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Thread: barrel length question

  1. #1
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    Default barrel length question

    I'm looking at ordering a rifle from Montana Rifle Co. I want the X2 in 338 Federal, however I noticed that all of their rifles have long barrels compared to most factory rifles. Theirs run from 24-26 inches long. Anyone know the reason for this ? I have been shooting the Federal for a few years now and its pretty easy to get 25-2600 fps from a 20-inch tube.

  2. #2

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    I can only guess because I haven't seen anything official about them along those lines. But it's been pretty common down through time for a company to try to squeeze a little extra velocity by adding inches. I've seen about a dozen rifles built by PO Ackley himself for his wildcats, and all were 26" or longer. One was a 30-06 Improved sporting a 30" barrel! The 257 Roberts 3" that RCBS built for me long, long ago had a 26" Shilen match barrel. I endured that for about 2 decades before wising up and clipping it back to 22. Handy dandy now, and the critters don't notice the loss of 100fps or so.

    I'm with you---- A 22" barrel would be as long as I wanted on a 338 Fed.
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    It's easy to make a barrel shorter, but pretty expensive to make one longer. Personally, I like a 24 or 26" barrel, but that's just me.
    "A strong body makes the mind strong. As to the species of exercises, I advise the gun. While this gives moderate exercise to the body, it gives boldness, enterprise, and independence to the mind."

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    The Ruger Frontier (precursor to the Ruger Gunsight) came chambered in 338 Federal, it had a 16.5" barrel.
    http://www.shootingtimes.com/ammo/am...lgrade_200804/

    Maybe the Montana Rifle Co. thought the 338 Federal was like the 338 win mag and put that long barrel on it, who knows.

    Sobie2

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    Gunbugs has the answer.

    Why worry about a barrel being longer than you want when it is so simple
    to shorten and recrown a barrel.
    NRA Life Member since 1974

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    Yea I agree it is pretty simple to get a barrel shortened for most guys. But because of where I live its a lot tougher, and would involve shipping. But I do like what MRC are building so am going to order one.

  7. #7

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    Yeah, no practical reason for such a long barrel. According to my ballpark estimates, a 20" 338 Federal still has better expansion ratio than a 26" 30-06. To me, having a short barrel is half the reason for the Federal, or better yet, 358 Win.

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    I remember hearing that MRC would pretty readily ship rifles with shorter tubes or even chamber in non-cataloged cartridges. Might be worth a call to ask first unless you're looking at one on the shelf somewhere.

    I've never understood why folks put such long barrels on the .308 family of cartridges. Had a .308 with a 24" barrel...it didn't shoot any better or any faster than my .308 with a 19" barrel.
    "I do not deal in hypotheticals. The world, as it is, is vexing enough..." Col. Stonehill, True Grit

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    Quote Originally Posted by yukon254 View Post
    Yea I agree it is pretty simple to get a barrel shortened for most guys. But because of where I live its a lot tougher, and would involve shipping. But I do like what MRC are building so am going to order one.








    I've cut down quite a few rifle and handgun barrels, it really isn't that tough and worth it if it's great trouble and expense to get your rifle to a gunsmith.
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    Quote Originally Posted by AKMtnRunner View Post
    Yeah, no practical reason for such a long barrel. According to my ballpark estimates, a 20" 338 Federal still has better expansion ratio than a 26" 30-06. To me, having a short barrel is half the reason for the Federal, or better yet, 358 Win.
    So what is a "better" expansion ratio, in terms of More? or Less?

    More velocity, and less muzzle blast are "practical reasons" for a longer barrel.

    A short barrel may weigh a tiny bit less, and be "handier"??, but that is largely a matter of perception.

    Some magnum cartridges almost require at least 24 to 26 inches for expected performance.

    With some low pressure cartridges like 30 30 and 35 Remington, barrel length is less of an issue.

    The issues, I see for Shortening a barrel are which cartridge?, and how much Shorter?

    I really don't see any downside to 24", or even 26". I have 2 rifles with 26 inch barrels.

    SOTN
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  11. #11

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    I always looked at a longer barrel as giving "free velocity" and less muzzle blast. Some times it makes off hand shooting better, depending on how the rifle is balanced.

    I think it is up to the shooter. My od Mod. 70 Featherweight 30-06 has a 22" barrel, which is perfect in my opinion. My custom Mod. 70 .338 Mag. has a 23" barrel and I like it as I wanted to keep the weight down and shaved ounces here and their on the rifle. But I see nothing wrong with a longer tube on a .338 Win. Mag. My dad's old Mod. 70 .264 Win. Mag. has a 26" barrel, spot on in my opinion. My customized Marlin 1895 45-70 now has a 21" barrel. If I had spare cash for the project I might get another with a Magnaported 16" tube in stainless with a synthetic stock. It would be an ATV, fishing, truck gun, etc.

