General discussion > Black Powder Shooting

Long vs. shorter barrels

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If your arm gets tired work out with the rifle more. Dry fire 20-50 rounds a night. Shooting is like any skill it needs practice.

I prefer heavier guns for offhand and a 42" barrel even if swamped and light will hold better than a 32" of the same weight. Plus the better sight radius.


  I'm raising my hand.  Got a couple of short fat barrels in the works now.
I'm also with Dphariss on the work out.  Build a heavy gun and get strong enough to shoot it.  And dry firing is good practice in and of itself, the work out is just a side benefit.


Gene Carrell:
I think that balance is at least, if not more, important than weight. Tom Caster built me a rifle recently, to my dimensions (LOP, drop) with a 42" 50cal "B" profile bbl. it balances 2-3" in front of my left hand, thus nose-heavy, and I'll say it is as perfect as can be had. Wish I could shoot as well as the rifle will.

I've thought that the true "long rifles" had the look of yesteryear with their 42" barrels.  But not having any actual "long rifles, all of my barrels are 32" & 33"...however, I use 3/8" solid brass ramrods so I never have to worry about one breaking or ends pulling off while out on a hunt...and that adds another couple pounds out under the barrel.

They're all a tad muzzle heavv but I like it as it does indeed make that front sight hang on the target better and helps with accuracy...they all weigh in the 9.5-10.5 pound range.

I'm kinda split down the middle. 

I certainly like and admire the longrifle style, but then the question of bulk and balance comes in.  My prefered hunting grounds are tight quarters and close range, fast shooting.  The right rifle for that balances more like a shotgun with the weight right between my hands regardless of barrel length.  Shorter offers some advantage in dodging limbs, but it's not as important as balance.   Last year's deer jumped at about 10 feet and I dropped it a split second later inside 20 yards.  My ace gun for that has a 26" barrel tapered 1 1/8" to 15/16" and 58 cal.  It balances about as well as a 20 gauge upland double, so you don't notice the 9.5 pound weight.  You better have your act together for deliberate shooting on the range, though.  On a good day it will put all shots touching offhand at 50 yards, but more typically a group of ten will have 7 touching and the others an inch or more away.

On the range for deliberate shooting I sure enjoy the advantage of longer sighting radius and more weight at the muzzle.  If I'm hunting open country I like the same guns.  My go-to gun for both is a GRRW 58 cal Hawken with a 36" 1 1/8" x 1" barrel, and comes in at 12.5 pounds.  It's a death ray when there's time to aim it, but it's about as useful as scrap iron and wood chips for fast shooting at close quarters.  Yet on the range it's a ragged hole grouper at 50 yards and beyond.  It just doesn't swing fast enough to do the job for fast shooting at close quarters.  Tried it, and got the sad tales to tell.


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