@ 12:01 pm (GMT)
Robert FreundFirst of all, I want to note that I tried multiple different methods of searching the forum before posting. I do not know why, and I AM logged in, but my searches yield nothing. No matter what I attempted to search on 'barrel length' or '30-06 barrel' or other variations, the search found nothing.
I also just manually started at the latest post and read potentially relevant posts back until 2018 and didn't find anything related.
Finally, I own all of Nathan's books and have read them multiple times, so I 'think' I have done my homework.
So, on to my question(s)...
As noted in my post yesterday, I am building 4 rifles. Yes, I am that annoying person who is older and later in his career that perhaps has more money than sense. For what it is worth, I am 59 years old and a former USMC Infantry Officer but now am a university professor. I am a competent machinist and have a pretty solid home 'machine shop' and am learning under another former Marine who is a well-know gunsmith and shooter in the USA. I do apologize for being 'that guy' but regardless...
The big question for me is what barrel lengths to get for each of the rifles. All will be on custom actions (primarily Kelbly's but also one of Matt's Tuebors) and in appropriate stocks and with Bartlein SS or Carbon barrels.
Following Nathan's suggestions, I shall be using a 26" barrel for my 300 Win Mag (FMR reamer) and my 7 mm Practical. That is not under debate. These will be my long distance 'messing around' rifles and, since they are pretty heavy (12-14 lbs), my 'I don't have to lug them around too far' hunting rifles for both Texas and Oregon.
I will also be building a 30-06 Ai and a 264 Win Mag, again using Nathan's FMR reamers. I want the 30-06 AI to be my hack rifle and the 264 Win Mag to be my lightweight mountain rifle (especially in Oregon).
The logical choice would SEEM to be a 26" barrel for the 264 Win Mag and a 24" barrel for the 30-06 AI. However, I keep on having second thoughts about 'emasculating' the 30-06 AI with a shorter barrel (should it be 26"?). Also, it is possible to make the 'mountain rifle' more portable and easier to maneuver by putting a lightweight 24" carbon Sendero barrel on the 264 Win Mag.
I keep on going back and forth. Opinions?
Thank you in advance,
@ 07:12 am (GMT)
Re: Help on Barrel LengthHi, Robert. I hunt the McKenzie and Siuslaw Units exclusively. I dont road-hunt. Its illegal to shoot from a vehicle or public road. But its legal to get out and off the road to shoot, so I keep a rifle ready in the cab of the truck when driving to hunting spots. To me, hack rifle means truck gun, a 20 short action. Even 308-based cartridges suffer velocity loss from 26 on down. Your definition of hack rifle seems to be different. To me, a 24 30-06 is a long-range rig. To quote from Nathans Knowledgebase 30-06 article,
Loaded with 178-210 grain high BC, frangible bullets, the basic 24 barreled .30-06 produces wide wounding on both light through to large medium game out to ranges of around 900 yards (1400fps), becoming subsonic at around 1170 yards. Although this cartridge is not as flat shooting as the large capacity sevens, it must always be remembered that the .30-06 can carry a heavy pay load to large bodied game at long ranges.
@ 09:02 am (GMT)
Re: Help on Barrel LengthHi Britt, regarding the .30-06, if you want to try running the heavies, you will also want to run the slower burning powders. Further to this, powder shortages (limited options) should be taken into account.
Budget on 25fps per inch of barrel from 26 to 24" Budget on 35fps per inch below 24".
A 24" barrel is a good compromise for the .30-06. The balance of speed versus portability and weight. Finish at a muzzle diameter of about .625". This will be stout enough for long range practice but light enough to carry. If you cannot obtain appropriate powder, the AI capacity and 24" barrel will still ensure adequate results.
Carbon fiber over a .264 is possibly not the best idea. This cartridge produces intense heat at the throat. When Winchester designed the reamer, it had no freebore per say, they knew how bad is was going to be. This was of course highly impractical, especially when one considers that they had to use a stepped down projectile to make it fit. When I designed the FMR, I built in freebore, making it much like the 7mm Rem Mag, but I factored in a very high degree of erosion to ensure barrel longevity. I could not simply make the OAL X length because "thats the best".
