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Shotgun barrel length

Discussion in 'Shotguns' started by Rivenoak, Sep 18, 2019.

  1. Rivenoak

    Rivenoak Member

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    Saw a video the other day stating that there is not a huge difference in spread patterns between a 28in and 18.5in shotgun barrel with birdshot because of chokes. Not sure I believe that but does it make a huge difference for rifled slugs?
     
  2. DocRock

    DocRock Member

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    What is the "difference" that we are discussing?

    The assertion that there is not a huge difference in patterns between an 18.5 " barrel and a 28" barrel could be true at short distances with certain chokes. Certainly a very long forcing cone in a barrel 10" longer is going to produce better patterns than a short sharp cone. The variables are significant and many. But more importantly, the 28" barrel will almost certainly swing more smoothly and is much more likely to aid in hits than a little stubby barrel, so the pattern question is somewhat academic. And before Tommy Tactical comes aboard to tell us how brilliant he is on grouse with his 18" breaching barreled whatever... No.

    For slugs, swing is much less a key factor for success, and while variables still abound, even with uber-super magnum loads, full combustion should have occurred in 18.5" , so, all other things being equal, the differences should be far less than with shot.
     
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  3. Duster340

    Duster340 Member

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    I really like a 20" barrel. All I use nowadays.
     
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  4. Rivenoak

    Rivenoak Member

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    100% agree on the swing factor. More or less patterning on shot of any sort turkey, steel, bird or buck was what I was referring to. In regard to slugs more about accuracy and velocity. Essentially thinking of making a slug gun easier to maneuver in a deer stand with some sort of optic (red dot or ghost ring) that could also function as a home defense gun. I have killed 2 deer and four hogs with a waterfowl gun and a bead sight but it's a little hard to move around in tight spaces like a stand or house.
     
    Last edited: Sep 19, 2019
  5. jmr40

    jmr40 Member

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    Length has nothing to do with it. Assuming they both had modified chokes the 18" barrel would shoot the same pattern as the 28" barrel. Of course a 28" barrel would be a handicap for home defense purposes and an 18" barrel would be a handicap for goose hunting. It's about the handling characteristics.
     
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  6. George P

    George P Member

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    Why don't you believe that? Barrel length has NOTHING to do with shot pattern; the choke does
     
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  7. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    "And before Tommy Tactical comes aboard to tell us how brilliant he is on grouse with his 18" breaching barreled whatever... No."
    Classic. Love it. :)
     
  8. Riomouse911

    Riomouse911 Member

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    Shooting slugs accurately at any distance over room width with a bead sight isn’t all that easy, so getting 4 hogs with a slug fired from a bird barrel is no piece of cake :thumbup:.

    Like every compromise there are trade-offs, shorter barreled shotguns are easier to maneuver in tight quarters, but don’t swing as smoothly on passing clays/birds.

    Longer barrels allow for smoother passing swings, but are tough to handle and knock into things in a tight deer blind... and can be a huge handicap if you’re forced to maneuver through your house in a defensive situation.

    Solution: Buy more than one barrel, and fit the barrel to the shotgun that best fits the situation you’re in :). No need to “one size fits all” with a modern repeater.

    Adjustable choke tubes allow for you to tune the gun to fire the pattern you want, and as the others said the barrel length doesn’t affect that. For me, a 26” or 28” modified choke handles my upland hunting and a full would go in if shots tend to be longer or birds bigger (Turkey, geese, etc)

    I did buy a nice used 21” Browning BPS 20 ga the other day, so I’ll be trying that out on clays to see how I shoot with it compared to my longer-barreled guns...If I can swing it this may become my upland stalker and the longer ones will stay home.

    Stay safe.
     
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  9. Jeb Stuart

    Jeb Stuart Member

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    I stopped carrying any thing longer in the swamps and woods I hunt deer in a long time ago. Nothing longer than a 20". And that has chokes. I have shot many shells of buckshot at different distances and see no need to carry a longer barrel. My guess would be that someone that does a lot of shooting with a small barrel on doves etc. could do quite well with a short barrel.
     
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  10. I6turbo

    I6turbo Member

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    I agree. I have had a variety of shotguns (semi-autos, pumps, SxS, and O/U) and different barrel lengths, and generally have used them for clay targets (except long-range trap type games) and things like doves, black birds or other nuisance birds. I have generally gravitated to O/U and/or SxS with 26" barrels for most of my shooting. These days I prefer to shoot my 18.25" Auto-5 with screw-in chokes for a lot of my shotgunning, and I don't think I'm giving up much of anything with the shorter barrel. I like the way it feels, how quick swinging it is, but still has enough heft that it swings smoothly and hits where I'm looking.

    A semi-automatic with an 18" barrel has about the same sighting radius as a SxS or O/U with 24"-25" barrels. That said, I don't exactly "aim" a shotgun, so sight radius is of little need for me in 99% of the shooting that I do, but some people like to see that long barrel out there.
     
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  11. dfariswheel

    dfariswheel Member

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    Some years ago the American Rifleman Tec Staff did a laboratory study of shotgun barrel length to see if things people believe were true.

    They bought a Marlin Goose Gun with a 36 inch barrel, fitted it with a choke and fired it for velocity and pattern.
    Then they began cutting the barrel off in one inch increments and re-firing.
    They continued until they were down to 12 inches.

    The results......
    Barrel length had no effect on pattern. The pattern was determined by the choke. A short barrel patterned the same as longer barrels.
    Velocity only dropped significantly once under 18 inches.
    Everything ballistically that is going to happen in a shotgun barrel happens within 18 inches.
    Barrels over 28 inches actually lost velocity from friction.
    Longer barrels to not "shoot harder" that's a left over idea from black powder guns that did burn powder more effectively in long barrels.
    Things didn't "get out of hand" until the barrel was down to 12 inches.
    A longer barrel only points better then a short barrel when shooting at ariel targets.
     
