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Old October 22, 2012, 05:25 PM   #1
Broony
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.308 16'' to 18'' barrel or 20'' to 24''

I am curious on thoughts and opinions on such barrel lengths.

I own a DPMS APR AR-15 and love it. Its still iron sights with a 16'' barrel. Love it love it love it. My next gun that ill get next year will be a .308 for long range game, mainly hunting. I don't think ill get optics for my AP4 and instead wait and get them for the .308.

For .308 though...what barrel length do you think is ideal for the caliber?

I am just curious on peoples thoughts and opinions.

Thanks.
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Old October 22, 2012, 05:37 PM   #2
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It is hard to beat a 20"-22" barrel for an AR in .308

What do you define as "long range"?
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Old October 22, 2012, 06:16 PM   #3
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The 308 does better from short 16-18" barrels than many think, but I still don't really want anyhing under 20" and consider 22" to be ideal. Going longer than 22" or shorter than 20" can be useful for specific applications, but I can do what I need to do within that range.
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Old October 22, 2012, 07:00 PM   #4
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If you want to hunt long range game I'd recommend a 300 Win Mag bolt gun with a high end scope and not an AR.
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Old October 22, 2012, 08:24 PM   #5
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Depends on his definiton of "long range". A 308 is effective on deer sized game out to 400-500 yards if the shooter is good enough. For elk sized game I limit it to 300-400 yards. That is long range for most people. A 300 mag would add 150-200 yards to that. Problem is that the 308 is already surpassing the abilities of most shooters.
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Old October 22, 2012, 08:37 PM   #6
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For elk sized game I limit it to 300-400 yards. That is long range for most people. A 300 mag would add 150-200 yards to that
Disagree. 220gr VLD rounds out of a 300 Mag nearly double the effective range of a .308 and that is the consensus in the long range hunting community and amongst military snipers. That being said, if he wants to take elk sized game at long range I'd get a .338 Norma or Lapua.

Like you said, though, this really all depends on what game he wants to take and what his idea of long range is.
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Old October 22, 2012, 09:11 PM   #7
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Disagree. 220gr VLD rounds out of a 300 Mag nearly double the effective range of a .308 and that is the consensus in the long range hunting community and amongst military snipers. That being said, if he wants to take elk sized game at long range I'd get a .338 Norma or Lapua.
Yes, on stationary targets or human targets that snipers don't mind wounding. You do not want to be taking a 1,000 yard shot on a big game animal, regardless of whether the caliber is capable of it. It isn't ethical, and as hunters that should be our number 1 priority.

The furthest he should be taking a shot is going to be 5-600 yards or so, depending on his skill level. Any further than that and the flight time and other variables are just too much for me to recommend firing (yes, even if you have a .50 BMG).

If he is hunting anything larger than whitetail or mule deer at that range, then yes, I would say that a .300 WM would be a better option.
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Old October 22, 2012, 09:21 PM   #8
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Yes, on stationary targets or human targets that snipers don't mind wounding. You do not want to be taking a 1,000 yard shot on a big game animal, regardless of whether the caliber is capable of it. It isn't ethical, and as hunters that should be our number 1 priority.

The furthest he should be taking a shot is going to be 5-600 yards or so, depending on his skill level. Any further than that and the flight time and other variables are just too much for me to recommend firing (yes, even if you have a .50 BMG).
You're entitled to that opinion, just be aware there's a niche community of hunters and long range shooters who have the setups and skills for that to be a longer but none the less unremarkable shot on a game animal.

Regardless, OP, if you're shooting game bigger than an east coast white tail at whatever you perceive to be long range, you need to be pushing out something with more energy, momentum and a better BC than your average 168gr .308 round. I'd recommend a bolt platform and not an AR.

Last edited by 10mmAuto; October 22, 2012 at 09:27 PM.
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Old October 22, 2012, 11:03 PM   #9
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jmr40 The 308 does better from short 16-18" barrels than many think...
Yep, I have M14s with 16.25", 18.0" and 22.0".
All are great and my favorite length for general purpose use is the 18.0"

All have a 1:10 rate of twist.











