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Thread: How much does barrel length effect range?

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    How much does barrel length effect range?

    Newbie here. I'm thinking about having my barrel cut down and threaded to accept a muzzle break. Can I go all the way down to a 16" barrel without effecting range? I'm thinking of doing this to my Savage 10FP S/A .308

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    No.

    To be more detailed: a weapons effective range for target shooting is often determined by the projectile dropping into the transonic velocity range. At this point many rounds lose stability, fly erratically, and are no longer effective for accuracy.

    The more barrel length you remove, the less muzzle velocity you start with. The less velocity you start with, the sooner your rounds go transonic.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    The velocity is going to drop a bit with the shorter barrel. Slower bullet = less range.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Your "effective" range will be impacted by reducing the barrel length proportionally to the decrease in muzzle velocity caused by the shorter barrel. So a lot depends on how much MV you lose when you chop down your pipe. The muzzle velocity effect can be different between different barrels, but will usually fall somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-25 fps lost per inch barrel length. I have a DTA SRS Covert with a 16" .308 barrel that performs very well, getting in the neighborhood of 2550 fps with 168-175 gr loads. So the effective range of that system is really dictated by the muzzle velocity and ballistics of a particular load out of the short pipe.
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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    It depends on how far you plan on shooting. Many here preach the merits of shorter length barrels but there is a trade off. I personally prefer longer length barrels because I dont have to run my loads as hot and run into premature barrel wear and pressure issues. I personally wouldn't go any shorter than 20" on a .308 but that doesn't mean it can't be done. You will sacrifice some velocity and range however.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    The only problem I've found shooting a meer 1000 yards with a 15" barrel is it just takes me a few more moa to get to my final destination. Accuracy is just fine enough to hit about anything at the 1000 yard matches we attend. Yes it does lose velocity but accuracy out of our two 15" barreled guns is plenty good enough to hit an 8" plate at 1000 yards if we do our part. How much more do you expect even with a longer barrel for steel plate or tactical matches?

    Just checked and my 15" barrel needs about 38moa to 1000 yards and the 28" rifle only needs about 28moa. Slower speed, more flight time and more elevation needed but accuracy is still very good.

    This is a 260 with 140 Hor Match bullets but we also shoot the same loads in a 28" barreled rifle and it does group a bit tighter and uses less elevation to get there. I think the accuracy is more related to having a much better shooting platform in a rifle over a Handgun but I wouldn't be afraid of cutting a barrel shorter knowing this.

    The 308 with the heavy bullets may drop subsonic so it'll be a close call if you plan on shooting 1000 yards, you might find a bit lighter bullet will do better in your short barrel. Our 7-08 with a 140 Berger shot very well to 1000 in a 15" barrel but heavier bullets such as a 162 starting much slower fell short compared to the lighter Bergers at 1000 yards.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Originally Posted By: gstaylorg
    Your "effective" range will be impacted by reducing the barrel length proportionally to the decrease in muzzle velocity caused by the shorter barrel. So a lot depends on how much MV you lose when you chop down your pipe. The muzzle velocity effect can be different between different barrels, but will usually fall somewhere in the neighborhood of 15-25 fps lost per inch barrel length. I have a DTA SRS Covert with a 16" .308 barrel that performs very well, getting in the neighborhood of 2550 fps with 168-175 gr loads. So the effective range of that system is really dictated by the muzzle velocity and ballistics of a particular load out of the short pipe.


    Very well put! My personal chrono data confirms your 15-25 fps/in velocity loss. A lot depends on the barrel itself as well. I have some shorter tubes that get higher velocities than longer ones with the same ammunition.

    While the max "effective" range will indeed be reduced by losing velocity, you should talk about what type of maximimum range YOU intend to utilize your rifle to. Also, what type of performance do you expect at this maximum range? While you will lose some stability and thus some accuracy out past sonic velocities, if you are just looking to ring steel, for instance, you can still do it a long way past your trans-sonic distance.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Originally Posted By: swage
    It depends on how far you plan on shooting. Many here preach the merits of shorter length barrels but there is a trade off. I personally prefer longer length barrels because I dont have to run my loads as hot and run into premature barrel wear and pressure issues. I personally wouldn't go any shorter than 20" on a .308 but that doesn't mean it can't be done. You will sacrifice some velocity and range however.


    Completely agree and stated very well. My 26in pipes keeps me free from a lot of the issues other people speak about. Exactly why I don't have to worry about loading hot, in turn not having to be concerned about the other multiple considerations. TY
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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    I should have added a bit more info in my first post. I would like to be able to ring steel at 1000yds. I think what I've learned is that if I cut the barrel to 16" I will most likely lose MV, but this can be corrected somewhat with different load configurations. Would a MOA at 1000 yds still be reasonable?

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    There have been days with good weather conditions that we can ring that 8" plate pretty consistently with the 15" barrel and other days wind plays havoc. In theory I think the short barreled guns are plenty accurate to do it regularly but at 1000 yards I haven't seen any gun at our matches that can hit it on demand every time. Way too many factors even if you can shoot 1/2" or under at 100 yards don't translate to 5" at 1000 yards.

    You might be stretching it a bit at 16" if you are planning on shooting steel plate matches regularly with giving up so much velocity and dealing with flight time. I don't think accuracy will be your problem but Mother Nature and her affects while getting there.

