Tuesday, July 29, 2003

Handguns Suck

So says Hell in a Handbasket and i have to say i agree with him. Objectively speaking, they are underpowered, inaccurate, and hard to shoot. When things turn serious, it is much better to have a rifle. You carry a handgun when you don't expect to need it.

His discussion on carbine replacements for handguns got me thinking. In the military, it is usually either/or. You are issued a .45 ACP or a .30 carbine. Civilians can have both (and should, no point wasting space in that safe).

There is a lot to be said for having a rifle and carbine in the same caliber. Frank James, for one, recommended it. It does simplify things when it comes to ammo inventory. In some cases, you can even use the same magazine in both pistol and carbine (Ruger's 9mm and .40 S&W carbines use the same magazines as their pistols and the Marlin Camp Carbine in 9mm uses Smith and Wesson mags.)

What you won't get with semiautos is a big performance boost when using a carbine. According to my Lyman reloading manual the 9mm 125 FMJ does 1190 fps in the pistol and 1,336 from a carbine. Which means that the Camp Carbine is still less powerful than a 357 magnum revolver.

The .45 ACP is a similar story. You gain roughly 100 fps with the 230 grain ball out of a carbine barrel.

Sixgun rounds are a completely different story. Here you get a tremendous increase in velocity and kinetic energy. The .357 mag 158 grain load goes from 1,279 fps to 1,742 For the 41 mag (210 grain ) the gain is nearly 600 fps (from 1,233 to 1,816). Both of these are more powerful than the .30 carbine.

What is surprising is that mild revolver loadings become magnums out of a longer barrel. The .45 Colt for example, loaded to give a modest 845 fps in a revolver, will produce 1,110 fps from a rifle. That produces more kinetic energy than the hottest .357 load in a revolver and is close to a lot of 44 mag loadings. So you can have a mild shooting load for your Taurus or Smith revolver and still have a good thumper at 100 yds if you use it in your Winchester Trapper or Marlin 1894.

Lever actions are not ideal for law enforcement, but they do offer alot for civilians. See this article for more on that score.