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  #1  
Old 09-09-2008, 08:08 PM
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Question Ideal Barrel Lenght


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Lots of people I know will build custom rifles in wildcat chambers and it seems like they always end up screwing a 26 inch barrel to the action. Why would you go through all the work (not to mention money) for a new custom rifle, just to end up with something thats doesnt perform to the top of its ability? The only mainstream company I know of that claims to cut "each barrel length to get the most out of the cartridge" is Kimber. How would you calcutlate the ideal barrel length (within reason) for your particular load/cartridge? Thanks for the help
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Old 09-09-2008, 08:42 PM
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Want a 308 w/ a barrel as long as a Kentucky rifle? It would give you more velocity than from a 308 w/ a 22" barrel. Same with those old buffalo rifles.

The "reason" comes in deciding what you want to use the rifle for. If you're prowling around the pecker poles an 18" carbine may be too long and if you're shooting antelope at 500 yards a 26" barrel might be too short to give you the velocity and trajectory "reason" would suggest.

You'd have to make a mighty long barrel or be using real fast powder for friction to finally overcome pressure and lead to drop in velocity w/ the high pressure barrels we have to chose from. I'm sure someone on this forum knows some actual numbers for maximum barrel length.

But in the reasonable range, longer barrels will always give higher velocity.

Last edited by leverite; 09-09-2008 at 08:44 PM.
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by leverite View Post
Want a 308 w/ a barrel as long as a Kentucky rifle? It would give you more velocity than from a 308 w/ a 22" barrel. Same with those old buffalo rifles.

The "reason" comes in deciding what you want to use the rifle for. If you're prowling around the pecker poles an 18" carbine may be too long and if you're shooting antelope at 500 yards a 26" barrel might be too short to give you the velocity and trajectory "reason" would suggest.

You'd have to make a mighty long barrel or be using real fast powder for friction to finally overcome pressure and lead to drop in velocity w/ the high pressure barrels we have to chose from. I'm sure someone on this forum knows some actual numbers for maximum barrel length.

But in the reasonable range, longer barrels will always give higher velocity.
Lot of truth in Leverite's post. In terms of "cutting a barrel to it's appropriate length," I think that's a load of crap. Certainly longer barrels generally mean higher velocity, but that's not where the journey ends. If you have a 26" .308 win that shoots over 3000 fps with 165 gr bullets, you have a very fast shooting rifle, and may have maximized your particular rifle from a velocity standpoint. But if you're printing 3.5" groups at 100 yds with it, it certainly isn't "optimized." Change a load by 1 grain +/- and you are going to change the resonance of the barrel. That's why we have so many posts on this forum regarding getting a load to shoot accurately. You can cut the barrel to the right length for the purpose - velocity, weight, comfort, etc. - but you still have to find the cartridge that shoots well in it. Example - my 7mm-08 encore 15" loves extremely hot loads. It starts printing great groups when the primers start getting a little flat, and it likes a bit of jump before the bullet hits the lans. I'm experimenting with a longer COL so I can get a bit more powder out of it and reduce the pressure spike. May result in better accuracy, may not. Bottom line is, barrel length always effects velocity, with longer meaning higher to a point based on the speed of the powder. Barrel length also effects the barrel's oscillation. The longer the barrel, the more it moves under stress. Hold a ruler on a desk and leave a lot of it over the edge (long barrel) and bend and release the end. The end of the ruler moves a lot. Move the ruler so that less hangs over the edge, and do the same thing, the end of the ruler moves faster, but not as much up and down. If you find a great load that pings the barrel right, it's going to be accurate, regardless of length (don't forget stiffness of the metal), but the longer the barrel, the more you get opportunity for difficult tuning. Heavy, long barrels for match shooting to reduce the amount of "up and down/side to side" under the stress of the ignition and impact of the bullet entering the barrel.

Long post, and I apologize, but it's not as simple as just length, unless you just want the chrono to sing.

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Last edited by DCAMM94; 09-09-2008 at 09:13 PM.
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Old 09-09-2008, 09:10 PM
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Optimum for what? I won't want this rifle in the bush, but then it's made for getting a bullet from a .308 Winchester out to 1000 yards at supersonic velocity. While it's a bit like using a pickup instead of a Mack gravel truck, those are the rules of the Palma Match.

http://www.savagearms.com/BreakingNews061108.htm

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Old 09-09-2008, 09:25 PM
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Quote:
Lots of people I know will build custom rifles in wildcat chambers and it seems like they always end up screwing a 26 inch barrel to the action. Why would you go through all the work (not to mention money) for a new custom rifle, just to end up with something that doesn't perform to the top of its ability?
Interesting question, "top of it's ability". Perhaps a rifle designed for use in the brush with a short barrel is the "top of it's ability". Basically "ability" means other things than just velocity such as ease of use and carry, quickness to get into action and others. I'd almost bet that most of the game I've killed over nearly 50 years couldn't tell a bit of difference between a specific bullet at 3000 fps or 2500 fps.
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Old 09-10-2008, 12:06 AM
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People talk about long barrels being hard to handle ,usally have only ever seen long barreled varmit type rifles with heavy barrels . And these are extreamly unweildy and hard to carry . I got a old bruno 308 rebarreled with a light weight 26inch barrel . I wanted a 28 inch but my gunsmith wouldnt/couldnt do it (cant rember) . This rifle handles just fine and will shoot 1/2 groups with hand loads and the best benifit is that the long barrel makes the muzel blast so much less . I usally use ear protection but if for some reason i dont , the muzel blast isnt to bad at all . I feel this is the bigest advantage of longer barrels . People dont seem to think twice about luging about a over and under 12ga with 32inch barrels yet seem to bulk at a rifle with anything over 22 inch .
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Old 09-11-2008, 03:09 AM
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Wow, lots of good replys... Very valid points. Thanks for the contribution
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