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Thread: Do short barrels still perform..?

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    Default Do short barrels still perform..?

    I have been very interested in knowing how much velocity is sacrificed by shortening a rifle's barrel.

    I found a report by a fellow who's name I won't reveal but who's initials are Charlie Sisk. It seems by his findings that not so much is lost by shortening barrels as I was led to believe.
    For example;in the testing of the .338 Winchester Magnum, 73 grains of RL 19 was sparked by a Federal GM 215 M primer and pushed it's bullet from a 27" barrel at 2806 fps. then it was shortened one inch at a time with average velocities recorded for each inch lost. (26"= 2787, 25"= 2761, 24"=2743, 23"= 2716, 22"= 2697, 21"= 2676, 20"=2656).

    This was only one example of many that showed similar amounts of loss per inch.

    What strikes me is that for handling a short stout barrels seems, well...handy.
    The differance between a 24" barrel and a 20" barrel shows about 87 fps. loss in velocity.

    Sure if you are shooting(on the bench) with out hearing protection, it's going to hurt...and it should, WEAR HEARING PROTECTION. When in the field, it will be a little louder...but not much, if you know what I mean.

    So, other than a little noise, what's not to like about a shorter barrel. I really wonder what I would be sacrificing by shortening my heavies (with 24" barrels) down to 20".

    Thoughts....?

    Specificaly, I am thinking of building another bigger 35, like a 358 Norma, and I am wondering about it's performance with a 20" barrel.

    Anybody..?

  2. #2
    Member The Kid's Avatar
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    Default I like em short

    I prefer short barrels on all of my rifles, for ease of handling mostly, anything longer than 22" just seems very unweildy to me. Also I am about 5'16" tall and if I carry a long barreled rifle slung through the brush it seems to find every darn limb in the woods to snag on.

    I have several rifles with shorter than normal barrels and I have never noticed a difference in how they perform on game, for that matter I don think the critters have noticed either. My 458 wears a 20" tube as will my next matching medium bore that I am shopping for right now. Even some of my guns that some say need a longer barrel have short ones and I like it that way, my 25-06 has a 20" barrel as does my 22-250. Both of my Marlins have short barrels, 16.125 for the 1895 and 17" on the 336 in 35Rem. Heck even my muzzloader is a TC White mountain carbine with an 18" barrel and it whacks the snot out of stuff.

    So I guess I say whether I lose performance or not by having short barrels they work for me and I will continue to use them that way and build more like them in the future.

    P.S. My cousin called a few days ago from Colorado and said that the elk he whacked didn't seem to care that his 30-06 has only 18 inches of barrel.

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    I think the velocity loss, will be different, with different loads, different barrels, different cartridges, and who knows what else. Also, the noise, or pitch, will vary with the cartridge. I've no doubt that only 87 fps loss from 24' to 20' is light. What if you got 100 to 150?

    I like long barrels because they're more pleasant to shoot. I've never noticed any unhandiness due to 26 inch barrels, ceptin maybe when I walk through a doorway with the gun slung on my shoulder.

    22 inches is short enough, but I confess to shortening one to 21 inches. (It wasn't an overbore cartridge, though.)

    I also had a 20 inch barreled rifle, (It came that way.) that I shot a lot, and I could live with it, but 18.5 in another rifle, I couldn't.

    Let's face it. People buy guns that LOOK GOOD to them. The appeal of short barrels is that they look KOOL, but you might find them impractical in other ways.

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    I like 24" in standard (-06 based) and Magnum cartridges w/ 22" an absolute minimum. To me 20-22" really shines with short action cartridges. I have never tried any of the super overbore magnums, but pretty sure I'd want 26". Still cant understand how 22" 30-06 can be "Handy", and a 24" be a glutton. IME you have to lean on a 22" barrel pretty hard to get factory 24" ballistics with factory barrels.

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    It depends on the case and the bore for the most part. The short fat cases like the WSM's won't be affected by shorter barrels as much a longer case like a RUM. Shorten a RUM barrel below 26", (except the 375) and you will big drops in velocity and you will gain big with more barrel. The 338 WM is not an overbore. If you shorten a 300 WM or 7RM you will see bigger drops in vel.

    If you want to go with a 35 in a short barrel go with a WSM or maybe a Dakota.

