When shopping or reading around centerfire bolt-action rifles, you’ll practically always listen the terms “long-action” or “short-action” supplied in the firearms’ descriptions. What execute these state mean?

Two things room being referenced in both terms: the length of the rifle’s receiver and the length dimension of the bolt. There are, actually three action lengths—short, long and also magnum—but the magnum-length plot are booked for the longest situations like the .375 Holland & Holland Magnum, .416 Rigby and also .300 Remington Ultra Magnum. Most typical centerfire cartridges come in brief or lengthy actions.

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The .30-06 Springfield collection the phase for the long-action rifle. This round has a cartridge overall length (or COL, as you’ll see it described often) of 3.340 inches. Many of today’s long-action cartridges will certainly fit into a newspaper and action of this length. In fact, many long-popular searching cartridges had 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 also much newer cartridges choose the .26 and .28 Nosler.


The .300 Win. Mag. Top top the left shoots indigenous a long-action bolt rifle, if the .308 Win. Top top the ideal belongs in a short-action. Courtesy Phil & Suzie Massaro.

Shorter cartridges have been with us due to the fact that the early component of the 20th century, and the tendency to shorten both cartridge length and receiver size by a half-inch or so over the 3.340-inch size of the long-action cartridges led to lighter, much more rigid rifle. The .300 Savage and the .250-3000 Savage were among the forerunners in the short-action category, but it to be the .308 Winchester round, presented in the early 1950s, that began what to be then quick cartridge craze. The .308 Winchester easily bred whole family the cartridges, including the .243 Winchester, .358 Winchester, and afterwards the .260 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington and .338 Federal.


It’s simple to view the difference in between long and short-action bolts as soon as they are gotten rid of from the action. .308 is ~ above 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 for mountain searching or in the tight boundaries of a blind, the short-action may be because that you. If you a traditionalist who enjoys delivering the classic long-action calibers, well, there is certain nothing wrong with one of those in a much longer rifle. The load difference between the 2 is generally right approximately a half-pound. I periodically prefer the added weight of a long-action rifle, say once I’m high in a tree stand, because that extra weight and also length can help steady the gun when shooting there is no a rest. However, if i’m doing some strenuous hiking throughout a hunt, I often go through a short-action, that half-pound shaved off the rifle a real benefit during a long, active day afield. Really, the an option comes down to the kind of hunting or shooting you prefer.

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Head to the total store and feel for yourself the difference between long and also short-action rifles, take a look at the ballistics associated with the different cartridges that loss into every class, also borrow rifles in various calibers and action lengths from friends to check fire ~ above the variety and you’ll do a better informed decision around what will certainly work finest for you.