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Old October 22, 2012, 11:10 PM   #10
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I'm no expert by any means . How ever I've been doing a lot of research on long range shooting ( 600+yds) . The reason for the research is its the next rifle Im going to buy and I don't want to get it wrong . Shooting long range is incredibly complex . From bullet wieght , length , drop , wind drift , spin drift , velocity , energy delivered to target . OMG I could go on and on . Example -You can shoot a 7mm mag with a 162gr A-Max round and it will travel farther with less wind drift , bullet drop and deliver more energy to target at 1,000yds then a 300 win mag 180gr A-MAX . Now you can push that 300 win mag up to 220gr witch would help the BC but good look on finding a stock barrel that will twist it enough to shoot that far . Like i said very complex and I love that part of it .

OK now back to the OP
20' barrel wirth a rifle lenght gas system 1-10 twist. You should be good to go out to 600yds IMO . Any farther then that and your going to to be pushing the heavier longer bullets and you may want a 1-9 twist . If you plan on hunting at longer distances then 600yds I recommend you steer away from the AR and go with a bolt gun
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Last edited by Metal god; October 23, 2012 at 12:28 AM.
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Old October 23, 2012, 12:00 AM   #11
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Now you can push that 300 win mag up to 220gr witch would help the BC but good look on finding a stock barrel that will twist it enough to shoot that far .
Every stock barrel I've seen lately for 300 Win has a 1 in 10" twist - the XM2010 which was designed with 220gr rounds in mind also has a 1 in 10'" twist.

Quote:
Example -You can shoot a 7mm mag with a 162gr A-Max round and it will travel farther with less wind drift , bullet drop and deliver more energy to target at 1,000yds then a 300 win mag 180gr A-MAX
7mm is a great caliber - that being said, nobody with a 300 Win Mag shooting with long range in mind shoots 180gr rounds. If they are, they do not know what they are doing.
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Old October 23, 2012, 12:26 AM   #12
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yea I don't doubt that for a minute . Like I said Im no expert . Just wanted to give him an example showing just cus you got a big bad caliber . It does not alway translate down range .

Those are actually the two calibers I have narrowed my search too . The 180gr bullets by Hornady is as heavy as my chart goes . Do you know the velocity you can push a 220gr 308 sized bullet and at what range does it stop traveling super sonic ? The 308 180gr A-Max has a SS range of 1,300 to 1,400 yards and the 7mm 162gr has a SS range of 1,600 to 1,700yds . Its my understanding once a bullet drops below 1,200fps-ish it's pretty much down for accurace ( long range wise ) is this right ?

EDIT : I was just looking at some other data . The 1-10 twist is recommended for the 300 win mag. The data also shows bullet wieghts from 110gr to 220gr . I'm sure that 1-10 is good through that complete range of wieghts . I would think its better for some wieghts and worse for others Yes?

To the OP sorry for hi-jacking your thread
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Last edited by Metal god; October 23, 2012 at 12:46 AM.
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Old October 23, 2012, 04:01 AM   #13
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Metal God, 7mm and .300 Win Mag are basically substitutes for one another in terms of external ballistics. Even their ballistic coefficients are nearly identical when you're comparing bullets optimal for long range shooting. 300 Win Mag has more mass though (has more momentum and structural integrity)and therefor preferred for non paper punching applications. 300 Win Mag holds a smallish energy advantage at every range within the two round's effective range.

If you had to choose between the two I'd go with whatever gives you the warm fuzzies and leave it at that. They're that evenly matched.
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Old October 23, 2012, 07:58 AM   #14
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For hunting with a .308, a lightweight bolt action gun with a 20 or 22-inch barrel. The 20-inch barrel is only down about 100 fps from a 26-inch barrel. There's a big difference in carrying around a 26-inch barrel gun and a 20 or 22-inch barreled gun, both in weight, maneuverability, and quickness to shoulder and aim the rifle.

