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Thread: New Article on Barrel length

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    Default New Article on Barrel length

    Here is my new article on AmmoGuide entitled "Is There a Magical Barrel Length for Rifles?" Hope you enjoy the short read.
    http://ammoguide.com/?article=mhsp68/magical
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    Really interesting. Just wish I could have read the whole article. Good one beartooth and thanks.

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    Quote Originally Posted by redale View Post
    Really interesting. Just wish I could have read the whole article. Good one beartooth and thanks.

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    I'm interested in the following quote:
    "Once you find this load for your specific bullet weight and powder charge that causes the wave to move at the right speed, for the wave to get back again to the chamber end of the barrel, and the bullet leaves the muzzle at that moment - then barrel length does not matter."

    I'm a little skeptical this is true. There has to be some effect on accuracy as you change barrel length.
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    Quote Originally Posted by martentrapper View Post
    I'm interested in the following quote:
    "Once you find this load for your specific bullet weight and powder charge that causes the wave to move at the right speed, for the wave to get back again to the chamber end of the barrel, and the bullet leaves the muzzle at that moment - then barrel length does not matter."

    I'm a little skeptical this is true. There has to be some effect on accuracy as you change barrel length.
    You missed the point. If you have a load that causes the bullet to exit a 20 inch barrel when the shock wave is at the receiver end of the barrel you will have more consistency in accuracy due to less turmoil at the muzzle end of the barrel. Now this same load would more than likely not work as well in a 24" barrel due to the fact that the shock wave travels faster in the shorter barrel so the timing of the bullet exiting and the shock wave being at the receiver end in the 24" barrel would be different than in the 20". So the barrel length does not matter, only the load that you find that gets the timing right. Whether I have a 20" barrel or a 24" barrel I can find an accurate load through load development and it is not dependent on some suppose one length barrel fits all, because accuracy is dependent on the load I am using for whatever barrel length I am stuck with by the manufacture.
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    I just read an article by a gunsmith who does a lot of work with Encores, who said the 28" factory barrels have been a disaster from an accuracy standpoint, and have been recently discontinued. He does a lot of trouble shooting of these barrels, and has found that cutting them back to 23 inches and recrowning has been something of a "sweetspot" as far as length goes for accuracy.

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    Quote Originally Posted by drow View Post
    I just read an article by a gunsmith who does a lot of work with Encores, who said the 28" factory barrels have been a disaster from an accuracy standpoint, and have been recently discontinued. He does a lot of trouble shooting of these barrels, and has found that cutting them back to 23 inches and recrowning has been something of a "sweetspot" as far as length goes for accuracy.
    Iím sure you are correct but I suspect the reason is most shooters buy factory ammo. Factory ammo is one-size-fits some, they develop it to work acceptably in a wide range of guns so it seldom works well in very many guns . . . but it does match up well with some. Iíd bet that 28Ē could be a tack driver with a little load development done just for it at the reloading bench.

    Iíve taken in many guns said to be complete duds and Iím yet to find one I couldnít make shoot. Usually all that they need is ammo they like, sometimes they need bedding, cleaning, crowning, or other simple repair but most just need some ammo development. The longer the barrel the more it will whip, the more room and time for something to act funny, the more picky it will likely be about ammo.
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    The more you chop your barrel the less velocity you are going to have as well, which will affect downrange performance. If all you're shooting at is paper then it doesn't really matter. If you're shooting at critters then it matters. I would worry about velocity first if I'm looking for a long range shooter and then worry about the vibrations regarding length of barrel. It's too easy to change the vibrations with a little bedding or pressure on the barrel in the right spot. Changing a barrel just for the length of it is a much more pricey solution. I agree with the OP that there is no "magic barrel length", but I'd take a 26" barrel over a 20 or 22" anyday for higher velocity. I'll figure out the vibration piece during load development and ladder testing.
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    What you and Andy say is true, but still, a shorter barrel is a stiffer barrel, and a stiffer barrel is a more accurate barrel.

