P. Harrell: Optimum Barrel Length for 22lr Rifles

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hpman66

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Two 10/22’s of two different barrel lengths were in the test.

 
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hpman66

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My old gill gun has a 24" bbl. Shoots just fine. I ain't gonna chop it back, no matter what Harrel says.

I agree, there wasn’t that much difference in the 16.5” to 22” barrels to make a difference.
 

Snake45

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I recall a test in one of the gun rags 30 or more years ago where they chopped one barrel off one inch at a time and chronoed at every inch. They started with IIRC 26" and went down to 8" or something. IIRC, the highest velocity was at around 14 inches.
 

Mobuck

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Unless you're using some of the 'sooper dooper' type ammo, there's not enough difference to have any real effect on performance at normal ranges. I've found sub-sonic ammo to be exceptionally accurate in shorter barrels even @ 100 yards. Maybe because it is sub-sonic from the start? Regarding the accuracy: barrel length makes more difference when using 'open sights' vs optics. I'd like to see what a Ruger 22 pistol will actually do if clamped in a vise or 'Ransom" device(actual mechanical accuracy).
 

Cholo

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I recall a test in one of the gun rags 30 or more years ago where they chopped one barrel off one inch at a time and chronoed at every inch. They started with IIRC 26" and went down to 8" or something. IIRC, the highest velocity was at around 14 inches.
I read a similar article; maybe it was the same one. I seem to recall he got the highest velocity in a 16" bbl. I guess it's a moot point now as I'm sure there have been changes in powder etc. Also, back when the article came out most 22 LR bullets were 38-40 grains except the Stingers. Now we've got 29-45 grains in the LR's, maybe more.

There aren't many gun articles in the last 20 years that have been as interesting as the earlier stuff from the 90's and earlier :(
 

Eclem

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I have two 16 inch 22lr barrels (one semi-auto and one bolt). And I have a 24 inch bolt and a 22 inch bolt. The long barrels are clearly more accurate at 50 yards. (all my guns are high quality and sport good glass). It seems to me that the 1:16 rifling in the long barrels puts a more complete "spin" on the projectile than the shorter barrels can deliver thus better accuracy. Crazy?
 
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Eclem, the rate of twist is not dependent on barrel length. A bullet needs to stay pointy end first to be accurate. The usual thinking is that the slowest twist consistent with this is best. But stability is related to velocity and if you are too close to the edge, the bullet may yaw at longer distances. Having a twist a bit faster gives you some wiggle room on cold days etc. And do keep in mind if you are using iron sights, a longer barrel gives a greater sight radius and better ability to aim and hit your target.

Edit: Because it has now been said twice that a long barrel puts a more complete spin on the bullet, I must say that is simply untrue. There have been barrels with a progressive twist but all of the barrels we run into are a uniform twist, chamber to muzzle.
 
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toysoldier

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I remember the article with the 1" at a time barrel cutting. High-speed .22 ammo maxed out at 16", and slowed in the longer barrels. CCI Stinger (about the only "super" .22 at the time) gained incrementally out to 24". Shorts did best in pistol-length barrels. Similar tests with pistol/carbine calibers have shown the same results. The limited case capacity limits propellant gas production, which limits the benefit of longer barrels.
 

Snake45

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I have two 16 inch 22lr barrels (one semi-auto and one bolt). And I have a 24 inch bolt and a 22 inch bolt. The long barrels are clearly more accurate at 50 yards. (all my guns are high quality and sport good glass). It seems to me that the 1:16 rifling in the long barrels puts a more complete "spin" on the projectile than the shorter barrels can deliver thus better accuracy. Crazy?
I've discovered that one of the most important factors in .22LR accuracy is the tightness of the chamber. My guns with the tightest chambers are the most accurate; the ones with the loosest chambers are least accurate, and this is completely independent of barrel length.
 

contender

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One thing mentioned a bit, but in a round about fashion,, that does have a serious impact upon any such study.
The ammo used.
Even different ammo with the same bullet weight can be very different in different guns.
You would need;
One gun, and several types of ammo. The gun would have to be placed in a machine rest to eliminate human errors.
Fired for accuracy in it's un-altered state.
THEN, you can decrease the barrel length in increments & re-test after each reduction. Only then can you determine the advantage or disadvantages of the shortening of a barrel.

And even then, that's a test with ONLY one gun. Others may vary.
 

Snake Pleskin

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I believe that anything past 20 in does not enhance a .22lr. You nly need enough barrel for full burn and that happens with a .22lr from 16in to 20 max. That is why so many firearms bbl are in that length. A CZ trainer has a long barrel for sight radius and balance , not for ballistics! IMHO
 

Mobuck

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"The long barrels are clearly more accurate at 50 yards. (all my guns are high quality and sport good glass). It seems to me that the 1:16 rifling in the long barrels puts a more complete "spin" on the projectile than the shorter barrels can deliver thus better accuracy. "
And I have a 4" barrel 22/45 that is a proven 3-4MOA shooter @ 100 yards(with adequate optics). Just a SWAG but I'll offer that this is better than 50% of the budget priced 22 rifles (16-20" barrel length) in use today. Am I just lucky??
 

powder smoke

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22lr are one of the most fun rifles out there! Here in Maine we do lots of rabbit hunting
in the winter. Lots of guys use a 20ga I like the 22 it's lighter and cheaper to shoot! Either
way there is plenty of fun and good eating when your done. Thing is a good Beagle is
needed. ps
 

hpman66

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While Harrell’s video presentations are rather dry, at least they are not laced with profanity and F-bombs that some firearm videos contain. They are also don’t have the stupidity format that are in some of the other firearm videos.
 
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Eclem

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Eclem, the rate of twist is not dependent on barrel length. A bullet needs to stay pointy end first to be accurate. The usual thinking is that the slowest twist consistent with this is best. But stability is related to velocity and if you are too close to the edge, the bullet may yaw at longer distances. Having a twist a bit faster gives you some wiggle room on cold days etc. And do keep in mind if you are using iron sights, a longer barrel gives a greater sight radius and better ability to aim and hit your target.

Edit: Because it has now been said twice that a long barrel puts a more complete spin on the bullet, I must say that is simply untrue. There have been barrels with a progressive twist but all of the barrels we run into are a uniform twist, chamber to muzzle.
Thanks David. I'm just a piker and only know that my long barrels are more accurate - for me - and for my go to CCI SV's. I shoot 50 to 70 yards at my home farm range and always use glass - shooting irons with my 77-year-old eyes is over. My Ruger American Rimfire Standard and my CZ 457 Lux are consistently under an inch with 5 shots to each bull on NRA 50 Ft. targets. For this geezer - makes me smile. Thanks again for the detailed info.
 
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