Is It Really Worth It To Upgrade Your Carry Gun’s Barrel?

Josh Wayner for TTAG

A little while back I was talking to a reader who happened to work at a gun store I pass through on occasion. We got on the topic of carry guns and he asked why I show so little love to companies that try to improve carry guns.

It’s true that I have been somewhat critical of consumerist trends that introduce liabilities, such as long range hunting and the fads that have driven unethical practices. He directed me towards a tricked out pocket pistol and proudly declared that I should review it as it was a clear upgrade from the factory model. I declined, but I decided to do my own testing.

I did some general research into this topic and found that the most frequently upgraded parts on carry guns are the barrel and the sights. I conducted some general and informal surveys over a few weeks and came out with these results.

The basic idea is that small guns are more difficult to fire due to their size and recoil characteristics. As far as carry guns go, we’re talking guns like the SIG P365, GLOCK G43, Smith & Wesson M&P Shield, and others of similar size. Compact guns like the P320, G19, and others are in this category, but are comparatively large.

Not all guns need upgraded sights. Most people I talked to who carried a GLOCKs swapped out the plastic standard sights for metallic ones, typically with night sight inserts. Most SIG owners were satisfied with the XRay night sights that come standard on most SIG models. M&P owners were split. Those guns come with metal sights, but not necessarily night sights.

Is it necessary to upgrade the sights on a carry gun? I don’t know for sure, but most people I talked to seemed to think that it was a needed change.

When I asked if it was important on guns with permanent, fixed sights like a J-Frame revolver, the answer I received was unilaterally “no.” When I asked why, the common answer was that they were ‘belly guns’ and don’t need sights to be effective, although some rudimentary sight was preferred.

Sights aren’t as much of a question when it comes to upgrade. If there are night sights available for your carry gun, they may not improve accuracy, but they can provide peace of mind and increase function in low light. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

I then asked why a powerful .38 Special +P or a .357 Magnum didn’t warrant upgraded sights despite the same expected usage distance as guns like the P365 or G43. I got shrugs most of the time. “They aren’t that accurate” some muttered.

While that sentiment isn’t rooted in fact, it does have a basis in practice. Most people don’t commit to mastering a 2-inch .357 with any degree of enthusiasm. That means while just fine accuracy wise, these guns never really get to shine.

Small semi-automatics are much more user-friendly, but still suffer in the accuracy department compared to their full-framed brothers just because they’re smaller and lighter with a short sight radius. This brings us to the barrel question.

Many people see it as a bonus to upgrade the barrel on a carry gun to make it ‘match grade’ or more accurate than it was when it came from the factory. Many factory barrels are considered to be of good construction, but there’s still a burgeoning market for their replacement barrels.

Is it common to wear out the barrel on a carry gun? I would dare say that few people, if any, have ever successfully worn out a pistol barrel outside of high-volume practice and competition with hot ammo.

Some competitors I know go through a pistol barrel every year and a rifle barrel every few months, but these guys are firing 50,000 to 100,000 rounds a year, which is more than many people even dry-fire their guns in a lifetime.

They typically consider a barrel worn out when it stops producing a certain degree of accuracy at a given distance. The barrel itself isn’t necessarily useless, but where it may have once shot .5-inch groups for five shots, it now shoots 2-inches at the same distance. That accuracy is fine for most people, but not for people chasing points.

Gold may not be your color, but it does stand out on a carry gun. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

If most people don’t ever wear out a handgun‘s barrel, then I postulated to my victims that people are replacing factory barrels for one of two reasons: cosmetic preference or perceived advantage.

“It looks cool” was a common response I got and that’s a valid answer considering that nobody likes ugly guns. Threaded barrels are what I consider a functional upgrade. It is nice if they’re well made, but the added capability they offer is what’s most desirable. That said threaded barrels are a fashion statement for some these days and many people prefer the look.

But how much of a difference does it really make when you replace your carry gun’s barrel? Is there a noticeable increase in accuracy? Velocity? Is the product life better than that of a factory barrel?

This is by no means an authoritative test. If I receive a positive enough response, I will look into testing more barrels and more guns, but today we have just one to look at.

The gun I’ll be using as the baseline for this project is the SIG SAUER P365 Manual Safety model. This is a fine, accurate pistol and is one of the most accurate micro compacts made today. It is easily on par with many full-size guns in terms of mechanical precision.

For a replacement barrel, I went with a True Precision match barrel for the comparison to factory. This a great barrel and I chose mine in gold because it looks cool. This color and others are available from Brownell’s.

