Pistol caliber (lever gun ) barrel length

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3Crows

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I have essentialy purchased a R92 in .44 Magnum with the 16 inches barrel. I will not have it in my hands until next trip through my home town where I bought it. My thought on this vs the 20 inches model, aside from a longer sight radius and perhas a little more velocity, why the 20 vs the 16? I went with the 16 figuring it would handle better, get most of the velocity gain, make quick work easy in the bush and transport easier in Jeeps and ATVs and if I ever am so unfortunate as to get on a horse again ;). Any thoughts, preference, esthetics? I know where a 20 inches R92 is so I could reverse course I suppose still.
 
You likely aren't going to see enough difference to matter between 20 and 16 in that gun. A lot depends on the powder, charge wt, and bullet you use, but generally about 20- 40 fps per inch of barrel. The same factory load in the 16" vs a 5" pistol is likely to be 200fps or so faster. But there is a point of diminishing returns for each load/bullet , so going to a 20" is not necessarily gonna equal another 100fps. Other than having a little longer sight radius there is not really any other advantage to the 20" barrel.
 
The perfect length, for me, would be about 14 inches; the NFA prohibits me from having such a rifle without a lot of red tape and taxes. So, my 16 inch Rossi 357 works pretty good. It carries much better than a 20 inch 94 Winchester, points better too. Makes a fine brush rifle. Just wish I could figure out where to send it to have a button magazine put on it; always thought the 92 SRC's with the button mags were pretty cool.

Mac
 
A very general rule with PCCs is that heavier bullets perform better at range from longer barrels.


Depending on where you hold the forend with your support hand, you'll notice that a longer under-barrel tubular magazine will start out feeling more muzzle-heavy when fully loaded, and then balance will shift rearward as the magazine empties, at least as compared with a shorter version of the same rifle.

This is something you'll really notice doing a rapid mag dump with a fully-loaded Swiss Vetterli offhand!

Vetterli1878.jpg
 
A very general rule with PCCs is that heavier bullets perform better at range from longer barrels.


Depending on where you hold the forend with your support hand, you'll notice that a longer under-barrel tubular magazine will start out feeling more muzzle-heavy when fully loaded, and then balance will shift rearward as the magazine empties, at least as compared with a shorter version of the same rifle.

This is something you'll really notice doing a rapid mag dump with a fully-loaded Swiss Vetterli offhand!

View attachment 1196706
Only you, Dave, would come up with this example! :)
You likely aren't going to see enough difference to matter between 20 and 16 in that gun. A lot depends on the powder, charge wt, and bullet you use, but generally about 20- 40 fps per inch of barrel. The same factory load in the 16" vs a 5" pistol is likely to be 200fps or so faster. But there is a point of diminishing returns for each load/bullet , so going to a 20" is not necessarily gonna equal another 100fps. Other than having a little longer sight radius there is not really any other advantage to the 20" barrel.
Listen to Hugger; exactly right. I even had a Marlin '94 whacked to 16" for just that reason. The .44 is a superb brush gun, out to 100 yards, and was generally my hunting rifle. I came late to deer hunting, and always heard stories about tracking wounded game. It was an experience I never had; that .44 is a hammer, and the deer were DRT.
I used the same H110/240 load in a 629 (3 deer with that, too) as the carbine; velocity increase was @ 200'sec. The Marlin wears a scope, so the sight radius isn't an issue.
If you're determined to use irons, fit a tang or receiver sight, and get plenty of radius on a 16".
Moon
 
I have a CVA break open in .44 Magnum. It is a killer on deer and hogs. But a single shot. Thus my wanting a quick levergun in .44 Magnum. I feel like a traiter to Marlin. I have never bought anything but save for one 9422M other than Marlin. But, I kind of liked the sleek look of the R92 and I wanted stainless steel and nothing but stainless steel (are you listening Ruger?). When Ruger gets the 1894 out in .44 or maybe better .45 Colt (since I now have a R92 in .44M) maybe I will grab one. But only in stainless steel.
 
I will throw my lot in with the "shorter is better" camp. It's handier to carry and I think the longer barrel only really potentially adds a velocity boost for a couple of key pistol calibers. I will say that I consider 44M to be among those, along with hot 45C.

I don't reload so I wouldn't generally see that benefit in any case.


That being said, I think 18.5-20 inches is fine and makes a good general purpose barrel length for most any levergun IMHO. In my mind, 24" and beyond is where things start to get lanky and unwieldy.
 
