Velocity Loss With Shorter Barrels

CoElkHunter

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I'm sure like many other topics here on AH, this topic has been examined over and over. But I haven't been able to find anything here recently. If someone has a link to a thread here regarding this topic, I would welcome it. Specifically, velocity loss with a .458WM, .416 Remington Mag, .416 Taylor and .375 H and H with barrels from 25" to 22". I know some cartridges like the .375 and .416 Rugers plus the B & Ms were designed to obtain maximum velocities with 20" or shorter barrels, but what about the older designed cartridges? And is the velocity loss of any REAL WORLD hunting significance? Thanks!
 

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I know that with my rifles and handguns that velocity loss is close to 100 fps per inch of barrel when comparing shorter barrels to the longer ones of the same cartridge shooting over a chronograph
 

CoElkHunter

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I know that with my rifles and handguns that velocity loss is close to 100 fps per inch of barrel when comparing shorter barrels to the longer ones of the same cartridge shooting over a chronograph
Is the velocity loss in your rifles with the slower larger bore cartridges? If so, that's significant! I've always liked the longer barrels like my Browning's 26" .338, but I've seen a trend towards shorter barrels? The Taylor I found and bought has a 22" barrel, which I wish was longer, but it is what it came with?
 

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I wouldn't get overly concerned with it. There is a performance envelope for every cartridge. There is certainly a more pronounced effect for cartridges that use slower-burning powders, but even at that, the loss is within performance envelope.

A loss of 150 fps on a short range, DG cartridge is mostly not much of a deal. But losing 100 fps at the muzzle for long range (think military sniper type stuff) can have a profound effect on holdover at extended ranges.

All that to say velocity losses are more noticeable on ballistic arc at distance, not on penetration for shots under say 100 yards. On paper, there's an energy difference, but no so much that the animals you shoot with them will notice. Will a cape buffalo notice the difference between 4500 Joules and 4100 Joules? Not bloody likely.

Is more velocity better than less? For the most part, yes. Does it make any difference in all but the edge cases? For the most part, no.
 

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I know that with my rifles and handguns that velocity loss is close to 100 fps per inch of barrel when comparing shorter barrels to the longer ones of the same cartridge shooting over a chronograph

WOW! I've never heard of that big a loss for 1", the standard is more like 25-30 fps. Did you chrono the rifles, then chop off an inch at a time and re-chrono or are you comparing different rifles of the same cartridge? Additionally, at some point, a longer barrel actually has less velocity.
 

John J

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I have read 1% per inch for velocity loss. 3000 fps equals 30 fps loss per inch abouts. I did this with a 338 RUM and it's pretty much right on at 29 fps per inch. I'm sure there is a rate of major loss at some point. That was my cut, chrono, repeat on the 338 Rum post. 21.5" is where velocity loss starts to become unacceptable to me.
 

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There's a report on another shooting website where the test rifle was a .308 W, a fair representative of a hunting rifle. The barrel was cut one inch at a time from 28" to 16.5". Four types of ammo were used and the average loss was 22.7 fps per inch reduction in length.
 

CoElkHunter

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I wouldn't get overly concerned with it. There is a performance envelope for every cartridge. There is certainly a more pronounced effect for cartridges that use slower-burning powders, but even at that, the loss is within performance envelope.

A loss of 150 fps on a short range, DG cartridge is mostly not much of a deal. But losing 100 fps at the muzzle for long range (think military sniper type stuff) can have a profound effect on holdover at extended ranges.

All that to say velocity losses are more noticeable on ballistic arc at distance, not on penetration for shots under say 100 yards. On paper, there's an energy difference, but no so much that the animals you shoot with them will notice. Will a cape buffalo notice the difference between 4500 Joules and 4100 Joules? Not bloody likely.

Is more velocity better than less? For the most part, yes. Does it make any difference in all but the edge cases? For the most part, no.
Thanks for this info! Besides my Taylor, I looked at an older (great shape) Remington 700 custom in .416 Hoffman at a gun show recently, but it too had a 22" heavy barrel with express sights. Yes, I know the Hoffman basically duplicates the .416 Remington and this rifle is a push feed, but for $800 it might have been worth it? It'll be there at the next show because nobody, including the seller, even knows what it is! Point being, if one finds an African large bore rifle with a 22" barrel vs. a 24" or 25” barrel at a very good price, should one consider buying it given the velocity loss with the shorter barrel?
 

CoElkHunter

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I have read 1% per inch for velocity loss. 3000 fps equals 30 fps loss per inch abouts. I did this with a 338 RUM and it's pretty much right on at 29 fps per inch. I'm sure there is a rate of major loss at some point. That was my cut, chrono, repeat on the 338 Rum post. 21.5" is where velocity loss starts to become unacceptable to me.
That’s not a very significant velocity loss even with a faster cartridge in the RUM family of cartridges?
 