Why not threaded? If I went that way, it wouldn’t have been a direct comparison. The threaded barrel adds some length and a bit of velocity and I wanted it to keep things as  apples-to-apples as possible.

I tested both barrels in the P365 at a distance of 15 yards for both velocity and accuracy. Velocity below is the average of ten rounds over an Oehler 35P chronograph five feet from the muzzle. Accuracy is the average of three, five-shot groups.

SIG 365 115gr V-Crown:          Factory 1080fps, .75” / True 1085fps, .75″
SIG 124gr V-Crown:                   Factory 1143fps, 1” / True 1156fps, .75″
SIG 115gr V-Crown:                   Factory 1184fps, 1.25” / True 1199fps, 1″
SIG 147gr Elite Competition:    Factory 901fps, .75” / True 886fps, 1″
Black Hills 115gr FMJ:               Factory 1079fps, 1” / True 1088fps, .8″
Black Hills 100gr HoneyBadger +P:  F 1175fps, .5” / T 1179fps, .5″
Black Hills 125gr HoneyBadger:      F 979fps, 2.2” / T 980fps, .75″
Lehigh 70gr HERO:                       Factory 1496fps .75” / True 1476fps, .5″
Lehigh 90gr XD +P:                     Factory 1310fps, 1” / True 1313fps, 1.2″
Lehigh 105gr CF:                          Factory 1093fps, .75” / True 1119fps, 1″
Lehigh 105 Max Expansion:      Factory 1050fps, .8” / True 1043fps, .75″

The SIG factory barrel average of 11 tested loads was .97-inch at 15 yards, while the True Precision barrel averaged .81-inch. I did my chronograph testing for my SIG P365 MS article after I conducted my initial range testing, meaning that the gun at the time of testing for this article already had over 2,000 rounds through it.

The ammo I used was some of the same loads I used in my original article, and for the most part there were really no significant changes across the board. A .05-inch decrease in recorded accuracy was logged, but that’s not nearly enough to be called a real change. Overall, those 2,000+ rounds did nothing to alter the accuracy of the P365 factory barrel.

The accuracy of the True Precision barrel was great, but again not enough to be called truly superior to the SIG factory barrel in this test. The overall performance was somewhat better if decimals are considered, but the difference in the averages isn’t what I would say is enough to be a real step-up.

The velocity figures weren’t enough to say that the True barrel had superior velocity characteristics. The SIG barrel has a combined velocity average of 1135 fps, while the average of the True barrel was 1138 fps, which is essentially identical.

While the barrels are close, there are some minor cosmetic and dimensional differences. (Josh Wayner for TTAG)

My conclusion here is that the two barrels are, for all practical purposes, interchangeable. The True Precision barrel didn’t outperform the SIG factory barrel in any one category as the accuracy, while it was 17% better at 15 yards, that’s still only .16-inch better, or the equivalent of just under half the width of a 9mm bullet.

I love how the True Precision barrel looks, but for a carry gun it’s just not enough of a difference to justify wear-based replacement, even after 2,000 rounds. This to me is a cosmetic upgrade at this point, but it’s a good one as, like I said, ugly guns are bad.

The choice is up to you as to whether you want to bling your gun out with a new barrel. While night sights could be called a true functional upgrade for a self-defense gun, from this not-very-scientific sample size, I can’t say the same about a new barrel.

 

 

 

comments

  1. avatar Specialist38 says:

    No.

    1. avatar Hugh Janus says:

      Bingo.

  2. avatar Jay in Florida says:

    On a subcompact or compact of which I own a few of both. Id NEVER change the barrel. The improvement is minimal. Sights absolutely to some form of night or combo of night and optical. For me a 4 pound or less no lighter then 3 pound trigger is an absolute necessity.

    1. avatar Thixotropic says:

      My experience says otherwise.

      I have almost 7K rounds through my EFK Firedragon EDM cut barrel in my Model 32 Glock. It has been re-crowned and inspected by a renown gunsmith and pronounced to be in perfect condition. A standard Glock factory barrel would be worn out by now.

      TruGlo TFO sights are the best, most visible sights on the market today. I have them on ALL of my carry guns except my 1911’s.They make an especially big difference on my G43.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        I installed Night Fission tritiums on my guns.

