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  #1 (permalink)  
Old July 26th, 2008, 09:25 PM
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Default Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

Can anyone explain to me in simple terms what are the benefits/disadvantages of short action rifle calibres vs long action? I have a short action rifle and I'm curious about what this will mean to me in real terms.

Apologies for what may be a real novice question. Just want to know.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 09:41 PM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

Per http://tinyurl.com/5g8wve the dimensional differences are as follows:

Quote:
On a Remington 700? If the chamber size isn't known, or the receiver isn't barreled, measure the distance between the receiver screws. If 6.5 inches, it's a short action. Likewise, if the screw-to-screw distance is 7.35 inches, it's a long action. On Savage & Winchester...

Screw spacing:
Winchester short action - 7.03"
Savage short action - 4.28"

Winchester long action - 7.57"
Savage long action - 5.06"


Shorter rounds like .223/5.56mm, 308 Win & 243 are short action. .30-06, .270, 300 Win Mag & longer rounds go into long actions.
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Old July 26th, 2008, 10:38 PM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

The difference?


One is longer than the other. [/capt. obvious]
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Old July 27th, 2008, 12:38 PM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

The short action is made to accommodate shorter cartridges. When shorter cartridges are used in a long action the shooter carries more weight and has a longer operating length. Shorter actions are supposed to be more “stiff” and provide more accuracy. When designing a military firearm, the caliber and cartridge have been pre-selected and the action can be built around the case/ caliber/cartridge. A commercial firearm designer has to design for many case/ caliber/cartridge, some not in existence at the time of the firearm design. And, most manufacturers can only afford one or two designs. Some manufacturers have two lengths, with the same diameter bolts, some have long and short and short with smaller diameter bolts. Most bottle necked US case designs are based on the Mauser case and have a head diameter of 0.473” or are based on a belted design out of England with a diameter of 0.532”. These diameters can be handled by bolts having the same diameter, but when chambering something like a 223Rem with a diameter of 0.378” the bolt would be bigger than required. A smaller bolt means (could) a smaller diameter action and in turn a smaller diameter barrel shank. This all means a lighter firearm.
Steve
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Old July 29th, 2008, 07:02 PM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

What everybody has said so far is great information. Basically, the shorter cartridges can be put in a shorter action, and the longer cartridges require more length because of the cartridges overall length. On a short action, you have a short length of throw for the bolt, because it's shorter. This makes a small difference in weight, and makes a small amount of difference in the time it takes to cycle the bolt. I've heard that the short actions are "stiffer" than the longer actions, but not really seen any data to prove this. Theoretically, this is true, in terms of practical accuracy; most people can't hold quarter moa or less anyway.

You will sometimes see "short action calibers" in long action rifles. The Marines use the M40, which is a Remington 700 short action. I won't get into some of the other differences like 5R rifling, etc). The Army uses the M24, which is a Remington 700 long action. Both fire the 7.62 NATO, but the M24 can be converted to fire longer cartridges (like the .300 winmag) IF the military had need for such. If you're a hand loader and like to shoot bullets that have very high BC's, they tend to be very long. Most of those bullets also like to be seated into the lands slightly, or "kissing" as some people say. If you are using a short action cartridge in a short action, the length of your cartridges might actually be longer than the internal magazine of the short action. That means that if you want to use that cartridge in the short action, you have to load each as a single. If you built that short action cartridge on a long action, you could seat to the lands and still have plenty of room in the magazine, so that you use the internal magazine of the rifle. It all just depends on application, preference in bolt throw, etc.

Edit: Thanks to Wiley-X and Arrrrgh15 for catching my typo of an extra "short" action. Now fixed.

Last edited by Tomcat088; February 1st, 2010 at 04:17 PM.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 10:24 AM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

Glad to see this post as I had the same question. And if I have it right...the cartridge specs determine the action length. And a given cartridge is associated with and used in either short or long action ..but never both?

Further...one maker's short action may have completely different length than that of another maker? Ditto long action. Depends on bolt and receiver design.
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Old August 23rd, 2008, 08:59 PM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

Howdy Pisted. If you read over my response carefully, you will see that I say that some calibers use both. You can use a short action caliber in a long action, but not a long action caliber in a short action. So technically a short action can be used in both. Different manufacturers can have different lengths of actions, usually there isn't a large difference though. They will all be longer than the spec length of the OAL of the cartridge. Same goes for the long action in terms of length.
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Old August 24th, 2008, 09:31 PM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

Thanks Tomcat. Lemme try again. A given cartridge is typically associated with either a long action or a short action and most typically is fired in the type of action it is generally known to be associated with....though "sometimes" a short action cartridge may be fired in a long action. That being said...a given cartridge must of course be fired in a bolt/receiver/barrel designed for that cartridge/caliber. Better?
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Old August 25th, 2008, 12:07 AM
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Default Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

Not a problem, just didn't want to redo the entire post again because I'm lazy, lol. Yes you are correct with what you have said. The cartridge must be fired from a firearm that has the proper bolt and barrel for the cartridge/caliber. You are absolutely correct.
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Old August 25th, 2008, 11:43 AM
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Cool Re: Long action vs short action? What's the difference?

Tomcat
Let me get this right, if I own a 270wsm (short action) I can shoot that 270wsm in a 270 win long action? Reading your second post thats what it sounds like. If I`m reading it wrong so sorry.

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