Difference between long and short action? Advantages/disadvantages?

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by Drjones, Oct 5, 2004.

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  1. Drjones

    Drjones member

    Dec 25, 2002
    Hi all.

    In looking at bolt rifles, I've noticed the terms "long" and "short action."

    What does this mean?

    What are the advantages/disadvantages of each?

  2. ocabj

    ocabj Member

    Jan 22, 2003
    Riverside, CA
    The difference between a short and long action is usually attributed to the cartridge the rifle is chambered for. Short action rifles are chambered in calibers such as .223, .243, 22-250, and .308, which are fairly short cartridges compared to say .300WM and 30-06, which are chambered in long actions.

    If you're going to buy a rifle, you usually don't think about whether it's a short or long action, because most of the time you're looking for a particular caliber rifle. The only time you would consider the action length is if you plan on rebarrelling/rechambering for another caliber in the future.
  3. MrMurphy

    MrMurphy Member

    Feb 25, 2004
    What he said.

    A .308 rifle in a long action rifle will take infitesmally longer to reload as your arm moves the extra distance, it also makes the gun a tiny bit longer. Not exactly a big deal, but if you're looking for a very compact rifle, say in 7mm-08, and the rifle maker only makes long actions, this might dissuade you.

    Most companies make both long and short actions for the calibers that fit them. So a .300 or .30-06 is a long action, a .308, .223, etc is a short. Just select your caliber and go for it.

    I shoot a .303 British Lee-Enfield (long action, it's as long as a .30-06) however, it's the fastest combat bolt action out there, so reloading is probably faster than most short action hunting rifles, especially with a good bolt gunner (me) behind it. :)
  4. Master Blaster

    Master Blaster Member

    Dec 26, 2002
    Delaware home of tax free shopping
    One theory is that short actions contribute to better accuracy because they are stiffer than long actions, I doubt that you or I could really tell the difference though.
  5. mhdishere

    mhdishere Member

    May 28, 2004
    New Jersey
    I've also read that a long action weighs more than a comparable short action, one of the reasons Jeff Cooper specified a short action for the Scout. Probably doesn't make any difference if you hunt from a blind or tree stand, probably makes a big difference if you stalk game in the mountains.
  6. Bwana John

    Bwana John Member

    Sep 10, 2004
    To get the most accuracy out of a rifle the bullet should be seated in the case so the bullet is almost touching the lands of the rifling. Many short actions are to short to allow these longer cartreges into the magezine.
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