    There is a give and take for everything involved in this long range game, it's challenging to do it with a short barrel but learning your gun and reading wind will help overcome what you will be giving up to others with more velocity.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Lowlight is going to love this thread! I'm awaiting his response. 1000 yards, milk bottle sized targets. He does it all day with a 16 inch.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Originally Posted By: Asmith5144
    I should have added a bit more info in my first post. I would like to be able to ring steel at 1000yds. I think what I've learned is that if I cut the barrel to 16" I will most likely lose MV, but this can be corrected somewhat with different load configurations. Would a MOA at 1000 yds still be reasonable?


    Again as I and others stated earlier in this thread, it would all depend on the specific load and the muzzle velocity you were able to achieve from your short barrel setup. The MV is going to dictate a lot of the limitations with a shorter barrel setup, so until you know exactly what your MV is, the best you can do is estimate based on other's MVs with short barrels.

    As an example, there are a number of people here that regularly use a 16-18" barrel setup out to 1000 yd with very good results. However, at least some of those individuals are using barrels with fairly "tight" bores, so that they aren't losing nearly as much velocity. Again, the MV is a critical factor for estimating how the performance of your setup will be out to some specific distance.

    Another important consideration would be the projectile in your load. For example, 168 gr SMKs are well known for instability issues past 700-800, even with decent MV to start. There are other examples, but the main point is that if your short barrel setup is on the slow side (MV), you might still be able to shoot ok to longer distances if you choose a projectile that remains stable after going trans/subsonic. In the end, you'll probably have to play around and optimize a few things once you decide what length to go with. Of course, then you'll have to deal with the wind, which is going to be a major source of error (inaccuracy) at 1000 yd, regardless of the MV you get. Unfortunately, "slow" amplifies the effect of wind, so you might be at an even greater disadvantage, depending on the MV from your setup. So whether you can achieve MOA accuracy at 1000 yd with a short barrel will depend on a lot of different factors, not the least of which are you as the driver, and wind conditions.
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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Originally Posted By: Protocol
    Lowlight is going to love this thread! I'm awaiting his response. 1000 yards, milk bottle sized targets. He does it all day with a 16 inch.


    Lowlight is a better shot than most here. He also has the added advantage of altitude. A 16 in barrel at altitude is different than a 16 barrel at sea level. But I too am curious about his take on this.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    The shots on video I have made were 90% at sea level - read, Rifles Only which was at 78ft.

    My 16" GAP AR10 (Eagle) needed 39 MOA to hit at 1000 yards. On its best day it shot 60% with factory 175gr. At 800 yards it was a solid 1MOA rifle.

    The 18.5" Gladius was also shot at 1000 yards with much better success. It used about 11.5 mils to 1000.

    Here in CO things work much better. For a rule of thumb, cause people love them, for every 1000 ft you go above sea level you can lose 1" of a custom barrel.

    My Bartlein barrels tend to run 2650fps with factory 175gr ammo at 20" and about 2600fps at 18.5" you can figure the math from there.
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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Very true.

    DA should be roughly around 4000+ here tomorrow (Texas), but it still wouldn't match what Lowlight gets to shoot in on a regular basis.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Originally Posted By: Protocol
    Lowlight is going to love this thread! I'm awaiting his response. 1000 yards, milk bottle sized targets. He does it all day with a 16 inch.


    Suckass


    I do it all day with my 8 in.......... [img]<>/grin.gif[/img]
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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    LOL : )

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    I'd like to thank everyone for helping me answer this question. I definitely have some pros and cons I need to way out before I make a final decision. Like I said before, I am just a newbie when it comes to shooting long range with accuracy. I consider the knowledge that I am learning from you guys priceless and I'm trying to soak it all up like a sponge.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    If you want to do it and your scope can be adjusted for more of a drop, do it. You can always be disappointed then put a new barrel on it after that - it's only money.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    I really like short barrelled .308s. I find them to be mighty handy and easier to tote, because I'm short.

    I know that there are quite a few guys here that shoot short barrelled .308s out to 1000 yards and such, but I'm not as talented as those guys. The longer flight times and rainbow trajectories are more than I can sometimes contend with, so I like velocity.

    I would suggest that you, at the least, try to preserve some of that velocity. I may be assuming a bit here, but as a general matter I believe that most (if not all) stock barrels have throats that are longer than they need to be and the chamber dimensions are usually on the sloppy side, both of which can lead to reduced velocities.

    What I'd suggest is when you chop the barrel, just chop it to 18" and when you do that, get your smith to knock some of that off of the back end. This will allow you to have the chamber recut to tighter dimensions, if your barrel profile will allow this.

    From what I've seen (in my very limited experience), doing this may save you 100 to 150 fps in muzzle velocity.

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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    Alot, but not that much
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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    My 308 sports a 17.5 inch barrel and I love ringing steel at 1k with it. No problem. I dont think that I would make more hits if I have a 20 inch barrel. Its all on me and my ability to point the rifle at the target!!!!
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    Re: How much does barrel length effect range?

    The shorter the barrel gets the more difference every inch effects MV because each inch then represents a bigger percentage of the length of the barrel. Cutting a 30" barrel to 26" wont make as big a difference in MV as cutting a 20" barrel to 16" will.
    Just because a professional might not have any trouble shooting long distance with a 16" barrel doesn't mean it's not more difficult. A lifetime of real world experience can more than make up for the deficiencies of a short barrel. I'm not on that level and 16" is too short imho.