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    I think it also depends a bit on the barrel and every barrel is unique.

    I had a 19" barrelled Steyr that shot just as fast as a 22" barrelled Remington and nearly as fast as my 24" barrelled Kimber. All shooting the same .308 load.
    With another set of rifles it may have been an entirely different result though.

    I like carbine barrels because they're handy in brushy country and depending on the rifle some seem to balance better offhand. I've also noticed that some fantastic accuracy can be had with those shorter barrels. Maybe they're stiffer or have a different harmonic but some of them are real shooters.

    I don't think a carbine length barrel is a detriment at all on a rifle. The velocity loss (if much at all) would only rarely make a difference in the field and it may make the rifle a fair bit handier.

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    Default 16" on my AR

    I have a 16" on my AR and its a pleasure to casrry and sling over my shoulder when riding my snow machine. I wouldn't say its the most accurate rifle I own, but it is certainly adequate. 1-1.5 inch groups at 100 yards is probably operator error more than anything. But its loud. Loud enough that shooting it at wolves and coyotes last year got me to start wearing ear muffs just before pulling the trigger. (I always wear them at the range). It would be interesting to see if there was that much difference in a 20" barrel.

  8. #8

    Default Short barreled 358 Norma

    In my 22" barrel I am noticing between 50-100 fps loss over most published data depending on what test barrel length was used. Although in some instances switching powders was able to match velocities. I really don't think 100 fps is going to make that much difference. I contemplated cutting my barrel to 20" when I built the gun, but it wouldn't have balanced as well. That said I don't think the performance would have been any less effective. And I don't know how much if any the short barrel has to do with it, but mine does shoot quite good groups.

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    Default I just find this interesting...

    Mr Sisk also posted that he loaded (EXTREMELY HOT..!!!) for the 300 Remington Ultra Magnum; Rem brass, Fed GM215M primers, and 220 grain RN bullets.

    Length H 4895 H 870

    27............2740........3107
    26............2709........3088
    25............2685........3062
    24............2663........3046
    23............2636........3018
    22............2612........2997

    H 4895 lost 128 fps.
    H 870 lost 110 fps.

    As someone had suggested, a 35 on a WSM may be a great option. Oh, I seriously agree with that observation.
    I own and shoot a fine little 358 WSM. I load 64 grains of H 4895, spark it with Federal Match mag primers, and push 225 Swift A-Frame bullets from my 24" straight tapper barrel (.750" at the muzzle). with 2lbs of lead in the butt stock it will ballance perfectly for carry, BUT, without scope it weighs 10 1/4 lbs. A little heavy to carry all day in the rugged country of Newfoundland while hunting Moose.

    I average 2930 fps. Hummm, I think Norma did something like that....

    So...., what happens when I cut that barrel down to 20"..?
    I am seriously thinking about it...

    With my current load, when zeroed at 200 yards, I hit about 7 1/2" low at 300 yards.
    If I was to loose 200 fps, and kept a 200 yard zerro, I would hit about 1 1/4" lower at 300 yards... to me that's indiscernable.

    Love hearing about those short barreled performers.

    I actually took my Ruger #1 in 35 Whelen (22" barrel) to Moose camp this year, it's about 3 lbs lighter. It's not as powerful as my 358 WSM, but one shot and complete penatration produced a very dead Bull Moose.

    I really appreciate the comments and thoughts...

    Scott

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    At normal hunting ranges it just don't matter. Much like no real killing difference between the 300H&H,300winmag and 300wby.The biggest difference of speed killing is on motorcycles

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    Quote Originally Posted by Amigo Will View Post
    The biggest difference of speed killing is on motorcycles
    Rep inbound!

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    Smile variables...

