When to buy or reading around centerfire bolt-action rifles, you’ll almost always hear the state “long-action” or “short-action” used in the firearms’ descriptions. What execute these state mean?

Two things room being referenced in both terms: the size of the rifle’s receiver and the length measurement of the bolt. Over there are, in reality three action lengths—short, long and magnum—but the magnum-length action are reserved for the longest instances like the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum, .416 Rigby and .300 Remington Ultra Magnum. Most common centerfire cartridges come in brief or long actions.

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The .30-06 Springfield set the stage for the long-action rifle. This round has actually a cartridge as whole length (or COL, as you’ll check out it referred to often) that 3.340 inches. Many of today’s long-action cartridges will certainly fit right into a newspaper and action of this length. In fact, plenty of long-popular hunting cartridges had actually their cases designed around this 3.340-inch measurement, such together the .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, .35 Whelen, .264 Winchester and also 7mm Remington, and much more recent cartridges choose the .26 and .28 Nosler.


The .300 Win. Mag. On the left shoots indigenous a long-action bolt rifle, if the .308 Win. ~ above the best belongs in a short-action. Courtesy Phil & Suzie Massaro.

Shorter cartridges have been v us due to the fact that the early component of the 20th century, and the tendency to shorten both cartridge length and receiver length by a half-inch or so end the 3.340-inch size of the long-action cartridges brought about lighter, much more rigid rifle. The .300 Savage and the .250-3000 Savage were amongst the forerunners in the short-action category, however it was the .308 Winchester round, introduced in the at an early stage 1950s, that began what was then short cartridge craze. The .308 Winchester quickly bred an entire family of cartridges, including the .243 Winchester, .358 Winchester, and afterwards the .260 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington and .338 Federal.


It’s simple to watch the difference between long and short-action bolts when they are gotten rid of from the action. .308 is on the left and .30-06 is on the right.

The selection of activity length is truly a spatu matter. If you reap the benefits of a short, light, handy rifle, say because that mountain searching or in the tight boundaries of a blind, the short-action may be because that you. If she a traditionalist who enjoys carrying the classic long-action calibers, well, there is absolutely nothing wrong with one of those in a much longer rifle. The load difference in between the 2 is normally right approximately a half-pound. I occasionally prefer the additional weight that a long-action rifle, say as soon as I’m high in a tree stand, because that extra weight and length can help steady the gun once shooting there is no a rest. However, if ns doing some strenuous hiking throughout a hunt, I often go with a short-action, that half-pound shaved off the rifle a real benefit during a long, active day afield. Really, the choice comes under to the kind of hunting or shoot you prefer.

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Head to the total store and also feel for you yourself the difference in between long and also short-action rifles, take a look in ~ the ballistics linked with the different cartridges that autumn into each class, even borrow rifles in various calibers and activity lengths from friends to test fire on the variety and you’ll make a better informed decision about what will certainly work finest for you.