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Barrel Length and Velocity
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January 18, 2021 - 2:04 am
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Hi All,  

I had some fun today shooting some old 1892’s and 1873’s to see how much barrel length would have on bullet velocity.

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January 18, 2021 - 3:52 am
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As always, nicely done. Interesting relationship between velocity and barrel length and the cartridge choice makes it even more interesting. I’ve sometimes heard a longer barrel will actually shoot a little slower with some cartridges and powder choices. Bore condition is a tough variable to factor.

Great excuse to get outside and burn some powder!

 

Mike

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January 18, 2021 - 6:05 am
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Mark,

Interesting, but it would help to know which specific load (or reloads?) you were shooting.

I believe that a great follow-up to this specific topic would be shooting the 30-30 cartridge from a 15-inch Trapper, a 20-inch SRC, and a 26-inch Sporting Rifle.

Bert

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January 18, 2021 - 12:55 pm
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TXGunNut said
As always, nicely done. Interesting relationship between velocity and barrel length and the cartridge choice makes it even more interesting. I’ve sometimes heard a longer barrel will actually shoot a little slower with some cartridges and powder choices. Bore condition is a tough variable to factor.

Great excuse to get outside and burn some powder!

 

Mike  

Thanks Mike!  While I was thinking about putting this episode together, I wondered if the velocity might be lower in that 30″ 1873.  Especially with these light loads.  Someone suggested trying this with black powder and seeing the results.  That could make for an interesting follow-up.

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January 18, 2021 - 1:16 pm
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Bert H. said
Mark,
Interesting, but it would help to know which specific load (or reloads?) you were shooting.
I believe that a great follow-up to this specific topic would be shooting the 30-30 cartridge from a 15-inch Trapper, a 20-inch SRC, and a 26-inch Sporting Rifle.
Bert  

Bert,

Great minds think alike!  When I was putting those rifles away, I dug out a 16″, 20″ and 26″ 1894 in 30-30 for a follow-up episode.  I only regret that I didn’t have a short rifle or trapper and 36″ rifle in 32-40 or 38-55 to put to the test.  If there is anyone out there who’d like to loan me theirs, I promise to treat ’em right.Smile

I kinda wish that I’d thrown in my 28″ low wall in 44 WCF.  It has a much better bore than those 73’s and might have given better results.  I’ll include it if I do this again with black powder.

I was running low on my own 44 WCF reloads, so I used some factory cowboy action loads from Ultramax.  Not my favorite ammo, but it was all out of the same box.  Mark 

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January 18, 2021 - 3:27 pm
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Mark,

Another great and informative episode. 

Al

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January 18, 2021 - 5:36 pm
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Mark Douglas said

Bert,

Great minds think alike!  When I was putting those rifles away, I dug out a 16″, 20″ and 26″ 1894 in 30-30 for a follow-up episode.  I only regret that I didn’t have a short rifle or trapper and 36″ rifle in 32-40 or 38-55 to put to the test.  If there is anyone out there who’d like to loan me theirs, I promise to treat ’em right.Smile

Some time ago I did the same experiment using an 1894 carbine, 24″ rifle, and 30″ rifle in 38-55.  Ive tried to find my scratch pad with the results but havent found it yet.  Plan on retesting using smokeless and black powder to see what the results are for an upcoming project. 

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January 18, 2021 - 6:13 pm
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1892takedown said

Mark Douglas said
Bert,
Great minds think alike!  When I was putting those rifles away, I dug out a 16″, 20″ and 26″ 1894 in 30-30 for a follow-up episode.  I only regret that I didn’t have a short rifle or trapper and 36″ rifle in 32-40 or 38-55 to put to the test.  If there is anyone out there who’d like to loan me theirs, I promise to treat ’em right.Smile

Some time ago I did the same experiment using an 1894 carbine, 24″ rifle, and 30″ rifle in 38-55.  Ive tried to find my scratch pad with the results but havent found it yet.  Plan on retesting using smokeless and black powder to see what the results are for an upcoming project.   

Chris,

I reload my 38-55 with IMR 4198, and I am highly inclined to believe that it shoots faster with the longer barrel.  I suspect that the velocity difference between a 20-inch SRC and a 30-inch high-wall is significantly different.  It would make a great experiment though.

Bert

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January 18, 2021 - 6:32 pm
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Great video.  I have noticed that the load I developed for my 45-90’s shoot 100 fps faster in the 30″ barrel than it does in the 26″ barrel.  It really depends on the load.

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January 18, 2021 - 7:52 pm
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Bert H. said

Chris,

I reload my 38-55 with IMR 4198, and I am highly inclined to believe that it shoots faster with the longer barrel.  I suspect that the velocity difference between a 20-inch SRC and a 30-inch high-wall is significantly different.  It would make a great experiment though.

