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Nomenclature Clarification: Action Length

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by RPRNY, Sep 1, 2017.

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  1. RPRNY

    RPRNY Member

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    There appears to be a substantial population that is unaware of some basic nomenclature issues with regards to receiver "size". For the purposes of clarification:

    Magnum cartridges such as the venerable 375 H&H utilize a LONG ACTION receiver, generally allowing a cartridge length of up to @3.90"

    STANDARD ACTIONS, for standard length cartridges, have receivers that generally allow for cartridges up to @3.40".

    SHORT ACTIONS for short, and sometimes short and fat cartridges, have receivers that allow for cartridges up to @2.90" long.


    SHORT ACTION receivers, and their bolts, are generally no more than 0.5" shorter than STANDARD ACTIONS. The weight savings, like for like receiver, is on the order of only several ounces.

    SHORT ACTIONS offer no significant advantages over STANDARD ACTIONS without substantial further modifications. Very, very few hunters in North America participate in driven shoots where multiple shots on passing game could possibly justify the claim that as much as 0.5" difference in bolt throw could possibly matter. Bolt action, suppressed rifles for hogs might possibly enjoy such a benefit. For all others, 0.5" of bolt throw difference is factually immaterial.

    In order for action length difference to be material to all bit a handful of North American hunters, significant further modifications to substantially diminish overall rifle weight must be made. For the ultra lightweight mountain rifle, with it's pencil thin barrel and unweightium skeletonized stock, a short action can indeed make a difference. Otherwise, the hot air exuded in advancing the theory of tangible difference weighs more.

    But, for the economical route to the "handy, short action rifle", the result is usually a short barrel and cheap polymer stock. Again, one is welcome to it. But if one chooses a short action, short barreled rifle because it is, subjectively in most cases, "lighter and handier" than a standard action rifle, then one must not insist, as its erroneous aficionados so often do, that "it hits just as hard". It does not. Cutting 4"-6" of barrel off a rifle that already housed a less powerful cartridge has consequences. They are not improved ballistic performance.

    So, in summation: LONG ACTIONS describe those designed for Magnum Cartridges larger than 300 Win Mag. STANDARD LENGTH ACTIONS describe those designed for the likes of the 8x57, 30-06, 30-40 Krag, and 6.5x55, for example. SHORT ACTIONS describe those housing the 308 family and cartridges like the 6.5 CM, and; one will allow the "Mini Action" for 7.62x39 and 223 families. The FACTS are that unless one is engaged in extremely rare and unique hunting situations, the up to 0.5" shorter bolt throw of the SHORT ACTION is utterly immaterial. The FACTS are that in order for real weight savings to be made in Short vs Standard length actions, substantial further modifications and real compromises to performance must be made.

    These are facts. They are not opinions to which valid contrary views can be voiced. Each and every one of us is entitled to our own opinions, but not our own facts. Therefore, when discussing one's opinions about the merits of one action length vs another, one must be guided by these FACTS and, should one distort them in one's exuberant advocacy, one must expected to be corrected.
     
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  2. adcoch1

    adcoch1 Member

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    Your clarification of action dimensional difference should help some that aren't familiar with a true magnum length action. Also, it may be added that the k series mauser actions are closer to, or defined as long actions, even though compared to Savage standard actions, they are shorter. Almost falling directly between a Savage short and long action. Another point can be made that arm length and body mechanics can prove your point about long actions and short actions being relatively similar in speed of operation, and shorter isn't always better for everyone. Take the mini actions, my 5 yr old son can cycle it really fast, but it's slower than a short action for me at 6' and with long arms. I am a fan of long and magnum actions personally, but my best friend who's 5'7" and has short arms loves the short action.
     
  3. Wisco

    Wisco Member

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    Can you cite the source of these facts?

    It's always been described to me as short, long or magnum. 30-06 is almost always listed as a "long action", never "standard."
     
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  4. Robert

    Robert Administrator Staff Member

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    Citation please
     
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  5. Reloadron
    • Contributing Member

    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    What size action is my rifle?