I will say this for the benefit of all; The optimum method of mitigating recoil is 1. via the stock design, 2. your god given two hands and the muscles of your arms and 3. a stout sling. Get the stock right guys, and you may find that a lighter weight barrel (without going to extremes) is fine. To put it another way, not all fliers can be attributed to being the result of a light barrel contour. Some fliers may instead be as a result of substandard stock designs or poor (modern) shooting technique. If you can address the stock and your technique, this lessens the need to go to the opposite extreme of adopting a heavy heavy barrel.
From another perspective, a Tikka light weight can shoot into one ragged hole. If however you shoot several rounds quickly, the groups will open up as a result of heat softening the steel, changing its harmonics. This is actually a good time to quit as it is also helps to prevent more severe erosion. Why would somebody then choose to make this barrel even thinner, then wrap it, arriving at the same weight as before - simply to be able to shoot a longer string with potentially less harmonic deviation. Even if the maker (of the carbon wrap) can achieve the same degree of heat transfer as bare steel, we are not comparing apples with apples as the end user may under these conditions (no loss of accuracy) continue to shoot, putting more heat into the barrel that he would have done with the Tikka which had forced him to back off after just a few shots. Net result - more heat and increased throat wear. But here is the real kicker, a major portion of hunters cannot accurately shoot rifles of this weight, due to modern stock designs and or poor technique. I laid this challenge out quite clearly in the LR shooting back, using a bog standard Tikka .308 Lite as the basis for this challenge.
With all of that being said and as a contradiction to the previous, if we go too light (contour) a magnum will generate a lot of whip and it may indeed produce annoying fliers. This I believe is the reason why a number of gun makers (including Tikka) do not offer 26" barreled magnums, the very thin barrels simply won't shoot all that well past 24". I do not however believe that making a thin contour barrel even thinner, then wrapping it, is the answer we are looking for.
When considering a carry weight magnum, there may have to be some compromises. The .264 has a very small diameter bore, so you could run it to .625" at 26" and still have a rather hefty barrel yet light enough to carry about. Further weight could be saved via the adoption of a carbon fiber stock. But thinning the stock and ruining its key ergonomic factors, thats a no-no. I think that building your .264 relatively light is a good idea, the trick is working out how to go about this.
There are currently factory rifles chambered in potent .30 cal magnums with muzzles as thin as .500" at 24" or with carbon wraps. The stocks are shaped to fit a 12 year old. Such rifles may be capable of their stated MOA accuracy, but it takes a very high level of shooting discipline to achieve this at a rifle range with full powered loads, let alone under more demanding conditions in the field. These are basically guns that (following an initial honeymoon) nobody can or wants to use - pushing consumers toward smaller, less effective cartridges - or alternatively, heavy burdensome rifles. I would urge my readers to be aware of the fracturing and extremes that have occurred as a result of companies looking for a competitive edge. There is room for innovation and improvement, but this is not currently greatly evident within the industry so please select components with care.
No absolute answers sorry, but perhaps some food for thought. Its a good topic. Others will no doubt be interested in this.
@ 11:00 am (GMT)
Re: Help on Barrel LengthIf youre scaling K2, I can see where an ounce here or there makes a difference. But does a fluted barrel or bolt, a shaved receiver, an inch of barrel length, carbon fiber barrel or stock, really make a difference? If you cant make it up the mountain with a 10 lb. rifle, you wont make it down with a hundred pounds of meat.
@ 01:37 am (GMT)
Re: Help on Barrel LengthHi, Nathan. As always, thank you for the long and thoughtful response. My takeaways from this are as follows: (i) 24" SS barrel on the 30-06 Ai is fine for my 'all-rounder' (perhaps more than a 'hack' rifle, (ii) avoid carbon fiber, especially on magnum-level cartridges that generate a lot of heat, and (iii) be very careful on the stock.
