If friend look to the appropriate side in former of the bullet, you’ll watch the long-action is much longer than the opened for the short-action cartridge. The complete length of this cartridges watch the exact same from this angle, however it is not–as you’ll view in pictures later in this post.

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Do you prefer a short action or long activity rifle? it’s a question many gun owners have actually been asked and also it has actually kept lively a long debate on the merits that each action length. When a healthy dispute is certain to produce numerous interesting arguments, none of this ago and soon helps new gun owners without first explaining the differences in between a short action and long activity rifle.

A short-action rifle simply uses a much shorter length cartridge 보다 a long-action rifle. Short-action cartridges have an all at once length that 2.3-2.8 inches when long action cartridges have an all at once length that 2.8-3.34 inches. However, those numbers space only estimated as manufacturers periodically classify castle differently.

In the first half of the 20th Century ‘wildcatting’, the practice of modifying existing cartridges to suit different needs, yes, really took off. The result was the number of available cartridges because that civilian gun owner exploded indigenous a couple of dozen to well over one hundred. When the selection was an excellent for total owners, having dozens of different cartridges all with distinctive dimensions is a headache because that manufacturers.

Wanting to reach the widest audiences possible, rifle manufacturers had actually to have a method to economically produce rifles that can be adapted to expropriate every cambering on the market. When barrels could be make affordably, actions required more facility machining. Since the action was the most expensive part to make, the made sense to standardize the dimensions so 3 or 4 lengths can reliably use all the cartridges ~ above the market.

Today, there space 4 main activity lengths pistol owners should be mindful of:

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

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

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


30-06 Springfield, Long-Action Legend

First do in 1906 after editing and enhancing the very similar .303 Springfield, the 30-06 to be a cartridge created war. Originally lobbing a 150gr bullet about 2,700 fps, the Springfield’s 1906 cartridge to be designed to deliver comparable performance come the Mauser cartridges i beg your pardon were famous with european militaries at the time.

While the went ~ above to success two people wars and also fight in smaller problems all end the people for 50 years, it was at some point replaced through cartridges prefer the 308 Winchester top top the battlefield. However, top top the home front, the 30-06 got a reputation for being a versatile searching cartridge. This reputation proceeds to this day, wherein the Springfield 1906 is still very popular among hunters.

If long-action cartridges (and for this reason the rifles which use them) have one advantage, that versatility. The 30-06 can use bullets all the method down come 110gr or up to about 225gr. The length of the case also permits for the flour to be loaded down for light-recoiling rounds or invited hot enough to exceed the original factory loads by 200-300 fps. The result–a single 30-06 have the right to be provided to death anything indigenous a coyote come a moose.

The long-action cartridge expanded family is just as versatile as the Springfield. The 25-06 is renowned for being a dual-use cartridge that can kill varmints, antelope, and deer. The 6.5x55mm Swede has actually been supplied to shoot every kind of game in Europe. The 300 Winchester Magnum deserve to throw the exact same bullets as the 30-06 much faster or more heavier bullets at about the very same speed. The 338 victory Mag will put down the biggest game animals in phibìc America.

For a lot of hunters, the extra pair ounces and also slightly longer in its entirety length is a little inconvenience contrasted to the adaptability of long-action guns. In general, choose a long activity cartridge opens up up every sorts that possibilities at reliably killing video game animals across the globe.

The 7mm-08 Remington is a short-action cartridge. It is a 308 situation necked under for a 7mm bullet, overall length is nearly identical.

308 Winchester, Short-Action King

Debuting in 1952, the 308 Winchester is the cartridge the really started the short-action, long-action debate. Because 1906, the 30-06 had ruled the roost with American Hunters and soldiers. By the 1960s, the 308 Win had actually displaced the Springfield in the hunting 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 better powders accessible in the 1950s, that was possible to propel the same 30 caliber bullets like the 30-06 to almost the same speed when using much less powder. The result was a cartridge that can do almost everyone the 30-06 did, however the ammo to be cheaper come make, lighter, and an ext compact.

In the hunting fields, having a rifle the is lighter and much shorter is an advantage, also if the benefit is slight. Wherein the 308 really benefited hunters to be the reduced recoil energy. Follow to the altoalsimce.org Rifle Recoil Table, the 308 success 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 less momentum, the 308 win is an ideal for a more comprehensive variety that people.

