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What happens when you shorten a rifle barrel?

What happens when you shorten a rifle barrel?

How much can it be reduced and what’s the result? Bruce Potts investigates

Modifying the rifle length shouldn’t
have an impact on its accuracy if
done by a good gunsmith

Q: I have a lovely old Sako Vixen in .223 that I use for foxing, but I want to shorten the rifle barrel to fit a sound moderator and make it easier to carry. How much can my gunsmith shorten a rifle barrel length?

A: I have reduced many .223 barrels. If you take a .223 with a 52gr bullet travelling at 3,402fps and 1,337ft/lb energy from the 24in barrel — a pretty standard .223 fox load — and reduce the barrel to 20in, you will only lose 149fps overall velocity.

In practical terms, this is very little, yet the benefits in weight reduction and overall length are real. Taking an extra two inches off to 18in makes for a short-length rifle, but you will start to notice increased muzzle blast. This can be remedied with a sound moderator fitting as you wish.

At 18in, the velocity is 3,185fps and 1,171ft/lb energy, which is only 217fps short of the initial velocity at 24in. When zeroed at 100 yards, with the starting velocity, you are -2.1in low at 200yd and -9.5in low at 300yd.

With the shorter 18in barrel with 217fps reduction, this equates to a zero…

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