Ask the Experts: Short-Barreled Ammunition

This month, a trio of intrepid Gun World experts handles a handful of handgun queries, as well as a bonus rifle scope question just for good measure. Be sure to check out the current issue of Gun World, on sale now!


To achieve the best results with your short-barreled 9mm pistol, make sure you are using ammunition loads specifically formulated for your barrel length.

Question: I have a short-barreled 9 mm pistol. Is there any ammunition made specifically for short-barreled pistols? (Bob T., Birmingham, Alabama)


Answer: There are two problems with standard and +P ammunition in short-barreled/compact handguns. First, the shorter barrels will not consume all of the powder used in traditional loads, contributing to increased muzzle flash and a loss of velocity. Higher recoil is the second difficulty compact handgun shooters will experience.

Most major ammunition companies make loads they have specified for short-barreled/compact handguns and/or loads that should work better than others. Choose ammunition identified for short-barrel/compact handguns, and shy away from heavy bullets (usually) and +P loads to avoid recoil. Loads specifically designed for personal defense and a short-barrel handgun will occasionally use a heavier than normal bullet without an increase in recoil.

Some loads, such as the Guard Dog from Federal work well in compact handguns and for indoor defense.


D. K. Pridgen is in his twenty-fourth year of writing for the firearms industry on concealed carry, firearms and accessories, their use, and defensive training. Don’t miss his Tactical Gear column and feature article on an ATOM-ic Glock sighting system, both in this issue.


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