24 or 22 inch barrel?

A 24inch barrelled Vanguard in .308 Winchester is still my favourite rifle.

Is it just me imagining things or have shooters started preferring shorter barrels on their sporting rifles?

I’ve always preferred 24 inch barrels on my rifles for the majority of my shooting. There are of course exceptions such as my 26 inch varmint guns, and the 18 inch lever action carbine that I regretted buying from the first moment I pulled the trigger. But for general hunting tasks I’ll always purchase a 24 inch barrelled rifle over any of the 22 inch versions.

There are a few advantages of the longer barrel and they all seem justified in my opinion. Firstly there is the velocity increase which my own experiments show to be significant enough. The difference will vary between rifle and cartridge but using a .243 Winchester I discovered that a loss of 50fps for every inch of barrel taken away is a pretty mild average. So assuming we went with a 22 inch barrel over a 24 inch version, we would lose 100fps. Definitely not enough to be overly concerned about but it’s still a loss of feet per second.

Then there is the weight issue which many might argue is an advantage of having a shorter barrel. I agree that a 22 inch barrel will be slightly lighter than a 24 inch version but I can’t see this to be of any real benefit to your average hunter. I’ve always found the extra barrel length to help when taking offhand shots as the extra weight towards the front of the rifle helps keep things balanced and steady.

A 22 inch barrel will also have an increase in noise and muzzle blast and I don’t mind admitting that I dislike both. I wish I had the equipment to measure any increase in these departments but I’m afraid that’s well out of my budget for some time. However, there certainly is an increase and it’s probably the main reason while I’ll always grab my 24 inch rifles over the shorter ones.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that 22 inch barrels are useless and I totally agree that they have their place. I can see that they are somewhat of a comprise between having a portable rifle whilst retaining long range capabilities. What I can’t understand is how they are better suited than 24 inch barrels for the average Aussie shooter.

I know of a few manufacturers that still produce 24 inch barrelled sporters such Remington, Kimber and Weatherby but I’d like to see the others at least have the option of either a 22 or 24 inch barrel. I’d especially love to see Ruger provide such an option!

I appreciate that we all have different opinions formed from different experiences so if you’re a fan of the shorter barrel then let me know in the comments below. We’re all here to learn after all!

A Remington SPS in 30/06 dropped this pig in timber country.

7 thoughts on “24 or 22 inch barrel?”

  1. On muzzle speeds it appears that a 50fps drop per inch of barrel shorter is quite common on ‘large’ calibre rifles.

    I can see how the the 100fps difference (22 vs 24)may be significant in some applications but how often are we in those? For most of us, probably very little.

    Noise is another issue… I was very surprised at how loud my 22inch barrel is, particularly if you stand a few feet to the side of it (rather than being behind the trigger).

    What was the problem with your carbine, was it the noise and drop in muzzle velocity? Tell me more about that, I like lever guns. :)

  2. Yeah I got to agree that 100fps is not really all that much in hunting situations. It’s kind of like a little bit of an extra bonus though.

    The noise was the killer with the carbine mate. The dam thing was ported too!! I brought it thinking it’d be a great scrub gun but it was WAY too loud and wearing ear plugs whilst trying to flush pigs from cover seemed too impractical. I used to hang some plugs around my neck but when a pig jumps up in front of you instinct just takes over. At least it did with me anyway.

  3. Jason,
    ‘ports’ and muzzle brakes’ will send you deaf in short order !!

    back in my yoof, I carried a ‘Colt Commando’ (10″ barreled M16) with a large flash hider muzzle brake……and THAT left my ears ringing for days !! (part of ‘why’ I’m 1/2 deaf now…..)

    Personally I LOVE carbines !! Anything over 20 inches in length is doomed for the hacksaw at MY place……. and almost ALL of my rifles are ‘carbine length, with 16 inches being the shortest up to 22 inches for a Brno Hornet.

    There was a fella some years back travelling around fitting ‘ear moulds’ which cut out concussive sound (as in gunshots)but allowed you to hear almost normally otherwise………dunno if he’s still about ??

    The other reason I love shorties is where I hunt deer (sambar) almost NEVER has a shot been over 150 yards……….even the lowly 30-30 Trapper will do that……(and HAS done)


  4. I think the 22 inch barrel is a good compromise,i have been in lots of situations where iv had to go in to thick scrub chasing pigs with my Howa 30-06 and am glad it didn’t have a longer barrel,and i don’t be leave in shooting at big game beyond 200 yards so 50-100ftp’s is not going to make a difference to me.

  5. I have to say gentlemen that I don’t like the centrefires much as I’m primarily a small game hunter. That said I have fired quite a few over the years and I owned a .222 with a 22″ barrel for a short time, it was used as a long distance fox rifle. I have to say that compared to a friends .243 with a 24″ barrel, I found the .222 very hard on the ears. As a novice to centrefires I can’t say I’d be in a rush to purchase anything under 24″, as the muzzle blast is just a little too much for me to handle. This is ofcourse my personal opinion and it comes down to horses for courses.

    Happy hunting all,


  6. best lenghts for barrels..
    magnums 26 ”
    varmint 25″
    std calibres 24″
    .22 22″
    shotguns 32″
    anything over or under will lose velocity.
    with pistols,expect to lose 300fps in a 6″ barrel and 400fps with 4″ barrel against a 22″ rifle barrel using full factory loads..
    tested and proven many times using my chrony.

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