Barrel length


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WayBeau
December 6, 2012, 10:33 AM
Just wondering what the shortest length you would go for a barrel is? I was toying around on the E.R. Shaw site yesterday and noticed that you can get a rifle with a 16" barrel. In my, very limited, experience that seems awfully short unless you're shooting an AR of some sort, but I truly don't know. There would definitely be several advantages in the thick cover of the deer woods I hunt, but I'm not sure of the affects on accurracy.

So I'm curious to know how short you all would go. I was 'building' a 6.5x55.

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HOOfan_1
December 6, 2012, 10:54 AM
Shortest I would go on a 6.5x55 is 22". I wouldn't even consider anything shorter than 20", but if I had a choice 22" or 24"

helotaxi
December 6, 2012, 11:16 AM
It all depends on the cartridge and the range that you plan shoot. You lose velocity as you shorten the barrel. The amount that you lose depends on the particular cartridge and load. Whether that velocity loss makes a difference or not depends on what you're using the rifle for. In the thick woods, it essentially isn't going to matter since your shots are going to be at close range. Having a really compact rifle more than makes up for the inconsequential velocity loss in that scenario.

The other thing to consider is the increase in muzzle blast with the shorter barrel. That, again, may or may not matter to you.

mtrmn
December 6, 2012, 12:51 PM
Also, "they" say shorter barrels flex less and are "more accurate." I do know that at 100 yds, I have a 16" AR that will consistently shoot tighter groups than my 20" HBAR.

WayBeau
December 6, 2012, 03:49 PM
Also, "they" say shorter barrels flex less and are "more accurate." I do know that at 100 yds, I have a 16" AR that will consistently shoot tighter groups than my 20" HBAR.

I was under the impression that longer barrels produced better accurracy.

Sam1911
December 6, 2012, 03:53 PM
I was under the impression that longer barrels produced better accurracy.Not necessarily. Longer barrels will universally give you more velocity from a cartridge, but shorter barrels are stiffer (for the same wall thickness anyway) and tend to give an accuracy bonus.

Of course, that's trying to compare two barrels that are perfectly identical in every other way, and that doesn't actually exist, but short barrels can be quite accurate, and shortening a barrel can sometimes improve its accuracy.

Skribs
December 6, 2012, 03:58 PM
I hadn't thought about short barrels being stiffer before. Does this concept translate to pistols as well, or are their barrels already so short that it doesn't really matter?

Art Eatman
December 6, 2012, 04:01 PM
Google for "Secrets of the Houston Warehouse". It's a worthwhile read about barrel lengths and accuracy.

My 19" Sako sporter in .243 is a sub-MOA rifle. My 26" Wby '06 is a sub-MOA shooter. Go figure.

WayBeau
December 6, 2012, 04:20 PM
The other thing to consider is the increase in muzzle blast with the shorter barrel. That, again, may or may not matter to you.

Would a muzzle break take care of, or greatly reduce, this?

I didn't realize how little I knew about rifles.:o

Skribs
December 6, 2012, 04:51 PM
WayBeau, a muzzle brake reflects the gases back, so it would make the blast worse. I'm not really sure how flash hiders work so I can't comment on that.

Revoliver
December 6, 2012, 04:58 PM
A linear compensator (like a Troy Claymore for example) would help reduce muzzle blast to both you and anyone around you that is behind the muzzle end of the barrel.

WayBeau
December 6, 2012, 05:01 PM
WayBeau, a muzzle brake reflects the gases back, so it would make the blast worse.

What is the purpose of one then? I would think reflecting the gases back towards the shooter would be the last thing anyone would want, but like I said earlier, I'm beginning to realize how little I know.

rcmodel
December 6, 2012, 05:02 PM
But, a 16" 6.5x55 will still be to loud to comfortably shoot without hearing protection.

And who wears hearing protection when deer hunting??

Best stick to 20" or 22".

rc

WayBeau
December 6, 2012, 05:11 PM
And who wears hearing protection when deer hunting??

Believe it or not, I actually put in ear plugs right before taking a shot.

Skribs
December 6, 2012, 05:11 PM
What is the purpose of one then? I would think reflecting the gases back towards the shooter would be the last thing anyone would want, but like I said earlier, I'm beginning to realize how little I know.

It affects the recoil, but just like anything in the gun the advantage comes at a cost.

DanTheFarmer
December 6, 2012, 05:51 PM
Hi All,

I use hearing protection while hunting.

I picked up a pair of those earmuff/amplifiers before the hunting season. I tried them out and they work great. They shut off instantly on loud noises and are effective hearing protection. You can turn them on as amplifiers and a squirrel rustling the leaves sounds a moose approaching! I got my pair for $20.00 on sale. The expensive ones are thinner and lighter and probably have better battery life. I think they are worth checking out.

