If girlfriend look come the right side in front of the bullet, you’ll view the long-action is much longer than the opened for the short-action cartridge. The full length of this cartridges look at the same from this angle, yet it is not–as you’ll check out in pictures later in this post.

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Do you prefer a short activity or long activity rifle? that a question many gun owners have actually been asked and also it has kept alive a long conflict on the merits the each action length. While a healthy dispute is certain to produce many interesting arguments, no one of this earlier and forth helps new gun owners without very first explaining the differences in between a short activity and long activity rifle.

A short-action rifle merely uses a shorter length cartridge than a long-action rifle. Short-action cartridges have an all at once length the 2.3-2.8 inches when long action cartridges have an overall length the 2.8-3.34 inches. However, those numbers space only approximated as manufacturers occasionally classify lock differently.

In the very first half of the 20th Century ‘wildcatting’, the exercise of editing and enhancing existing cartridges to suit different needs, yes, really took off. The an outcome was the variety of available cartridges for civilian gun owner exploded from a couple of dozen to well over one hundred. If the selection was an excellent for gun owners, having dozens of different cartridges all with unique dimensions is a headache because that manufacturers.

Wanting to with the widest audience possible, rifle manufacturers had to have a way to economically develop rifles that might be adapted to expropriate every cambering top top the market. When barrels could be made affordably, actions forced more complicated machining. Because the action was the many expensive component to make, that made feeling to standardize the dimensions so 3 or 4 lengths could reliably usage all the cartridges top top the market.

Today, there are 4 main activity lengths pistol owners need to be mindful of:

Magnum size actions accept cartridges that room over 3.34 inches in size with most cartridges being around 3.6 inches long. The 375 H&H magnum is a popular example.Long/standard length actions accept cartridges that room over 2.8 inch in length however under 3.34 inches. The 30-06 is easily the most renowned long activity cartridge.Short length actions expropriate cartridges that room under 2.8 customs in length and also generally any kind of cartridge over about 2.3 inches. The 308 Winchester is the most famous short action cartridge ~ above the market.‘Mini’ size actions accept intermediate cartridges the are listed below 2.3 inches in length. The 5.56×45 NATO and its civilian equivalent, the 223 Remington room the most well-known cartridges which use this action length.

For most human being buying a bolt-action rifle, the main debate is in the merits in between the short activity and long activity length. The main reason because that this long-standing controversy is that both the these action lengths room actually rather similar. There are some pros and cons to consider, yet keep in mind the the advantages of one activity over the other are quite slight.

To compare and also contrast short and also long actions, it helps to use 2 cartridges that room very similar in power to each other. To represent the long action, I will certainly be using the 30-06 Springfield. For the short action, I will be using the 308 Winchester. Both cartridges usage the very same bullets, primers, and also powders in your construction, meaning the situations are the just real difference in between the two.


30-06 Springfield, Long-Action Legend

First made in 1906 after modifying the very comparable .303 Springfield, the 30-06 to be a cartridge made for war. Initially lobbing a 150gr bullet around 2,700 fps, the Springfield’s 1906 cartridge to be designed to deliver comparable performance to the Mauser cartridges which were well-known with european militaries in ~ the time.

While it went on to success two human being wars and fight in smaller disputes all end the civilization for 50 years, it was ultimately replaced by cartridges like the 308 Winchester ~ above the battlefield. However, ~ above the home front, the 30-06 acquired a call for being a versatile searching cartridge. This reputation continues to this day, wherein the Springfield 1906 is still an extremely popular amongst hunters.

If long-action cartridges (and thus the rifles which usage them) have one advantage, that versatility. The 30-06 deserve to use bullets every the way down come 110gr or up to around 225gr. The size of the situation also enables for the flour to be loaded under for light-recoiling rounds or invited hot enough to exceed the original factory loads by 200-300 fps. The result–a solitary 30-06 deserve to be provided to death anything from a coyote come a moose.

The long-action cartridge prolonged family is just as functional as the Springfield. The 25-06 is well known for gift a dual-use cartridge that can kill varmints, antelope, and also deer. The 6.5x55mm Swede has actually been used to shooting every kind of game in Europe. The 300 Winchester Magnum deserve to throw the very same bullets as the 30-06 much faster or more heavier bullets at around the same speed. The 338 win Mag will put down the largest game pets in north America.

For a many hunters, the extra pair ounces and slightly longer in its entirety length is a tiny inconvenience compared to the versatility of long-action guns. In general, choose a long activity cartridge opens up all sorts of possibilities in ~ reliably killing video game animals across the globe.

The 7mm-08 Remington is a short-action cartridge. The is a 308 case necked down for a 7mm bullet, in its entirety length is almost identical.

308 Winchester, Short-Action King

Debuting in 1952, the 308 Winchester is the cartridge the really started the short-action, long-action debate. Due to the fact that 1906, the 30-06 had ruled the roost through American Hunters and also soldiers. Through the 1960s, the 308 Win had actually displaced the Springfield in the searching fields and in the battlefields. The united state military adopted the militarized version of the 308, the 7.62x51mm, in 1954 because that the M14 fight rifle.

The idea behind the 308 Winchester is quite simple. Utilizing the far better powders accessible in the 1950s, it was possible to propel the exact same 30 caliber bullets favor the 30-06 to virtually the very same speed while using less powder. The result was a cartridge that can do almost everyone the 30-06 did, yet the ammo was cheaper to make, lighter, and much more compact.

