Ballistics by the inch

Ammo test results for a pair of 1911s

This is the second in a series of informal blog posts about the .45 ACP/Super/.450 SMC testing sequence we conducted over the Memorial Day weekend. You can find the previous post here.

Today we’re going to see what the results are for a couple of different high-end 1911 platform guns. The first is an Ed Brown Kobra Carry (reviewed here), a Commander-sized (4.25″ barrel) single stack designed as a concealed-carry gun. We made no modifications of it for the more powerful loads. Here it is during our testing:

Ed Brown

The second is a Wilson Combat Hunter set up for the .460 Rowland cartridge with a 5.5″ barrel. Here’s my review of it, and here it is on the day of testing:

Wilson hunter

As I said with the other two posts about these tests, it’ll be a while before we have all the data crunched and the website updated, but I thought I would share some preliminary thoughts and information through a series of informal posts.

Quick note about the data below: All the ammo used, with the exception of the four * items, were part of our overall test sequence and had three shots made over the Oehler chronograph (which is a double-unit, and automatically records and then averages the two readings), representing a total of 6 data points. I’m just giving the overall averages here; the full data will be available on the website later. The four * ammunition types only include two shots/four data points through the Ed Brown Kobra Carry,  since it is a typical length for a self-defense gun. That’s because we only had one box of each of this ammo, and were wanting to get data which would be of the greatest use to the largest number of people.

Ammo                                                         Ed Brown Kobra Carry              Wilson Combat Hunter

      Buffalo Bore

.45 ACP Low Recoil Std P 185gr FMJ-FN                 798 fps / 261 ft-lbs                       791 fps / 256 ft-lbs

.45 ACP Std P 230gr FMJ-RN                                811 fps / 335 ft-lbs                       819 fps / 342 ft-lbs

.45 ACP +P 185gr JHP                                       1130 fps / 524 ft-lbs                     1139 fps / 532 ft-lbs

.45 ACP +P 230gr JHP                                        952 fps / 462 ft-lbs                       970 fps / 480 ft-lbs

.45 Super 185gr JHP                                         1257 fps / 648 ft-lbs                     1312 fps / 706 ft-lbs

.45 Super 200gr JHP                                         1175 fps / 613 ft-lbs                     1216 fps / 656 ft-lbs

.45 Super 230gr FMJ                                         1067 fps / 581 ft-lbs                     1105 fps / 623 ft-lbs

.45 Super 230gr JHP                                         1084 fps / 600 ft-lbs                     1109 fps / 627 ft-lbs

.45 Super 255gr Hard Cast                                 1061 fps / 637 ft-lbs                     1074 fps / 653 ft-lbs

      Double Tap

.45 ACP +P 160gr Barnes TAC-XP                        1121 fps / 446 ft-lbs                     1162 fps / 479 ft-lbs

.450 SMC 185gr JHP                                          1310 fps / 704 ft-lbs                     1350 fps / 748 ft-lbs

.450 SMC 185gr Bonded Defense JHP                  1254 fps / 645 ft-lbs                     1294 fps / 687 ft-lbs

.450 SMC 230gr Bonded Defense JHP                  1103 fps / 621 ft-lbs                     1108 fps / 626 ft-lbs


Critical Defense .45 ACP Std P 185gr FTX               969 fps / 385 ft-lbs                       976 fps / 391 ft-lbs

Critical Duty .45 ACP +P 220gr Flexlock                  932 fps / 424 ft-lbs                       936 fps / 427 ft-lbs


.45 Super 170gr CF                                           1249 fps / 588 ft-lbs                     1259 fps / 598 ft-lbs

.45 Super 185gr XTP JHP                                   1285 fps / 678 ft-lbs                     1339 fps / 736 ft-lbs

.45 Super 230gr GD JHP                                     1071 fps / 585 ft-lbs                    1099 fps / 616 ft-lbs

*Federal  HST .45 ACP Std P 230gr JHP                815 fps / 339 ft-lbs

*G2 Research  RIP  .45 ACP Std P 162gr JHP        961 fps / 332 ft-lbs

*LeHigh Defense .45 Super 170gr JHP               1165 fps / 512 ft-lbs

*Liberty  Civil Defense .45 ACP +P 78gr JHP         1843 fps / 588 ft-lbs

As with the other guns I’ve posted about, the general trends are pretty clear with the power rising as you go from standard pressure to +P to Super/.450 SMC, and topping out at about 750 foot-pounds of energy in a couple of loads. And it is interesting to note that the 185gr loads seem to be the “sweet spot” in terms of power across the board.