      2. avatar Erik Weisz says:

        The standard Glock factory barrel is the only thing Glocks have going for them at all, IMO. While EFK barrels are an excellent choice for a threaded upgrade, there is no way the stock barrel would be worn out by 7k rounds, if ever. In order to get the rest of a Glock to approach the quality of it’s barrel and make use of it’s potential, you’d need better slide to frame fitment first, which would require a metal frame, to which you may as well add a hammer, a manual safety, and a single-action/double action or at least absolutely any other trigger at all ever. 🙂

  3. avatar GS650G says:

    In a DGU you probably wont be sighting in or going for 1moa at 25yards.
    Fancy barrels and sights are not needed

  4. avatar Joatmon says:

    I wouldn’t do anything but upgrade sights personally but if someone wants to personalize their carry pistol, have at it.
    There’s a reason so many companies offer upgrades to firearms.
    Biggest thing here is that you carry a pistol. Custom or bone stock.

  5. avatar Sam I Am says:

    Given the array of available colors, should we also conclude “orange barrel, bad”?

  6. avatar Rusty - Molon Labe - Chains says:

    Plastic sights on a Glock are a must replace item which became obvious to me when I wore the top right corner into a strange rounded profile on an old G-27 I use to carry for some years. Otherwise, I keep my carry guns running stock parts since friends who upgrade their guns never seemed to gain anything from it that I could see.

    1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

      Same here. Upgraded the sights on my Glocks to metal, but otherwise all parts are stock. I only put a couple thousand rounds per year through any of them, so I don’t foresee any of the barrels ever needing replacement in my lifetime. I *certainly* don’t want to be displaying a tricked-out multi-color gun for bragging rights (I once saw a young man with a Glock so tricked out, it looked like a Lego project).

      When practicing for quick-draw self defense at 7 yards, I don’t need extreme accuracy. I only need to put rounds on target to stop the threat.

      The only reason I can think of why any non-competitor would get a spare barrel is to commit a crime with the spare, then ditch it in a lake somewhere and put the original barrel back in the gun to escape forensics. And since I certainly don’t plan on committing any crimes…ever…no need for an extra barrel for me.

  7. avatar daveinwyo says:

    Isn’t “upgrading” used as a negative by some prosecutors?
    IMO less than a five or six inch barrel is a “belly gun”.
    Unless you are a competitive shooter, most handguns used for EDC are belly guns.

    1. avatar WI Patriot says:

      “Isn’t “upgrading” used as a negative by some prosecutors?”

      Can be, just like custom handloads that are “meant to kill”…anything they can sink their teeth into, remember, most juries aren’t the most intelligent or the most informed, and that’s why they’re “handpicked”…

    2. avatar Dan W says:

      Can anyone point to an actual case where this happened?

      1. avatar Red in CO says:

        There was that one case where someone was convicted on the basis of the fact that he used a 10mm. The prosecution argued, successfully, that his use of a 10mm, being more powerful than any common police handgun (which is both true and irrelevant) was somehow proof that he acted unlawfully.

        Its hard not to envision that a similar prosecutor would not have used an upgraded barrel in a similar capacity. He eventually won his case on appeal, but only after spending years in prison

        1. avatar Big Bill says:

          Are you talking about Harold Fish?

  8. avatar WI Patriot says:

    “Is It Really Worth It To Upgrade Your Carry Gun’s Barrel?”

    Nah…”minute of center mass” is close enough for me…

    1. avatar Matt(formerly texas) says:

      Minute of bad guy.

  9. avatar Gadsden Flag says:

    Most of the time factory sights are fine, but I prefer night sights. I have two recently acquired 1911s awaiting that upgrade. I only have one pistol, a 1911 with match grade barrel and bushing. It is probably my most accurate semi-auto, but everything about this pistol is custom. Match grade barrels in sub-compact pistols? I think it’s money better spent on ammo. But then again, wanting something is reason enough to buy it.

    1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

      See my post below on the dangers of using and relying on night sights.

  10. avatar tdiinva says:

    Modern firearms are better than you are me right out of the box. Since we are the weak link in the system any upgrade to the trigger sights or barrel will not lead to a significant improvement in accuracy

    1. avatar Red in CO says:

      Agreed. Nearly everyone would do better spending that money on more practice ammo rather than a new barrel

  11. avatar Dan says:

    Yeah if you want to look cool and not poor.

  12. avatar Hank says:

    Get a 1911. Never have to upgrade anything again. You’re welcome.

    1. avatar That Jason says:

      Except the barrel.
      And the bushing.
      And a nice trigger.
      And upgrade the recoil rod.
      Swap for some power springs.
      Better grips.
      Bob that hammer.
      Swiss cheese (skeletonize) the trigger.
      And get some better magazines.
      Well, just keep the frame, polish it, and spend 10 years slowly upgrading all the parts to Wilson Combat or Baer stuff.