As because that versatility, there are some who insurance claim the 308 is simply as functional for searching as the 30-06. If that can be true for 90% the the game animals on the planet, the dimensions of the cartridge limit it’s usage at higher bullet weights. It is hard to find commercial 308 victory ammo with much more than a 180gr bullet. The true toughness of short action cartridges is not versatility, but rather adaptability.

The 30-06 has produced roughly a dozen wildcat cartridges, but only 270 Winchester and also the 25-06 Remington reap widespread advertisement support. In contrast, the 308 Winchester has actually been the parent case of the 243 Win, 260 Rem, 7mm-08, 338 Fed, and 358 Win. All 5 wildcat cartridges are offered by hunters today, also if some choose the 260 Remington aren’t as famous as they as soon as were.

Rather than making use of a wide variety of bullets that the same caliber, short-action cartridges tend to use different caliber bullets to accomplish the very same effect. This can likewise be viewed in households of cartridges choose the Winchester quick Magnums (WSM) and also it’s beginning to take place in the Creedmoor family as well with the advent of the 6mm and 22 Creedmoor, both adapted from the famous, or infamous, 6.5 Creedmoor.

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

So, Which activity Length is Best?

This is the question at the love of the short-action, long-action debate. When the background lessons and also comparisons deserve to be fun, brand-new gun owners room going to want to recognize which length activity they should focus on for your first, or next, gun purchase.

Short-action cartridges (and rifles) will be best suited for the following situations:

Short variety big-game hunting (less 보다 400 yards) approximately the size of Elk and MooseMountain searching with light-weight, light-recoiling riflesPrecision target shoot (25yds-900yds)Semi-automatic rifle shoot (AR-10)

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

Hunting multiple species with one rifle (African Safari)Hunting big game at least as large as one Elk or MooseLong range, big-game searching (over 400 yards)Extreme long selection precision shooting (over 900yds)


For hunters, the inquiry really is what video game will be hunted and also who will certainly be law the hunting. A deer hunter in the united state or Europe would perform well to take into consideration a short-action rifle since shots space close range at mid-sized animals. In together environments, having a bigger, heavier, longer gun that kicks much more is unnecessary once a an accurate shot from a slightly smaller cartridge will perform the trick.

Where a long-action cartridge yes, really comes in comfortable is as soon as shooting big animals at longer ranges or when managing dangerous game. In both cases, the extra powder offers the cartridge a boost of speed and also energy. Countless hunters have taken a 375 H&H on african safaris just as countless western elk hunters swear by the long range capabilities that a 7mm Rem Mag or the 300 victory Mag.

Precision Shooting

For precision shooting, the maximum distance to the target have to be considered. Bullet drop deserve to be compensated for and bullet form will largely determine wind drift. However, one benefit long activity cartridges have actually over short action is velocity. Every else being equal, a cartridge shot out of a 300 win Mag case will travel further and also remain supersonic much longer than the very same bullet from a 308 win case.

The altoalsimce.org preferably Effective variety Chart mirrors that a 308 will drop listed below 1,900fps (about 800fps quicker than the speed of sound) at roughly 377 yards while the 300 success Mag goes every the way out to 723 yards. That’s a 350 yard advantage! since two identical bullets will have the exact same amount that drag, that range advantage carries every the method to the supersonic limit.

Modern Sporting Rifles

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

The reason for this domination is quite simple, smaller sized cartridges are much more inexpensive, lighter weight, and also overall an ext compact. It’s simpler to carry a solitary 30 ring 7.62 NATO newspaper than three 10 ring magazines because that a 30-06. Not just that, but a gas-operated semi-auto or automatic rifle substantially reduces felt recoil. For short-action cartridges, this recoil palliation makes dealing with such firearms easy.

The 260 Remington, A great cartridge for children and brand-new hunters (and anyone else).


At this point, it might be tempting come dive ago into the short-action/long-action debate, however I would urge united state all to take it a various approach. In a helpful sense, there isn’t that lot difference in between a short action and long action cartridge (or rifle). Exactly how the rifle fits and also how that shoots are more important things to consider prior to how long the situation of a cartridge is.

Sure, the 300 victory Mag has actually a substantial distance benefit over the 308 Win, however how many people are walking to do a 700 yard shot in ~ anything? The 7mm-08 might be an excellent for hunting in the mountains, but if it’s just 6 ounces lighter 보다 a 30-06, there’s surely part stuff in the backpack that can be left behind to comprise the difference.

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Rather than trying to match a rifle to part imaginary ideal, it’s better to ponder what a details rifle will certainly be supplied for, and also to to buy or build that rifle accordingly.