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Thread: barrel weight vs stability and accuracy

  1. #1

    barrel weight vs stability and accuracy

    I have read online, people recommending heavier barrels, such as a varmint barrels, for anyone that might be shooting from an unsupported position such as standing or kneeling as the extra weight in the forward hand increases stability and the ability to maintain a more accurate point of aim.

    This seems counter intuitive to me as surely more weight up front will mean that a shooter experiences fatigue quickly and so is unlikely to maintain the aim for long periods.

    What are peoples experience of firing from a standing unsupported position with both light/short barrelled rifles and heavy/long barrelled ones?

    Has anyone noticed a discernible difference in the accuracy or stability in the aim of the two?


  2. #2
    The heavier barrel will settle down quickly. You can hold just the weight, instead of having to pull it into your shoulder. Shooting a 10 to 14 pound .22 RF in a match from 60 to 100 rounds, especially an outdoor match at 50 or 100 yards, where you have to wait out the wind, is a lot more tiring than one shot in the field. But the rifle weight helps with that fatigue, too, by overcoming tiny tremors. If you have more than that, you are not in shape.

    Match rifles like that are at the extreme. You just want enough weight and you want balance, no more. A really light and wispy barreled rifle can be more difficult to hold steady, but it just requires proper technique and practice. Having your muscles in condition helps a lot, just as it does in riding a variety of bicycles, or horses.

  3. #3
    Well I could shoot offhand or kneeling over short to moderate distances with my Sako but there's no way I could do that when it has the mod. on; too much weight at the front to keep still.

  4. #4
    Match air rifles will have weights you can add to the muzzle. .22 LR free rifles will have extra weights you can position out at the front of the forend.

    A lot of infantry rifles, like the 1903 Springfield, the British Enfield .303s, the 98 Mauser, and K-31, the M1 and M-14, are heavy, and a bit to the muzzle, with thick barrels and full stocks. They shoot well offhand, too. An accurate one, in the hands of a top marksman, can take a man offhand at 600 yards with iron sights.

    My Sako .375 H&H is rather light, and the original owner added some lead in the forend. But, then he bought a Mannlicher-stocked Sako .375 and used it most. Go figure.

  5. #5
    Barrel weight doesn't effect accuracy! Its ether accurate or not!
    Ive had a .270wsm and a 7mm Rem mag with sporter barrels that were insanely accurate! like wise I have had lots of other calibres with varmint barrels that have been as accurate!
    The only thing a heavy barrel does is to help reduce recoil and muzzle flip which will make it easier to shoot more consistently which in turn can help you shoot more accurately!

  6. #6
    Have long held the view that barrel height is a factor, I think there is a torque reaction when fired and this is better controlled when
    barrel is lower. My old tikka combi had a very thin barrel and was the best shooting rifle i have had.
    Would be interesting to hear of experiences from shooters with over and under rifles

  7. #7
    That German fella in those "Schwarzwildfieber"
    adds uses a very long semi heavy barrelled rifle. They had a copy of his rifle on one of the shows. That rifle did not suit me one bit but he shoots really well with it.
    I prefer a very light rifle for offhand shooting, cheek weld must suit, scope mounted slightly too far back which avoids neck muscle tension. Very light stock, slightly heavy scope leads to a higher centre of gravity and therefore less muzzle flip, similar to firing the lower barrel on a over under.
    Overall fit is the most important factor for me at least. Have a light air rifle that doesn't fit me at all and it is so much more difficult to hit something with hit off-hand.

  8. #8
    You certainly don't need the heaviest rig possible to have an accurate rifle! But weight does help with stability, to a point.
    I have a CZ .17HMR with a heavy barrel simply because I found it more stable to hold when shooting offhand than the sporter barrel version.
    Equally another rifle with a sporter barrel, a stalking rifle, I have a heavy laminate beaver forend stock on it and it's incredibly stable to shoot offhand more so than when in a light Bell & Carson stock also it's amazingly accurate.
    When shooting competition and strings of shots is where you need the heavy barrel as the sporter will heat up too quickly and become less 'stable' and start throwing your shots. Otherwise they are both as accurate as each other, as said it's either accurate or it isn't.

  9. #9
    I tend to think that gun fit is far more important than barrel weight if we are talking about a sporting rifle where only one or two shots will be taken rather than multiple consecative shots with a target rifle.

    I have multiple rifles with varying barrel weights. My .223 A-Bolt has a thin whippy barrel and tends to shoot much better when a large lump of moderator is fitted on the end. I must admit that the stock on this rifle does not fit me as well as the old tikka 595 which was absolutely perfect for fit as far as I was concerned.
    My .22 CZ has a varmint barrel and shoots particularly well but no more so than its regular weight barreled cousins.
    The O/U and SxS doubles both have light weight barrels but they shoot well because the balance of the guns is good and the stocks are designed for instinctive shotgun type shooting. Neither is designed for nor intended for anything other than short range knock down but both are capable of fine accurasy at their intended ranges.
    The Sako varmint has a short heavy varmint barrel and has always been very accurate. Without the moderator fitted the well designed stock which fits me well allows very instinctive shooting but put that huge can on the end and the rifle becomes bulky and awkward requiring very delibrate shooting.
    It's the calibre of the shooter that counts not the calibre of the rifle.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by Ack Imp View Post
    Barrel weight doesn't effect accuracy!
    Really? A barrel that is thicker, and therefore heavier for its length will be stiffer, increasing accuracy potential. Notice I say "potential". There's more to an accurate rifle system than a barrel, but all things being equal the heavier (thicker) barrel will be more accurate and consistent. Also helps when shooting extended strings of shots as it heats up more slowly and remains stiffer than a lightweight barrel when it does get hot.


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