Do you REALLY need a short barrel? 10 valuable tips about barrel length and bullet performance 

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The test rifles – Merkel Helix, Howa 1500 and Mossberg Patriot II

Four gun combinations were tested, all of which have different barrel lengths. A Merkel Helix in .30-06 caliber with a 52-cm barrel, a Mossberg Patriot II with a 37-cm barrel, and two Howa 1500s with barrel lengths of 42 and 54 cm. For ammunition, we used Remington Core-Lokt with 180-gr (11.7-g) heavy bullet in .30-06 Spring. Federal Fusion is used in .308. Both cartridges have 180-gr/11.7-g lead bullets. The Merkel Helix was provided by EP-Arms, the Mossberg Patriot II came from Waffen Mürmann in Wittenberg. Gert Mürmann is a recognized dog handler and often has to fight with “bad” shots on hunts. He says: “On upcoming hunts, we dog handlers usually ask only 3 questions:

1. What was fired at?2. What type of ammo was used?3. How far away was the game and in which direction did it go off?

What I personally find time and time again is that many hunters give little thought to bullet performance. If short barrels then come into play, you should add a 4th question, which would read something like this: 4. What is the barrel length of your rifle?

Because not every cartridge is suitable for short barrels. Especially when it goes over 100 meters, the issue of precision and bullet effect plays a major role.”

That’s exactly how Phillip Engelbreit, the managing director of EP-Arms, sees it. For him, however, another point is very important:

“We manufacture silencers. It’s a consumable item. But we can’t always say how long a silencer will last either. If short barrels come into play, service life can also be shortened, because different stresses prevail for silencer on short barrels.”

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10 questions you should ask yourself if you want to use a short barrel

Question 1: How do I go hunting? A short barrel makes sense for dog handlers and driven hunters. If you are shooting farther than 100 meters, you should consider a standard barrel.Question 2: What caliber do I want to use? One caliber that makes sense for the short barrel is the .308 Win. The 8×57 caliber is also suitable for this purpose. Other calibers, especially if it goes over 100 meters, are rather “suboptimal” for this purpose.Question 3: New or old rifle? With old firearms, barrel shortening should be avoided, since the barrel has already seen its best days due to wear.Question 4: Silencer, “Yes” or “No”? If you use a silencer on a short barrel, you should be aware that the silencers will be subjected to other stresses and the point of impact may change.Question 5: How do you zero the rifle? Point blank zero at 100 m or 4 cm high? With a short barrel, the Most Recommended Distance (MRD) will change.Question 6: Do you know the power loss of your ammo? The drop in performance is sometimes enormous in the 100 to 200 meter range. With a short barrel, this is more noticeable than with a rifle with a standard barrel.Question 7: Do you know the BC value of your bullet? A high value is more optimal, as it still promises enough performance at a given distance. For short barrels, use bullets with a high BC value.Question 8: Twist. Will my bullet still fly stably at 100 yards? For stability, each caliber needs a certain twist. If the barrel twist no longer fits, for example because a barrel with progressive rifling has been shortened, the bullet may lose stability.Question 9: How is my grouping at 100 meters? Have I checked the grouping even with a silencer? Always test your short barrel rifle yourself.Question 10: Lead-free or lead bullet? In view of the fact that more and more hunters will switch to lead-free ammunition in the future, you also have to deal with the issue of bullet minimum impact velocity. Lead-free ammunition usually requires a significantly higher velocity than lead ammo, for example.

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Ethan Smith is a seasoned marine veteran, professional blogger, witty and edgy writer, and an avid hunter. He spent a great deal of his childhood years around the Apache-Sitgreaves National Forest in Arizona. Watching active hunters practise their craft initiated him into the world of hunting and rubrics of outdoor life. He also honed his writing skills by sharing his outdoor experiences with fellow schoolmates through their high school’s magazine. Further along the way, the US Marine Corps got wind of his excellent combination of skills and sought to put them into good use by employing him as a combat correspondent. He now shares his income from this prestigious job with his wife and one kid. Read more >>