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Thread: 20" vs. 22" barrel in a .308 win

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    Default 20" vs. 22" barrel in a .308 win

    I was wondering if there is a significant gain in having a 22" over a 20" barrel on a .308 win.

    I grew up with a Remington model 7 .308 win which has a 20" barrel. And even took a caribou at 330 yards and one at around 400 yards. Now I have another rifle in .308 that has a 22" barrel that I was considering having cut down to 20" to make it a little more compact.

    Just looking for thoughts on this.

  2. #2
    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I've had several .308s with 18, 20,21, 22 and 24" barrels. In the field I couldn't have picked one from another.

    A 24" will generally shoot faster but the individual barrel comes into play more than you might think too. The .308 is such an efficient cartridge that a shorter barrel will often get you all the speed you're going to get.

    I had an 18" barrelled Steyr that would shoot faster than a 22" Remington I owned. My 24" Kimber shoots faster with Hornady 150gr "light magnum" ammo but that same ammo in a 20" barreled Ruger adds almost no velocity gain over standard 150gr ammo.

    In the field however- I'll take a short barrel over a long one most of the time for general handiness and its my perception a shorter barrel will (generally) be more accurate and easier to settle down with a variety of loads than a long one of equal thickness. I believe its something to do barrel flex during firing. A significant number of folks I know with 22-26" barrelled "mountain rifles" with thin contours report those rifles are very picky to load for and generally shoot well with only a few loads.

    I don't believe terminal ballistics vary substantially enough in any of them to really matter. So in short, I'd lop that barrel off to something handier in a heartbeat if I wanted to.

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    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Lanche View Post
    I was wondering if there is a significant gain in having a 22" over a 20" barrel on a .308 win.

    I grew up with a Remington model 7 .308 win which has a 20" barrel. And even took a caribou at 330 yards and one at around 400 yards. Now I have another rifle in .308 that has a 22" barrel that I was considering having cut down to 20" to make it a little more compact.

    Just looking for thoughts on this.
    Each barrel you test may be a tad different, but you are probably going to lose 35-60 fps shortening your barrel 2 inches in a 308. All of this depends on the particular characteristics of the cartridge (i.e. powder type, individual bullet, etc.) and the actual specs of the barrel (i.e. bore tolerances, chamber dimensions, etc.). It is quite possible that your original Model 7 produces more velocity from a given load than your newer 22 inch barrel regardless of their respective OAL. As for trimming the barrel to 20 inches, whatever the difference amounts to in the 308 it will not be significant and the difference in external ballistics will not be noticed in the field IMO.

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    Member OKElkHunter's Avatar
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    Here ya go: http://www.loadammo.com/Topics/October05.htm
    There are lots of articles on this topic. Barrel length has greatest affects on the magnum calibers. In a 308, 20 vs 22 inches will not affect capability of the caliber in either range or accuracy based on the quality of the barrel. Ensure you have it cut straight and clean and it would be a good idea to have it crowned after cutting.
    “Don't expect to build up the weak by pulling down the strong." ~Calvin Coolidge~

  5. #5

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    Quote Originally Posted by OKElkHunter View Post
    Here ya go: http://www.loadammo.com/Topics/October05.htm
    There are lots of articles on this topic. Barrel length has greatest affects on the magnum calibers. In a 308, 20 vs 22 inches will not affect capability of the caliber in either range or accuracy based on the quality of the barrel. Ensure you have it cut straight and clean and it would be a good idea to have it crowned after cutting.
    So my hacksaw plan isn't a good one.

    Thanks for the info. I'll have to see how much it'll run me.

  6. #6

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    Please excuse my ignorance:

    So the barrel design has a big play in it I guess?? So I'm sure its just manufacturer jargon but how would a "match grade barrel" with a sporter contour with a 1:12 twist rate handle being lopped 2". Would any other those things listed raise any red flag to shortening the barrel?

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Alaska_Lanche View Post
    So I'm sure its just manufacturer jargon but how would a "match grade barrel" with a sporter contour with a 1:12 twist rate handle being lopped 2". Would any other those things listed raise any red flag to shortening the barrel?
    None of that would keep me from the gunsmith.

    "Match grade" is more of a marketing term than a real definition- I've had "match grade" items that failed to function at all. Including a "match grade" Colt 1911 Gold Cup that somehow failed the step of having rifling cut into the barrel. I still don't know how they fired the test target with it.

    Sporter contour is the profile of the barrel- most hunting rifles have a sporter contour, ie kind of a "medium" weight. Heavy barrels are thicker and lightweight contour barrels are thinner. The only barrel feature that would nix cutting one off shorter would be fluting- those longitudinal relief cuts that lighten heavier barrels. My 24" Kimber would become a 20" Kimber overnight if it weren't for those darn flutes in the barrels.

    1/12" is the twist- that one is common on lots of .308s and will generally stabilze bullets from around 150 up to about 180gr.

    I've heard Stan Jackson does good gunsmith work down your way BTW. He chopped a friend's .338 two years ago for him. Good work and a reasonable cost.

  8. #8

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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    None of that would keep me from the gunsmith.

    "Match grade" is more of a marketing term than a real definition- I've had "match grade" items that failed to function at all. Including a "match grade" Colt 1911 Gold Cup that somehow failed the step of having rifling cut into the barrel. I still don't know how they fired the test target with it.

    Sporter contour is the profile of the barrel- most hunting rifles have a sporter contour, ie kind of a "medium" weight. Heavy barrels are thicker and lightweight contour barrels are thinner. The only barrel feature that would nix cutting one off shorter would be fluting- those longitudinal relief cuts that lighten heavier barrels. My 24" Kimber would become a 20" Kimber overnight if it weren't for those darn flutes in the barrels.

    1/12" is the twist- that one is common on lots of .308s and will generally stabilze bullets from around 150 up to about 180gr.

    I've heard Stan Jackson does good gunsmith work down your way BTW. He chopped a friend's .338 two years ago for him. Good work and a reasonable cost.
    Thanks for the help Hodgeman, if I didn't have to "spread the love" I'd rep ya.

    Yeah this 22" is on a Kimber but it isn't fluted. Yeah I had Stan put a muzzlebreak on my .338 and it turned out awesome. I'd likely have him to the hack job on it if I do it. Sure would be nice to have it not sticking up another 2" out of my pack when I am hiking through the alders. And if I don't lose any real world performance in the field why not......well except for the $$$ issue.

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