How long should the barrels be?

Recently, many hunters, buying new models of weapons, buy guns with barrels (may I say goodbye to this free comparison!), more like breeches or even shorts, rather than pants of classic length. More and more of the world’s largest arms manufacturers produce hunting guns with shortened barrels.

And it is not even a shotgun in the classical sense, but a certain designer “DIY”. The set of such shotgun necessarily includes interchangeable chokes, which allow to set the necessary muzzle narrowing. Shooting a shotgun without a muzzle device is strictly prohibited.


But not long ago, when the era of interchangeable cheeks had not yet come, the length of the barrel served as a kind of benchmark for muzzle narrowing. Thus, the guns with cylindrical drilling had the length of trunks 66 cm, with the drilling of the paychecks – 71 cm, and with a strong chock – 76 cm. In modern models shotguns the barrel length can no longer serve as such a reference point. I have seen geese shooting from 50 cm long shotguns and autumn woodcock from a 76 cm long shotgun with a barrel. However, in the first case, the barrel had an exchangeable muzzle narrowing, and in the second case – a cylinder.

Sometimes such freedom of choice and maneuver plays a cruel joke with some hunters, pushing them to perform reckless actions. However, there is also a positive side: by purchasing a rifle with short trunks, the hunter makes an invaluable contribution to the conservation of the bird population, which is the object of hunting.


The balance of short-barrelled shotguns is shifted towards the butt, and as a result, such shotguns have high controllability when shooting. Many people are amazed at how easy it is for the shooter to control the shotgun. It is somehow forgotten that the gun, which has a little inertia at rest, has as little inertia of movement. In other words, if the shooter does not make a conscious effort to continue the shotgun leash, the gun, devoid of inertia, stops immediately. As a result, the hunter enslaves the bird.


The rifle, which has standard length barrels, facilitates the leash. Why is it given such attention? To answer this question, I will cite the words of a famous sportsman who stood at the origin of sporting in our country. “If you take a ten-point scale, the value of a correctly taken preemptive is ten units. And the value of the right leash on this scale will be ten thousand!”

The most convenient for most hunts are guns with a barrel length of about 70 cm. By the way, watching the leading shooters shooting sports convinces us of the fairness of this position. Most shooters have shotguns with 70 and even 76 cm long barrels. If we turn to the experience of hunting weapons production in the 19th century, we can find out that most shotguns had the length of barrels from 67.5 to 76 cm.



Very often hunters explain the purchase of a shotgun with short barrels by their unwillingness to carry extra weight during hours of hunting with legal dogs in meadows or with hounds. They are definitely right about one thing: the weight of a long-barrel shotgun is greater than that of a short-barrel shotgun. But there are models of shotguns with smaller masses not due to the length of barrels, but due to the use of modern light alloy materials for the production of parts of the shotgun (in particular, the receiver). Such guns include Whitewing (Beretta) model, 12-gauge shotgun weighing no more than 3.1 kg, 20-caliber shotgun weighing 2.7 kg, and Citori Feather (Browning) model. Both models are characterized by exceptional stockability, perfect balance, controllability and seating.


When choosing a model of a gun with a certain length of barrels, hunters are guided by myths, firmly rooted in their consciousness and passed from generation to generation, but with absolutely no practical meaning.

Of course, long barrels of smooth-bore rifles have certain advantages over short barrels, but when shooting cartridges equipped with modern gunpowder, the sharpness of the battle depends practically on the length of the barrel. The same can be said about the flight speed of a shotgun. The difference can be one and a half to two meters per second in favor of longer barrels.

There are hunters who claim that the longer barrel provides additional aiming comfort. Is it possible to talk about aiming when it comes to flying colors? It is possible to aim a sitting bird (a wood grouse, a grouse on a current, a planted spleen). But how can you aim a flying fir when you give preemptive fire in two or three hulls? After all, you direct the gun to the point where at the time of production the bird has not yet shot! One more remark about that. Take two guns with barrels of different lengths, aim and try to determine the length of the sighting bar. I don’t think you can do that.


Some hunters believe that short trunks are more functional in the forest, as long trunks more often cling to branches, with them it is more difficult to get through the thickets, through the bushes. This statement is quite accurate, but it is not indisputable. I agree that gun trunks cling to branches, but it would be a clear exaggeration to say that they are tangled in thickets.

If from a technical point of view, it doesn’t matter who counts. There are laws of nature (physics and ballistics), and this law has long explained that the length of the barrel affects the initial velocity of the projectile fired from it. 🙂 Have you ever wondered why the old black powder guns used to be more than a meter long? 😉

The shape of the muzzle (for shotguns) is more influenced by the barrel profile (drills) and muzzle contraction (if the question is about smooth-bore guns).

Range – in general, the issue is not relevant for smoothbore. Why do you need a range when shooting with a smoothbore? Shooting is still carried out up to 35 meters, and I personally shoot no further than 10 – 15 meters. There’s no point further, or the percentage of the game’s defeat is minimal, or even if you hit, then you won’t find a trophy.


If the question is about convenience, the length of the barrel is strictly individual value. Someone hunts more climbing in the bushes, passing long distances. For such hunts, a short bullet barrel is convenient. The branches are not clinging, and the weight is small.

Someone on the duck stands at the evening dawn, there is already a longer barrel will be more comfortable. It’s just a matter of convenience.

At the stand, when shooting on plates, they use guns with long barrels from 760 to 810 mm, saw there shooters with barrels 710 – 720 mm.

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