Do Ported Handgun Barrels Blind Night Shooters?

The Truth About Guns tests the myth that a ported barrel on a revolver will blind the operator at night …

The scenario RF had in mind is a typical home defense situation. You’re in bed asleep when something goes bump in the night. You grab your bedside pistol, bad guys rush in, and you fire. What RF wanted to know was whether a top-ported barrel would vent the exhaust from the round into your line of sight and blind you, possibly slowing down follow-up shots.

[ Many thanks to Nick for emailing me the link. ]

Steve Johnson

Founder and Dictator-In-Chief of TFB. A passionate gun owner, a shooting enthusiast and totally tacti-uncool. Favorite first date location: any gun range. Steve can be contacted here.


  • MrSatyre

    Very interesting. I have a compensated Glock 23C (two slots on the top of the slide). I have never had the opportunity to do any night shooting with it, although I probably should. Seems like I’d be okay, as far as muzzle and port flash goes since I don’t have to worry about a cylinder gap, but this test only used revolvers, so it would be interesting to know how a semi-automatic would perform.

  • Okki

    Interesting article, but why didn’t they include a top ported semi-auto like the Gen 3 Glock 19C ?

    They also appeared only to have tested arms extended shooting. What about a shooting stance with the weapon pulled close to the chest? That would be a likely scenario in a home invasion case where you may want to minimize your profile


  • Davey

    The bigger problem with ported pistols and revolvers is burns. Try a speed rock with a ported pistol right next to your abdomen. I’ve seen several pictures of burned clothing and body parts. In a defensive situation, you can’t guarantee that your gun will always be fully extended at arms length.

  • Bryan S

    Even if not, it could tear you up if fired from retention. Or set you in fire, if Ive heard correctly.

  • Mike

    Only way is know is actually fire your gun at night. I suspect most will flash quite a bit ported or not. my 4 inch 357 mag Ruger has a very nice bowling ball size blast ( non ported).
    Suspect the best way would be a supressor on the end of a semi auto. Less noise and way less flash.

    What is probably going to be more of a shock is fireing a firearm inside with no ear protectors on. Man that is going to hurt and make your ears ring for ages. Never see that on movies, guys firing full auto M4s inside then just turn and have a nice chat to the guy next to them.
    Probably not something to do regularly but you should be aware of the decibels that are going to be generated and be prepared.

  • Mechman

    Having fired a gun indoors before, I can honestly say the flash would be the very LEAST of my concerns.

    • rebart

      That was at night in an unlit range? Hard to believe.

  • rebart

    There is not only muzzle flash and muzzle blast, but the Mag-na-Porting on my beautiful S&W Model 27 leaded up the front sight, ruining the bluing, and spit gas or lead shavings back in my face. On a handgun, if you can’t handle the caliber, get a a lighter caliber, but don’t ruin the gun by porting it.