      But then, never upgrade it, because the 1911 is perfect.

      And don’t ask me how I upgraded mine. 😀

    2. avatar Randy Jones says:

      I agree with Hank. I have a Rock Island bought at auction for under $500. I have a Kimber bought at gun shop discounted to $900. I have a couple others 1911s priced somewhere in between and one foreign made for a military for under $300. All triggers break between 4 and 5.5 pounds. All will hit clay pigeons at 20 yards. The sights vary but all are more than adequate for self-defense. Over all, the 1911 is a good all around piece, and while the Rock doesn’t look as nice as the Kimber it is every bit as reliable and accurate.

      But then most modern made guns are adequate for self-defense distances – sub 20 yards.

  13. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    If you want to experience the thrill of a handgun blowing up in you face an upgraded barrel is the one that will give this thrill to you. It can and does fire out of battery. Doubt my word, take a primed case without powder or bullet and let the slide run “almost” closed and then pull the trigger. It will occasionally fire right off. Not every time depending on how far the slide is still open and mommy depending on the sensitivity and the hardness of the primer but yes it does happen. Just be glad you did not try it with a loaded round unless you want to blow yourself up. All this means that a dirty pistel that has its slide not fully close when shooting it could just result in it going ATOMIC on you.

    1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

      Plagiarism is t he most sincere form of flattery fake Vlad. But only a fake Vlad would have to plagiarize anyway.

      I might add you even managed to screw up my original post by leaving half of it out showing you never comprehended any of it. Reading and writing composition you obvious flunked assuming you ever go that far in your education

      1. avatar Guesty McGuesterson says:

        That’s it…Vlad’s finally snapped and talking to the voices in his head.

        Grab the popcorn and enjoy the show. Much more entertaining than Pg2.

        1. avatar Specialist38 says:

          You know Vlad Teepees is actually an AI Bot that writes and post on this site.

          Not a real person… no need to reply.

          It just trigger another random post from the Bot.

  14. avatar S.Crock says:

    If the trigger, ergonomics, and sights work well for you then any benefit from an upgraded barrel on a carry gun will be inconsequential.

  15. avatar John Boch says:

    As the first post nailed it, I’ll concur. No.

    Wear-based replacement? At 2,000 rounds? LOL! Come see us after you have 20,000 rounds through that pistol barrel. And it’ll probably still do just fine. I know my first Beretta 92 did. I still kick myself for wasting all that ammo learning bad habits before I learned how to shoot.

    If we’re talking self-defense or casual competition, we’re talking minute of bad guy, not minute of angle accuracy needed.

    Spend that $200 towards training and you’ll be far better off than having a blingy pistol.

    John

  16. avatar Mark H says:

    I have a hard time believing that replacement barrels on high on the list.

    Sight – you bet. Lots of factory sights are terrible
    Trigger Assembly or parts – lots of aftermarket support to fix terrible factory triggers, especially on striker fired guns.

    I would think barrels would be down below replacing the grips.

  17. avatar John Galt says:

    Unless you have a Glock factory barrel and want to shoot lead

    1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

      See my post below on the Glock “lead myth”. Read the details and my use of lead bullets in Glocks below.

      1. avatar MADDMAXX says:

        Vlad: As much as I respect your intellect and look forward to your advice on a daily basis I’m afraid I’m going to pass on this one… I have changed the barrel on MY Glock G29 because I like the feel and performance of the 220 grain hard cast lead round AND those IDIOTS at Glock evidently failed to partake of YOUR vast knowledge of ALL things period. So until they fall in line with your vast expertese and they continue to recommend that I NOT run lead ammo through their barrel I must assume that as the manufacturer thay probably know what they are talking about (or at least have a reason to believe they know)… I also replaced the sights, the backplate and installed a guiderod laser all of which I’m sure you must take issue with, but hey it’s my fuckin gun and if I want to powdercoat it dayglo green I can do that too…

        1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

          You threw a lot of money down the drain because you never bothered to do any testing yourself. I have fired thousands of rounds out of two of my 9mm Glocks and at one time I owned one of the very first .45 acp Glocks that hit the market. It worked just fine with cast bullets properly sized and was quite accurate. But hey buy what you want the after market people stay in business because people like you are not smart enough to do any testing on your own. Buy the way genius I have been shooting lead out of my two 9mm Glocks since the 1980’s and no I did not disappear in a red puff of mist nor have my guns ever went atomic on me either and ditto for a Wather P99 which also has very shallow grooved rifling. If I remember correctly it too has polygonal rifling.

