Short barrel as powerful as long barrel?

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ugly old guy

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According to this experiment Educational Zone #66 - Shooting a Black Powder Pistol - The Box O' Truth
A philadelphia derringer (3” barrel) loaded with 40 grains of BP is as powerful as a Kentucky pistol (10” barrel) loaded with 40 grains of BP.

  1. ”With a standard load, the Derringer was a weak sister of a pistol. It would not penetrate enough to reach vital organs.
  2. With a hot load, it penetrated as well as a longer barreled pistol and reached the required 12 inches of penetration”

My question is, if, with a hot load, a short barreled derringer is as powerful as a long barreled pistol, how come that people back in the days choosed to carry the long barreled clumsy and heavier pistols?
I'm going to call buffalo chips.
40 grains of BP isn't going to be completely burned in a 3 inch barrel.
Depending on the grain size, it may not be dully burned in a 10 inch barrel either.
However, more will have been burned in the 10 inch barrel, so the ball will be moving faster.
That is simple physics.

I fired 140 grains Fg in my .45 caliber CVA "Lincoln Derringer" once.
(no damage to the CVA) (the ball pressed onto the powder was maybe 3/4 inch from the muzzel)
It recoiled a bit more, and the muzzle flash was "impressive" but I doubt the ball was moving much faster than a 10 or 15 grain load of Fg. Most of that 140 grain load was burned outside the barrel, "long" after the ball had left the barrel.

12 inches penetration is needed to hit the vitals?!?
What are they shooting? an elephant?
3 to 4 inches is plenty to reach the vitals of most critters including people.
Heck, taking the hydrostatic shock into consideration, 2 inches is plenty to stop the heart and destroy the lungs and other organs on most critters (to include the human critter)
12 inches penetration? that would be a through shot on many critters, including the "average" "human" critter.

I believe Booth used 10 to 20 grains FFFg when he shot Lincoln. (the Derrenger was designed for close range; across the card table, for example. A 10 inch barreled pistol is designed for longer ranges.)
Obviously the 3 or 4 inches penetration Booth got was quite sufficient.

What grain size were they using? was it the same in both pistols?

Generally speaking, a longer barrel is more accurate, thanks to the longer sight plane.
The longer barrel will always have better ballistics than a short barrel.
Look at the difference in ballistics between a .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum 6 or 8 inch barrel revolver and a carbine chambered for the same cartridge.
Even if the carbine has a short 16 inch barrel, the ballistcs from the carbine are considerably improved over the revolver, using ammo from the same lot and box.
 
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Billy Boy

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I'm going to call buffalo chips.
40 grains of BP isn't going to be completely burned in a 3 inch barrel.
Depending on the grain size, it may not be dully burned in a 10 inch barrel either.
However, more will have been burned in the 10 inch barrel, so the ball will be moving faster.
That is simple physics.

I fired 140 grains Fg in my .45 caliber CVA "Lincoln Derringer" once.
(no damage to the CVA) (the ball pressed onto the powder was maybe 3/4 inch from the muzzel)
It recoiled a bit more, and the muzzle flash was "impressive" but I doubt the ball was moving much faster than a 10 or 15 grain load of Fg. Most of that 140 grain load was burned outside the barrel, "long" after the ball had left the barrel.

12 inches penetration is needed to hit the vitals?!?
What are they shooting? an elephant?
3 to 4 inches is plenty to reach the vitals of most critters including people.
Heck, taking the hydrostatic shock into consideration, 2 inches is plenty to stop the heart and destroy the lungs and other organs on most critters (to include the human critter)
12 inches penetration? that would be a through shot on many critters, including the "average" "human" critter.

I believe Booth used 10 to 20 grains FFFg when he shot Lincoln. (the Derrenger was designed for close range; across the card table, for example. A 10 inch barreled pistol is designed for longer ranges.)
Obviously the 3 or 4 inches penetration Booth got was quite sufficient.