    I don't want a bolt action center fire rifle with under a 20" barrel and prefer them to be in the 22 to 25 inch length. A lever action rifle is different to me as I don't use them as an all around hunting rifle and the only 16" barrel I have is on my AR 5.56. It is just easier to maneuver in the house then a long barrel.

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    [QUOTE=Smitty of the North;1552641] So what is a "better" expansion ratio, in terms of More? or Less?



    More
    efficiency, or closer to complete powder burn because of more " barrel volume" compared to powder volume. I didn't do the math, but, if it's true that a 20" .338 barrel has more volume than a 26" .308 barrel....then relatively speaking a 20" 338 Fed should be more efficient (i.e. Squeezing out available velocity) as a 26" 308 win. I replaced 308 win for the 30-06 example because of case volume similarities.

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    Quote Originally Posted by .338 mag. View Post
    I always looked at a longer barrel as giving "free velocity" and less muzzle blast. Some times it makes off hand shooting better, depending on how the rifle is balanced.

    I think it is up to the shooter. My od Mod. 70 Featherweight 30-06 has a 22" barrel, which is perfect in my opinion. My custom Mod. 70 .338 Mag. has a 23" barrel and I like it as I wanted to keep the weight down and shaved ounces here and their on the rifle. But I see nothing wrong with a longer tube on a .338 Win. Mag. My dad's old Mod. 70 .264 Win. Mag. has a 26" barrel, spot on in my opinion. My customized Marlin 1895 45-70 now has a 21" barrel. If I had spare cash for the project I might get another with a Magnaported 16" tube in stainless with a synthetic stock. It would be an ATV, fishing, truck gun, etc.

    I don't want a bolt action center fire rifle with under a 20" barrel and prefer them to be in the 22 to 25 inch length. A lever action rifle is different to me as I don't use them as an all around hunting rifle and the only 16" barrel I have is on my AR 5.56. It is just easier to maneuver in the house then a long barrel.
    I agree.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eastwoods View Post
    [QUOTE=Smitty of the North;1552641] So what is a "better" expansion ratio, in terms of More? or Less?



    More
    efficiency, or closer to complete powder burn because of more " barrel volume" compared to powder volume. I didn't do the math, but, if it's true that a 20" .338 barrel has more volume than a 26" .308 barrel....then relatively speaking a 20" 338 Fed should be more efficient (i.e. Squeezing out available velocity) as a 26" 308 win. I replaced 308 win for the 30-06 example because of case volume similarities.
    That loses me.

    Chopping off the barrel changes the expansion ratio, making it higher/more. How could that be "better", or more efficient?

    Velocity is still less. Muzzle blast is still closer to your ears.

    Some folks might prefer a short barrel for a couple-three reasons, but I doubt that expansion ratio is one of'em.

    SOTN
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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    That loses me.

    Chopping off the barrel changes the expansion ratio, making it higher/more. How could that be "better", or more efficient?

    Velocity is still less. Muzzle blast is still closer to your ears.

    Some folks might prefer a short barrel for a couple-three reasons, but I doubt that expansion ratio is one of'em.

