16" vs. 20" barrel for 7.62 - which is better?


January 19, 2003, 02:25 AM
I'm going to order a SAIGA 7.62 next week and need a little help deciding on either the 16" or longer 20" barrel. Does the 7.62 perform noticeably better out of the longer barrel? How about relative noise/flash out of either? Which would you choose and why? Leaning towards the longer barrel for range use, but the short one might handle nice too.

- Makarov

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January 19, 2003, 08:12 AM
I personally like the shorter barrels on most rifles. The down side is more noise and flash than anything else. The short barrel 308's have a pretty impressive fireball if you dont have a flash supressor on them. I have a 14" AK103K with a brake on it that can be pretty bright when its getting dark. The brake doesnt hide the flash, but redirects it to the sides. Kind of looks like a bright yellow bow tie when fired. I dont think your going to have any veloicity issues unless your trying to shoot way off. The shorter guns are a lot handier from all other standpoints.

January 19, 2003, 10:20 AM
I've fired one 16" barreled rifle in .308. Lots more blast than I care for and I'm guessing the velocity loss is significant.

Art Eatman
January 19, 2003, 10:27 AM
For most any rifle, a good general number is 50 ft/sec/inch of barrel. It is rare for published data from factories or reloading handbooks to involve barrel-lengths less than 22", for "standard" hunting cartridges such as the .308.

(I've never checked what Mr. Hornady uses for such as the 7.62x39.)

A 150-grain .308, starting out at around 2,800 or so from a 22" barrel, is gonna lose roughly 300 ft/sec when fired from a 16".

Think of that muzzle flash and louder noise as wasted energy which might have added some ft/sec...

:), Art

January 19, 2003, 10:35 AM
7.62x39, or 7.62x51, aka, 7.62mm NATO?

Saiga makes both, hence my asking.

That, and several folks I've bumped into refer to the shorter Soviet round as "7.62".

January 19, 2003, 11:06 AM
Shot a 7.62x51 in a 8" barrel once (HK51).
Big boom, but not any problem since I was wearing hearing protection.
As for a bolt rifle, I think I'd go with a 18" barrel. I believe the extra 2" will get the 7.62 up close to max velocity.
I might go for a 16", but then again I'll be putting a can on mine.

Scott Evans
January 19, 2003, 04:29 PM
Longer is better ...

I have an AR-10 16" and the blast is ... well ... wish I had a 20"

January 19, 2003, 04:36 PM
Go for the 20". Better efficiency.

January 20, 2003, 12:54 AM
I second the recommendation for the 20" barrel. The shorter barrel gives a BIG increase in muzzle flash and blast - trust me, I've been alongside one on the range at Thunder Ranch, and I learned this one the hard way! Even behind the gun, it's impressive. The 20" seems way more efficient in this caliber - burns up most of the powder, so that flash is greatly reduced, and the noise level is also subjectively lower.

Of course, if you want to do house-cleaning type exercises with it, or hunt in thick brush or cover, the shorter barrel might lend some (here comes the dreaded T-word again! :uhoh: ) TACTICAL advantage: but then, for these applications, is a .308 the right round to choose? For house-cleaning, you're virtually guaranteeing over-penetration (and SEVERE deafness from the concussion of the shots indoors!), and for brush hunting, where your ranges are going to be lower in any event, why not go to a quieter, lower-recoiling, more manageable round? The good old .30-30 or .35 Remington are still great choices for this application.

January 20, 2003, 01:00 AM
Does anyone make a bullpup bolt-action rifle? Seems that is a way to get both a longer barrel and easier to handle rifle.

January 20, 2003, 02:02 AM
So where in the hell do you get a 20" barrel for a 7.62 stamped romak reciever.

Art Eatman
January 20, 2003, 08:13 AM
Well, TaurusGL, given my biases and opinionated attitude, you don't. You buy a real rifle like a good bolt action or an M1A or Garand and practice real marksmanship with a disciplined rate of fire and get just really, really good at ofhand hitting.

When you get good enough to hit the end of a sodapop can at 200 yards, you can win enough bets to pay for your ammo...

:D, Art

Stripling Warrior
January 20, 2003, 10:01 AM
Question 16” or 20”, which is better?

What are you using it for?