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Four inches of barrel, with that cartridge isn't a deal killer if you're thinking about velocity. I wouldn't guarantee that an individual rifle with a 20" barrel is actually faster than another with a 16" barrel. There really is that much variance between 2 different rifles even barrels of the same length. It's actually quite common to see an individual barrel shoot faster than another that is longer.

If you were to start with a 20" barrel with a known velocity and cut it down to 16" then I'd expect 50-75 fps loss. Cartridges that hold more powder would see more loss. Generally speaking, less powder in the case means less barrel is needed. But all bets are off when comparing 2 different barrels.

How much weight you want to carry, magazine capacity, sight radius, balance, and aesthetics are what you should be making your decision on. I'd choose the 16" barrel, but the 20" barrel isn't a wrong choice. Just depends on what you want. That's why they make both.
 
I mean if velocity was really a concern, why a pistol caliber.
I apparently avoid pistol caliber with 20"
My 44 is 16 the 357 is 18 and both the 38/40 n 45 colt have 24s lol

I am just trying to fully understand the compromises for each length. The give and take.
 
I am just trying to fully understand the compromises for each length. The give and take.
Velocity between 16 and 20 with magnum pistol cartridges isn't going to be near as drastic as with bottle neck rifle cartridges.
Really sight radius would probably have more influence on my choice although a receiver mounted peep elevates a lot percentage wise.
All in all though even with a barrel mounted rear sight my 16" 44 is plenty accurate for most any purpose it's capable of.
 
I have the same 16-inch M92 Rossi in 44 Mag and love it. Carries so nice in rough and steep terrain and still has good power. For the way I use a pistol caliber carbine the only change I would make would be to go down to 13-14 inches long barrel to make it that much handier but that very slight increase in handling is not worth the $200 stamp so I am content with the 16-inch barrel. If I was to have a lever gun with a 20-inch or longer barrel I would move up to a true rifle cartridge.
 
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Back in the '90s and 2000s, the Marlin 1894 that I always wanted was a .357 model with a 20" barrel.

Why? Because it would hold 10-rounds, which would be the same capacity as the .44 mag model, and the pesky AWB back then made me focus on 10-rounds.

Alas, I think the .357 1894s from that era only had a 18.5" barrel, which only held 9-rounds of .357. However, if I had seen one in person to buy . . . 18.5" of barrel would have been my choice.

Fast forward to early 2020 and a new 16" Marlin 1894 was on the gun rack for sale at a local gun shop. I held it, shouldered it, dry fired it (with permission), and bought it on the spot. The 8-round capacity didn't bother me one bit at that point in my life, and I do appreciate the shortness in the gun, especially since I need to add the weight of optics these days.
 
According to BBTI, average FPS gain going from 16" to 18" (they didn't test 20) is less than 100 FPS. One gain is only 6 FPS which you get in variation from one round to the next out of the same box of ammo.


16" sounds just about perfect balance for 44mag.
The short barrel gold dot actually lost velocity going from 16 to 18.
 
I am just trying to fully understand the compromises for each length. The give and take.

Back Home, Years Ago, I bought my brother a 16" Winchester Trapper in .45 Colt. Although I'm not a fan of the Winchester action, that rifle quickly became my favorite knockabout rifle... I 'borrowed' it from him when I was camping, or out in the mountains, and we carried it on the tractor when we were working his property. I paired it with a Ruger Vaquero in .45 Colt, so it could take the same 'Ruger only' loads the rifle did.

About 20 years ago, I bought a Marlin 1894FG... the reissue of the .41MAG 1894C... with a 20" barrel. I immediately started investigating having the barrel and mag whacked to 16" mostly because of how handy the Trapper was, and because a real 16" Marlin .41 was, virtually, Unobtanium. It never came to fruition... and I'm kind of glad. Some years ago, I started shooting steel pipe at long ranges... and the 20" barrel of the Marlin got me out to 600yds with some ease, and with good success. Friend of mine was trying the same thing... with, of all things, a 16" Winchester Trapper in .45 Colt... he was limited to 200yds, with a lucky shot here and there at 300yds. Granted, he was shooting lower velocity factory ammos, with heavier (255grn) bullets, vs my 215grn bullets pushed by IMR4227. That is an extreme example, however.

The 20" Marlin isn't that much more 'unhandy' than the 16" Winchester... it's only 4" and probably a pound or two more, loaded.... but there is no denying the 16" barrel is handier. If your shots are made within 150yds, with the .44MAG, I don't see any benefit to the extra 4". I shoot receiver-mounted peeps on my levers, so I negate a little of the lost sight radius, and I just shoot peeps better than open sights... something to consider. I am not a fan of a tang sight on a field rifle... there is too much potential for damage, and it can be awkward to use in a hurry... but that is just my .02.