    SOTN

    No, ofcourse chopping any barrel gives less expansion ratio and less velocity and yes, conversely velocity is going to increase if the 338 barrel is 22 or even 24" vs. 20". However, we were comparing a 338 bore to a 308 bore. It's the same reason why small caliber/big cased cartridges lose a lot more velocity per inch of barrel loss than does a larger caliber medium cased cartridge does. These figures are in my head, but, will be fairly close to being spot on. 😉 A 264 win mag will lose about 60 fps per inch shorter barrel length, but, a 358 win only loses about 15 fps per inch shorter barrel length. I did the math a few years ago comparing "barrel volume" (i.e. the space available to burn powder under pressure) between the 338 wm and the 375 H&H. The results...a 20" 375 barrel has more volume than a 24" 338 barrel. Hence, which caliber makes a more efficient carbine? We kinda already know this with the 45-70, not a lot of velocity loss in a carbine. I have a sneaky suspicion you already know all this. And, yes I chose a 20" 375 H&H over a 20" 338 wm because of higher expansion ratio....geeky, yes. I did do the math because Murphy wrote on this forum that a 338 wm makes a pretty good carbine, and I think he's right. The 375 H&H makes a better one.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eastwoods View Post
    No, ofcourse chopping any barrel gives less expansion ratio and less velocity and yes, conversely velocity is going to increase if the 338 barrel is 22 or even 24" vs. 20". However, we were comparing a 338 bore to a 308 bore. It's the same reason why small caliber/big cased cartridges lose a lot more velocity per inch of barrel loss than does a larger caliber medium cased cartridge does. These figures are in my head, but, will be fairly close to being spot on. 😉 A 264 win mag will lose about 60 fps per inch shorter barrel length, but, a 358 win only loses about 15 fps per inch shorter barrel length. I did the math a few years ago comparing "barrel volume" (i.e. the space available to burn powder under pressure) between the 338 wm and the 375 H&H. The results...a 20" 375 barrel has more volume than a 24" 338 barrel. Hence, which caliber makes a more efficient carbine? We kinda already know this with the 45-70, not a lot of velocity loss in a carbine. I have a sneaky suspicion you already know all this. And, yes I chose a 20" 375 H&H over a 20" 338 wm because of higher expansion ratio....geeky, yes. I did do the math because Murphy wrote on this forum that a 338 wm makes a pretty good carbine, and I think he's right. The 375 H&H makes a better one.
    OK, I got it. Cept for the math, of course.

    Thanks
    SOTN
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  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    OK, I got it. Cept for the math, of course.

    Thanks
    SOTN
    Just food for thought.....a 264 win mag will completely wash a barrel in 1000 rounds. A 7mm mag will do the same in 1500. Lots of heat going down those pipes
    Hence dad's old war horse in either caliber is apt to have most of the goody gone out of it. In such case a new 22 incher will often out preform a worn 26 incher. Same thing for a 220 Swift. James Richard Onthank has coyote hunted with me 90% of all snow covered Saturdays for most of 40 years. His Swift has killed half a thousand coyotes and missed a whole lot more last summer he shot it through a Chronograph and found out that his once 3800 fps load now shoots just 180fps faster than my new 783 Remington.......in 223. I am pushing the envelope a bit with 3400fps from my 223 shot through the same chronograph.

    If you think about the effect that the length of the bearing surface of those long high BC bullets in .264/.284 imparts on the bore when scooting down the pipe at those speeds. Why it's no wonder they don't last long. Might be why you can by used 7mm mags for a song on gun broker.

    I for one love the 7mm mag and for the guy that zeros in his 7mag and then fills tags with it it has a lifetime of freezer filling in it. However I don't want to buy one that has been shot by lots of my friends. The same guy with the Swift has another Ruger that started life as a 264 Win Mag and then became a 7mm mag and then got rebarreled to 7mm mag a second time. That guy has killed late season coyotes with his 7mm that are twice out of my range. It's plunked a whole lot of whitetails and pronghorns as well.

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    Quote Originally Posted by elmerkeithclone View Post
    Just food for thought.....a 264 win mag will completely wash a barrel in 1000 rounds..
    You'll have to forgive me, but what exactly does that mean? When you use the word "completely" what I envision is a barrel that shows no signs left of the rifling it once had. Or....does it mean that the rifling has degraded enough that the rifle is now no longer accurate?
    Sheep hunting...... the pain goes away, but the stupidity remains...!!!

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    There is some great stuff online about guys taking a 26" barrel and cutting it one inch at a time, all the way down to 10". Accuratereloading.com did on in 223. I read another about the 300 WSM. From 26-23 it lost about 100 FPS, from 23-20 it lost about 100 depending on weight of bullet and type of round. I was studying up on this as I shoot a 308 in Rem Model 7 j20" and was concerned I was loosing too much. I will stick with the 20" just for ease of handling. It also spoke of vibrations in the longer barrels that were not in the shorter barrels (harmonics?) and liked the short barrels better for accuracy. I notice browning has went to almost all 23" barrels, I wonder if they have found similar results?

    Some calibers are definitely worse with short barrels. From what I read the 6.5/264 calibers lose a lot of velocity unless using the 26", but I have no experience with short barrels in this caliber

  20. #20

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    In particular, the throat will be eroded to the point where there is no rifling for a couple of inches. When you push a patch through the bore it catches an leaves fuzz from the patch in the bore. Sometime you see increased pressure signs. Pierced primers etc. But mostly reduced velocity.

    I guess gunsmith Dillon who has been retired for a few years is the first person that I heard call a barrel washed when it was showing throat errosion for several inches and the bore was rough as a cob. That gun seen to many days in SD shooting Prairie dogs. It was showing pressure signs with factory ammo.

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