View Full Version : Accuracy, short vs long actions, where's the data?

04-26-2011, 09:01 PM
For more years than I care to own, Conventional Wisdom has been stating, dogmatically, that 'short actions' are (inherently) more accurate than 'long actions.'

I do recall a piece by the lateWarren Page which listed average group sizes from the Remington Custom Shop for various cartridges. As cartridge case capacity/volume increased, so did average group size. I do notknow ifthis may be the actual underlying basis for the Conventional Wisdom assertion that short actions are more accurate (because they are stiffer?') than long actions.

Has anyone ever seen actual published data which supports(or refutes) the conventional wisdom dictum that shrt actions are more accurate than long actions?

Many Thanks,
Doc D

04-26-2011, 09:30 PM
I have given a lot of thought to the topic of action rigidity over the last year or so.
Along with the same statements from page and others.
Our actions lock the lugs in at the barrel. Soooo how much diff can the remainder of the bolt or the action itself make since again the case is trapped at the chamber at the end of the action past the lugs. Redundant I know.
Next as another consideration to rigidity they wanted the action short with the smallest port possible and even sleeved it.
Yet now we have longer actions with rr rl drop ports and everything between. That is having multiple holes cut into various places in the action.
Not exactly in keeping with the original ideas of short rigid actions being absolutely necessary for extreme accuracy.

04-26-2011, 09:40 PM
[QUOTE=German Salazar;625858]........................... I've done a lot of work on action rigidity and will say that is is a relatively minor contributor to the accuracy equation within the scope of target actions and stocks in use today. However, I favor long actions for a reason wholly unrelated to rigidity and that is that I am reasonnably confident that the heavier firing pin in a long action produces more consistent ignition - [QUOTE]


The REAL reason is.............

You're busy proving the worthiness of some worn out hunnerd-n-some-year-old relic cartridge........!!!




Charles E
04-26-2011, 09:54 PM
Uh, Al, how many 1,000 yard brenchrest records are held by rifles needing a long action? Some even of a relatively modest baby-boomer age? Only at 600 yards, which AIN'T LONG RANGE, do the shorties offer much.

'Corse far as that goes, early IBS IK SOY Greg McGee used a short Remington 700 with his .300 Weathery chambering.

(Speaking of shorties -- you old enough to remember the add in the back of Outdoor Life "Prevents cold shoulders and little else?")

Boyd Allen
04-27-2011, 02:17 AM
Now German,
Just think for a minute about all the outstanding work that has been done by short actions in short range benchrest. Do you think that this was the product of inferior ignition systems? Really???? A lot of things have been written and repeated over the years, because some scribe just "knew" something just had to be true. I think that this (short actions being more accurate) just one more example. Live long and prosper.
PS How is that shoulder coming along? Perhaps some bourbon therapy might be in order? It's sort of like the old joke about the drinking mans diet. You won't loose any weight, but after a while, you wont care;-) (cleaned up for the internet)

jackie schmidt
04-27-2011, 09:30 AM
The evolution of the "short action" in Point Blank Benchrest was one of simple logic. The vast majority of chamberings were short, there was no need to have the extra length, and weight, of the longer action.
A number of years ago, I bought a 40X Rangemaster in of all things, 25-06. I worked up loads with what was then the Berger 115 grn VLD. I later built a Benchrest Rifle out of the action, (this was in the mid '90's), and screwed that long Factory 25-06 SS barrel onto a long action 700 BDL. I could not tell the difference in the way it shot.

As for fire controle and ignition problems, since there is a cottage industry built around "fixing" many of the problems associated with poor ignition in short Benchrest Actions,, could not we surmise that there is something to what German says.

Personally, I think the entire "stiffness" thing is a non issue when dealing with modern equipment. Since the long action has more bedding area, and a longer foot print to counteract the cantelever of the barrel, maybe long actions are in truth "stiffer"..........jackie

Boyd Allen
04-27-2011, 12:17 PM
I don't know about Highpower, but in the shooting that I do, the action doesn't set off the powder, just the primer, and the primer doesn't "know" what is in front of it. :-) As to the cottage industry that Jackie referred to, I think that it has come about mostly because some "custom" action makers have lightened their springs to reduce bolt lift, and fallen into the trap of if a close fit is good, as closer fit is better. In addition, some custom actions have firing pin falls that be marginal, as compared to there factory brethren, also in the quest for lighter bolt lift. Personally, I think that if one is holding a rifle, rather than resting it, that certain issues have a greater tendency to get lost in the noise, and that a whole other set of problems present themselves when feeding from a magazine, shooting from positions, and rapid fire are part of the program. All one has to do is look at the rifles that have been specially designed for the sport to understand that different shooting sports place different emphases on the various areas of rifle design.

As far as the difference in accuracy potential of short and long actions goes, the short answer is I don't know, and my opinion is that if scientific testing is the requirement for an informed opinion, that no one else does either.

Now for a more important matter... When I was in college, I worked, for a short time in an aluminum and brass foundry, that made sand castings. The oldest worker, who was very skilled and hard working, and had put a lifetime in the industry, had arthritis that was bad enough that if untreated he would not have been able to work as he did. His method for dealing with this was to consume a small quantity of brandy, (that the owner furnished !) every so often. He never showed signs of having consumed it. and the amount and timing were quite regular. I was allowed a sip to satisfy my curiosity, and it was actually quite good. It seems that the owner knew someone with an illegal still. Every so often, when I read of some adjunctive therapy, I think about that old fellow, and smile.

Boyd Allen
04-27-2011, 01:48 PM
In a move that seems counterintuitive, I have a Gretan firing pin (probably manufactured for him by Dave Kiff) and spring in my Viper action. The pin weighs about 60% of the stock steel item, and the spring is 25# instead of the factory 19#. The pin tip diameter on this action is a nominal .062. What this combination does is reduce the momentum of the moving parts, while keeping the kinetic energy about the same. It seems to do a good job of setting off the small rifle primers that I have tried with it (CCI BR4, Winchester, and Federal) and shows less movement of the reticle when dry firing (which may not matter, but gives me some comfort anyway). I have no idea how one of these would perform in a prone rifle, but if the ignition was as good as with the stock parts, the decrease in lock time (which is not an issue in benchrest) might be an advantage for your application.