Dan

Sam1911
December 6, 2012, 06:40 PM
What is the purpose of one then? I would think reflecting the gases back towards the shooter would be the last thing anyone would want, but like I said earlier, I'm beginning to realize how little I know.A muzzle brake's purpose is to reduce recoil by redirecting some of the escaping gas and "ejecta" in a direction other than straight out the bore.

Because that gas is now traveling in a direction more toward you (and/or the other shooters on a firing line) muzzle brakes are notorious for buffeting the shooter and bystanders with heavy muzzle blast. Some of the more innovative and progressive designs have mitigated this effect quite a bit, but everything's a trade-off.

Ironically, a silencer (aka "suppressor") is usually the best kind of muzzle brake, and flash-hider as well -- both taming the concussion, noise, flash, and perceived recoil as well. However, the fact that they are still a heavily controlled "Title II" device (requiring government registration, background checks, and a $200 tax) makes them a whole lot less popular than a simple unregulated muzzle brake.

WayBeau
December 6, 2012, 07:00 PM
Thanks Sam.

HOOfan_1
December 6, 2012, 07:16 PM
To me short barrel back woods gun = lever action .30-30. A 16" barrel on a 6.5x55 would be a waste....not to mention it might not be long enough to stabilize the high sectional density bullets of the 6.5 caliber

helotaxi
December 7, 2012, 10:07 AM
not to mention it might not be long enough to stabilize the high sectional density bullets of the 6.5 caliberTha has nothing to do with barrel length unless the bullet was so long and the barrel rate of twist so marginal that the slight difference in muzzle velocity kept the bullet from spinning fast enough to be stable. Most 6.5mm barrels are a 1:8 twist which is more than fast enough to stabilize the 6.5mm bullets on the market (barring some special custom jobs) from a 14" barrel at 6.5TCU velocities which are well below what you'd get from the Swede and a 16.5" barrel.

WayBeau
December 7, 2012, 10:08 AM
So it seems the consensus is that I should stick with a 22" barrel. Would you bother with a muzzle break or fluting of some kind? The reason I ask is that I'm trying to find out how much an E.R. Shaw would cost.

helotaxi
December 7, 2012, 10:13 AM
Why do you think that you want either fluting or a brake?

Sav .250
December 7, 2012, 11:25 AM
Shot placement vs short barrel. I`ve never in my life time needed a short barrel and I hunt in some thick stuff. There are plenty of rifles with 20 inch barrels (Win 94 for one) that are considered brush guns. A 16 in barrel vs a 20 inch, you`ll never know/see the difference.
They sell them though so it`s if you need a "short " barrel, have at it. :)

igousigloo
December 7, 2012, 11:36 AM
The model 94 Swedish Mauser was manufactured with a 17" bbl and it is a real good shooter. Many thousands were sold.

WayBeau
December 7, 2012, 11:48 AM
Why do you think that you want either fluting or a brake?

I don't really. I was just asking for opinions on whether people thought I should go that route. I've never owned a rifle with either, so I don't really see a reason to start now unless I were to get a resounding, 'YES, put a muzzle break and fluting on it!'.

They sell them though so it`s if you need a "short " barrel, have at it.

Don't REALLY need the short barrel, just curious about the affect on accuracy. The stuff I hunt isn't so thick that I couldn't get a clean shot off with a 22" barrel. If it was, I'd probably do a controlled burn, or find somewhere else to hunt.

Art Eatman
December 7, 2012, 12:57 PM
WayBeau, I've hunted the bottoms of the Appalachicola River swamps down below Blountstown, Florida. I grant that a 26" Wby '06 isn't the optimum critter, but other than a bit of extra care while sneaky-snaking, it wasn't any problem.

Same for the mesquite thickets and oak mottes north of Uvalde, Texas.

I dunno. 22" seems to be the common deal in bolt-actions, and I've done okay with a couple of rifles of that length. Walking or using as a truck gun: No problems worth mentioning.

WayBeau
December 9, 2012, 08:37 AM
So bear with me and please help by educating me. When you start getting into the longer barrels, are there measures that need to be taken to reduce the amount of barrel flex?

Sam1911
December 9, 2012, 09:02 AM
Well, that kind of depends on what you're looking to do with the rifle. If you're building a hunting rifle that will be used for long-distance tracking and stalking, a thin barrel is going to be lighter and easier on you to carry. But a quality light-profile barrel in a well-built and well-bedded rifle will be quite likely to give you more accuracy than you need for even fairly long hunting shots. If you find a load it likes and learn your cartridge's trajectory and learn to estimate range well (or get a good rangefinder), the rifle will be likely more accurate inherently than you're able to take advantage of under field conditions and at the more limited ranges you'd be ethically shooting at game animals. In such a situation you might choose a long barrel to keep the velocity up, thus making the trajectory a hair flatter so the gun is more forgiving to range estimation errors -- but the light profile makes the gun more agreeable to carry for miles.