What grain size were they using? was it the same in both pistols?

Generally speaking, a longer barrel is more accurate, thanks to the longer sight plane.
The longer barrel will always have better ballistics than a short barrel.
Look at the difference in ballistics between a .357 Magnum or .44 Magnum 6 or 8 inch barrel revolver and a carbine chambered for the same cartridge.
Even if the carbine has a short 16 inch barrel, the ballistcs from the carbine are considerably improved over the revolver, using ammo from the same lot and box.
Purely barrel length difference or lack of a barrel/cylinder gap in the rifle? I think the gap makes at least as big a difference than the barrel length differences here.
 

ugly old guy

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Purely barrel length difference or lack of a barrel/cylinder gap in the rifle? I think the gap makes at least as big a difference than the barrel length differences here.
A Colt (et-all) 1911 pistol in .45 ACP doesn't match the ballistics of a .45 ACP Thompson SMG. The .45 ACP slug from the Thompson's 16 inch barrel is traveling significantly faster than from the 1911's 5 inch.
No cylinder gap in a Colt (et-al) 1911.
 

nbforestiv

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That was a .41 cal. Derringer, one of a cased pair, he dropped the other one when he jumped to the stage, the janitor found it the next day while sweeping up, the short barreled guns were for concealment, and up close and personal shots!
Y'all will have to take me with a shot of "shine", sometimes I come off as a smart ass, but this time I was a little more informed, as I give talks on John Wilkes Booth, and how he escaped and lived until 1903! At 78 my youngest daughter says I am a smart ass, but what does she know, with her two degrees! She did say by the time she reached 21, she was amazed at how much the old man knew!
 

Griz44Mag

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Y'all will have to take me with a shot of "shine", sometimes I come off as a smart ass, but this time I was a little more informed, as I give talks on John Wilkes Booth, and how he escaped and lived until 1903! At 78 my youngest daughter says I am a smart ass, but what does she know, with her two degrees! She did say by the time she reached 21, she was amazed at how much the old man knew!
You might want to check your facts a little closer.....

From Wiki - and a dozen other places

:Booth shot President Lincoln once in the back of the head. Lincoln's death the next morning completed Booth's piece of the plot. Seward, severely wounded, recovered, whereas Vice President Johnson was never attacked. Booth fled on horseback to southern Maryland and, 12 days later, at a farm in rural northern Virginia, was tracked down sheltered in a barn. Booth's companion David Herold surrendered, but Booth maintained a standoff. After the authorities set the barn ablaze, Union soldier Boston Corbett fatally shot him in the neck. Paralyzed, he died a few hours later. Of the eight conspirators later convicted, four were soon hanged.
 

TWC

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That was a .41 cal. Derringer, one of a cased pair, he dropped the other one when he jumped to the stage, the janitor found it the next day while sweeping up, the short barreled guns were for concealment, and up close and personal shots!
 

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Eterry

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Does anyone know the powder charge of the most successful rifle/ pistol combination ever?
The 44/40 used a 210 grain bullet and 40 grains of fine black powder. No one ever considered it anemic in the 19th century.

Longer barrels have a longer sight radius, and after the shot was a handy club.

As I've said before, I think we use much heavier charges of powder than our ancestors did.

I also think it's not a good idea to compare modern smokeless powder ballistics with black powder ballistics.
Black burns MUCH faster than smokeless.

Check velocities of black powder in a revolver and a carbine, not as much difference as smokeless powder.
 
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Griz44Mag

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Does anyone know the powder charge of the most successful rifle/ pistol combination ever?
The 44/40 used a 210 grain bullet and 40 grains of fine black powder. No one ever considered it anemic in the 19th century.

Longer barrels have a longer sight radius, and after the shot was a handy club.

As I've said before, I think we use much heavier charges of powder than our ancestors did.

I also think it's not a good idea to compare modern smokeless powder ballistics with black powder ballistics.
Black burns MUCH faster than smokeless.

