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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I understand that barrel length has a direct affect on velocity but I was reading somewhere in one of my gun magazines that shorter barrels are more accurate. Not sure if this is true but I have noticed that some government sniper bolt action rifles have gone to shorter barrels. Some 20"! I was fondling a 308 Rem 700 tactical at the gun show yesterday and it had a rather short heavy barrel. I really like this rifle and the weight of the heavy barrel wasn't so bad with it's shorter length.
 

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This is true to some extent. short barrels are more stiff than longer barrels but if you compare accuracy from a standard short barrel to a bull longer barrel the longer will group better.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 ·
I am not so sure. I see alot of target rifles on the range with short barrels. The best group I ever personally witnessed was with a 6mm target rifle and the barrel couldn't have been 20inches and he shot 5 rds at 100 in basically the same cloverleaf. I was very impressed.
 

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Well, I suppose it depends on how you look at it.

A barrel extending right to your target would be, in a perfect world, virtually guaranteed 100% accuracy. On the other hand, a pistol with a snub nosed 3" barrel will be harder to control, resulting in greater movement and more inaccuracy.

Of course, the longer barrel is more subject to flex as the bullet exits the muzzle.

Then again, a shorter barrel on any given rifle could cause issues with imbalance.

But then, I suppose also...

Honestly, I don't know. I say if the rifle is comfortable, fits you well, balances and carries well in your hands... I would think that should count more towards accuracy than barrel length ever will?
 

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20 inches is considered by some to be an ideal length a far as accuracy is concerned. A long barrel is more sensitive to barrel vibrations. This doesn't mean a longer or shorter barrel can't be accurate and you do gain a slight velocity increase with a longer barrel.
 

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barrel length - accuracy

i shoot a 308 blr browing with a 20 in. barrel it is a tack driver. with relitive hot loads it dont like im weak. the load i shoot is not for the faint of heart. but not out of bounds in the reloaders hand books either 47 grs. of 4895 std primers 150 bullet. thumb can cover the group and im sure that there are guns that will out shot it but not for what i bought it for. a short lever gun with some horse power. 20" barrel and 308 and accuracy.= easy on a horse in the swamps and when got to the clear cut will still work for the long shot. not saying any thing bad about any other cal. but i had to have more than a 30-30 at the time when the forest was being clear cut. still got my pre 94 . hunt a lot w ith the browing in 20 "
 

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Am thinking that going to the folks that win or lose by a few 1000ths of an inch might be a good choice for this debate. Benchresters will do anything for a tiny fraction of an inch increase in accuracy, so check out the people who shoot on a national or international level, and see what barrel lengths seem to be favored.
 

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Shorter barrels are going to be more rigid than longer ones of the same diameter and calibre. That's a fact. Whether or not that will make a short barreled rifle more accurate than a long barrelled one, depends on so many other criteria and variables that its not really worth arguing over.
Practical accuracy can be achieved with most barrel lengths. The shorter barrelled "tactical" rifles are a compromise between accuracy and light weight and handling.
 

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barrel profile to me means nothing .after 35 years of machining, i can assure you that it is harmonics or resonance that makes a good group or a bad one.i have drinking straws of barrels that will out shoot my bull barrels.-the secret is -repeatability of harmonics.i find that the heavier barrels may take a stiffer load for more speed with same accuracy, but only marginal. shorter barrels tend to lend them selves to more consistent resonance.
 

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Shorter barrels are more accurate. All you have to do is look at the guns being used in benchrest competitions. There are no 24-28" barrels there and most are 18-20". Short and stiff is what they want and it shows in their groups.

Long range shooting brings a different problem. You need to get velocity to minimize drop and drift, but the barrels can't be too heavy or you won't fit in the class.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. ANY cartridge based on the 308 length case is better served with a 18-20" barrel for 90% of the shooting needed. '06 length cases are better suited to 22" and let's not even think of 24-26" barrels for a 30-06 class gun in the hunting fields.
 

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Shorter barrels are more accurate. All you have to do is look at the guns being used in benchrest competitions. There are no 24-28" barrels there and most are 18-20". Short and stiff is what they want and it shows in their groups.

Long range shooting brings a different problem. You need to get velocity to minimize drop and drift, but the barrels can't be too heavy or you won't fit in the class.

I've said it before and I'll say it again. ANY cartridge based on the 308 length case is better served with a 18-20" barrel for 90% of the shooting needed. '06 length cases are better suited to 22" and let's not even think of 24-26" barrels for a 30-06 class gun in the hunting fields.


That's short range benchrest, check out the 1000 yard bench rest and the longer barrels rule


This group was shot from a 30" barrel at 300 yards with my 338 Lapua




Te caliper is measureing outside to outside, making the center to center group size .747 that is .238 MOA
 

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Had a Winchester M100 Carbine in .308 Win. once. Loved that rifle. Literally, shot a 20 round group that was covered by a Kennedy Half Dollar. Best Moose rifle I ever owned. Had a couple of 8 round Colyer Clips for it. That short barrel was the ticket.
 