If you're building a long-range target gun to shoot small groups and/or compete with, you likely want to make the barrel as heavy-walled (and therefore, stiff) as the competition rules allow. In those cases, accuracy is paramount above portability, as you only have to carry the thing from the trunk of your car out to the firing line. And matches will be won by very small margins of accuracy. Some folks contend that fluting stiffens the barrel even more than simply making it a heavier profile, but that's hotly contested. Almost anything else done to artificially stiffen the barrel is getting into crazy experimental stuff that isn't likely to be a good return on the investment. :)

In the end -- in either case -- there's a great deal of debate among hunters and target shooters about what is optimal, and no two barrels are perfectly equal anyway, so a great barrel in a great rifle may outshoot any number of shorter, stiffer, thicker, (whatever-er) barrels which should, on paper, beat it.

That's what makes all of this so much fun -- there's no perfect one way to do it, and in the end, shooter skill is the final (very) wild card that can make an average barrel look great, or a great barrel look like a dud.

helotaxi
December 9, 2012, 11:39 AM
For a hunting rifle there is no practical difference in accuracy between a short barrel and a long barrel. The lighter profile long barrel will start to open groups up when you fire an extended string of shots and it heats up, but with a hunting rifle, that's irrelevant. You're only going to fire one or two shots and all you care about is that the first shot shoots where you aim it. Barrel quality is all that matters there, length and weight have no bearing.

As for fluting, there is no debate among people that actually know what they're talking about. For a given weight, a fluted barrel will be stiffer than one that is not fluted because it will have a greater diameter. For a given diameter, the unfluted barrel will be stiffer because there is more material there to resist flexing. That's pure material science. Nothing to debate. From there what you want becomes merely personal preference. If you want a thick barrel but want to save some weight and are willing to sacrifice some stiffness, get the barrel fluted.

A muzzle brake is meant to reduce recoil on a heavy recoiling rifle so the shooter isn't as likely to develop a flinch or worry so much about recoil that they mess up the shot. They also have a place on moderate recoiling rifles that are shot a great deal in a session to reduce shooter fatigue and on light recoiling semi-auto competition rifles where they can control muzzle climb to allow for faster follow up shots. A 6.5 Swede bolt action hunting rifle falls into none of those categories. It has minimal recoil to mitigate and semi-auto speed follow up shots aren't needed. Don't bother with a brake.

WYOMan
December 9, 2012, 04:23 PM
I'd hunt with this if I could find one again for a reasonable price again.

WayBeau
December 10, 2012, 10:17 AM
Thanks Helo. That explanation of fluting vs. straight barrel makes sense.

So it really seems like it comes down to preference and getting to know the rifle/round combination.

While I do enjoy target shooting, there aren't any competitions in my future and I don't spend hours upon hours at the range. Most of my targets have fur and live in the woods. :D

mcdonl
December 10, 2012, 03:54 PM
Google for "Secrets of the Houston Warehouse". It's a worthwhile read about barrel lengths and accuracy

Art, given my brass preperation vs. those of Virgil King I am surprised I can even HIT a target at 100 yards let alone get any group.

I am struggling with which to replace first, scope of stock when I have some poor brass/bullet preperation to deal with too.

Thanks for introducing some of us new comers to the Houston Warehouse.

WayBeau
December 11, 2012, 11:31 AM
Thanks for introducing some of us new comers to the Houston Warehouse.

Yes, thank you. I read the article last night. It seems as though I need to get a 21.75" barrel. :D

Despite the fact that I'm not a target shooter, in the sense that I'm not trying to get those .025" groups, I found that article very enjoyable to read. It did make me wonder how much better my rifle could be if I had the time to put into hand loading and all of the other various aspects that affect how the rifle shoots. Maybe when the kiddos are a little older and don't require as much supervision.

mdauben
December 11, 2012, 12:11 PM
Just wondering what the shortest length you would go for a barrel is?
It depends on the cartridge in question. Some cartidges don't suffer too badly in shorter 18 or even 16 inch barrels while some high performance cartridges really need 24 or even 26 inch barrels to reach their full potential.

helotaxi
December 11, 2012, 04:35 PM
while some high performance cartridges really need 24 or even 26 inch barrels to reach their full potential.Or at least make them worth the bother. "Full potential" is such a vague qualifier. Even the lowly .223 doesn't reach its "full potential" until you're in the 40+" barrel range.

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