I use a 16” barrel. In my situation, anything over a 450 yard shot in highly unlikely. At that distance I do not believe that I any losing anything significant. What I gain is a rifle that can take the 450 yard shot and still be used for CQB if necessary.

Look at your needs and then pick the rifle. Don’t pick the rifle and then try to get it to fill your needs.

Stripling Warrior

Sleeping Dog
January 20, 2003, 10:17 AM
The longer barrel might reduce muzzle flash and noise a little. Does the longer barrel have a longer sight radius? If you're staying with iron sights, the sight radius might have a big impact on accuracy.


January 20, 2003, 11:10 AM
To answer a few questions. I am referring to 7.62x39. SAIGA also makes a .308

I will primarily be using it for range use. Plinking. The longer barrel does have a longer sight radius, but I already have a sidemount scope mount and a 4x cheap scope to put on it if I want to use optics.

Mostly I was concerned with the efficiency of the barrel. How much wasted energy would be used as flash and noise. I know it is going to be much louder than shooting my .22, but noise is a concern. I shoot .22's a lot on my property, but go to the range for 9mm and .357 and any high-power rifle.

- Makarov

January 20, 2003, 11:13 AM
We have not determined at this point whether Makarov was talking about x39 or x51 or x63.
In reference to the 7.62x39, I believe that the ammo for this round is designed to be shot out of 16" barrels, and I know from experience that you can load ammo that will burn all the powder in a short barrel.
My question is: has anyone used a chronygraph to check the velocity difference between a 16" barrel and a 20" barrel in this caliber.
Now, I know the supposed 50fps per inch drop and from what I can determine, this is true of the ammo designed to be fired in longer barrels, such as the 7.62x51.
I saw some chrony test in a mag. that showed the velocity down in the 2400fps range out of a 16" barrel. If this is true, why bother with 7.62x51 when a 7.62x39 will do almost the same thing?
If someone has some actual Data, lets hear about it.
Makarov, you posted the above while I was typing. I have a SKS in 16" and one in 20", I can tell no difference in the two as far as flash or muzzle blast. That is why I asked the above question.

January 20, 2003, 11:19 AM
I hear the 7.62x39 being referred to a LOT as just "7.62". ;)

You'll be just fine with a 16" barrel on the 7.62x39 round. Not a lot of boiler room capacity behind that bullet for extra burn time.

Jim K
January 20, 2003, 11:45 AM
In just about any situation, the longer barrel is better. Some people talk about "tactical" advantage or "house clearing", but unless you are a not only a cop but a SWAT cop, those considerations really are not very valid. The "cool" look of the short barrel will be more than offset by the blast and noise, even if you wear good hearing protection (something, by the way, that you would probably not be using in a "tactical" situation).

Further, the extra four inches will add some 200 fps, important enough with a round that is a bit on the low power side to begin with. Go with the 20".


Tropical Z
January 20, 2003, 12:13 PM
The same ? was killing me,so i got both! I prefer the 16".

January 20, 2003, 04:18 PM
Something about a 20" barrel AK variant just looks weird. More like an RPK or Dragunov with a tube that long.

Now, on an AR-15/M16, a 20" barrel isn't so out of place, aesthetically.

January 20, 2003, 04:31 PM
You can SO do house clearing/CQB type stuff with a full length rifle. I've practiced it with my 21" FAL on occasion; the trick is to strip all of the extras off, like the scope mount, the bipod, etc, and bring down the weight.

That 5" more barrel can make a difference in close confines, but with a little practice, you can work around it.

Though, you're probably not going to be doing a lot of "house clearing" with your rifle anyway. That is much better suited to the shotgun, which even with a 20" tube is still managable.

The only 20" AKs I've seen are the VEPR IIs and the Saigas. My friend has a Hesse (it works okay, despite) Saiga conversion with a 20" barrel, and with the standard Saiga handguard on there it looks pretty good, actually.

The VEPR IIs from Robinson look pretty cool, too, though I liked them better with the old front sight post than with the new one. Robinson told me in an email that all new VEPR IIs have the traditional AK front sight assembly.

This is the VEPR II .223 with old style sight tower.

VEPR II 7.62x39mm with traditional AK front sight tower.

January 20, 2003, 05:57 PM
here is a picture of the 20" SAIGA

January 21, 2003, 06:19 PM
If the gun in question is in .308, then definately get the 20"; you'll get a lot more out of the cartridge that way.

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