There are variables in handloads (and factory fodder) and in rifle barrels. Then there is unwarranted trust in what those can do under all conditions. Any one, or all of them combined, can affect what transpires when and after the trigger is squeezed. That embraces barrels, ballistics and baloney.
< That’s a 26″ barrel on my former .340 WBY MAG. That’s a normal length for the .340. A 24″ would not be much handier, and it might loose up to 50 fps per inch. Instead of 3000 fps for the 250gr Nosler Partition, it might have given about 2900 fps.
Barrels: Apart from a barrel’s basic condition and precision, there are never-ending discussions over how long, or short, a barrel should/could be for a particular rifle/cartridge combo for both satisfactory and/or optimum results. As a preference, some choose the shortest that will give satisfactory results for their style of hunting, like an 18″ for brush, tall grasses, alders or thick wooded areas in a hunt for hogs, deer or bear. But they might also choose a 20 or 22″ for a .338 Win Mag for big game in more open areas. They just like short and handy rifles for most of their hunting, irregardless of the potential loss of ballistics because they figure that loss isn’t critical to their way of thinking and hunting.
Then there’s an opposite group that want the most bang for the buck (both figuratively and factually). They know the longest barrels available is the shortest and cheapest way to best ballistics. They say that a relatively “long” 26″ barrel for a .30-06 is equal to the ballistics of a 22″ .300 magnum, with far less powder, recoil and noise! It’s going to be a pound heavier, but they don’t mind and they can manage a 26″ barrelled rifle as well as a 20″ in thick tangles… six inches more or less is insignificant to them because of THEIR preferences and style of hunting. And they of course have a valid point as well as the short-barrel group!
Which group is right? They both are! That is for themselves.
And yet a third group: I’m glad for this third group, otherwise I wouldn’t belong to any group! I fit here. It’s the group, likely the majority, that says I’ll choose my barrel length depending on: 1) practical ballistics for the cartridge, and 2) It’s intended use.
Ballistics: Barrel length affects ballistics. As a rule of thumb, large bores shooting heavy bullets might be affected less, but nonetheless, even a loss of 20 fps per inch from a 400gr amounts to 80 fps from a 20″ vs a 24″ barrel. Some discount that, but at longer ranges on large game that could still be significant in two ways: energy/momentum and bullet expansion. At the muzzle a 400gr at 2400 fps = 5115 ft-lbs, at 2320 fps (loss of 80 fps) at the muzzle a 400gr at 2320 fps = 4780 ft-lbs. That’s 335 ft-lbs loss at the muzzle. At 250 yards that could still be a loss of 300 ft-lbs! Does that matter? Maybe so, maybe not, depending on the bullet, it’s placement and the big animal itself. But should we choose less, in a hostile environment, or more?
From a .375 H&H, the loss from cutting the barrel from a 26″ to a 22″ was about 35 fps per inch in my experience. My top load from the 26″ shooting a 300gr was slightly over 2700 fps. At 22″ it struggled (after many tries of different propellants) to make 2560 fps from the same 300gr. Now 2560 fps is still suitable from a .375 H&H for most intended game, depending on the bullet and its placement, but knowingly would you sacrifice 140 fps loss from a 300gr by lopping-off 4″? I did it for another reason. That barrel had a serious flaw – the bore was off-centered, so accuracy was very poor. It was an attempt to improve that situation not knowing the bore was off-center til 4″ was cut off. But the real point remains: How could a 22″ barrelled .375 H&H improve the quality of a hunt by being 4-inches shorter, especially at the sacrifice of 490 ft-lbs energy at the muzzle? At 200 yards, the loss is still 400 ft-lbs!
Speaking personally, I much prefer more energy/momentum at impact than just adequate or barely enough. Why? Because of variable conditions or circumstances. The game might be farther away than thought or intended, or it might move at the last split-second, or it could be a much larger, tougher specimen than average, or we might be slightly off in our marksmanship… or whatever. Ballistics should be plenty for the worst case scenario, not scanty!
The Traditions OUTFITTER G3 above has a 22″ fluted barrel, plus a 2″ muzzle brake. OL of rifle is 39 inches. Muzzle diameter where it mates with the brake is .70″. Weight as seen is 7.25 lbs. A 22″ barrel for the .35 Whelen is customary. That will give all the ballistics expected or wanted from that cartridge using handloaded bullets from 200gr to 250gr. Lighter and heavier bullets are available from pistol bullets (.357) to a 310gr rifle bullet from Woodleigh. While I have some 300gr Barnes Originals, my main interest lies with the 200gr, 225gr and 250gr projectiles.
The scope rings are x-high to clear the hammer from the scope zoom. The hammer has extensions on each side to cock it for either a left or right-handed shooter. The scope looks too far back but it’s just right for normal eye relief when the rifle is shouldered. It has excellent balance and quick handling. A few cartridges will be added to a butt stock ammo holder on the left side of the stock away from my face.
Then… there’s baloney! Believing the unlikely! Or, “Everything is going to turn our just peachy!” Or, “A .270 is all you need for anything in North America”, Or “All you need for African plains game is a .243 Win.”, etc.
The point is, there’s a lot of baloney out there! Now baloney is edible… just! But it’s NOT recommended as a healthy daily diet! Neither is sugar-coated breakfast cereal! There’s some truth in “baloney” or none would believe it! There’s some truth in getting by with a .270 for all N.A. game…. BUT NOT THE WHOLE TRUTH! Same goes for a .243 for African Plains game. There’s some truth in the Devil’s lies or none would be enticed by them! But WATCH OUT FOR anything that’s “a half-truth”! It’s baloney! Not something to rely on, put your dreams on or hope in!