If you are shooting mid-range .44's, there is virtually no difference in 16" vs 20", but if you are shooting full-house .44MAG loads, and wanting the most velocity... the 20" is your answer. Powder choice makes a difference, here.

My standard Unique load, between my 4" .41 and my 20" Marlin is only 200-220fps.

My standard heavy load, using W296, it's 520fps. The estimated difference between a 20" barrel, vs a 16" barrel is only 75fps, using QuickLoad.

At the end of the day, it depends on your greater purpose for the firearm.
 
Pistol calibers like the classic 357/41/44 mag in carbines depend heavily on the powder type for the performance increase in the longer barrels.

When I worked up my 44 Mag load for both my M29 and M92 the powder made a big difference in performance going from the 6.5 inch revolver to the carbine.

Both loads produced roughly the same ~1340 fps from the revolver but the fast burning 800x only produced ~1600 fps from the 16-inch carbine while the much slower burning H110 produced a touch over 1700 fps from the 16-inch carbine. You can definitely load your pistol calibers to make better use of the barrel length if you're a reloader.
 
The short barrel gold dot actually lost velocity going from 16 to 18.
Um, then it must not be made for a long barrel. Early days between my brother and I we had 16,20 and 24 inch in 357,44 mag and 45 colt. Did a lot of chronograph work. If all people care about is speed first 20 inch is best. I think 16 is a perfect length. Who cares about an extra little bit of speed. 20 inch feels like a 94 win. Just more puny. 24 inch adds very little to no speed increase depending on ammo. The 24 inch is very cool, feels awesome and the sight radius thing is mostly true.
Scope and forward mount scope for round barrels and the hex barrel got drilled for scope rail for testing. Open sights aren't a hindrance at the short range we use revolver cartridges at. Many types and brands of sights got tested. Skinner file to height front and marbles bullseye rear were the best. 24 inch is my favorite. Well I really like the 16 . Those rifles were so inexpensive.
FYI. TMI
 
I have an R92 in 45Colt and frankly it just feels handy when I'm hiking around on forest service roads in the mountains. I think this is one rifle I will never part with. I have recently bought a Marlin 1894 in 44 mag w/ a 20 " barrel and I haven't had the opportunity to shoot it. I don't really see that a 20" barrel is any hindrance when hiking as opposed to a 16" barrel. I just need to give it a try.
 
I've got a 20" Rossi 92 in .44 mag, and love it. I took mine deer and black bear hunting in Prince William Sound just outside of Whittier AK, and it worked great. A 16" barrel would just be that much handier, and whatever velocity loss vs. a 20" barrel would be insignificant.

Drill and tap the receiver for a Williams peep sight, and you will have basically the same sight radius of a 20" carbine with the factory sights.
 
Fast forward to early 2020 and a new 16" Marlin 1894 was on the gun rack for sale at a local gun shop. I held it, shouldered it, dry fired it (with permission), and bought it on the spot. The 8-round capacity didn't bother me one bit at that point in my life, and I do appreciate the shortness in the gun, especially since I need to add the weight of optics these days.
Had to have mine whacked to achieve the 16" barrel, but it is a great combo.
Back Home, Years Ago, I bought my brother a 16" Winchester Trapper in .45 Colt. Although I'm not a fan of the Winchester action, that rifle quickly became my favorite knockabout rifle...
This is the rifle that started me down the centerfire carbine with a tang sight road, and I took what is likely my last deer with it. The combination of the crossbolt safety and an action that is a little clunky (with pistol cartridges) sent me looking for a 92. I was probably too fussy about that angle eject Winchester; it really is a nice rifle.
I am not a fan of a tang sight on a field rifle... there is too much potential for damage, and it can be awkward to use in a hurry... but that is just my .02.
I have a folding tang Marbles on a '92, and also a folding midbarrel open sight. Use the open sights for quick, snap shooting, and the tang for longer shots. Keeping the tang folded protects it from most mischief.
Moon
 
Had to have mine whacked to achieve the 16" barrel, but it is a great combo.

This is the rifle that started me down the centerfire carbine with a tang sight road, and I took what is likely my last deer with it. The combination of the crossbolt safety and an action that is a little clunky (with pistol cartridges) sent me looking for a 92. I was probably too fussy about that angle eject Winchester; it really is a nice rifle.

I have a folding tang Marbles on a '92, and also a folding midbarrel open sight. Use the open sights for quick, snap shooting, and the tang for longer shots. Keeping the tang folded protects it from most mischief.
Moon
Those Winchester 94 AE are indeed a very nice rifle. Have one in 30-30, would really like to find one in .45 Colt.
 
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