Of course, pure power is just one component for what makes a good ammunition choice. Bullet design & penetration is extremely important when considering a self-defense load. Shootability in your gun is also critical — because if you can’t recover quickly from shot to shot, then you may limit your ability in a stressful situation. Likewise, if the ammo doesn’t function reliably, or damages your gun, that is also a huge factor.

Most of the ammo we tested functioned very well in both 1911 platforms.  Interestingly, while we had experienced FTFs (failure-to-fire) with a number of the different Double-Tap rounds in both the Bobergs and the Glocks, we didn’t experience any such problems with either 1911.

The larger platform of the Wilson Combat Hunter handled the recoil very well, even from the hottest loads. Recoil was a little more noticeable with the Ed Brown, but only by a slight amount. As I noted with the Glock 21 converted for the .460 Rowland,  I was impressed that The Wilson Combat Hunter didn’t have any problems cycling even the lightest loads reliably.

Another note: we were unable to detect any damage or unusual wear to either gun, though it is possible a steady diet of loads of that power could cause some over the long term.

Lastly, I ran some .460 Rowland Buffalo Bore 230gr JHP cartridges through the Wilson Combat Hunter, since we had only had one type of ammo for that gun when we did the .460 Rowland tests.  That had been Cor-Bon Hunter 230gr JHP. The Cor-Bon tested at 1213 fps / 751 ft-lbs, and the Buffalo Bore tested at 1349 fps / 929 ft-lbs of energy.

Look for more results, images, and thoughts in the days to come.

Jim Downey

June 9, 2015 Posted by | .45 Colt, .45 Super, .450 SMC, .460 Rowland, Data, Discussion., General Procedures | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Six shooter.

Well, well, well, BBTI made it to six years of shooting fun and research!

Yup, six years ago today we posted the first iteration of Ballistics By The Inch, and included data for 13 different handgun cartridges. Since then we’ve continued to expand on that original research, including some extensive testing on how much of an effect the cylinder gap on revolvers has, what performance differences you can expect from polygonal over traditional land & groove rifling, and added another 9 cartridges, as well as going back and including a very large selection of real world guns in all the different cartridges. This blog has had 100,000+ visitors and the BBTI site itself has had something like 25 – 30 million visits (the number is vague because of changes in hosting and record-keeping over time).

We’ve had an impact. I’ve seen incoming links from all around the world, in languages I didn’t even recognize. There’s probably not a single firearms discussion group/blog/site out there which hasn’t mentioned us at some point, and our data is regularly cited in discussions about the trade-offs you make in selecting one cartridge or barrel length over another. I’ve answered countless emails asking about specific points in our data, and have been warmly thanked in return for the work we’ve done. And on more than a few occasions people have pointed out corrections which need to be made, or offered suggestions on how we could improve the site, sometimes providing the results from their own crunching of our data.

When we started, it was fairly unusual to see much solid information on ammo boxes about how the ammunition performed in actual testing. Now that information is common, and expected. Manufacturer websites regularly specify real performance data along with what kind of gun was used for that testing. And the data provided has gotten a lot more … reliable, let’s say. We’ve been contacted by both ammo and firearms manufacturers, who have asked if they can link to our data to support their claims of performance — the answer is always “yes” so long as they make it clear that our data is public and not an endorsement of their product. And we’ve never taken a dime from any of those companies, so we can keep our data unbiased.

And we’re not done. We have specific plans in the works to test at least one more new cartridge (and possibly revisit an old favorite) in 2015. I try to regularly post to the blog additional informal research, as well as sharing some fun shooting and firearms trials/reviews. There’s already been one firearms-related patent issued to a member of the BBTI team, and we’ll likely see several more to come. Because we’re curious guys, and want to share our discoveries and ideas with the world.

