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Thread: Optimum barrel length

  1. #1

    Optimum barrel length

    What do you think the optimum barrel length is for a general purpose deer/vermin rifle used from a vehicle/woodland/general hill. I think around 20 inches plus a reflex type mod which will increase overall length by a further 3-4 inches.

  2. #2
    Your question is it about the best performing length or the best for being easy to use?

    Too many variables to even try to answer with the current information.

    However a suggestion ............................................ have you considered a full barrel length moderator as Sako used to fit onto their .308 win rifle at one time? Not even sure if anyone offers such a thing nor except on a shot gun but it would solve the added length problem .

  3. #3
    Okay to try and narrow down variables - optimum length for physical handling, optimum length to give good balance and velocity/energy. I would have thought that there was some ratio out there? Take the RPA range - their GP hunter is 24 inch and woodland stalker I think is 16 inch. I presume the shorter barrel is for ease of handling within woodland environments and the GP is just that, general purpose. Put a mod on the GP and you will have a lengthy set up.
    And so if you were having a custom GP built what do you reckon a good compromise would be?

  4. #4
    or a Ruger No1 which would give you a few extra inches of barrel length for the same overall rifle length...

  5. #5
    About the only common calibre that doesn't suffer from a short barrel handicap is the .308 you can still reach 3000fps with a 125 Ballistic tip in an 18" barrel. There really is no one rifle design/calibre that will do it all, you will always have a compromise somewhere along the line.

  6. #6
    Different cartridges behave very differently when you shorten the barrel for instance a .222 rem would not behave the same in this respect as say the 22-250 Rem.

  7. #7
    Got a 20 inch .308 and cant fault it as a stalking rifle.


  8. #8
    I've used Steyr .243W stutzen for over 20 years with a 20" barrel and never had any problem with velocity reaching 2900 fps with a 95gn ballistic tip.
    I currently use a .25-06 Rem. with a 20.5" barrel and get 3310 fps from a 100gn Sierra Prohunter Energy @ 200 yds appr. 1629ft lbs & 3120 fps (1736 ft lbs @ 200yds) from a 110gn Accubond.
    Neither rifle has given me any problem hunting in the UK, both are extremely accurate shooting 1/4 MOA at 100 yards with fair ease - as long as I don't wobble!
    In any event, some of the shorter cartridges .260Rem, 6.5x47Lapua, 6.5x55 will throw a heavier bullet using less propellant well into the 2850/3000fps region and are as ideal for hunting as .243/ long as you're a reloader.

    Last edited by deeangeo; 18-09-2011 at 12:14.
    Blaser K95 Luxus Kipplaufbüchse .25-06Rem. Zeiss 8x56, 110gn Nosler Accubond = Game Over!

  9. #9
    I did a lot of reading up on this subject a year or so ago when considering a custom build so just to add to some of the above comments.

    I think you have to consider what is a priority first of all and then look at other factors thereafter. If you are more concerned in a particular calibre, that may well then dictate the minimum barrel length. Conversely, if you are keener to use a short barrel that may well dictate what calibres to look at.

    As an example, and this is a very broad generalisation, some of the shorter case rounds like .260, 7mm-08 or .308 will still perform reasonably well in 20'' barrels whilst still producing good velocity for stalking applications because of the burn rate of the powders used in them. If however, you are looking at something that uses a longer case like 25-06 or .270, they tend to use slower burning powders and will always produce noticeably better velocity from a slightly longer (24''+) barrel.

    However, previous posts on here have commented on shorter barrels than 24'' still giving good velocity with 25-06 and .270. A lot will depend on powder and its burning rate. You dont say if you homeload though and that would also have to be considered because if you don't then you wont have the option of trying out different powders.

    It is still a really difficult question to answer. If you were to consider a custom barrel being fitted, I read somewhere that one of the best chamberings for still producing good velocity with hunting bullets (around 139grns) above 3000FPS was from a 7mm-08AI. This was met though by testing out many varying powders.

    That seems an awful lot of bother, expense and work for a rifle to be decided upon for stalking.

    I have a .308 Sako with a 20'' barrel. I just loaded up some 150grn Sierra Gamekings for it yesterday and will be out later today trying them out. I don't have access to my mates chrono just now so will not know what FPS they are doing till later. The factory Federal 150grn Powershocks I used over the last 6 months (primarily to get the brass) when zeroed 1.5'' high at 100yds were striking about 2'' low at 200yds and still producing groups around 1.5'' at the 200yd distance. I would still be simply pointing the rifle and squeezing the trigger just like I did with my .243AI that zips out 85grn bullets pretty quickly and relatively flatter using a 24'' barrel. The point I make with that comparison is that between these two extremes in actual usability terms it makes no difference whatsoever re barrel length.

    I have no doubt that a .260 or a 7mm-08 would produce very similar results in their zero to my .308 using bullets that would be considered hunting weight for their respective chamberings. Therefore, you could have a rifle in a short action, with a 20'' barrel, that could use bullets from say 100grn up to 150grn (depending on choice of calibre from above) striking a target from anything up to 1.5'' high at 100yds to bang on at 200yds depending on bullet weight. These are rough estimates but will be within . 2 or .3 of an inch correct. I do not think you would gain much more than 150FPS by using a 24'' barrel with these calibres over a 20'' one.

    In normal stalking/vermin applications you would never notice the difference, and neither would the deer or foxes.

    You do make a good point though about the added length a mod creates or more importantly, the way it 'levers' the gun under your armpit when being carried because of the imbalance.

    My .308 uses one of the relatively new ASE UTRA SL5's on it which is about as short as you can get and it is still a pain in the arse!!!
    Last edited by jamross65; 19-09-2011 at 00:50.

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