consistently at lower velocities. So, when you use Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel ammunition in guns with 3 1/2 inch barrels or shorter, you’re going to get proper expansion.
But beware of too much of a good thing. If you use these rounds in full-sized guns, they’ll work. But they will over-expand and therefore under-penetrate. That’s why Speer makes many Gold Dot loads for both standard and short barrel guns.
We tested the Speer Gold Dot Short Barrel 9mm +P 124 grain bonded hollow point load in a variety of barrel-challenged pistols and found expansion performance to be excellent. Fired from a 3.3 inch barrel Springfield Armory XD-S through two layers of heavy leather and four layers of fabric, all projectiles expanded properly. None suffered from the “clog up and fail to expand syndrome.”
We tested velocity using our Shooting Chrony Beta Master Chronograph placed 15 feet downrange with this load fired from a Springfield Armory EMP 9mm. The EMP has an even shorter barrel than the XD-S at 3 inches even. Average velocity worked out to 1,159 feet per second.
This load performed exactly as advertised, so do yourself a favor. If you suffer from a short barrel, just admit it, and use the right tools for the job. You’ll be more satisfied.