So, onward and upward, as the saying goes. Thanks to all who have cited us, written about us, told their friends about us. Thanks to all who have taken the time to write with questions and suggestions. And thanks to all who have donated to help offset the ongoing costs of hosting and testing — it makes a difference, and is appreciated.


Jim Downey

November 28, 2014 Posted by | .22, .223, .22WMR, .25 ACP, .30 carbine, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .460 Rowland, 10mm, 6.5 Swedish, 9mm Luger (9x19), 9mm Mak, 9mm Ultra, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., General Procedures, Links, Shotgun ballistics | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pump it up.

Last weekend I had the chance to revisit a couple of old friends, and try out something new: pump rifles. These guys:

PumpsFrom top to bottom:


If you check those links, you’ll see that I have written formal reviews for both the Uberti and the USFA previously. So I won’t spend much time talking about them.

But the little Taurus deserves a quick review. Because I found it to be a *very* nice little pump gun. The action was slick and didn’t have any problems, even though it was basically brand new. The Buckhorn sights are classic for a reason: they’re intuitive and work very well at modest distances. And even though the gun is relatively lightweight (compare the neck of the stock to the other two pump rifles above), there’s more than enough mass there to tame the recoil from the .22magnum cartridge. That means that you can get very quick and tight groups out of it even just standing and shooting it unsupported. Shooting it is just a blast, though one which doesn’t come with a lot of muzzle flash.

And the wood & finish on this gun is surprisingly good:

Taurus pump


I also want to share a couple of detail pics of the engraving on the USFA:


And the other side:


Very nice!

I *do* like pump guns.


Jim Downey


November 22, 2014 Posted by | .22WMR, .357 Magnum, .38 Special, .45 Colt | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

It’s Up!

The new Ballistics By The Inch site is now up and running! Bigger, Faster, And with More DATA! Take a look, spread the word, let us know if there are any glitches or problems.

Jim Downey

December 1, 2011 Posted by | .22, .223, .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, .460 Rowland, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), 9mm Mak, 9mm Ultra, Anecdotes, Data, Discussion., General Procedures, Links | , , , , | Leave a comment

Which caliber for . . .

. . . home defense?

I have some thoughts.

Jim Downey

February 22, 2011 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .45 Colt, Anecdotes, Discussion., Links | Leave a comment

Wiki, oh Wiki, where do you roam?

Just spent a chunk of the afternoon and early evening doing something I had been meaning to do for at least a year: adding info about BBTI to various and sundry Wikipedia pages about ballistics and cartridges. I still need to create an actual ‘page’ about BBTI, but haven’t ever done that, so . . .

Anyway, now for all the cartridges/calibers we tested there are links on Wikipedia, plus any related entries that I could think of. But if you find yourself poking around there, and come across an entry which would appropriately link/mention BBTI, please edit it to do so (or drop me a note and I’ll take care of it.) This isn’t an effort to get more hits to the BBTI site (we’re rapidly approaching 2.5 million), but just to help more people get the information that they need.

Jim Downey

April 30, 2010 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data, Discussion., Links, Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Limits of the project.

Got a note from “Neal” this morning:

I’m questioning the information on the website for the two Cimarron Colt clones in the two barrel lengths in the Corbon 200 gr. JHP +P column. It looks to me that you have two of the entries swapped. The 1094 and the 1227.

And here’s what I told him:

Well, I checked the data sheets, and it shows very clearly that the data points are for the correct guns. Those tests were conducted early in the day (10:30 in the morning), so I can’t imagine that we were tired or messed up getting things written down correctly, and the info is consistent with regards to the other ammos (or, rather, I should say the other ammos are consistent with one another).

So, it’s hard to say. It could have just been a fluke with those three rounds. This is the downside of only shooting three rounds – ideally, you’d do ten or more, to make sure you got enough data points to cover any glitches, but our funding and time wouldn’t allow doing that for all the ammo tested.

We will be doing some other testing in the future, and one of our guys owns that Peacemaker, so we should be able to run some 200gr. Corbon through it to see if we come up with some other data.

But thanks again for bringing it to my attention – it makes for an instructive point for our blog, as well.

It is a good point – there are real limits in what our data shows. Overall, I think you can get a pretty good sense of what is happening, but for any given data point there is some statistical doubt. More testing would give a greater level of confidence, but requires a greater level of effort and expenditure.