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  12. Rivenoak

    Rivenoak Member

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    That is exactly what I was looking for. Thank you
     
  13. entropy

    entropy Member

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    I think what they meant is because of screw-in chokes. If the choke is the same in an 18.5" and a 28" there will be no perceptable change in pattern beyond standard deviation. If you compare an 18.5" cylinder bore barrel and a 28" full choke barrel, (or vice versa) there will be a lot of difference in the patterns!
    Rifled slugs are one-piece, so there is no pattern.
     
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  14. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    Most slug barrels are short 20-24 inches usually. Long barrels are an advantage for trap shooting and some pass shooting where targets fly relatively slow and straight. For upland and sporting clays medium barrels work better. Longer barrels do not make better patterns or add accuracy. Short barrels are better for slug hunting. Anything over 24 inches is in the way,
     
  15. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    If you have proper training and form barrel length makes little difference. Olympic level shooters use barrels that are under 30 inches. Front heavy long barrels add momentum to a swing which makes it a smoother steady swing for slow straight flying targets. Not needed if you have proper form and follow through which most shooters don't.
     
  16. Milkmaster

    Milkmaster Member

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    I find that modern ammo with the plastic shot cups have the patterns tighter for a longer distance. You can see the difference if you are shooting with the two types of ammo shown in this picture. The pattern doesn't start to expand nearly as early in the new shotcup type ammo. That changes the choke choices for me compared to the old days. The barrel length doesn't change the results. I don't think a foot of barrel distance changes much in the big picture.
    12 GAUGE.JPG 12 GAUGE2.JPG
     
  17. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    for the clay games I have not seen many short barreled shotguns(less than 26") less than one precent. i do shoot a browning upland special citori in 20 ga for birds over dogs, but the ranges are pretty short 20-30 yards. I shoot three times a week if weather premits at the clays games and that may be 100+ shooters and at elysberg state shoot I have never seen many short barreled (26"or less) shotguns compete. in the hunting fields there are more short barreled shotguns used.
     
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  18. George P

    George P Member

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    Barrel lengths, while subjective, have been increasing in length over the years. it is not uncommon to see 30 and 32, and even34 inch tubes being used on skeet fields, trap fields, 5-stands and sporting clays. For small bores like 28, even in the field I prefer the longer barrels - better swing dynamics.
     
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  19. Virginian

    Virginian Member

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    Back in the '60s all the gun sages were singing the praises of shorter barrel because the modern powders did not need the extra length to achieve velocities. Somewhere along the line the "a longer barell helps smooth the swing" aficionados started making significant inroads. Not having any symptoms of St. Vitus Dance or tourette's syndrome I like 26" to 30" barrels.
     
  20. eastbank

    eastbank Member

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    I have always said shoot what works for you. over the dogs my 26" upland special citori works for me, for deer where shotguns are a must I shoot a rem 870 with slugs in a 20" barrel with rifle sights. for the clays games I use barrels from 28-30-34 inchs.
     
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  21. d2wing

    d2wing Member

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    Trap yes. Not Sporting clays at any course I have seen especially pro courses.
     
  22. PapaG

    PapaG Member

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    FWIW, my shotguns are equipped as follows: 870TB, 30" full. I maintain a 96+% average at 16 and handicap trap. My model 12 skeet gun has a 28" cutts equipped barrel. 94% but I'm not a skeet shooter. Bird gun, an Ithaca 100 20 with 25" barrels, ic and mod, 20 gauge. Slug gun for my Illinois deer, Stock Savage 220, rifled. 24"?.
    My BT99 is a 34" full and makes smoke balls. My Lightning is im and full, 30", and works just fine on doubles.
    Shoot what you like and what works or you.
     
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  23. entropy

    entropy Member

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    Most of your cheap "Walmart white box" 12 Trap and field loads are the the worst combination of your two example shells; A steel base, and a fiber wad with a shot wrap. The better ones (Win. AA, Rem. STS and Nitro 27 and Nitro Gold) have the brass base and one-piece wad with shot cup. The two you cut up, a Win. "Universal" and a Win. "Target & Field" are both inferior shells.
    Barrel length over 20-24 inches, depending on type of action, does nothing ballistically, particularly in conjunction with screw-in chokes. It does, as has been pointed out by George P, change the swing dynamics, which has been noted by Trap shooters for many years, and more recently by Skeet and Sporting Clays shooters. Some of us old Trap shooters used 30" barrels for all kinds of hunting, too. I've shot many a grouse with a 30" Full 870.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
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  24. Milkmaster

    Milkmaster Member

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    28ga 5.JPG
    I think you just said what I already stated. The barrel length is not the deciding factor! The ammo will be more deciding than the length of the barrel. This is an example of a recent Winchester AA load with the shot cup.
     
    Last edited: Oct 9, 2019
  25. George P

    George P Member

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    Not sure what you mean by "pro courses". I shoot NSCA registered targets, so if that qualifies as "pro courses", then OK. I can tell you, both as a shooter and a National FITASC referee, NO one shoots a gun with barrels less than 30", and that includes the gas guns like my Beretta A400, my Browning O/Us, etc. My 12 wears 32". Wendell Cherry shoots a 34" Perazzi, the rest of the big dogs all shoot at least 32" - it is for the smooth swing dynamics I mentioned earlier. Even some 5'-5" ladies in their 70s I know shoot 30" barrels. It's all in what you find easy to swing. Shorter barrels start fast, but then they also tend to stop real fast as well. In super tight grouse coverts, that might be advantageous (I don't hunt grouse), but for open field birds, I like longer barrels there as well.
     
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