    If I had to choose between an extra 100 fps and an extra 1/2 MOA in accuracy for long range shooting, I think I'd take the 1/2 minute every time. Blonde or brunette . . . each to his own poison!

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    Or, you could have the best of both worlds and have a 26" barrel that shoots sub-MOA after load development and ladder testing.
    "...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe...Horrid mischief would ensue were the good deprived of the use of them." -Thomas Paine

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    I think I would take a proven load and good shooter over all that which was stated above. All my rifles are 24 inches or less and nothing on the other end seems to care the +/- of all of it. I will stay to the topic in that my shorter tubes seem to hold better. I do have a 20 inch .223 that is scary if I am holding like I should be.

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    I'm not saying there is anything wrong with a short tube. I have an AR with a 16" barrel that my 6 year old can drive tacks with. I just think there are a lot more things that affect accuracy than the length of the barrel that can be worked out with load development.
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    Quote Originally Posted by ADfields View Post
    Iíve taken in many guns said to be complete duds and Iím yet to find one I couldnít make shoot. Usually all that they need is ammo they like, sometimes they need bedding, cleaning, crowning, or other simple repair but most just need some ammo development. The longer the barrel the more it will whip, the more room and time for something to act funny, the more picky it will likely be about ammo.
    I agree Andy. I haven't worked on a single rifle that didn't end up shooting tighter than 3/4" groups at 100 yards right of the shelf. A little careful load tuning and bingo, they shoot. Sometimes it requires a little more effort to find the sweat load.

    High dollar rifles with rigid stocks, bedding, triggers, crowning, precision machining and blue printed components are just easier to tune.

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    Quote Originally Posted by AKHunterNP View Post
    The more you chop your barrel the less velocity you are going to have as well, which will affect downrange performance. If all you're shooting at is paper then it doesn't really matter. If you're shooting at critters then it matters. I would worry about velocity first if I'm looking for a long range shooter and then worry about the vibrations regarding length of barrel. It's too easy to change the vibrations with a little bedding or pressure on the barrel in the right spot. Changing a barrel just for the length of it is a much more pricey solution. I agree with the OP that there is no "magic barrel length", but I'd take a 26" barrel over a 20 or 22" anyday for higher velocity. I'll figure out the vibration piece during load development and ladder testing.
    I agree, totally.

    It seems pointless to load HOT to squeeze the last fps, which is common practice, and then say that with a shorter barrel, velocity doesn't matter.

    Accuracy depends on the rifle/gun and the load. I've yet to see any convincing proof that a shorter barrel, is inherently more accurate.

    There are some disadvantages in having a short barrel too. More muzzle blast, closer to your earballs is a beeg one for me. It makes the recoil seem worse, and it is some worse, because the weight is less.

    I gained 200 fps with the same loads, going from 20Ē to 26Ē. That is huge difference in velocity, at the same, or nearly the same, pressure levels.

    For example, add 100 or 200 fps to a 280, and see how the ballistics compare to a 7mm Mag.

    Also, some cartridges need a longer barrel to produce the higher performance theyíre designed for. And, any modern high pressure cartridge can benefit from a longer barrel.

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    Smitty,

    Flash can be tuned out with proper powder selection. My 20" .308 shoots 2595fps with a 175gr VLD and doesn't have flash. My cousins 300WM flashed with RL19 so I worked up a load with RL17 and the flash is gone.

    If your gaining velocity by shooting the same load in a longer barrel then your load isn't optimized in the shorter barrel rifle. If it's factory ammo then it makes since because they load for longer barreled rifles. If they loaded for short barreled rifles their loads would be to hot in the longer tubes.

