barrel weight vs stability and accuracy

4535jacks

Well-Known Member
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?

Gary
 

Southern

Well-Known Member
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.
 

McKenzie

Well-Known Member
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.
 

Southern

Well-Known Member
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.
 

Beserk

Well-Known Member
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!
 

joe soapy

Well-Known Member
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
 

ejg

Well-Known Member
That German fella in those "Schwarzwildfieber" https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=l57W49FxW-4
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.
edi
 

The deer man

Well-Known Member
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.
 

8x57

Distinguished Member
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.
 

Lupus

Well-Known Member
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.

Wolfie
 

8x57

Distinguished Member
I have to disagree with you there Lupus, a poor heavy barrel will never match a good light barrel on a sporting rifle. Yes a stiffer barrel will have benefits for extended strings of shots but not for the one or two rounds fired normally by a sporting rifle where the additional weight will have no benefits to accurasy.
 

4535jacks

Well-Known Member
So it would that the general consensus is that if you plan to shoot offhand then the heavier varmint barrels will allow you to keep the rifle steadier and so will allow a more precise shot at a distance. The price to pay for this though is having to lug a heavier rifle around all day!
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
I have been looking into this quite carefully whilst researching a new build.

There is a relationship between barrel profile and barrel length when it comes to accuracy. Put a light 26" barrel on a rifle and it will resonate and the flex will open groups up more compared with either a heavier 26" or the light barrel in 20 inch.

From a free shooting perspective weight is tiring, but the additional leverage caused by a long barrel exacerbates that weight.

So I would suggest that a lighter weight 18" or 20" barrel would be both accurate and very nice to shoot freehand providing you are happy to live with the velocity reduction, which over 100 yards really shouldn't be an issue.
 

Southern

Well-Known Member
So it would that the general consensus is that if you plan to shoot offhand then the heavier varmint barrels will allow you to keep the rifle steadier and so will allow a more precise shot at a distance. The price to pay for this though is having to lug a heavier rifle around all day!
Not necessarily so.

It is about balance, weight distribution,fitting you so you are in a natural position, your shooting style, and learning to adjust your technique to the rifle.

I have a vintage Mauser Model A sporting rifle in 8x60S, with a 600mm ( 23.5 inch ) barrel and a very thin stock, which weighs only 6.5 lbs. The weight is out front, yet is balances ahead of the magazine in just the right place to carry it. With its iron sights, I can hit the orange part of a clay pigeon on a bank at 200 meters without straining.

Likewise, the Tikka T3 Lite has most of the weigh in the barrel, and is 6.25 lbs unloaded, 7 lbs with a non-Hubble scope. It is very shootable offhand, and very accurate, period.

My SIG SHR 970 is 7.25 lbs unloaded, and 8.5 loaded and scoped. It has a fairly stout barrel, and shoots well offhand ( or from any other positions ). Like the T3, its good trigger helps this.
 

hybridfiat

Well-Known Member
The best off hand rifle I have shot had a light weight and a stock that put my face firmly on the cheekpiece and a forward tilt to my stance. The pull was straight back with almost no rise. That is my right hand was nearly in line with the left. The barrel a minimum distance above that. A 'pointing' rifle. Similar in feel to a straight pull fast handling shotgun. The scope was as low as I could mount it. The all up weight was about 6lbs. I found this easy to keep on target, shot after shot. But each to their own I think.
 
Last edited:

Glyn 1

Well-Known Member
So it would that the general consensus is that if you plan to shoot offhand then the heavier varmint barrels will allow you to keep the rifle steadier and so will allow a more precise shot at a distance. The price to pay for this though is having to lug a heavier rifle around all day!
Your comment about lugging it around suggests you will be using it for stalking etc. If this is the case then I would say that freehand shots are very rarely required. Any medium to lightweight rifle with a pair of sticks is always going to be produce better practical results than the most accurate heavy rifle shot freehand under field conditions.
 

4535jacks

Well-Known Member
It will be used for walking around fields and hedgerows where I can't get to with the LR. My quarry will be rabbits and so I doubt I will have time to use sticks. I have decided to buy a lighter spotter barrel as I can alway use a heavier mod if I find it poorly balanced. Due to the moment arm of the mod I can move the cofg forward without adding too much total weight.
 

The deer man

Well-Known Member
It will be used for walking around fields and hedgerows where I can't get to with the LR. My quarry will be rabbits and so I doubt I will have time to use sticks. I have decided to buy a lighter spotter barrel as I can alway use a heavier mod if I find it poorly balanced. Due to the moment arm of the mod I can move the cofg forward without adding too much total weight.
Try some in your gunshop, if you can.

One point to bear in mind is that we are all of different size and stature and although there have been a few views only you can take them and disseminate them for you. Good luck!
 

Top