    This action size discussion can get interesting because often it comes down to who made the rifle. The guy making the rifle can call his action size.

    With the onset of the holiday weekend the Ohio Highway Patrol seems to have setup their usual speed trap on the corner of the street I live on. Robert, if you would like to drive to my neighborhood and zip up the street I am sure the trooper will give you a citation, several if you would like. :)

    While off topic I wish you all a safe holiday weekend and preferably without any citations.

    Ron
     
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  6. Mosin Bubba

    Mosin Bubba Member

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    This.

    308 length - short.
    30-06 length - long.
    375 H&H length - magnum.
     
  7. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    I do see a difference between a long action (30-06 class) and a short action (308 class) when operating the bolt. The long action comes awfully close to hitting my nose when cycling the bolt, close enough that a part of my brain is worried that it'll get whacked. The extra clearance of the short action is enough that there is no concern at all
     
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  8. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    That post was mostly opinion, and I question some of the facts; documentation would be appreciated. About the only thing you got right is the fact that there is very little difference in the speed of repeat shots with a short action. A short action IS faster, but not enough for the average person to be able to measure.

    Action length is determined by whatever each manufacturer wants to call it. There is no standard and there are at least a half dozen different action lengths. Most rifles shooting the longer 300 and 375 H&H rounds use "30-06" length actions with the receiver bridges and magazines modified to work with longer cartridges rather than true "magnum" actions; and it has been that way longer than most of us have been alive.

    When putting together a light rifle weight reduction comes from many places and action length is just one, but those 4 oz cost nothing extra. Manufacturers have figured out that fluting a full length sporter weight barrel gives the same weight reduction you'd get with a shorter featherweight barrel without giving up any speed or accuracy. Several modern rifle designs incorporate MUCH lighter and stiffer actions which reduce weight dramatically while still allowing full length and diameter barrels. We aren't living in the 1950's anymore.

    It is true that a short action only saves a few ounces over a long action. It is possible to build a lightweight 30-06 that all things being equal would only weigh a few ounces more than a 308. But there are other factors to consider. In order to get just 100 extra fps from my 30-06 I have to burn about 15 gr more powder and take about 25% more recoil. The recoil from my 6 lb 308 is almost identical to an 8 lb 30-06 which is tolerable, but about all most people want. But take a 30-06 down to 6 1/4 lbs and now you are talking about 300 magnum recoil levels just to gain 100 fps over a 308.

    Short actions not only have a place, but are slowly replacing the old standard length actions or whatever you wish to call them. And for very good reasons.
     
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  9. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    Short
    Long/Standard
    Magnum

    Some European makers used to make and intermediate action that they chambered the 6.5x55, 7x57 and others in. Sako may still make an intermediate action. In length it is between a short and long action.

    Regarding the OP. I believe RPRNY is correct in that I've seen actions described that way in books and magazines. If I remember no American mass producer of rifles used magnum actions for a number of years after they were used in Europe. Winchester was the first in the states I believe.

    Europe:
    Short
    Standard
    Long

    USA:
    Short
    Long
    Magnum
     
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  10. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    And furthermore, I don't care what anyone says, catsup is the same thing as ketchup!
     
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  11. ford8nr

    ford8nr Member

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    So what was the point ?
    I can tell you my Savage .223 Axis SAYS Short Action but is much longer then my Ruger .308 action. Upside is i can hand load long OAL 75gr hand loads to make up for the Loooong chamber throat and they fit in the mag and the bolt throw is enough to chamber them. On the other hand my .223 Howa mini action is down right SWEET.
    It all comes down to feel and perception.
    Remember perception IS reality.
     
  12. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    That's because all Axis rifles are long actions. Same with Tikka.
     
  13. horsey300

    horsey300 Member

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    So this is where my OPINION falls, I like short action CARTRIDGES in a long/standard action, I.e. .260/6.5cm 6.5x284 etc on a savage 110. The cartridges in GENERAL make the most use of less powder, not arguing pressures or x vs xx here, and the long actions don't limit the full potential of a long/heavy for caliber bullet. If you're stuck on factory fodder I doubt it'll ever matter either way.
     