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I say it depends on the rate-of-twist in a given barrel length. I own two .308's one a Browning A-Bolt with a 22" barrel and a 1-in-12" twist, which is very accurate with my hand loaded ammo & 150 grain bullet as it is with factory loaded ammo. My other rifle has a 20" barrel with the same rate-of-twist, and it's not as accurate unless I load up to factory velocities. I think in short barrels of 20" & under the rate-of-twist should be a bit faster so the bullet will get a good stabilizing spin.
 

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The 1000 yard benchrest fellows have the longer barrels for the velocity gains, not accuracy. The more velocity they have the less drop and windrifft they deal with. A .308 with an 18" barrel will reach 1k, and so will a .308 with a 26" barrel. The 26" barrel will get there faster but the accuracy is all dependant on the QUALITY of the components of the rifle and who the shooter is. Shoot what length works for you and what you feel is right. By the way if that M700 was an LTR they are great out of the box rifles, some even half MOA with no tune-ups. Mine has been worked over quite a bit and it will ring below .25 MOA if I do my part, the barrel is stock still.
 

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That's short range benchrest, check out the 1000 yard bench rest and the longer barrels rule


This group was shot from a 30" barrel at 300 yards with my 338 Lapua




Te caliper is measureing outside to outside, making the center to center group size .747 that is .238 MOA

I guess you didn't read my post. I clearly said that long range matches brought different issues to bear. Besides, the OP was asking about a hunting gun not a 1000 yd target gun.


Skyler is correct and he basically said what I said. You need to balance length and weight to meet your class and still get the most velocity possible to lessen the effects of gravity and wind.
 

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The OP asked about barrel lenght VS accuracy long barrels are not inaccurate. The velocity gain per inch is not great, if short barrel had the market cornered on accuracy then everyone would use them for every event
 

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1000yd guns with 30 " barrels do shoot the goods,BUT,you have to carefully tune the load and are harder to get CONSISTENT harmonics at its resonance length. that is plain physics. a shorter barrel is less finicky and easy to tune,and will shoot most loads with good accuracy.for hunting,i think an efficient burning cartridge (222,223,hornet,7.62x39,and a 308 all burn well in a 22" barrel or less as in the 222 case(18"). velocity gain is only reasonable with slow burning powders in big cases.i like a 24 in my 25/06 and 7mm mag.i dont think the longer barrel at 26-30 is worth the hassle. as you americans say,-(theres no substitute for cubes)-if you need more grunt, get a bigger cartridge.in saying that,i concede that every one likes to get the best from there gun.for walk about hunting a 22" tube is hard to beat.
 

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the only issue i have with the shorter barrel rifles, especialy in a std sporter youth configuration is they tend to have a tad more muzzle jump. and when setting a rifle up for my sons i eventualy abandoned the 18" youth models and just bought another stock to cut down for the std barrel/action i already had. it seemed to please them more, and it shot better for them (i am not a fan of muzzle breaks as i treasure my hearing and the guy's hearing shooting next to me). the first time i got my eyes open to barrel length vs accuracy was when i read the "Houston Wharehouse Project" piece some years back. if it (20 3/4" length) was good enough for some of the best barrel makers and bechrest shooters who was i to argue?
 

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I don't see how a shorter barrel is inherently more accurate than a longer barrel. I've had both and shot some good groups with the shorter barrels but in a hunting situation, I find that I can HOLD the longer barrels on the target better than the short barrels. Crosshairs dont waver so much. Maybe that is due to having more weight out at the end of the barrel. I shoot 24" barrels in a 270 Win and 280 Rem, as well as a 243 Win, 260 and an waiting for a new 257 Roberts with a 24" barrel. Yes, they will gather a little more speed, but I think the longer barrel just balances better for me.
I have a 6.5x55 with a 22" but that's the only one.
Bought a new Savage 25 in 223 that is extremely accurate.
A rifle is either made well or not in spite of the barrel length.
Different opinions for everyone!
 

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I shot benchrest competitively for a good portion of my life. When I started the long barrels were the norm. Eventually through testing, BR shooters came to find out that the shorter barrels gave more consistant accuracy. The ranges we usually held matches at were 100, 200, and 300 yards. The conditions that BR shooters deal with, are much different than the hunter will....and I think that has to be taken into consideration.

For the hunter, velocity/bullet performance comes into play, especially for those that hunt the wide open western states. My hunting rifles sport anywhere from 16.5 to 24" barrels...depending on the use, and the caliber. I think it is imperative for a "hunter" to design his rifle around the conditions he hunts under...build or buy the gun for the purpose.

Where bullet performance is needed at longer distance, the longer barrel delivering higher velocities is the ticket to bullet performance at longer ranges. For me, under the conditions that I hunt, my 16.5" levergun is ideal.

I think the key to accuracy and maintaining that first shot point of aim in a hunting firearm is to always work with a clean cold barrel. This duplicates hunting conditions. From the time I start developing my loads, till the final sighting shot before the season starts, I will only shoot three shots, and then let the gun cool...clean the barrel....and shoot three more. I have seen folks at the range shoot and shoot, and shoot...then with a hot gun do a final sighting for the hunting season. I have found through my experiences that if I do this, that first shot out of that clean, cold barrel is usually way off point of aim.

I think that most guns these days regardless of barrel lenght are pretty accurate, and if the barrel lenght, and type of gun is chosen for the specific conditions that a person hunts or shoots under, and the clean, cold barrel routine is followed, superb accuracy/performance can be realized.
 
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