If you're going to carry the rifle all day, weight is a consideration. I have a .308 AR and with a scope and it weighs 14lbs. I use it for precision tactical rifle and regulary shoot 980 yards with it. I would never consider carrying the rifle for hunting and would change to a lightweight bolt action for that use.

For pure long range shooting, I have a 30-338. I use Sierra 190 grain boat tail bullets chronographed at 3400fps. Using heavier .30 caliber bullets it could easily be used for elk at 300-400 yards.

My advice would be to look at the 300 Winchester Short Magnum as the action is shorter, can be cycled a bit faster, you can find lightweight field rifles in that caliber, and it will do everything a 300 Winchester Magnum will do in a slightly smaller package.

You can even find semi-auto rifles in 300 WSM. The Benelli R1 weighs 7.2 lbs and with a scope would come in at about 8.5 -9 lbs.

Last edited by buckhorn_cortez; October 23, 2012 at 08:08 AM.
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Old October 23, 2012, 09:05 AM   #15
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Yeah, there are "niche communities". There are Grand Masters in IPSC, too. Damned few people with the necessary skill levels, though.

We probably should stay with what most of us might be: A bit above average, since we have enough interest to look into these variables, but nowhere near uber-skill status.

The .308 was designed to approximate the GI load for the '06, but with the smaller case (at higher pressure) and with a barrel length of 19" or 20" instead of 24" to 26".

I note that my father used the GI powder charge with 150-grain Hornady bullets from his sporterized Springfield (Weaver K6) and was witnessed in killing deer (offhand stance) to 500 yards. IOW, skill = doable for some people.
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Old October 23, 2012, 10:04 AM   #16
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A recent test performed by the Swat team on 308's showed that in Accuracy there was no difference from 16 to 24 inch barrels. The shorter barrel was more liked due to it being easier to handle in tight situations. The only benifet from a longer barrel was for shooting longer distance with a heavier bullet.
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Old October 23, 2012, 12:41 PM   #17
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Damned few people with the necessary skill levels, though.
Because few people have an interest in developing them, the skills themselves aren't that hard to develop. I think a lot of people look at long range shooting, imagine it as some kind of real time jig saw puzzle made up of rubik's cubes to get the right dope and pull the trigger and intimidate themselves out of trying it.

Intro setup cost doesn't help either though.

Quote:
I note that my father used the GI powder charge with 150-grain Hornady bullets from his sporterized Springfield (Weaver K6) and was witnessed in killing deer (offhand stance) to 500 yards. IOW, skill = doable for some people.
Very doable, if he's getting a new setup though he might as well get something optimal for longer shots as opposed to something that will work.

Last edited by 10mmAuto; October 23, 2012 at 12:49 PM.
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Old October 23, 2012, 04:31 PM   #18
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The OP's wondering about barrel length for a hunting rifle, and as near as I can tell the typical 20" to 22" deal is as good as any.

The big problem with all this long-range hunting stuff is that absent a laser range-finder, the estimated distance is problematic. Next comes doping the wind; again: Problematic. Not many Mulligans in the field. Beyond 300 yards for most hunters, the odds of a poor shot go up and up and up.

I worked pretty hard at being quite good to 500 yards. But I've seen a helluva lot more bucks inside 200 yards than I did out beyond 300 yards.
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Old October 23, 2012, 06:34 PM   #19
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I have a DPMS LR-308 with a 24" stainless steel bull barrel.

That said I'm seriously considering having the barrel cut down to 20". I don't believe that the accuracy and velocity gains from 24" to 20" is worth keeping the extra length and weight.

I have to agree that an AR platform .308 rifle is a tad heavy for hunting use when compared to bolt action rifles that are available but they do work and work well for hunting use too. Every year I put camo tape on my shiny SS barrel and huff into the woods with my rifle that weighs nearly 16lbs. loaded. I hunt from sun up to sun down and I'm already walking to where I want to start my hunt before sun up then I'm walking back to camp after sun down.