In the hunting fields, having a rifle that is lighter and much shorter is one advantage, even if the benefit is slight. Where the 308 yes, really benefited hunters to be the reduced recoil energy. Follow to the piersonforcongress.com Rifle Recoil Table, the 308 victory produces an average of 18.27 ft-lbs of pressure at 11.62 fps. The 30-06 produces 21.34 ft-lbs in ~ 12.55 fps. Through a softer punch and also less momentum, the 308 victory is an ideal for a wider variety that people.

As because that versatility, there are some who insurance claim the 308 is just as versatile for hunting as the 30-06. When that could be true because that 90% the the game pets on the planet, the dimensions of the cartridge border it’s use at higher bullet weights. The is hard to discover commercial 308 victory ammo with much more than a 180gr bullet. The true stamin of short action cartridges is no versatility, yet rather adaptability.

The 30-06 has actually produced about a dozen wildcat cartridges, but only 270 Winchester and the 25-06 Remington enjoy widespread advertising support. In contrast, the 308 Winchester has actually been the parent situation of the 243 Win, 260 Rem, 7mm-08, 338 Fed, and also 358 Win. All five wildcat cartridges are provided by hunters today, also if some choose the 260 Remington aren’t as popular as they as soon as were.

Rather than using a wide range of bullets the the exact same caliber, short-action cartridges often tend to use different caliber bullets to achieve the exact same effect. This can additionally be watched in family members of cartridges prefer the Winchester quick Magnums (WSM) and also it’s beginning to happen in the Creedmoor family as well with the introduction of the 6mm and 22 Creedmoor, both adjusted from the famous, or infamous, 6.5 Creedmoor.

This is a great comparison in between the short, long, and also magnum actions. The 22LR ~ above the appropriate is 1 inch long. The 300 WSM (left) and also 7mm-08 (right) both right in short actions. The 30-06 and also 270 victory (center) space standard actions. The 338 Lapua (left the center) is a magnum-length cartridge.

So, Which activity Length is Best?

This is the concern at the love of the short-action, long-action debate. When the background lessons and also comparisons deserve to be fun, new gun owners space going to desire to understand which length activity they should focus on for their first, or next, gun purchase.

Short-action cartridges (and rifles) will be ideal suited because that the adhering to situations:

Short range big-game searching (less than 400 yards) approximately the dimension of Elk and also MooseMountain searching with light-weight, light-recoiling riflesPrecision target shooting (25yds-900yds)Semi-automatic rifle shooting (AR-10)

Long-action cartridges (and rifles) will be best suited because that these situations:

Hunting multiple varieties with one rifle (African Safari)Hunting huge game at least as huge as an Elk or MooseLong range, big-game hunting (over 400 yards)Extreme long range precision shooting (over 900yds)


For hunters, the concern really is what video game will it is in hunted and also who will be law the hunting. A deer hunter in the united state or Europe would do well to think about a short-action rifle since shots space close variety at mid-sized animals. In such environments, having a bigger, heavier, longer gun the kicks much more is unnecessary once a precise shot indigenous a slightly smaller cartridge will do the trick.

Where a long-action cartridge really comes in handy is when shooting big animals at longer ranges or when taking care of dangerous game. In both cases, the extra powder gives the cartridge a boost of speed and also energy. Plenty of hunters have actually taken a 375 H&H on afri safaris just as plenty of western elk hunters swear by the long selection capabilities of a 7mm Rem Mag or the 300 win Mag.

Precision Shooting

For precision shooting, the maximum street to the target need to be considered. Bullet drop can be compensated for and bullet form will largely identify wind drift. However, one advantage long action cartridges have actually over short activity is velocity. All else gift equal, a bullet shot the end of a 300 success Mag case will take trip further and remain supersonic longer than the exact same bullet indigenous a 308 win case.

The piersonforcongress.com preferably Effective variety Chart mirrors that a 308 will drop below 1,900fps (about 800fps much faster than the speed of sound) at about 377 yards when the 300 success Mag goes all the means out come 723 yards. It is a 350 yard advantage! due to the fact that two identical bullets will have the very same amount of drag, that selection advantage carries all the method to the supersonic limit.

Modern Sporting Rifles

When it pertains to semi-automatic rifles, over there is yes, really no contest in between short activity and long action cartridges. Short activity reigns supreme with these guns. Certainly, there are semi-auto platforms for long-action weapons like the Falkor Petra (300 victory Mag) and the M1 Garand (30-06), yet for the most component short action cartridges have pertained to dominate the ‘modern sporting rifle’ market.

The factor for this supremacy is quite simple, smaller cartridges are much more inexpensive, lighter weight, and overall much more compact. It’s easier to bring a single 30 round 7.62 NATO magazine than 3 10 ring magazines because that a 30-06. Not just that, however a gas-operated semi-auto or automatically rifle substantially reduces feel recoil. For short-action cartridges, this recoil palliation makes handling such firearms easy.

The 260 Remington, A good cartridge for youngsters and brand-new hunters (and everyone else).


At this point, it could be tempting come dive earlier into the short-action/long-action debate, however I would urge us all to take it a various approach. In a handy sense, over there isn’t that lot difference between a short action and long action cartridge (or rifle). How the rifle fits and also how it shoots are an ext important things to consider prior to how long the instance of a cartridge is.

Sure, the 300 victory Mag has actually a substantial distance benefit over the 308 Win, yet how many civilization are going to make a 700 garden shot at anything? The 7mm-08 can be great for searching in the mountains, but if it’s just 6 ounces lighter than a 30-06, yes surely part stuff in the backpack that have the right to be left behind to consist of the difference.

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Rather 보다 trying to enhance a rifle to part imaginary ideal, it’s much better to ponder what a details rifle will certainly be used for, and to purchase or construct that rifle accordingly.