As Nathan knows, but other readers may not, I am a fairly big guy (6'-5" and 225 lbs) and in good shape, so I am not worried too much about weight (without being stupid). I just wanted to understand the tradeoffs - especially in 'portability' which is a combination (to me, at least) of weight and size. Oregon IS very mountainous (from what I understand, somewhat similar to NZ) and there is a lot of packing in and packing out to consider. So, without being stupid about saving weight, a nice 10 pound 264 Win Mag would make sense.
On one note that Nathan said above, I am actually a bit concerned about the stock. I will not be using any muzzle devices on any of the rifles, so recoil management will be with the stock design and rifle weight (and sling, but I have some technique work to do on that one).
Since I am 'long and lean', I have a longish neck and longish face. This means that for the butt of the stock to fully engage my shoulder, I need more drop than would be preferred. This, in turn, harms recoil management. Since I don't know enough to balance the design features of a stock, and I prefer the look of classic wooden stocks, I am meeting with an old-timer custom stock maker (he is almost 70 and been making stocks for decades) on Tuesday to spec out a stock. I will know more then, since he will take me through a fitting process. I will insist upon paying attention to Nathan's stock design considerations (not too much drop, recoil in line with the butt pad, 2" or better on the foregrip, beavertail design, longer foregrip to allow actually gripping the rifle, etc...). The cost of this stock is going to hurt, but I figure that I should have one 'perfect' stock for my 7mm Practical that I can then use as a basis for selecting the other stocks.
Thanks again to everyone who responded. I probably won't get to do this again (my wife won't let me :) but I intend to make this learning process as fun as possible...
@ 07:55 am (GMT)
Re: Help on Barrel LengthHi all. To me, stock selection is simple: Can I shoulder the rifle with my eyes closed, open my shooting eye, and have a perfect sight picture without having to move my cheek at at all, whether Im wearing a tee shirt or heavy winter coat? Thats not question you can answer without mounting a scope. Ring height, objective bell diameter, and bolt clearance with the ocular end of the scope, all come into play. What I would do is order a pre-made stock, following Nathans recoil mitigation guidelines, wrap it with Ace bandages to achieve the perfect cheek weld, and take it to the custom stock maker to duplicate.
@ 07:56 am (GMT)
Re: Help on Barrel LengthHi Britt, yes a larger stock is a must for your build, but custom stocks are a bit tricky. A traditional stock maker may be heavily biased toward snap shooting / shot gun shooting etc. Prone shooting seldom if ever comes into the mix with traditional fittings. I would suggest extreme caution.
Full engagement of the shoulder is problematic for me as my definition of this differs to others (See LR Shooting book). The fit taught by various shooting schools is in my experience (from helping shooters) simply poor. People have learned these methods both actively (being taught) and unfortunately passively / subconsciously, whether seeing people at the range or by watching videos. It has become so ingrained that it can be very difficult to overcome. My belief is that the modern fit is unnatural and is based around trying to make things work with a poorly exercised, inflexible body. Rather than address the loss of physicality within the body, the technique has changed. There are other aspects (influences) to this, but either way it is highly flawed and ironically inflexible for field shooting. I do not want to go into this any further here as this topic is a source of my income. I give enough away freely already. I will instead simply suggest that if you and the stock maker both hold the rifle in a certain manner, it may have a negative affect on outcomes. I have seen this before so many times. So the first question is - what is good technique? Address this and take note of where your current stocks let you down, then have a new stock built to suit.
A natural method will seem highly unnatural at first. It requires a high level of self discipline to work through this initial phase. But after a period of time, the body begins to work as it should and this will help you to discern what you require from a stock.
If you want to, you could have some one on one screen time with me or take some video footage of yourself shooting as part of a private consult.
OK, hope that helps a wee bit.
@ 10:58 am (GMT)
Re: Help on Barrel LengthNathan, I think I will take you up on that. You have given away much freely and I would gladly 'hire' you for a Zoom fitting and a series of lessons. I will meet with the stock maker, take notes, and then contact you for next steps...