        2. avatar MADDMAXX says:

          You are absolutely correct, I have never fired a lead round through the factory barrel of my Glock 29 except for the 60 that I ran through it after I pushed 100 fmj 185 grain rounds to kind of break it in… After that I replaced the barrel with my very own money (not yours) which, if I’m not mistaken, is my absolute prerogative and I don’t need you or anyone else telling me how I should or should not spend it.. I have been told what ammo I need to buy, what guns I have pissed away MY money on and now you presume to inform me that I have thrown away even more of my money because I choose to replace a couple of parts on MY gun. It’s not like I sent it out to be gold plated and custom ingraved, the fucking barrel cost less than $200.00, which is not going to keep me awake nights nor will it deprive me of any of the creature comforts to which I have become accustomed. As far as your experiences with your “9MMs”, you may or may not know this but there s a VAST difference between a 9MM and ONE of the most powerful handguns on the market today, that being the 10MM which even the FBI had to pass on because a bunch of girlymen cried about the gun kicking their asses.. And just to give you cause to bunch your panties up a little bit tighter I also realized tighter groups at 10, 25 and 50 yards with the new barrel…..

      2. avatar Dan W says:

        Did you do a lot of inhaling lead fumes?

        1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

          Waiting to hear Vlad’s Dad tell us the story of his son’s fume sniffing…

        2. avatar Southern Cross says:

          Vlad “guns for me and not for thee” Tepes has spoken.

  18. avatar former water walker says:

    Ehhh…my only “upgrade” on my lowly Taurus 709 is a Hougue Handall Jr. which I trimmed down. Top finisher in Guns & Ammo 9mm shootout…I may get night sites but I carry a flashlight😎

  19. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

    quote—————-They typically consider a barrel worn out when it stops producing a certain degree of accuracy at a given distance. The barrel itself isn’t necessarily useless, but where it may have once shot .5-inch groups for five shots, it now shoots 2-inches at the same distance. That accuracy is fine for most people, but not for people chasing points.———–quote

    I have yet to see a pistol barrel produce 1/2 inch groups at 25 yards. And the article was about replacement pistol barrels not rifle barrels which I agree are capable of such accuracy.

    quote———————–While night sights could be called a true functional upgrade for a self-defense gun, from this not-very-scientific sample size, I can’t say the same about a new barrel.—————-quote

    Night sights are perhaps the most misunderstood of all accessories and the most dangerous to use. And I might add the biggest waste of money as they start to lose half their light at about 5 years of use.

    Example: A paranoid low I.Q. Cop heard a noise in his kitchen in the middle of the night. Our genius cop then goes into the kitchen without a flashlight and does not turn on any lights either. His gun has night sights on it. He fires at a shadow and ends up killing his own son who had come home early from college. It must be understood that in order to see night sights it must be so dark as to make it almost impossible to identify your target before you pull the trigger.

    I might add night sights are only good for one shot as the first shot will blind you making follow up shots not much of probability.

    I might add also that in a real gun fight unless the shooter is used to fast shooting and practices with thousand of rounds of ammo a year the shooter usually just points and shoots. Real life shoot outs between cops and bad guys proved that decades ago, its one of the reasons cops used fixed sights for years as they never used them in real combat.

    I remember several years ago a cop in downtown Columbus, Ohio shot it out on the street with a guy he stopped. Both men were only a few feet apart and both emptied their guns. The cop missed every one of his shots and the bad guy hit him several times in his bullet proof vest. The bad guy then calmly jumped into his truck and sped away and was not found for months.

    Now lets take a look at another reason people buy after market barrels. This is something I am surprised the Author did not mention. The no nothing gun writer myth is that guns like the Glock that use very shallow rifling often polygonal rifling will be dangerous and inaccurate to fire when using lead bullets. It does void the manufactures warranty as well but even hand loads using jacketed ammo will void the warranty of most guns too. The real truth is your throwing your money down the drain as all of the polygonal barrels I have tested shot just fine with properly sized bullets that did not lead much and many times out shot jacketed loads. Just last week I tested out a Walther, A Mauser and a Beretta , all were .32 acp automatics and all shot dismal groups with jacketed bullets but my cast bullet loads surprised even me and I have been at this sort of thing now well over 50 years. The groups all the guns shot were phenomenal. No none of the guns had the very shallow polygonal rifling but it does prove that cast bullets can be very accurate. I might add my Glocks shoot cast bullets with the factory barrels just fine and they lead actually less than some of my old fashioned deep groove rifled pistol barrels. Just remember that any gun with any type of rifling will indeed blow up if you let lead accumulate in the bore.

