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View Poll Results: Longest Range Shot
Dense Woodlands 10 17.54%
<150 Meters 25 43.86%
150-300 Meters 13 22.81%
300-500 Meters 2 3.51%
>500 Meters 0 0%
Open Mountains 4 7.02%
<150 Meters 3 5.26%
150-300 Meters 13 22.81%
300-500 Meters 12 21.05%
>500 Meters 2 3.51%
Plains/Desert 9 15.79%
<150 Meters 0 0%
150-300 Meters 10 17.54%
300-500 Meters 17 29.82%
>500 Meters 4 7.02%
Multiple Choice Poll. Voters: 57. You may not vote on this poll

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Old April 14, 2013, 06:59 PM   #1
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Longest Distance at animal.

I need some statistics to help me determine barrel length for a general purpose bolt gun.

Longest Range you've shot at an animal.
Terrain you were in(thick mountains, open mountains, desert, plains, etc)
Barrel Length of Rifle

(For the Poll please answer one of each, no need to click on the Terrain to vote, just distances for each you have taken. Go with the geographical area's terrain not necessarily the exact terrain the shot took place)
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Last edited by triggerhappy2006; April 14, 2013 at 07:13 PM.
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Old April 14, 2013, 07:18 PM   #2
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Considering that the difference between a 28" and 20" barrel with a 150gr bullet in .308, as an example, might be 200fps, what does barrel length have to do with distance?

If you know it's 500 yards, a 200fps difference might be a couple clicks, if you don't know it's 500 yards, the 200fps is not going to help your guess.
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Old April 14, 2013, 07:34 PM   #3
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I've taken a couple of turkey in the 250-275 yd range with a 20" 223 open fields. The longest shot I've ever connected with a WT was 226 (ranged) 270 bar 21" barrel also open field.
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Old April 14, 2013, 07:36 PM   #4
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I have taken squirrels and crows out at around 120-150 yards with .17 HMR

Deer hunting around here, the woods are so thick that shots are less than 100 yards, but closer to 50 yards is more common.

At these distances, barrel length really does not matter nearly as much as shot placement.

I hunt deer with a Marlin 336 in .35 Remington or .30-30, when deer season rolls around the only optic I plan on using is my Burris Fastfire III. In the 50-80 yard range, I can kill squirrels with it. Being able to hit a deer won't be a problem.
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Old April 14, 2013, 07:43 PM   #5
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Interesting from what I have read 2" of barrel equals about 150fps of velocity so the difference between a M1A Standard and Scout is about 300fps. I haven't taken this to a chronograph and tested it so I don't actually know. From everything I've read, shorter barrels equal pretty significant velocity drops, which equals more of an arc in the flight path, more crosswind effect, and less energy delivered. None of which matters if the average hunting shot is taken at under 500 meters for any given terrain and you are a capable marksmen. My hunting experience is limited to a few seasons in Mid New York, a trip to South Africa and a few trips down in NC. So my average distance for shot is 200 meters(Impala at 220+-, Whitetail Buck at 150+-, Whitetail doe at 245+-, Jackal at 75+-, Coyote at 313) but I've shot both M4/M16 on ranges up to 500 with no problem hitting man sized targets with varying wind, so I would say barrel length wouldn't play into effect until after 500 meters. I'm just trying to figure out if your average hunter shoots out beyond 500 meters all that often.
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Old April 14, 2013, 07:47 PM   #6
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My longest shot has been out to 300 yards with a 24" barreled Savage 7mm Rem Mag in the High Plains.

Barrel length however isn't what allowed me to make the shot. Understanding the ballistics of the gun and ammo I was shooting is the key.
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Old April 14, 2013, 07:48 PM   #7
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No way is 2" 300fps. You MIGHT get 50fps per inch but usually its less than that, often no more than 25 or 30.

QuickLoad tells me that a 28" barrel on a .308Win will launch a 150gr Nosler Accubond at 3,052fps and a 20" barrel will do 2,816fps.

Total difference 236fps, average of 29.5fps/inch.

The difference between a 20" and 16" is 97fps, 24.25fps/inch.

So from 28" to 16", you lose about 335fps, an average of 27.91fps/inch.