Check velocities of black powder in a revolver and a carbine, not as much difference as smokeless powder.
IN A CONTAINED ENVIRONMENT LIKE A GUN CHAMBER -
Under scientific test conditions.....

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It is typical for a smokeless powder to burn up to 100 times slower than black powder, in open air! However, smokeless powders actually burn faster than black powder under the conditions encountered in the chamber of a gun.
 

Flintandsteel

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Ditto on what Griz said. Longer barrel Easier to shoot accurately, more powerful with the same load.
Try shooting a 3” barreled Derringer with 40g of fffg...... you’ll probably only do it once. Not even sure there’s room for that load, plus a ball in that barrel.
It can’t have more than an inch of barrel left for stabilizing the ball.
 

nkbj

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Y'all will have to take me with a shot of "shine", sometimes I come off as a smart ass, but this time I was a little more informed, as I give talks on John Wilkes Booth, and how he escaped and lived until 1903! At 78 my youngest daughter says I am a smart ass, but what does she know, with her two degrees! She did say by the time she reached 21, she was amazed at how much the old man knew!
Last letter from India?
At the risk of staying close to topic, the president got hit by a little lead ball that went through his skull and ended up behind his eye... that's a pretty good wallop for a pitiful pocket gun.
 

SDSmlf

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Just out of my own curiosity, I put a 40 grain (by volume) charge of 4F in one of my CVA Derringers, with .440 ball on top of the charge. From the top of the ball to the muzzle I measure about 1-5/8”.
1599093077040.jpeg
 

Eterry

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Just out of my own curiosity, I put a 40 grain (by volume) charge of 4F in one of my CVA Derringers, with .440 ball on top of the charge. From the top of the ball to the muzzle I measure about 1-5/8”. View attachment 41766
As a kid a friend had a cva derringer, we got up to about 100 grains of powder before it flew from his hands and the stock broke upon landing. It sounded like a cannon, our parents came out and we both got a good talking to... but my ears were still ringing.
 
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Mike Beliveau has a film out on the YouTube’s describing the power of cap and ball barrel lengths.

In .44s, the standard size 8” barrels give about 270 ft lbs of energy. The same load in the popular (if inauthentic historically) 5.5” barrel “Sheriff” models reduce that down to just over 200 ft lbs.

However the really short 3” and under “snub nose” or “avenging angel” type guns out there, of which Pietta makes repros of, have abysmally low ballistics. Something like 60 ft lbs, about on par with a .25 Auto.

So below 5.5” the cap and balls guns plummet in velocity and energy, and for my personally I prefer the added power of an 8” barrel.
 

SDSmlf

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Chrono results are? Useless without.
Only offered the real data point of load position in barrel as answer to those who thought powder and ball would fill the barrel. Have no interest or intention of shooting 40 grains of powder in my CVA Derringers for chrono results. Found 25 grains to be quite the fireball and blast of unburned powder.

Apologize for the uselessness of my measurement and thank you for pointing that out.
 

Powderandball

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So the issue here is that black powder burn too slow, so it isn’t able to propell the bullet properly when fired from a short barrel? (Despite the result of the experiment, the penetration of the water jugs don’t prove that the 3” barrel is as powerful as the 10” barrel when loaded with 40 grains of BP - because it’s against the laws of physics so it has to be other factors involved here?)

This made me wounder if a larger caliber will compensate a short barrel? A larger caliber will give more volume inside of the bore for each inch and therefore allow the gunpowder to burn more - like it burn more in a long barrel. I wounder if it’s possible to simply calculate the ft/lbs a bullet propelled by black powder will generate, based on the volume of the bore? If the bore volume of a 8” .44 barrel is equal to the bore volume of a 3” barrel that has a bigger caliber, will the ft/lbs be equal if the bullet has the same weight? With a bigger and heavier bullet, is it possible that the 3” barrel will generate more ft/lbs than the 8” barrel?
 
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