The first year that I hunted with this rifle I really noticed the weight since the year prior to that I hunted with a Marlin lever action 30-30. Now though I don't notice the weight at all and that's with a pack full of food, water, a spare set of clothing, extra ammo, a tarp and ropes (I don't come back to camp for lunch and because I hunt on a large tract of land I always plan on the possibility that I might actually lose my way coming back to camp). I also have a flash light, a hatchet, my Ruger Super Redhawk .44mag (not a light gun in itself) and a 2-way radio that are a standard part of my load-out. If I decide to be a blind hunter I'll also be carrying my blind too.

Anyway back to your question - I'd suggest a 20" barrel. You don't need much more than that for the kind of work most hunters would use a .308 rifle for. What I consider long range hunting (for large game) is at max 400-500 yards. Personally I've actually passed on deer at that range because I was unsure of shooting conditions. The longest shot I've made on deer was about 375 yards (I think.. I know it was more than 325 but less than 400).

On the other hand I've taken a shot at a running coyote out to 600 yards with the same gun and been successful - 1 shot, 1 kill (granted I consider that one of my very few lucky strikes). I doubt I could do that again (with ANY gun) if I tried.
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Old October 23, 2012, 10:12 PM   #20
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On the other hand I've taken a shot at a running coyote out to 600 yards with the same gun and been successful - 1 shot, 1 kill (granted I consider that one of my very few lucky strikes). I doubt I could do that again (with ANY gun) if I tried.
When I set up at my hide I make a range card, using a laser rangefinder, of my field of fire. You can then cross reference that with your known firing solutions, knowledge of your holdovers and movement speed of the animal you're hoping to shoot and you've got yourself a pretty solid way of getting repeatable first shot hits. For big game this is suboptimal and you really want a stationary target so you have a solid idea of placement. Also necessary are regular wind readings. Regardless, this will put you in a position where you can be prepared for a shot rather than have to react to it.

With animals that burn in as fast as a coyote comes in to a call, your placement may only be okay, but they're also small enough that the trauma of being shot with any caliber suitable for longish distances like .308 or long distances like 7mm, 300 Mag or 338 Norma BTHP placed anywhere on their body will put them down like Zeus himself did it.
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Old October 24, 2012, 06:52 AM   #21
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Barrel length, I've got a savage fcp10 that a swat officer owned. He had the barrel cut from 20? to 16". For ease of transport, etc. His research showed .308 showed little to no loss up to 600 yards. I'm going from memory here. Any way I've owned it for a couple years, extremely accurate, more than I. Killed deer at 300yds, which is at my ethical limit with my abilities. Someone else can do better I'm sure.
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Old October 24, 2012, 09:32 AM   #22
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When the .308 Win. round was "the" cartridge for NRA high power competition at ranges from 100 through 1000 yards, 26 inch barrels were the favorite in box magazine bolt guns. They gave enough muzzle velocity to keep bullets from 168 to 220 grains supersonic through 1000 yards and the accuracy of the best of them's yet to be equalled by long range benchrest rigs.

While the M14NM's had 22 inch barrels, they were and still are marginal for long range accuracy. Bullets at least 170 grains in weight had to be used in hot loads to ensure they stayed supersonic at 1000 yards in cold weather. Military rifle teams used 180 and 190 grain bullets in the 7.62 NATO round with peak pressures well above both SAAMI and MIL-SPEC maximums to ensure good accuracy. They still are today with the AR10's short barrels.

I was rather amazed that buckhorn_cortez says, for pure long range shooting, he has a 30-338. He uses Sierra 190 grain boat tail bullets chronographed at 3400 fps. Everyone else who shot that great cartridge with max loads got about 3000 fps in 28 inch barrels, so his load must be way over reasonable maximum pressures. Even the .300 Wby. Mag. larger case won't do that well with a 190.
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