Bert  

Bert,

Ive been experimenting with about 4 different 38-55 loads including BP, SR4759, IMR 3031, and A5744 in all three guns, each with exceptional bores (8+).  My plan is to shoot all 4 loads through a chronograph again and see how they perform velocity-wise using the same bullet/weight.  If I get the opportunity over the weekend to do some shooting, weather and time permitting, will keep you posted on the results.  I actually have a 16″ carbine (cut barrel) I could throw in the mix but the bore on it is like a stove pipe if that makes a difference.

Chuck, you mention it may depend on the load, thats quite possible – does the bullet leave the barrel before it reaches the maximum pressure spike for a load, or does/can it loose pressure having further to travel down a longer barrel subsequent to maintaining maximum pressure? 

What do you guys believe would be a good representative sample, 3, 5, 10 rounds per each?

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January 18, 2021 - 8:07 pm
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Chris,

Mark used just three rounds to come up with an average velocity in each test gun.  I would be more inclined to shoot five rounds of each load to arrive at an average velocity and spread.  IMR 3031 is my second choice for my 38-55 high-wall loads.

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January 18, 2021 - 8:35 pm
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 In November when I loaded for my 270, the 22″ Browning 22″ barrel was 2960fps while the Winchester model 70 24″ barrel was 3060fps with the same load of 57grs of IMR4831. Maybe the powder liked a longer barrel?

 Several years ago I shot a 1876 50-95 with a 22″ barrel using loads I used in my longer barreled, 26″ & 28″ 76 Express. The short barrel was 150fps slower than the longer ones. When I shot it after dark I saw why, the IMR4198 wasn’t finished burning when it came out the barrel. Clearly the powder liked the longer barrel.

 Maybe barrel length and velocity depend on powder burn rate? I don’t think Winchester made the long barrel guns for convenience, it might have been necessary for the powders of the time. T/R

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January 18, 2021 - 8:55 pm
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Very interesting and enjoyable video.  Thanks for posting.

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January 18, 2021 - 9:12 pm
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Tom, Bert, Mark, and others.  By no means am I a ballistician.  But I have learned a few things plus seem to keep odd bits of trivia in my brain which obscures other things I ought to know.  Using different rifles can add in slight differences besides barrel length.  Bore condition is obvious.  Bore dimensions and the vagaries of the individual rifles can and do add in some differences as well.  Statistically significant?  Don’t know.  How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?  In Hatcher’s Note Book, he used his position at the arsenal at one time to experiment along these lines.  He took a long barreled military rifle, a model 1903 I THINK, and fired a number of rounds through it.  Then the barrel was shortened (NO LONGER RECALL by how much, one or two inches I think), cleaned and fired the same number of shots again.  Ammo was from the same lot of US Caliber .30 M something or other (.30-06 of some sort).  This was done for a series to determine what was an effective barrel length plus he had the rank and the inclination to do so at the government’s expense.   General conclusions could be drawn as pertain to that particular caliber.  Different lots of ammo might have some differences in results.  But the bore dimensions and the condition was essentially minimized.  Now–does anyone have a 36 inch barreled 1876 or 1873 they would volunteer to cut down a couple of inches at a time?  Not me!  Mark did a general, quick and easy comparison for fun.  Bet it was fun, and for a pistol caliber it showed that the 20 inch barrel was close to getting the benefit that was needed from a likely pistol powder.  Loading a progressive burn, rifle powder, would likely skew the result more in favor of longer barrels, all else being equal.  But a progressive burn rifle powder may not be friendly to a model 1873 action, nor may the case capacity allow that.Laugh  My thoughts.  Still sounded fun!!  Tim.

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January 18, 2021 - 9:15 pm
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TR said
 In November when I loaded for my 270, the 22″ Browning 22″ barrel was 2960fps while the Winchester model 70 24″ barrel was 3060fps with the same load of 57grs of IMR4831. Maybe the powder liked a longer barrel?

 Several years ago I shot a 1876 50-95 with a 22″ barrel using loads I used in my longer barreled, 26″ & 28″ 76 Express. The short barrel was 150fps slower than the longer ones. When I shot it after dark I saw why, the IMR4198 wasn’t finished burning when it came out the barrel. Clearly the powder liked the longer barrel.

 Maybe barrel length and velocity depend on powder burn rate? I don’t think Winchester made the long barrel guns for convenience, it might have been necessary for the powders of the time. T/R  

IMR 4198 definitely prefers a longer barrel, and that is the reason I try it first when reloading for most of the high-wall cartridges that I shoot.  Because it burns slower, it tends to produce less pressure and reduces pressure spikes, and that is the primary reason it is a good substitute for black powder rifle cartridge loads.

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January 19, 2021 - 8:53 pm
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I load the 45-90 with 4759, 4198 and 3031.  I try to keep the fps at about 1500 to 1550.  I have shot these powders up to 1700 fps. All three of these will hit a 4″ center at 100 yds.  My 85 with the 30″ barrel likes the 4759 and the 4198 better than the 3031 according to the chronograph.  These same 3 loads shoot slower in the 86’s by about 100 fps.  I probably could get more out of the cartridge but I need to be able to cycle the rounds through the 86’s.

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