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

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

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The .30-06 Springfield set the stage for the long-action rifle. This round has a cartridge overall length (or COL, together you’ll watch it described often) that 3.340 inches. Most of today’s long-action cartridges will certainly fit into a magazine and action of this length. In fact, countless long-popular searching cartridges had their situations designed around this 3.340-inch measurement, such together the .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, .35 Whelen, .264 Winchester and 7mm Remington, as well as much more recent cartridges favor the .26 and also .28 Nosler.


The .300 Win. Mag. ~ above the left shoots from a long-action bolt rifle, while the .308 Win. Top top the right belongs in a short-action. Courtesy Phil & Suzie Massaro.

Shorter cartridges have been with us because the early part of the 20th century, and also the tendency to shorten both cartridge length and also receiver size by a half-inch or so end the 3.340-inch length of the long-action cartridges led to lighter, more rigid rifle. The .300 Savage and also the .250-3000 Savage were among the forerunners in the short-action category, yet it was the .308 Winchester round, introduced in the early 1950s, that began what was then brief cartridge craze. The .308 Winchester conveniently bred whole family that cartridges, consisting of the .243 Winchester, .358 Winchester, and after that the .260 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington and also .338 Federal.


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

The selection of action length is truly a subjective matter. If you gain the services of a short, light, comfortable rifle, say for mountain hunting or in the tight boundaries of a blind, the short-action may be for you. If you’re a traditionalist that enjoys carrying the standard long-action calibers, well, there is absolutely nothing not correct with among those in a much longer rifle. The weight difference between the two 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, due to the fact that that extra weight and length can help steady the gun as soon as shooting without a rest. However, if ns doing some strenuous hiking during a hunt, I regularly go v a short-action, that half-pound shaved off the rifle a real advantage during a long, active day afield. Really, the choice comes under to the form of searching or shoot you prefer.

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Head come the pistol store and feel for you yourself the difference between long and short-action rifles, take a look at the ballistics linked with the various cartridges that autumn into every class, even borrow rifles in various calibers and activity lengths indigenous friends to check fire on the selection and you’ll make a far better informed decision around what will work ideal for you.