Last edited by Brian Pfleuger; April 14, 2013 at 07:54 PM.
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Old April 14, 2013, 07:52 PM   #8
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If we are talking average hunter doing average hunting, a std weight 308 with a 20" or 22" tube and 4x or 6x scope is hard to beat. You can get all fancy, talk about flat shooting, etc, but unless you want to really specialize and practice long shots, fast shots, etc... I wouldn't over think it.

A Savage 10, 308 Win and 6x scope would have been great for me when I hunted MT. Instead I hunted with a sporterized 1917 (Winchester) 26" in 3006 with a Weaver 4x on it. Not bad. Most game was 75 to 100 yards away. I shot a few out to about 350.

In the end, I got bored of rifle hunting. I shot a deer at 125 yards with a Ruger Super Blackhawk 10.5" with a 4x scope. Then, I bought an SSK Contender in 375 JDJ to have some fun making ammo and kill deer out to 300 by pistol. I did get to shoot one at 200 before I moved away.

Still have my SSK Contender! 15" barrel, if it matters.

If you really want a long range gun, 300 mags with a 26-30" barrel and some need 15 lbs to make hits at range.
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:13 AM   #9
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There is no real corelation between the range animals are taken and the proper barrel length. Gunmakers have long ago figured out the best barrel lengths for typical guns. There is a reason almost all hunting guns have barrels between 20"-24". Between these lenghs it has more to do with personal preference, the rifles balance and how much muzzle blast you are willing to put up with. Between 20"-24" the velocity difference is insignificant, even with magnums.

Barrels longer or shorter are sometimes used, but only for special purposes. For shooting at extreme long range every tiny bit of velocity helps is one example. In these cases going up to 28-30" might make enough difference over a typical 22" barrel to matter.

Some like shorter 16"-18" barrels for quick handling in thick brush, shooting houses or tree stands. They do have a lot of muzzle blast, but even these short barrels still have enough velocity from modern chamberings to be effective out to 300-400 yards.
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:25 AM   #10
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Interesting from what I have read 2" of barrel equals about 150fps of velocity so the difference between a M1A Standard and Scout is about 300fps.
I don't doubt that someone found this to be true. But comparing velocity between 2 different guns tells you nothing. I've seen 130 fps difference between guns with equal barrel lengths shooting the same ammo. Some barrels just shoot faster. If you happen to compare a "slow" 20" barrel to another gun with a "fast" 24" barrel 300 fps is possible.

But on the other hand if the 20" barrel happens to be on the "fast" side, it could very well shoot at the same speed or faster than a "slow" 24" barrel. I've seen a 2" shorter barrel shoot faster with the same ammo several times.

Between 20-24" I've found around 1/2%-1% velocity per inch to be pretty accurate. If you are getting 3000 fps from a 24" barrel, then you'll lose about 15- 30 fps for each inch you cut it shorter. If you are looking at barrels longer than 24" the gains are even smaller. When you go shorter than 20" the loses are greater , but no where near what is often repeated on the internet.

And this only applies when cutting a barrel shorter that has a known velocity. When comparing 2 different guns, there is no guarantee a 24" barrel will actually shoot faster than another gun with a 22" barrel.
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Old April 15, 2013, 10:51 AM   #11
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Shot a doe at 322yds with my 7mm08 last season. Shot high the first time, my fault for not ranging her and using the correct hold over. Second shot was straight into the neck as she faced me. Stone dead when she hit the dirt for her nap. I'd stretch out given the right conditions and rest but not much further.

My neighbors son went to a long range school in Arizona, came back an put his new skills to work. He killed a hog a few days ago at 636yds with a 260.
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Old April 15, 2013, 12:20 PM   #12
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Barrel length really boils down to user preference. Many people like shorter barrels saying that they handle better and are easier to deal with in bushy terrain. Other like longer barrels thinking they'll get more velocity and therefore more power. I've always been of the mind that if I'm buying a gun that is chambered for an over-bored cartridge I'll go with a longer barrel (24"-26") to try and take advantage of the extra powder. If I'm buying a gun that is not chambered for an over-bored cartridge I'll go with a barrel length that best matches what I'll be using that rifle for.
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Old April 15, 2013, 02:42 PM   #13
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Farthest was a runnin yote at a lasered 430 yards. Had quite a few foxes and yotes at 300-400 yards. Most of my predators are in open, flat farm ground and shots less than 200 yards are rare.

