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Salopian

Ideal Barrel Length

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What are your thoughts on the ideal barrel length?

Churchill advocated short barrels and had great success at trap and live pigeon shooting with 25" barrels .

John Bidwell won multiple World Championships with 28" barrels.

Many , many won using 30" barrels  and then came the trend to 32" and even some 34" .

Surely physical height must have some influence on what are the most suitable barrels for the individual , but in saying that we have all seen children and petite ladies shooting 32" very well .

Discuss please .

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I started off with 30" in O/U form, then 28" O/U and much preferred the 28". 

Equally found no real disadvantage using my 26" SxS fixed 1/2 and full. Now using a 26" auto with I/C and again, no disadvantage, still breaking the 40 odd yard birds off the tower. 

I firmly believe if it fits and your comfortable barrel length means very little. 

Wish Id known that when I started 🙄

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I like longer barrels. My O/U has 32" barrels and my SX3 semi has a 30" barrel making it a longer gun than the O/U. My first gun had iirc 26" barrels and although I shot ok with it on sporting I was terrible when using it for skeet or DTL. Certainly I find the longer barreled gun easier to swing through targets. 

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1 hour ago, Salopian said:

What are your thoughts on the ideal barrel length?

Churchill advocated short barrels and had great success at trap and live pigeon shooting with 25" barrels .

John Bidwell won multiple World Championships with 28" barrels.

Many , many won using 30" barrels  and then came the trend to 32" and even some 34" .

Surely physical height must have some influence on what are the most suitable barrels for the individual , but in saying that we have all seen children and petite ladies shooting 32" very well .

Discuss please .

What barrel length have you shot for the last few years ? 

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I would suggest that barrel length choice fits into the same discussion as choice of choke. It is a very personal thing but is ,of course, a much more expensive thing to experiment with. I used a semi-auto for most my clay shooting life so trying different lengths was  a cheaper option than an o/u. I was able to prove to myself that I shot better with a 26" barrel. This is equivalent to a 28" o/u.

Vic.

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I have never shot as well with 32" or 30" as i did with my Winchester 28". I borrowed a 28" a few years ago, when my Beretta 682E Gold ceased to fire in the middle of a round. The 28" was so easy to move, but I don't know whether it was just a one off. I bought a 30" a few years ago and shot a lot with it, but could not get on with it and went back to 32".

You see very few 28" over and under nowadays, but if I was starting all over again, that would be my starting point. 

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Posted (edited)

The longer the barrel the nearer the bird? The only truism that has sense in 2020 is that the longer the barrel the more protection from the noise and blast at the muzzle is given by that longer distance to your hearing. My father's generation (he was born in 1907) grew up in that where many in the 1920s were users of Churchill XXV guns. Most that used them were to one degree or other deaf by their sixties. I use often my father's thirty inch Henry Clarke he was bought in 1919 on his twelfth birthday so that barrel length made sense I suppose for the powders of that time either side of WWI. Churchill, yes, realised that with modern powders that barrel length was no longer needed to get a full burn. But me I'd not want to go shorter than twenty-seven inches in a side by side as the only thing that is certain is that shorter barrels give increased risk of damaging your hearing.

Edited by enfieldspares

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Ask the Mrs what's her ideal length,but you still do a good job with something smaller, Gordon R both my o/u are 28" the Laurona around 30 year's old and the 725 I never had any interest in great big long barrells for me just a bit longer to swing around.

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Posted (edited)

If a gun is balanced well and fits dont think the length makes a great deal of difference.  One thing is for sure 26" barrels seem to be no longer in vogue,  however there seems to be some right bargains if you fancy one, especially the older mirokus

Edited by TRINITY

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If we were all given just one choice, my option would be 28”. All my Sporters are this length, with one exception being 27”. Of the trap guns I own, two are 30” and one is 32”, and whilst I really enjoy using them all for clays and game, given just one choice, it would be 28” as the best all rounder. 

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18 of the top 20 in English Sporting averages use 32”, the other two use 30”. 

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4 hours ago, enfieldspares said:

The longer the barrel the nearer the bird? The only truism that has sense in 2020 is that the longer the barrel the more protection from the noise and blast at the muzzle is given by that longer distance to your hearing. My father's generation (he was born in 1907) grew up in that where many in the 1920s were users of Churchill XXV guns. Most that used them were to one degree or other deaf by their sixties. I use often my father's thirty inch Henry Clarke he was bought in 1919 on his twelfth birthday so that barrel length made sense I suppose for the powders of that time either side of WWI. Churchill, yes, realised that with modern powders that barrel length was no longer needed to get a full burn. But me I'd not want to go shorter than twenty-seven inches in a side by side as the only thing that is certain is that shorter barrels give increased risk of damaging your hearing.

