Revolver Cartridges versus Automatic Cartridges

The following information comes from The Book of the Pistol and Revolver by Hugh B. C. Pollard. The Book of the Pistol and Revolver is also available to purchase in print.

Table Showing Comparison of Ballistics of Smokeless Revolver Cartridges and the Same Caliber Automatic Pistol Loads
Table Showing Comparison of Ballistics of Revolver and Automatic

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These figures vary slightly according to the make of ammunition used, as the makers have slightly different loads of varying kinds of smokeless powder.

Muzzle velocities are apt to be misleading if taken as a criterion of efficiency, and the figures of loss of energy in the large-calibre automatic pistol loads when the bullet has travelled fifty yards show an excessive drop:

.455 Service revolver at 50 yards has a velocity of 714 feet per second and an energy of 300 foot pounds.
.455 Automatic pistol at 50 yards has a velocity of 680 feet per second and an energy of 230 foot pounds.
.450 Colt automatic pistol at 50 yards has a velocity of 780 feet per second and an energy of 270 foot pounds.

The smaller calibres correct this loss thus:

.380 revolver at 50 yards has a velocity of 628 feet per second and an energy of 109 foot pounds.
.380 Automatic at 50 yards has a velocity of 850 feet per second and an energy of 152 foot pounds.
.38 Automatic at 50 yards has a velocity of 1,035 feet per second and an energy of 304 foot pounds.

This would seem to give the highest value to the long .38 automatic cartridge, but in point of fact the smaller calibre and lesser diameter of the bullet lose so much “shocking power” that the .45 calibres are much more effective.

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Revolver Cartridges versus Automatic Cartridges

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