General discussion > Black Powder Shooting

Long vs. shorter barrels

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Edd- if the design supports a 32" barrel, go for it.  My old English gun has not been beat for accuracy so far at any range and it only has a 32" barrel. Here's a picture of my friend Brad holding her, gently. I think a slim Penn. rifle of the 18th century might look a bit strange chopped off at 36", but there are some 38" guns as Dennis notes.  Going to the largest bore size supported by the barrel's outside dimensions will lighten weight considerably. There is a big difference between the .45 and .40 bores on my 7/8" x 42" barrels.  It's 7/8" straight octgonal shape supports a .50 as well as taht was the original barrel on the gun when I got it.  I didn't like the offcentre hole, so I changed it to .45, then the current .40 to shoot the squirrel match at Hefley.
: The rifle pictured below weighs 9 pounds with it's 1 1/8" barrel in .69 cal. it holds easily and made 1.2" to 1.5" 5 shot groups at 100 yards in the 1980's and 1990's, still does as a matter of fact, even with my older eyes. I did this just last year when retesting for Rendezvous.

 My first real target rifle had a 1" X 32" GM .40, turned half round with redfield sights, half stock, it weighed in at 9.5 lbs I must have put 50,000 balls through that gun, I shot it for 10 years, and won truck loads of stuff with it, it hung pretty well with the under rib and steel thimbles and redfield sights. I always shot .395 swaged and pocket drill and the load started getting loose about 6 inches from the breech so I went to .400 cast and it was fine, I thinking about reviving it for old time sake.
 Steve C.

I built a 50 cal. Track fullstock flint Hawken a couple years ago & left the barrel the full 42" as the GM blank came that long.  I find it much too heavy for offhand shooting but like our friend Edd love the look on the wall!  The fact that I can't shoot it offhand accurately is a small pain, but other than that I an extremely happy with it.  My complaint with shorter barreled guns is noise!  My buddy assembled a 50 cal. Lyman flint GPR last winter under my guidance & shooting the same 70 gr charge of 3f GOEX, mine has a nice mellow sound whilst his sounds like a bloody Howitzer going off!  It reminds me very much of the sound of a 22" 458x2" Mauser I built years ago!  The noise factor as well as good looks are all it takes to keep me in the ranks of longrifle shooters!  If I ever get around to building myself another flint gun it will be a smoothbore like Leatherbelly wants me to so I can keep the long barrel while shedding a lot of barrel weight.  Be kind to our ears out there folks!  Leave the sawed-off guns at home! ;)

Harry & Edd - build a nice .69 with a 32" barrel. It has a nice mellow sound with 165 to 200gr. 2F. It's the 3F that's noisy!  Oh, BYTY - it kicks like the .458 2".

Personally, I think the longer barrels make into better looking rifles that do not shoot any better if not worse than a shorter barrel.  Like all things, as TOF mentioned some carry it too far for "handiness" .  But a 32 - 36 inch barrel shoots fine for me.  There has been some discussion on gain in velocity with longer barrels.  Others claim they have gotten a gain cutting them off.  I remember trying a 32" barreled CVA Mountain rifle a friend had.  I was impressed.



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