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I'm sure like many other topics here on AH, this topic has been examined over and over. But I haven't been able to find anything here recently. If someone has a link to a thread here regarding this topic, I would welcome it. Specifically, velocity loss with a .458WM, .416 Remington Mag, .416 Taylor and .375 H and H with barrels from 25" to 22". I know some cartridges like the .375 and .416 Rugers plus the B & Ms were designed to obtain maximum velocities with 20" or shorter barrels, but what about the older designed cartridges? And is the velocity loss of any REAL WORLD hunting significance? Thanks!
CoElkHunter
It has been my experience that big bore rifles lose less velocity than small bore high velocity cartridges per inch. The high velocity lose between 25 and 50 fps per inch the big bore tends to only lose 15 to 25fps per inch. My 444 Marlin lost 38fps shortening the barrel from 24 inch to 22 inch. This was over a chronograph.
Cheers mate Bob
 

CoElkHunter

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There's a report on another shooting website where the test rifle was a .308 W, a fair representative of a hunting rifle. The barrel was cut one inch at a time from 28" to 16.5". Four types of ammo were used and the average loss was 22.7 fps per inch reduction in length.
Even a four inch barrel reduction is less than 100 FPS! But, with a faster cartridge? I’ve always heard that faster magnum cartridges like Weatherbys need longer barrels to maintain velocity to reach their full ballistic potential? But, maybe not as much as I thought? Anyway, with a slower cartridge like the .308 and probably many of the larger bore cartridges, maybe shorter barrels are not the velocity handicap I thought they would be?
 

CoElkHunter

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CoElkHunter
It has been my experience that big bore rifles lose less velocity than small bore high velocity cartridges per inch. The high velocity lose between 25 and 50 fps per inch the big bore tends to only lose 15 to 25fps per inch. My 444 Marlin lost 38fps shortening the barrel from 24 inch to 22 inch. This was over a chronograph.
Cheers mate Bob
Wow! That’s almost no velocity loss! But I would have kept the barrel at 24”. I personally like longer barrels. Better sight plane? I also like 28” vs 26” barreled shotguns. Just personal preference?
 

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For all "practical" hunting ranges 2 or 3 inches won't make an appreciable difference. Loads can be adjusted to make up the difference if necessary.
 

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Ruger 16.25" barrel gives 2700 fps from 150 gr TTSX at 10' from the muzzle. Box velocity is 2900 fps. I don't know what the barrel length Barnes used maybe 24"? But if I found a 416 for that money I'd probably buy it. I have 2 458 B&M's on my list. Have the second donor rifle coming this week. I'm a short barrel guy : )
 
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My .458 Lott has a 22” barrel. I get 2300 fps with federal factory ammo topped with 500 gr TBBC bullets. I have checked this with 2 different chronographs.

My .375 H&H has a 21” bbl. If you are interested I can dig out the chrono results but I can assure you that any velocity loss was insignificant for shots at Reasonable hunting distances.
 

CoElkHunter

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Ruger 16.25" barrel gives 2700 fps from 150 gr TTSX at 10' from the muzzle. Box velocity is 2900 fps. I don't know what the barrel length Barnes used maybe 24"? But if I found a 416 for that money I'd probably buy it. I have 2 458 B&M's on my list. Have the second donor rifle coming this week. I'm a short barrel guy : )
I REALLY like the B & M concept using the shortened RUM cases AND the shorter barrels with the same or better velocity as with longer barrels. Same with the .375 and .416 Rugers. I’ve just never owned or shot (except for a 18.5” Marlin .45-70- no thanks!) larger bore rifles with barrels less than 22”? I’m sure they’re great, but I have no experience with them?
 
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CoElkHunter

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My .458 Lott has a 22” barrel. I get 2300 fps with federal factory ammo topped with 500 gr TBBC bullets. I have checked this with 2 different chronographs.

My .375 H&H has a 21” bbl. If you are interested I can dig out the chrono results but I can assure you that any velocity loss was insignificant for shots at Reasonable hunting distances.
That’s enough info for me. I’m not going to worry about it then. If I find a shorter barrel large bore rifle at a good price and like it AND have the funds to buy it, I won’t worry about the barrel length. Thanks!
 

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For a handloader a slightly faster powder may gain back the velocity loss, all else being equal.
 

CoElkHunter

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CoElkHunter
It has been my experience that big bore rifles lose less velocity than small bore high velocity cartridges per inch. The high velocity lose between 25 and 50 fps per inch the big bore tends to only lose 15 to 25fps per inch. My 444 Marlin lost 38fps shortening the barrel from 24 inch to 22 inch. This was over a chronograph.
Cheers mate Bob
Off topic kind of, but you probably wouldn’t believe that my FIRST rifle I bought at age 16, was a .444 Marlin. I was “mesmerized “ by the Marlin catalog cover with a moose charging the hunter holding his .444 Marlin! But, after shooting a couple of boxes through it, the recoil was too much for the skinny young man. So, I traded it for my Winchester.270 which I still have. Silly boy!
 

CoElkHunter

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For a handloader a slightly faster powder may gain back the velocity loss, all else being equal.
Great point! But now I’m thinking 100 FPS velocity loss max for a two inch shorter barrel? Maybe I’ll just get a bigger caliber to make up the difference! Ha! Ha!
 

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