We’ve always been led to believe that size matters. But when it comes to finding the perfect setup for your handgun, will the barrel length make a difference in accuracy when shooting at close quarters? It’s an important question that even novices should want to answer.
After all, the answer could influence your firearms training routines as well as any subsequent situations that you may encounter in personal or professional environments. For the sake of cost, comfort, and convenience, here’s what you need to know.
Does barrel length actually alter accuracy?
In short: yes it does. It’s one of several reasons why you will see longer barrels in rifles, shotguns, and other firearms. As for handguns, it’s important to understand how accuracy is created. There are main three issues to consider;
- Barrel length: a longer barrel allows for more pressure to build up in the chamber, which subsequently leads to a faster exit speed from the gun.
- Bullet mass: a larger bullet mass will be less prone to changes caused by winds or other external factors.
- Rifling: also known as helical grooves, the spin has a huge influence on the bullet’s trajectory through the air.
The three attributes are all connected. As such, the barrel length does – at least theoretically – make a big impact.
What about over seven yards?
Theoretical impacts won’t necessarily sync up with noticeable changes, and this is especially true when considering your semi auto pistol over a short distance like seven yards.
While seven yards is still considered close quarters, anyone making their first trip to a shooting range soon realizes that firing with accuracy isn’t easy. As such, the thought of lost accuracy due to barrel length is something you need to consider during firearms training. In reality, though, the difference in accuracy will be minimal – if even existent. Here’s why;
- The variance in barrel length for pistols and other handguns will be minimal. You are often talking about .25” or .5”, although even a 1.5” difference isn’t particularly noteworthy.
- Seven yards isn’t a far distance for a bullet to cover when bullets travel at speeds of over 1,000’ per second.
- The other factors, such as your grip and ability to align the sight and pull the trigger will always have a bigger influence.
The barrel length can still play a big role because it influences the weight and overall feeling of the gun. It can indirectly change the bullet movement due to the impact on velocity of the exit speed but it’s not going to feel very noticeable. Likewise, it may influence what bullets and training ammo can be used. However, if you’re thinking that bigger is better, that really isn’t necessarily true.
Does barrel length influence accuracy? Technically, yes. However, with a pistol, you are unlikely to notice any mechanical differences unless you are shooting at least 100 yards away, which is not very common.
The biggest influencer on accuracy is you. Therefore, we’d suggest focusing on your grip and stance.