And there was me thinking it was because we did not wear hearing defence when shooting in the field.  But all is not lost, I shall order a 34" barrel gun and chuck the ear defenders in the bin.    🙄

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40 minutes ago, Hamster said:

18 of the top 20 in English Sporting averages use 32”, the other two use 30”. 

I’m sure there are those who swear longer barrels give them an edge, but if there were no barrels longer than 28”, what’s the betting the same 18 of the top 20 would still be in that top 20?
I’m sure the top shots are top shots regardless of the length of barrel. 

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1 hour ago, Scully said:

I’m sure there are those who swear longer barrels give them an edge, but if there were no barrels longer than 28”, what’s the betting the same 18 of the top 20 would still be in that top 20?
I’m sure the top shots are top shots regardless of the length of barrel. 

True!

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They choose longer barrels because they happen to give the best all round performance, the best compromise, saying they would be using shorter barrels if the longer barrels weren’t available is both obvious and erroneous because they ARE available and they chose them because they are better. Try selling identical guns in 27/8” & 32” and see which one flies off your hands. 

People have been calling 32” guns a fad for over forty years now, haha.

What barrel length do they make specialist high bird guns in? It’s not 28” that’s for sure, it’s often as long as 34” in fact.

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hello, going back to the 1980s with Oxford clay pigeon club one member had a new type O/U with 2 sets of barrels, short for skeet/longer for sporter and DTL, another had bought a Miroku  O/U classified as a skeet model with i think 26 inch barrels, shorter barrels were the norm for skeet/ 30s for high tower/ DTL

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I shoot everything from 27” to 36” through the season depending which gun I take out. I can tell you it makes not a jot of difference....I miss with the same regularity in every case. 😂

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Hamster ,

 Thank you for your observations .

It is my belief that 30" may be the ideal length for the masses .  As you have said 32" is certainly the most popular , but having shot 28" & 30 " in the past I never felt as though I was disadvantaged with either . As they say , " It is the Indian , not the arrow ".

We all have heard that the 32" barrels are steadier on the longer targets , but the majority of sporting targets are at sensible distances and probably would be shot better with a more responsive gun.

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5 hours ago, Hamster said:

They choose longer barrels because they happen to give the best all round performance, the best compromise, saying they would be using shorter barrels if the longer barrels weren’t available is both obvious and erroneous because they ARE available and they chose them because they are better. Try selling identical guns in 27/8” & 32” and see which one flies off your hands. 

People have been calling 32” guns a fad for over forty years now, haha.

What barrel length do they make specialist high bird guns in? It’s not 28” that’s for sure, it’s often as long as 34” in fact.

I’m not sure they do give the best all round performance, and it’s a fair leap from there to claim they are ‘better’, thats simply opinion. It’s like saying that if you want to be a better shot you need longer barrels, and that simply isn’t true...that’s akin to a sales pitch! 
I would suggest that if a top manufacturer told a top shot they would sponsor them to use their 28” barrelled shotguns then there would be a resurgence in that length again. 
Admittedly I really enjoy using my 32” barrelled Gamba on game days, but have equally enjoyed using my 27” Winchester Field, and have killed some very very memorable birds with both. 
It’s all down to personal preference  in my opinion, and I’m pretty sure if the trend reverted to shorter barrels then we’d see the top shooters using them. 
Personally I think it’s more to do with weight, and you don’t necessarily need a long barrelled gun to add weight. 
 

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17 hours ago, Hamster said:

18 of the top 20 in English Sporting averages use 32”, the other two use 30”. 

If many of those shoot kreigoff guns, then other than a specialist 28" skeet. They can only have 30 and 32 options 

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15 minutes ago, TRINITY said:

If many of those shoot kreigoff guns, then other than a specialist 28" skeet. They can only have 30 and 32 options 

You can have what you want when spending £14k trust me.

1 hour ago, Scully said:

I’m not sure they do give the best all round performance, and it’s a fair leap from there to claim they are ‘better’, thats simply opinion. It’s like saying that if you want to be a better shot you need longer barrels, and that simply isn’t true...that’s akin to a sales pitch! 
I would suggest that if a top manufacturer told a top shot they would sponsor them to use their 28” barrelled shotguns then there would be a resurgence in that length again. 
Admittedly I really enjoy using my 32” barrelled Gamba on game days, but have equally enjoyed using my 27” Winchester Field, and have killed some very very memorable birds with both. 
It’s all down to personal preference  in my opinion, and I’m pretty sure if the trend reverted to shorter barrels then we’d see the top shooters using them. 
Personally I think it’s more to do with weight, and you don’t necessarily need a long barrelled gun to add weight. 
 

