Pistol vs Carbine differences ammunition performance, and it is enough to really matter?
It is not feasible to always carry a carbine or rifle as a defensive weapon. Many prefer a pistol for day to day carry and understandably so. Is it worth the extra investment to have a carbine chambered in a handgun caliber for home defense or a “truck gun”?
I have received, as test samples, a Hi Point 916 C9 pistol chambered in 9mm Luger as well as a Hi Point 995TS carbine chambered in 9mm Luger. So I figured I would take some of the better performing rounds from the 9mm Luger ballistic test and make the comparison. Adding in the CZ 75B Omega as another 9mm pistol with a somewhat longer barrel than the C9. You can read more on the 9mm Luger ballistic test in this link.
Of course we all know the benefits of a handgun, relatively small and easy to carry/conceal but with that size comes the drawback of lessened energy even when comparing a pistol to a carbine in the same caliber. With the longer barrel the bullet has more time in the bore allowing the propellent, as it detonates and produces gas, to provide continued acceleration of the bullet.
This is a pretty straight forward experiment using a selection of factory defensive rounds with known performance shot over the chronograph to track the feet per second difference and into ballistic gel to illustrate what that change in velocity equates to. Since this is primarily a defensive experiment I opted to shoot the ballistic gel with the 3 layers of cloth over the end. The cloth is similar to khaki work pants.
Please click on the chart for a larger version.
As expected there was a small velocity gain from the Hi Point C9 to the CZ 75B but also there was a substantial velocity gain when fired from the Hi Point 995TS carbine. That velocity gain equated to additional expansion and a little less penetration.
Here are the rounds dug from the gel as well as one unfired for comparison. The expanded bullet on the left is from the C9 and the one on the right is from the 996TS. I did not include the expanded round from the CZ as it was the basically the same as from the C9
As you can see a given round does gain velocity and expansion from the longer barrel (as expected). This may or may not be a good thing depending on what you are looking for. Due to the increased expansion, penetration was lessened a bit due to the bullet offering a larger surface area and thus more resistance through the medium. However, with full metal jackets there is a bit of a different story as the velocity is also increased but I was not able to measure penetration as the rounds penetrated both gel blocks. I believe this is a good enough reason to have a carbine for home defense but does not show such a gain to discount a handgun. Now I realize there are many more quality defensive rounds in 9mm Luger but these three represent a great cross section from the Critical Defense, to the jacketed hollow point, to the Guard Dog.