    Lots of variables come into play when it comes to barrel length. Rifle balance, bore ratio, case capacity, powder burn rate, etc. So much to factor in it gives me a head ache. If the gun writers write good things about any subject long enough the factories eventually pick it up and some of us buy one. I try to keep it simple. Any case that holds a bunch of powder, say 70 grains or more, and is .30 caliber or under is going to have at least a 24" barrel if I own it. The 30-06 case and it's family are ok with 22" to 24" barrels for me. If I am using a case and caliber like the .338 Win. I am fine with a 23" to 25" barrel. I guese it all comes down to what you are going to use it for, what velocity you want from your load, and how it points and carries for you. Just remember, once you cut it off it is gone forever and you are giving up the "free velocity" the longer barrel provides. I think American hunters go through trends with rifles. For now we are in the short and light trend and lots of folks like it. I carry a 20" barreled Marlin 45-70 more then any other gun when I am hiking around because it is compact, powerful and I can shoot it better then a hand gun. If I was hunting I would prefer my long octagon barreled Marlin 45-70. I hear the new Ruger calibers do fine with the 20" barrels. I don't see many of those African pro hunters carrying short barrreled rifles in my modest video collection. I also don't see them with a back pack in the alders and mountains either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by .338 mag. View Post
    Lots of variables come into play when it comes to barrel length. Rifle balance, bore ratio, case capacity, powder burn rate, etc. So much to factor in it gives me a head ache. If the gun writers write good things about any subject long enough the factories eventually pick it up and some of us buy one. I try to keep it simple. Any case that holds a bunch of powder, say 70 grains or more, and is .30 caliber or under is going to have at least a 24" barrel if I own it. The 30-06 case and it's family are ok with 22" to 24" barrels for me. If I am using a case and caliber like the .338 Win. I am fine with a 23" to 25" barrel. I guese it all comes down to what you are going to use it for, what velocity you want from your load, and how it points and carries for you. Just remember, once you cut it off it is gone forever and you are giving up the "free velocity" the longer barrel provides. I think American hunters go through trends with rifles. For now we are in the short and light trend and lots of folks like it.
    This sounds very much like my thoughts. It wouldn't make much sense to me to have a 300 Weatherby with less than a 26 inch barrel, cause then you really have 300 WM performance regardless what is stamped on the barrel. In the same vein it doesn't make much sense for a hunting weight rifle in 308 Win to have more than 22 inches of barrel cause you are not going to get '06 ballistics from the longer tube and you are abandoning it's advantage (shorter & lighter weight) over the '06 by having the longer barrel. I've got nothing against short barreled rifles, but I don't personally get wrapped up in an inch or two. My favorite rifles are all 22-24 inches long and that seems about right to me. I've a couple shorter tubes and a couple longer tubes, but in both cases the rifles are rather specialized. The shorter barrels are a bit handier in some instances and may come up quicker, but the longer barrels are steadier and are easier to hold on target not to mention that a 24 inch barrel simply looks better IMO. Seems that 22-24 are a bit better than either extreme, but hey that's JMHO.

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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I've a couple shorter tubes and a couple longer tubes, but in both cases the rifles are rather specialized. The shorter barrels are a bit handier in some instances and may come up quicker, but the longer barrels are steadier and are easier to hold on target not to mention that a 24 inch barrel simply looks better IMO. Seems that 22-24 are a bit better than either extreme, but hey that's JMHO.
    That makes sense to me.

    For me personally, when you add it all up, there can be a significant downside to a short barrel.

    The extry noise, loss of 100 fps or more, harder to shoot accurately offhand.

    Handiness isn't everything, and it may be mostly perception, anyway.

    To me, those Ruger Compacts, are shear lunacy. I might be interested though, if they chambered them in 35 Remington.

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    As others have stated it depends on a lot of things including cartridge. This is no small consideration if you're a reloader as some cartridges due to case capacity or powder burn rate issues can severle limit velocity or at least decrease significantly from published "norms" due to a short barrel. There's also the practicality of calibre and intended use for the rifle. To me it would be kind of crazy to buy a .300 weatherby for it's long range and flat trejectory and then put it in a 20" barrel???? You lose all the advantage of the cartrige! Longer barrels are more likely to get caught on things, but I can't say that's been a huge problem for me, but then again my rifles have 23-24" barrels. Having long barrels in NO WAY in and of itself creates an unwieldy gun to handle. Handling is all about design and the balance of the gun. Some of the old English companies made double rifles and bolt action rifles with 28" barrels that handled as fast and adgile as anything because the makers knew how to make a proper gun and it was still well balanced even with a long barrel.

    Brett

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    Default Very interesting perspectives...