There are none so blind as those who will not see. People have been saying 32” guns are just a fad for decades and yet they wantonly ignore the reality that the vast majority of AAA/AA and even aspiring A’s use 32” by CHOICE, they can have whatever gun the know helps them shoot higher scores more regularly. 

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5 hours ago, Salopian said:

Hamster ,

 Thank you for your observations .

It is my belief that 30" may be the ideal length for the masses .  As you have said 32" is certainly the most popular , but having shot 28" & 30 " in the past I never felt as though I was disadvantaged with either . As they say , " It is the Indian , not the arrow ".

We all have heard that the 32" barrels are steadier on the longer targets , but the majority of sporting targets are at sensible distances and probably would be shot better with a more responsive gun.

You ought to have mentioned that most of your own ESP has been with Miroku 32” guns and whenever you’ve experimented with Beretta DT’s or K80’s you’ve tended to go with that same length, why ?  

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33 minutes ago, Hamster said:

You can have what you want when spending £14k trust me.

There are none so blind as those who will not see. People have been saying 32” guns are just a fad for decades and yet they wantonly ignore the reality that the vast majority of AAA/AA and even aspiring A’s use 32” by CHOICE, they can have whatever gun the know helps them shoot higher scores more regularly. 

I’ve never said 32” barrels are a fad, though the current trend Is for longer barrels, and I agree, it is all down to personal choice.
Have the scores of the current top shots increased as opposed to the top scores of those from the days when 28” barrels predominated? If so then I assume the same must apply from the days when 30” predominated over 28” on circuits, and improved again when 32” took over from 30”. It all sounds a bit ridiculous doesn’t it. 
You can only score 100 ex 100 at any shoot consisting of 100 targets; are more shooters consistently scoring maximums nowadays with 32” barrels as opposed to the days when they shot 30” guns from those in the past who shot 28”? Who knows? But if so, what possible advantage is there if ALL are using 32” barrels? 🤷‍♂️
Are you seriously suggesting that one top shooter with a 28” barrelled shotgun would miss a target he wouldn’t have with a 32”, or even a 30”? Really? If only it were that simple. 
If a top gun manufacturer said they had developed a 26” barrelled shotgun which would offer a distinct advantage over a 32”, shooters would be queuing up to buy it. 
Personal choice, not ‘better’. 
Barrels longer than 32” inch have been around for a lot longer than decades, if they’re ‘better’ then it makes you wonder why we ever bothered with shorter ones. 
Could it be that improvements in propellants and therefore ballistics , negated the need for longer barrels? 

 

 

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Its down to balance. The man on the Clapham omnibus wants the balance point at the hinge pin.

O&U's have heavier receivers (and seem to get heavier) and thus barrel lengths became longer to even the weight out. This may change with the new balancing systems.

Also light barrels are easy to start to swing and then harder to control and vice versa. Good shooters tend to be fitter and thus prefer the better control of a heavier barrel. High bird guns also have a long barrel for tight control - Multi choke guns usually carry extra weight in the chokes which can account for a further inch or so a high bird fixed choke 33/34 inch gun is not unusual compared to a 30 inch multi-choke sporter.

I expect most shooters would drop a few if you swapped a 28 inch barrel for 32 inch barrel as the handling would change.

Balistically I understand anything after 24 inches its irrelevant.

 

 

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The game of sporting clays has evolved massively, back in the day you had manual traps where the trapper had to hear you and be safe from being shot therefore targets tended to be closer. Now with electronic traps with big carousels and remote control they can be put anywhere with a big amount of spring. 

The longer barrels are meant to help with the sighting plane smoothing  the swing and easier to point for these 'bigger' targets. The sweet spot for compromise seems to be 32". Some manufacturers tried to push 34" and even though shooters have won world titles with 34" they haven't caught on with the masses the same with the fancy ribs. 

I started out with 28" then moved to 30" then to 32" my choice of size  was dictated by finances rather than anything else. I was given the 28" by my dad, I got a 30" at good money then the same with a 32" they were one off deals on specific guns take it or leave it so no choice on size.

I never felt disadvantaged shooting the 28" at the time but last time I tried a 28" I think it would take a bit of time to get back to shooting it and I didn't enjoy the experience at all.

Up until recently I owned both 30" and 32" and although I could shoot the 30" I preferred the 32" size a lot more. 

Now this could be just because I have shot 32" in competition for so long everything else seems odd or 32" is indeed better who knows.

In terms of weight my Browning ultra XS 30" had a heavier barrel weight than my Beretta DT 10 32" so shorter barrel size doesn't always mean easier to handle. 

But as Hamster says if you are shooting competitions and the vast majority are won by 32" why run the risk of going against the winning formula. 

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