Jim Downey

August 14, 2009 Posted by | .45 Colt, Data, Discussion. | Leave a comment

Closing in on a million.

Just under a month ago I wrote about launching the major upgrade to BBTI. Since then, we’ve had 217,390 hits to the site, bringing us to just shy of one million hits (986,999) as of midnight. Given how things have been going the last couple of days, I expect we’ll break a million today or tomorrow. [edited to add: we had over 21 thousand hits on 6/27, thereby crossing a million.]

And that’s kinda cool.

So, thanks to all who passed along word of our project. In particularly, our top ten referrers have been:


I find it interesting that the top referrer (by a long shot) isn’t even a firearms-related site. That we’ve risen high in Google searches comes as very little surprise, and I’m pleased that the BBTI blog itself has such a prominent spot, just after five of the best known gun forums/blogs. That’s kinda cool, too.

Anyway, thought I would pass this bit of good news along.

Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

June 27, 2009 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data, Links | 1 Comment

Six months ago.

Six months ago we launched Ballistics By The Inch. And since then we’ve had over 770,000 hits, one major magazine article, and coverage & discussion of the site in countless gun forums & blogs around the globe. When I have checked the stats for the site, I have never failed to be impressed with just how widely it has become known.

Well, tonight we posted a major upgrade to the whole site. This includes three additional caliber ‘chop tests’, but it also includes data collected from testing over 40 additional “real world” guns – including a baker’s dozen carbine-length guns. This data has been separated out into a new series of graphs for easy comparison. All together, there are now over 150 graphs showing ballistic performance – along with all the charts giving numerical averages for each 1″ increment in barrel length for 16 different calibers. And for the true data junkies, there are downloadable files (in two formats) for the entire sequence of initial tests, and another set for the second round of testing done in April 2009.

Like the initial project, this major upgrade and revision has been a huge job – and one only made possible by a lot of work from several individuals. Yes, there were the three of us testers from the original project. But there was also the addition of a fourth tester this time around who helped us gather & operate all those ‘real world’ guns, and I would like to welcome Keith to our team. But I would especially like to thank my good lady wife for all the html coding & design for our website – both the last time and with this major revision. Quite literally, none of this would have been available without her hard work.

There will probably be minor tweaks and additions to the site in the coming months and years. We still have some ideas of data which might be of interest to the gun community. But for now we hope that you will enjoy and make use of the data provided, and help to spread the word to others who may be interested.


Jim Downey

(Cross posted to my personal blog.)

May 28, 2009 Posted by | .25 ACP, .32 ACP, .32 H&R, .327 Federal Magnum, .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .380 ACP, .40 S&W, .41 Magnum, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 10mm, 9mm Luger (9x19), Data | 3 Comments

The big list.

When we did the original round of tests, we used one or two ‘real world’ pistols for each caliber as a reference point for people to compare to the ideal platform of the T/C Encore. We thought that this would be adequate. But it quickly became evident that a lot of people wanted more data points of how ‘real world’ guns would compare at different barrel lengths.

So one of the major goals of this most recent round of testing was to revisit those calibers we had tested last year using a lot more ‘real world’ guns. In preparation for the testing, we started asking around from friends and family, until we had over 40 additional guns to test, in different lengths and quality. Here is that list:

Para LDA Carry 9 – 9mm, 3” barrel
Korth semi-auto – 9mm, 5″ barrel
Beretta 92 FS – 9mm, 4.875” barrel
Kimber Target ll 1911 – 9mm, 5” barrel
Sig P210 Target Heavy Frame – 9mm, 6” barrel
DSA TP-9 – 9mm, 6″ barrel
Beretta Cx4 Storm – 9mm, 16″ barrel
Kel Tec Sub-2000 – 9mm, 16″ barrel
Special Weapons MP5 Clone – 9mm, 16″ barrel

Infinity – .357 Sig, 6″ barrel

Bond Texas Defender – .357 Mag, 3” barrel
Colt Detective Special – .38 Special, 2.125” barrel
Smith & Wesson 627-3 – .357 Mag, 5” wo brake / 5.625” with brake
Korth revolver – .357 Mag, 5.875” barrel
Winchester Model 94AE – .357 Mag, 16” barrel
Stoeger Buntline – .357 Mag, 18” barrel