    As far as no proof for shorter barrels being more accurate goes, read the link. I attended this guys class and witnessed them cutting barrels. McMillan uses the same range and I shoot there often.

    http://www.sniperschool.com/sniper-rifle-barrel-length/

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    Quote Originally Posted by marshall View Post
    Smitty,

    Flash can be tuned out with proper powder selection. My 20" .308 shoots 2595fps with a 175gr VLD and doesn't have flash. My cousins 300WM flashed with RL19 so I worked up a load with RL17 and the flash is gone.

    If your gaining velocity by shooting the same load in a longer barrel then your load isn't optimized in the shorter barrel rifle. If it's factory ammo then it makes since because they load for longer barreled rifles. If they loaded for short barreled rifles their loads would be to hot in the longer tubes.

    As far as no proof for shorter barrels being more accurate goes, read the link. I attended this guys class and witnessed them cutting barrels. McMillan uses the same range and I shoot there often.

    http://www.sniperschool.com/sniper-rifle-barrel-length/
    Muzzle blast is more than "flash". It's also NOISE. (Shrill, ear damaging, noise.)

    Something that would be very noticable with a 308, and an 18" barrel.

    In my case, I'm convinced that I gained velocity because of the longer barrel. Granted, the load can make some difference, but when you add 6" of barrel, I think you'd be hard pressed to find more velocity from the shorter 20" barrel, with any load. Even if your pressure was much higher in a load "optimized" for it.

    I'm notta scientist, or that much of an experimenter, either. But, I know that people often assign causes and reasons for their results, that are not correct, so while your theories are interesting, I hafta say I'm skeptical.

    Thanks for the information, though, and I'll file it for a cupla years and see if it becomes accepted. Or, if it falls by the way, like so many other ballistics ideas.

    As to accuracy, I'm sure a longer barrel can be just as accurate as a shorter one, but even if that were not the case, I'd still prefer the longer barrel for other reasons.

    Thanks again
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    Quote Originally Posted by beartooth View Post
    Here is my new article on AmmoGuide entitled "Is There a Magical Barrel Length for Rifles?" Hope you enjoy the short read.
    http://ammoguide.com/?article=mhsp68/magical
    Thanks for the link to your article, great read.

    In your research, did you come across anything specific to the Ruger/Hornady project that produced the new .338 RCM cartridge just a few years ago? Its my understanding that some of their goals were, compared to today's .338's:

    - less powder
    - far less cartridge size
    - less recoil
    - flatter shooting
    - shorter barrel, and still very very accurate out of the box (20" barrel)

    I'm no gun engineer, but I bought one and am quite happy with it.

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    Here's my take on it. To reduce muzzle flash, blast, whatever you choose to call it you either need to reduce the powder charge or use a different powder. When you reduce the charge you are reducing velocity. If I take 60g of whatever powder and shoot that bullet out of a 20" barrel there will be muzzle flash (wasted energy). If I take that same round and shoot it out of a 26" barrel there may be little to no muzzle flash (less wasted energy). If I can make a round that burns all of its powder inside the barrel, pushing the bullet the entire way I should get more velocity. If I make a round that has a lot of muzzle flash (powder burning after the bullet has left the barrel) I would get less velocity because of the wasted energy. Make sense to anyone else?
    "...arms like laws discourage and keep the invader and plunderer in awe...Horrid mischief would ensue were the good deprived of the use of them." -Thomas Paine

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    Quote Originally Posted by FamilyMan View Post
    Thanks for the link to your article, great read.

    In your research, did you come across anything specific to the Ruger/Hornady project that produced the new .338 RCM cartridge just a few years ago? Its my understanding that some of their goals were, compared to today's .338's:

    - less powder
    - far less cartridge size
    - less recoil
    - flatter shooting
    - shorter barrel, and still very very accurate out of the box (20" barrel)

    I'm no gun engineer, but I bought one and am quite happy with it.
    No, my research and experience was not in that direction for this article. I will say that I think the .338RCM is a very good cartridge in my opinion in trying to accomplish what they set out to do and I think they pretty much did it.
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