    Just remember its not the base of the lead bullet that causes the most leading rather its an undersized bullet that permits gas to escape around the sides of the bullet that melts it as it travels down the bore. A slightly oversize bullet will cut leading down to the minimum and produce outstanding groups and let your barrel last much longer before wearing out than using jacketed bullets. I have gone as much as 4 thousandths over bore size assuming your chamber will accept this large a size bullet. But that is another story for another day.

    1. avatar Hank says:

      @Michael Moore OOps I mean vlad the homo: You’re likely so fat you have yet to make it out of your basement this year to have touched a gun.

    2. avatar Dude says:

      “It must be understood that in order to see night sights it must be so dark as to make it almost impossible to identify your target before you pull the trigger.”
      This isn’t true. You can be standing in a dark area and the target can be standing in a lit area. In this situation, you would see the tritium when you wouldn’t see regular white dots. A situation like this could be you standing in a dark bedroom looking out into the living room that has a light on. It doesn’t matter though because you could still see the outline of your non night sights. Also, if the area you’re looking into is very bright, you won’t notice those night sights either, just the outline. I agree that night sights aren’t necessary. Practice shooting in low light conditions using the outline of the sights.

      I don’t know if you made up the story about the cop, but I know a very similar story of a dumb cop that shot his daughter sneaking back into the house in the middle of the night. She lived. That had nothing to do with night sights, it had to do with knowing your target.

      1. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

        The story about the cop shooting his son was published in the now defunct Gun Week News paper some years ago. I morn the passing of this excellent newspaper that for years came every week and was chocked full of useful information in regards to guns , hunting and target shooting.

      2. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

        I would suggest you try a pistol with no night sights. Just for fun I flipped off the light switch after reading your story and was sitting in the dark. I deliberately used a pistol that is difficult to see the sights even in good light, a small Beretta .25 acp auto pistol , now those are small sights and no they are not painted white either. I aimed the little Beretta down the hallway while sitting in the darkened room and the end of the hall way was lite. I had no trouble seeing the sights at all. So here again I did not need night sights at all at least in that situation you refereed to as needing night sights.

        1. avatar Dude says:

          Just tried it. Standing in the dark bedroom looking into the living which was only lit by the kitchen beyond it. I couldn’t make out the dots at all on fairly good sized sights. I could still make out the outline of the sights, but it was difficult if pointed toward a dark object, and it took a little longer to align the sights. I used a pistol with night sights and was able to align the sights faster. Maybe it could make a difference, maybe not. I’m able to see the outline of the non night sights immediately if I flip on the weapon mounted light.

    3. avatar MADDMAXX says:

      “I might add also that in a real gun fight unless the shooter is used to fast shooting and practices with thousand of rounds of ammo a year the shooter usually just points and shoots.”

      VLAD: Really? How many gun fights have YOU actually participated in?

  20. avatar Broke_It says:

    I’m guilty of swapping the backplates on my Glocks. I may have also bejeweled one. Performance from these upgrades was the same as stock.

    1. avatar jonndoe says:

      Please tell me you were joking about vagazzling a Glock.
      I suppose the next thing you’ll say Is you told the guy cereakoeting you’re gun to ad pink glitter to the mix.

      1. avatar I Haz A Question says:

        Don’t knock it. I custom built a pink Glock for my wife at her request. Cerakote calls the color “Prison Pink” on their swatch panel. Swapped out the controls for pink, too (slide release, mag release). Pink on black looks good in a holster on her hip.

        Turned out really nice, and one of the female instructors at our most recent class complimented my wife on her gun. Made my wife smile, so it was worth it to me.

      2. avatar Broke_It says:

        Yup, and I’ll do it again. Somebody better stop me. That’s what GVRO’s are for right? To protect innocent guns from cosmetic violence? In all seriousness tho, it’s a Glock, it can’t really get any uglier.

  21. avatar Ark says:

    98% of shooters in the US, myself included, cannot shoot well enough to see a tangible benefit from an aftermarket pistol barrel.

    It’s like putting drag slicks on your Honda grocery getter. If you weren’t already spinning your tires every time you left a stoplight, you’re not going to get any benefit.

    Go practice twice a week, shoot USPSA twice a month, and do 20-40 hours a year of professional pistol instruction for the next ten years or so and then we can talk about changing barrels on your carry gun.