It’s as much “baloney” to say, or believe, that we need every rifle/cartridge under the sun to be happy and/or successful as to say or believe that the 6.5 Creed (or its ilk) is all one needs for any creature under the sun. I’m sure you get my drift…
But there are a few that could do it all – from mice to moose, or gemsbok to giant elephant. And the larger the game, the larger the bore – as a common sense principle. Among the Big Bores, none surpass in overall versatility, in combination with effectiveness, the magnificent .458 Winchester Magnum -and that’s no baloney!
But “baloney” says “My dog is better than your dog”. But it’s not “baloney” to think, or say, “I like my dog best because I chose it!” The same with a rifle!
I like single-shot rifles about as much as bolt-action repeaters, and all that depends on the cartridge, purpose and functionality. I’ve had some “ugly dogs” in both! On the other hand, I’ve had some “great dogs” in both! Some of the latter I parted with too soon.
What makes a “great” rifle? To some extent, it’s in the eye of the beholder, but not entirely. Form, function and fit perhaps best describes a “great” rifle. Form is beauty and craftsmanship. Function answers to: Does it do what was intended in a graceful manner? Fit is ergonomics… it has to do with physical attributes. Is it comfortable in operation relative to my psyche and physique… does it “fit” like a glove?
And yours? Why did you choose them? All of them and reject others? Do you remember why?
As we get a couple of generations under our belt, we remember the ones that were “great”. We may still have some of those, while others got away for one reason or another.
My advice? Stick with the “great” ones – that is: In your eyes and experience. Many of those can even be improved by newer technology in gun powders. Some “new” propellants have less of a parabolic pressure curve, and a “flatter” curve from ignition to muzzle. They can safely deliver higher velocities at even lower peak pressure. CFE223 and PP2000MR are two of those, but not the only.
Then we should not discount familiar powders that have been improved! “Improved” in what way? Smaller granules for better metering and load density, such as H4831 SC. H335 was improved from being a former “dirty” military powder to a modern clean-burning and temp stable propellant manufactured at the St Marks plant in FL – the only manufacturing facility that makes ball powder in North America. I’ve been using it for many years in my .45-70s and .458 Win Mags – and it’s one of the very best for those cartridges in the heavy-weight class of projectiles. And that’s no baloney! Check recent Hornady manuals, as well as Barnes, for data relative to both the .458 Win and .458 Lott. In the Barnes’ #4, TAC is similar in results to H335, though far less common or available “North of The Border”.
I apparently discovered the greatness of H335 before Hornady or Barnes did – at least nothing prior to my use revealed any advantages in their reloading manuals. In the Hornady fourth edition, H335 shows a max of 73.2 grains for the .458 Win Mag at 2100 fps for the 500gr Hornady RN, from a Winchester M70 with a 25″ barrel”. Even IMR 3031 gives 2150 fps as max from 72.2 grains. But in their 7th Edition, they have this to say: “Most loads produced good groups, with H 335 performing exceptionally well”, and in regard to the .458 Lott: “Our choice of powder for this cartridge is Hodgdon 335.” And Hodgdon’s own manual #27 records 2163 fps for the 500gr Hornady in a 24″ barrel from 75.5 grains of H335 at 50,300 CUP (about 57,000 PSI). At the time, 53,000 CUP was considered MAP (about 60,000 PSI). MAP is “Maximum AVERAGE Pressure”, NOT as one sporting magazine Chief Editor declared it to be “maximum absolute pressure” – and he, in an editorial, made a big issue of that!
Two excellent powders for .45-70s and .458 Win Mags.
The .458 Lott’s MAP is 62, 500 psi – no reason for that other than it does no harm, and to show superiority over the .458 Win… that ALSO can be loaded to 62, 500 psi without harm!
So, the upshot of all that means it’s NOT baloney to load the GREAT .458 Win to 62,500 psi, that will, in effect, BEAT the .458 Lott at 62,500 psi with equal length barrels firing the same 500gr because of the .458 Win’s LONG THROAT!!! And that’s no baloney either! The .458 Lott, as manufactured today, has a short SAAMI throat, meaning PSI will develop much more abruptly at 3.6″ COL than the .458 Win with a “free bore” of nearly an inch! And we can seat heavy bullets as long as the Lott with still more “free bore” than the Lott! It’s pure physics! (Go to the 24hr Campfire Forums, Big Bore, and the .458 Win Mag thread for an education on this!). Two other “improved” powders from the St-Marks plant are A 2230 and A 2460 granting the very best that a .458 Win Mag is capable of.
It was the 27th Edition of the Hodgdon manual that first encouraged me to try H335 in my Ruger No.1 in .45-70 LT (Long Throat) as it had about the same burn rate as H4895, that I had previously compressed to the limit in that Ruger No.1 LT, and from that experience to do the same in my second .458 Win, the CZ550. The reason it worked so well in my Ruger No.1 with the long throat in .45-70 was that H335 was a ball powder. I couldn’t get nearly as much H4895 or Varget into the relatively short case of only 2.1″(compared with the 2.5″, .458 WM case). But I did manage 75 grains of H335 before seating the 500gr Hornady, with only very slight compression, at 3.19″. All that was ignited by WLRM primers in the Rem nickle plated brass that lasted “forever”. PSI was less than 63,000 psi from the “short” 22″ barrel. And that’s not baloney either! MV averaged 2200 fps – almost identical to a 22″, 458 Win Mag at 60,000 psi.
< Identical to the one fired over the Chrony is the 45-70 case loaded with the 500gr Hornady RN over 75 grains of H335 at 3.19″ COL.
Yes, absolutely, there’s a lot of baloney out there, BUT there’s also a lot of GREAT news for today’s handloaders that’s NOT baloney!
Til the next…