As stated, barrel length had nothing to do with it but FYI that was a 22". I much prefer barrel lengths of 20" or less on my GP hunting guns. Chose 18.5" for my homebrew Savage .243.

Like also stated, 30-50fps per inch will work for calculations.
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Old April 15, 2013, 06:31 PM   #14
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My longest shot ever was on a Montana mule deer, ranged him at 330 yds. One shot from my Winchester featherweight, 270 Win, 150 gr Nosler partition bullet, 22 in. barrel. Rolled him right down into the canyon; took the guides most of the day to get him out of there.
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Old April 15, 2013, 07:05 PM   #15
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22" barrels all around for me (now).

I brainfarted: I used to carry a 30-06 bolt action with a 20" barrel. I took an elk at 70 yards in heavy mountain woods with that. Not that fact should influence your decision one way or another...
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Old April 15, 2013, 11:29 PM   #16
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Heavy timber cow elk 50 yards, Savage M110 .30-06 with 22" barrel.
Open mountains cow elk 250 yards, Parker Hale 1200 .270 Win 24" barrel.
Open plains mule deer buck 560 yards, Parker Hale 1200 .270 Win 24" barrel.
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Old April 16, 2013, 12:39 AM   #17
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The longest shot I've hit a deer at was about 250yds.
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Old April 16, 2013, 11:33 AM   #18
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135 yards with a 6" .357 magnum. I was in the mountains of New Mexico. I think you are over thinking the barrel length problem. If you like a longer barrel get it, If you prefer a shorter barrel get it, at hunting ranges you or your target animal won't notice the difference, Marksmanship will count for more than barrel length,
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Old April 16, 2013, 11:43 AM   #19
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400 on a walking coyote and the same on a walking pig. Longest kill shot on a big buck was 280ish (ranged it, but can't remember the exact distance). The varmint shots were all with my 260 with a 16.5 inch barrel. The buck was with my 270. Both rifles carry 4.5-14 scopes.

You do not want a 28 inch barrel, but as for best length, I don't really know what's best. I do know what's good enough, and that's 16.5 inches. As I've aged (and maybe gotten least older), I've decided I like light rifles and shorter barrels. Just easier to carry and handle, and if properly set up, they'll outshoot you. So what's my idea of today's ideal rifle for long and short hunting shots. I guess I'd go with the Sako or Tikka stainless lite. If you can get it in 270, that would be my choice. If you were limited to short action calibers, I'd want a 260, but don't think that's available (or I'd buy one), so probably a 308 or 7-08.
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Old April 18, 2013, 01:55 PM   #20
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My Grandfather got a deer at 150 yards with a smooth bore DeerField. Sure would like to know how much he had to over shoot that one.
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Old April 18, 2013, 02:11 PM   #21
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I voted in all 3 categories because I hunt in all three geographical climates.

generally 300 yards is my max but sometimes I get desperate late in the season... my first deer was a 350 yard shot at a very small doe.

22-24 is about the standard for bolt action rifles and would easily serve as a multi purpose rifle.

lever actions like the marlin 1894 or 336 are nice and compact and serve well as brush guns but are limited in effective range though my best friend got his first buck with a 30-30 lever gun at 200+ yards(witnesses) so I would think that would be quite useful.
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Old April 18, 2013, 02:34 PM   #22
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Lets see the best/farthest shot I made on deer was 300 yds, DRT.
I shot a wild cat at 250 yds, from prone.didn't know what hit him, it centerpunched him,(150 grain B-tip from Nosler, Rem 700 30-06 58 grains IMR 4350.
Shot a domestic gander for a farmer friend who said it had gotten so mean he couldn't trust it with his mrs. when she hung laundry... I made a decent shot right at 300 yds blew his head clean off..(farmer served me and friends 7 course dinner for that one)
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Old April 18, 2013, 02:49 PM   #23
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Re: Longest Distance at animal.

I dropped a feral dog at about 560 yards. Would never try to take a shot like that at large game, though.
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