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  14. cdb1

    cdb1 Member

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    This.
     
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  15. MistWolf

    MistWolf Member

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    In the world of lightened bolt actions, 4 oz is a significant difference
     
  16. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    I couldn't read the original post, too hard to focus over the sound of opinionated chest thumping.
     
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  17. Theohazard

    Theohazard Member

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    I'd say that unless you can provide some sort of evidence that you're presenting us actual facts, your post is probably just your opinion.
     
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  18. jim in Anchorage

    jim in Anchorage Member

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    Sparks flying over short,long or magnium actions? Gentlemen please! Lets get a drink and settle this peacefully!
     
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  19. Elkins45

    Elkins45 Member

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    So what I think we have learned here is that the OP doesn't actually understand the difference between a fact and an opinion.
     
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  20. Sunray

    Sunray Member

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    "...for cartridges up to 3.40"..." Nope. 3.340" is .30-06. .30-06 and its offspring use a long action. No such thing as a 'Standard action".
    "...the venerable 375 H&H utilize a LONG ACTION receiver..." Uses a Long Magnum action.
    The whole thing is primarily about Remington M700's anyway. Nobody else markets a Short, Long or Magnum(that can be long or short too) action.
    "...Loooong chamber throat..." That has nothing to do with the receiver.
     
  21. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    When you really consider history and present, there's a lot which doesn't fit this OP's categorization...

    The Savage axis is only available as a long action, even when loaded in short action cartridges. Pre-64 Win 70's were all one length - magnum length. Ruger used to make short, long, magnum, and mini bolt actions, but now only makes short and long. Howa now does a mini. Remington does a short and a "long," and their long is actually a magnum. Mausers used to fit as a mid-length action.

    And what does it all really matter? A Ruger m77 hawkeye short action weighs almost a half pound more than a Rem 700 long action. A Savage 12 223rem (short action small shank) weighs more than a Rem 700 Sendero II 7mm Rem (magnum length compatible long action)... Bolt travel matters if you're running a mad minute, but such doesn't really apply for the real world - at least not enough to really matter; I've tripled on coyotes with a bolt action 30-06 M77 MkII.

    And the beat goes on...
     
  22. Tirod

    Tirod Member

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    The interesting thing is that we have been using a short action self loading design for over 45 years - as the current leading edge combat weapon man has yet produced. And we cut the barrels down to practical lengths, because we know that delivered energy within human limits is the goal.

    Even less disputed is that volume of fire increases the number of hits, which in and of itself is a direct result of unaimed fire.

    Those who had differing opinions over the years - professionals of experience and acumen - eventually understood why and followed along.

    What has resolved is that the next longer action has been relegated to trained marksman use and the longest actions to crew served weapons. Antiquated notions of how a bolt gun is fashioned to accommodate cartridges designed to propel chunks of lead lacking any aerodynamic efficiency have little standing now in the modern era.

    And those are equally indisputable facts of ballistic science in the 21st century. My short action is part of the dominant weapon type now used in combat world wide, most with barrels under 18". And my favorite one has a 10.5" barrel.

    I see your magnum action bolt gun with 24" barrel and raise it with a 5.56 AR pistol. : )
     
  23. Corn-Picker

    Corn-Picker Member

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    One unmentioned benefit of short actions: a short action barrel is effectively longer than a long action barrel of equivalent length.

    Compare a 300 WSM to a 300 H&H, both with 24" barrels. The OAL of the WSM is 3/4" less than the OAL of the H&H. Barrel length is measured from the bolt face, so from the bullet's perspective, the 24" 300 WSM barrel is actually 3/4" longer than the 24" 300 H&H barrel.
     
  24. someguy2800

    someguy2800 Member

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    Okay now I want to shoot a moose at 340 yards. I see your AR pistol and raise it with a magnum action bolt gun with a 24" barrel.
     
  25. Orcon

    Orcon Member

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    Someday RPRNY will come out of his shell and tell us what he really thinks. ;)
     
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