Beretta 96 Elite ll Brigadier – .40 S&W, 4 1/2” barrel
Rocky Mountain Armoury Sphinx – .40 S&W, 4 1/2” barrel
Browning Hi-Power – .40 S&W, 4 5/8” barrel
Ruger PC4 Carbine – .40 S&W, 16″ barrel

Bond Arms “Texas Defender” Derringer – .44 Mag, 3″ barrel
Smith & Wesson 629-5 Mountain Packer (ported) – .44Mag, 3” barrel
Smith & Wesson 629-5 Performance Center – .44 Mag, 4 7/8” wo brake 5 5/8” with brake
Smith & Wesson Model 629 Classic – .44 Mag 6 1/2”
Smith & Wesson Model 629 – .44 Mag, 12” barrel
Henry Golden Boy – .44 Mag, 20” barrel

Smith & Wesson Model 325PD (Airlite) – .45 ACP Revolver, 2 1/2″ barrel
Bond Texas Defender – .45 ACP, 3” barrel
Para LDA PDA – .45 ACP, 3” barrel
Beretta Model 8045 Cougar – .45 ACP, 3.625” barrel
Ed Brown 1911 – .45 ACP, 6” barrel
Group IND UZI – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel
Kahr Thompson – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel
Vector Arms Kriss Super V – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel
La France M16 – .45 ACP, 16″ barrel

Bond Derringer – .45 Colt/.410, 3 1/2” barrel
Navy Arms Schofield – .45 Colt, 3 1/2” barrel
Cimarron (Uberti) Colt – .45 Colt, 5 1/2” barrel
Cimarron (Uberti) Colt – .45 Colt, 7 1/2” barrel
Beretta Stampede Buntline Carbine – .45 Colt, 18” barrel
1892 Winchester Lever Action Rifle (reproduction) – .45 Colt, 20″ octagonal barrel

Quite a list, eh?

Jim Downey

April 23, 2009 Posted by | .357 Magnum, .357 SIG, .38 Special, .40 S&W, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 ACP, .45 Colt, 9mm Luger (9x19), Anecdotes, Data, Links | 1 Comment


OK, this is going to be a bit of a catch-all entry, where I (and I hope Jim K and Steve) will post some little comments and observations about doing the project.  A lot of this stuff you would probably find if you poke around deep enough in either the Emails or the flickr images, but it’s nice to get an individual story as well.

* * *

See the title on the site?  The tag line: “Three guys, two chronographs, and 7,000 rounds of ammo . . . ” really oughtta be “Three guys, FOUR chronographs, and 7,000 rounds of ammo . . . ”

Yeah, we killed two chronographs.  Put a bullet (a .45 colt, if memory serves) right through the forehead of the first one, which went through the one behind it.  Happened during the first day of testing in the second flight of tests.  I blogged about it that night; here’s an excerpt:

What happened was this: one of us (who shall for now remain nameless, until I can spend more time to write up the saga appropriately) was in the middle of shooting the second most powerful of the calibers we’re testing, and didn’t manage to control the gun completely when he fired the round. And it went right through both chronographs. Perfectly.

We use two chronographs, lined up one in front of the other, to be sure we’re getting good data. He hit the first one right dead center, a little high from the middle. Like a perfect shot in a movie, hitting the bad guy right between the eyes. The large bullet punched through the display, destroyed the electronics, and shattered the back of the chrono – then entered the front sensor of the second chrono, exiting out the bottom rear sensor as well.

It was spectacular. A perfect shot. I have pix I’ll be posting later.

Ah, good times, good times.  We put an armour plate (a railway tie plate) in front of the next set of chronographs from then on.  Good thing, too, that saved us probably another five or six sets of chronographs.  Live and learn.

Jim Downey

December 1, 2008 Posted by | .25 ACP, .44 Magnum, .44 Special, .45 Colt, Anecdotes | 2 Comments

.45 Colt

Here is a post pertaining to the testing and results obtained for the .45 Colt caliber.

November 26, 2008 Posted by | .45 Colt | Leave a comment



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