    I used to think along the lines of what the ammunition manufactures published data said about loss of velocity... You know, like in the Remington paper back annual catalogs, where in the back they published their cartridges, and the loads. Always in the margin on the ammunition pages somewhere was a little chart that showed the velocity loss for every inch of barrel decrease, and they bracketed the velocities showing that slower muzzle velocities lost less than faster ones.

    Well, now I have seen "Actual Tests" performed on cartridges from the .257 Roberts to the 300 Remington Ultra Mag. Different case designs, bullet weights, powder burn rates, and various case capacities.
    These actual tests are quite different than what I was led to believe concerning velocity loss/gained per inch of barrel.

    I averaged it out over 6" of barrel change, and found that with the big magnum cartridges as well as smaller capacity cartridges the loss/gain was not only similar, but sometimes the larger case capacity cartridges did not loose as much as some of the smaller ones per inch of barrel. But, they (the magnum cartridges ,65+ grains of powder) averaged 25 fps per inch.

    Nope..! I wouldn't buy a 300 Weatherby for it's long range purposes, and chop the barrel down from 26" to 22", but if I did for some crazy reason, I could expect a velocity loss of 100 fps. (is still a lot more than a 24" barreled 30-06.) Which if sighted in at 200 yards, and shooting a bullet of a B.C. of 400 or more (most 180 grain bullets), my bullet would impact 1/2" lower than it did before.

    I guess what strikes me is the "Actual Testing" as compared to what I had once believed.

    Some might concider 1/2" at 300 yards a casualty of "significant velocity loss," but I doubt that many rifles will allow perception of that differance to be seen, let alone most shooters.., not just in the field, but even on the bench.

    Now, I like a solid and somewhat weighty rifle to shoot off hand (without a rest). When the wind is blowing, and the heart is pumping, they just "hang" better for me. But, trudging through thigh deep snow, or wading through the swamp, or settling into my tree, I find a short barrel very nice...even if it shoots up to 1/2" less flat than it would if it was 4" longer.

    Now, there does come a point where LARGE velocity losses ocure, that's down in the hunting hand gun length barrels...but we're not talking about handguns.

    Everyone has their own taste in firearm design. But, I am beginning to realize that the whole argument about shorter barrels sacrifice significant bullet velocity, and thus cartridge performance, with any number of bullets, is simply not factually true.

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    My two longest barrels are 26", now, and one is onna 280 Remington.

    Howa, bouta, THIRTY inch barrel on a bolt action. Now, that would be neat. Think of the extry velocity, and I could even hang a little American Flag on the end of it.

    I wonder if the idea would catch on.

    Smitty of the North
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    Default Actually.....

    Quote Originally Posted by Smitty of the North View Post
    My two longest barrels are 26", now, and one is onna 280 Remington.

    Howa, bouta, THIRTY inch barrel on a bolt action. Now, that would be neat. Think of the extry velocity, and I could even hang a little American Flag on the end of it.

    I wonder if the idea would catch on.

    Smitty of the North
    I understand that 30" barrels are the thing on the high capacity 7mm, and the even smaller 257's on STW and ULTRA cases...
    And, those would be worthy of some kind of flag...perhaps a wind flag, being that they would tell you what it's doing a loooooooong waaaaaay away..Lol.

    I have a 32" barrel of octagon configuration for my fifty cal muzzleloader, and a 26" on my 25-06 Ackley Improved (and it's still VERY loud..!). They get shorter after that...,but not any under 22".

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    Quote Originally Posted by 358wsm View Post
    I understand that 30" barrels are the thing on the high capacity 7mm, and the even smaller 257's on STW and ULTRA cases...
    And, those would be worthy of some kind of flag...perhaps a wind flag, being that they would tell you what it's doing a loooooooong waaaaaay away..Lol.

    I have a 32" barrel of octagon configuration for my fifty cal muzzleloader, and a 26" on my 25-06 Ackley Improved (and it's still VERY loud..!). They get shorter after that...,but not any under 22".
    Oops, I'm late again, or "Short".

    Glad to hear that the Flag idea might have some merit, though.

    Smitty of the North
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    You can't out-give God.

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    Moderator LuJon's Avatar
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    My wife's little 308 compact has a very short little barrel and so far it makes moose dead. The little thing is extremely handy, easy to point and pack.

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