  22. avatar Richard Steven Hack says:

    I can see being concerned about accuracy at longer distances. Remember the famous movie shoot-out between Lee Van Cleef and Clint Eastwood?

    You’re carrying a firearm for an outlier event in the first place. So you might as well be concerned about outlier events such as requiring more than six rounds in a conflict, and having to engage an attacker at longer distances than the FBI “statistics” show. And if you’re someone who *does* train regularly, i.e., weekly or even more with 100-500 rounds fired per session, or 5,000-25,000 or more rounds a year, maybe barrel wear could affect longer range accuracy.

    Just depends on how paranoid you want to be. It should be a decision based on what you want to be prepared for and how prepared you are training to be.

    Once again, these are not “either/or” situations and they shouldn’t be treated as such as far too many people – especially firearms writers – tend to do.

  23. avatar Will Teasle says:

    Personally, I could care less about night sights. When we qualify at close range, once that first muzzle flash happens, I end up resorting to pointing; which is what I would do when the SHTF. You’re not gonna sit there and try and use sights. If you’re that far away, you could create distance and then you can get outta there.

    1. avatar Don from CT says:

      I agree 100%. With a bit of practice, you can be acceptably accurate and very fast out to 30ish feet by simply learning to shoot instinctively/reflexively. a/k/a point shooting.

      I’d never have believed it until I started actually practicing unsighted shooting. in my not so humble opinion, night sights are pointless. One might be able to make the point that a LEO might need to make a 75 foot OFFENSIVE shot at night. But for the majority of us, unless the aggressor is armed with a rifle, justifying a 75 foot shot would be quite difficult.

  24. avatar GEORGE BILL says:

    I put a front night sight on all of my glocks because it costs 40 bucks or so, and I ca see the front sight. I only need to see the front sight at 25 foot distances in order to hit the target where I am aiming. It helps having 4+ decades of experience, but the rear sight is usually un necessary when split seconds count, or any sights most times.
    A light like an Olight mini, is however essential to see what you are shooting at when it’s dark.

    1. avatar Don from CT says:

      psst George. At 25 ft, you don’t need to even see the front sight. After practicing instinctive shooting for the last couple of years, I can hit anything at defensive distances with no reference to my sights.

      Night sights are dumb. If its too dark to see the sights, its too dark to identify the target. Buy a gun mounted light. When you trigger the light, shoot to the center of the light and you will hit your target.

      My defensive guns wear fiber optic sights for maximum glow in the daytime. At night, the gun mounted light or a handheld flashlight will provide all I need for shots beyond 25 ft. Within 25 ft I dont’ need any sights at all.

  25. avatar ChanceMcCall says:

    If I separate belt guns from concealed carry guns I would have different answers.

    The only thing I would consider on a concealed carry gun, other than a 1911, would be trigger work and I likely would have that done. The “newer”, more expensive, 1911s likely don’t need much, but cheaper or older ones might.

    Belt guns are a different matter.

    1. avatar Sam I Am says:

      “Belt guns are a different matter.”

      You gots belt-fed guns? Wow. How kewel is that? Any pictures you can share here?

      1. avatar ChanceMcCall says:

        >>Sam I Am says:
        August 28, 2019 at 17:50
        “Belt guns are a different matter.”

        You gots belt-fed guns? Wow. How kewel is that? Any pictures you can share here?<<

        Good joke. Of course I am talking about a firearm normally open carried on a duty belt, cowboy rig, etc.

        While most, but not all, concealed carry is intended to be defensive at very close ranges, the mission of most open carried firearms often requires accuracy at 25-50 yards. The change of potential mission changes the need for better sights and other items.

  26. avatar Will says:

    Bought my first Sig/Browning in 1978. I have purchased four more and none of them really shot well new. After a few thousand they are better. I Bought my last factory cartridges in 78. Sierra, Winchester Silver Tip were most accurate that I found in the 80’s. Now we have company’s like Cutting Edge, Lehigh and Cutting Edge bullets are well just fantastic. Very Pricey, but if you have a good target gun try them if bullseye and grouping are desired.

  27. avatar Don from CT says:

    Simply put. Anyone who “upgrades” or replaces a factory barrel in a carry gun is acting stupidly.

    Why??

    Because any “drop in” barrel is going to be less reliable than the OEM barrel. It may be a smidge more accurate, but it will definitely be less reliable. Psst. reliability is more important than accuracy in a carry gun.

    To defend yourself you need to be able to hit a pie plate sized target at a distance of roughly 20 ft or less. The difference between a 1 MOA gun and a 5 MOA gun is inconsequential. (1/5 inch vs 1 inch group).

    But reliability always matters.

    I have a Glock 35 with a top of the line KKM 9mm conversion barrel. I shoot it competitively. My wife shoots a Glock 34.

    Before every major match, I “plonk test” my reloads first in my KKM barrel. Some fail. But not surprisingly many of the failed rounds from the KKM barrel work perfectly fine in the Glock barrel of my wife’s 34. Why?? Because the Glock barrel is optimized for reliability, not accuracy. Its chamber is looser. Its leade deeper.

    Bottom line. You are a bling chasing fool if you use an aftermarket barrel in any quality handgun that you intend to carry for self defense.

    Sorry. But that’s idiotic.

    1. avatar Mark H says:

      Same is true for my Kimber vs. my Colt. The Kimber has a match cut chamber (min spec) and the Colt is an old loose whore that will swallow anything. Finally ended up buying a Lee Factory Crimp Die which I use to post size for the Kimber.

  28. avatar GARY says:

    I PURCHASED A USE GLOCK 27 FROM A GUY WHO LET IT GO CHEAP. HE WAS A GAY HAIRDRESSER AND BOUGHT IT FOR PROTECTION. HE HAD TROUBLE HANDLING THE RECOIL OF A 40 S&W.
    I PURCHASED A LONE WOLF CONVERSION BARREL FOR IT AND A BUNCH OF 9 MM MAGS AND HAVE BEEN SHOOTING IT FOR 7 YEARS NOW. I SOMETIMES SWITCH IT OVER TO 40 BUT SINCE IT IS A BIT MORE EXPENSIVE THAN 9 MM I SHOOT MOSTLY 9 MM.
    I SHOOT ABOUT 300 ROUNDS A WEEK SO AMMO CAN GET PRICEY. I USUALLY HAVE ABOUT 500 ROUNDS OF 40 AND 2000 OF 9 IN MY LARDER. IT’S SOMETHING I DON’T TELL MY WIFE AS SHE WOULD BE ANGRY. WHAT SHE DOES NOT KNOW CAN’T HURT ME!

    1. avatar Don from CT says:

      Cap lock??

  29. avatar Mike H in WA says:

    Virtually every single handgun on the market right now for concealed carry is minute of bad guy accurate. If you can’t hit center mass at 7-10 yards (which is probably the outside range of most DGU’s), then the problem probably isn’t the barrel… it’s you. The money you’d spend on a match grade barrel would probably be better spent on ammo and range time, and a good, comfy holster.

  30. avatar Gideon Rockwell says:

    Short barreled guns are more accurate than most people think. I have played around at the range with a 2 1/2″ 19 and a three inch 686 out to 50 yards and did pretty good on steel targets. I have a 2 1/4 inch SP101 I had an XS Systems Big Dot Tritium front blade installed on and it does great out to 25 yards which is the longest shot I would get in the places I normally carry it. I also carry a little North American 22 mag in my right front pocket all the time. I have fired it out to 25 yards and get consistent center of head shots with it on IPCS Targets. Little guns are just like big guns their are limited only by how much you practice with them.

    1. avatar tdiinva says:

      Now try the same experiment while you and/or the target is moving.

    2. avatar Vlad Tepes says:

      Year ago machine rest tests proved that shorter barreled hand guns out shot longer barreled handguns. The problem is once you take them out of a machine rest and put them in a human hand the lighter weight and shorter sighting radius and louder muzzle blast and recoil make them less accurate than long barreled hand guns.

      1. avatar Don from CT says:

        Yes, the terms are mechanical accuracy and practical accuracy.

        Short barreled guns have more mechanical accuracy because the barrel being short will flex less.

        If you are using a telescopic sight on a rifle and shooting within the supersonic range of the round, this is fine.

        If you are shooting a handgun with iron sights, the longer bbl means a longer sight radius. The longer bbl also means recoil is mitigated and is more of a push backwards than a flip up.

        But this is irrelevant. Because a replacement barrel that’s a half inch longer than stock will make zero difference.

        Bottom line. Replacement barrels in a defensive handgun, unless its done to support a compensator, are man jewelry.

  31. avatar Charles Cody says:

    Well done test without bias, and much appreciated. I wonder how accuracy could be improved with the threaded barrel, which is a bit longer? I assume it would be improved enough to warrant the expense if accuracy was the main goal. But realistically it would not make a difference at “FBI-considered” legal distances of about 21 feet. And longer barrels begin to defeat the overall goal of concealment.

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