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Proper barrel length? (for .308 Win.)

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Hi guys:

I was wondering how barrel length is determined for a .308 rifle. I've seen several lengths. The usual seems to be 24". However, I've seen a few Savage rifles with barrels as long as 28" and 30" like their F/TR rifle. I've seen a custom rifle with only a 20" long heavy bull barrel (it's muzzle diameter was a thick 1"). I think the Marines used a 25" long barrel for their M-40s. 

Just wondering.

I ran into an acquaintance with lots of rifle building experience who inquired about my rifle project just to see how things are coming along. I had casually mentioned I was thinking about using a 26" long barrel. He thought it was nuts to get a barrel longer than 24" for a .308 rifle. I suppose it depends on what you want to do with it.

If you're building a target rifle, does a longer barrel add weight so you're more stable (thus, more accurate) and recoil has less effect? Or ... is a longer barrel simply more accurate than a shorter barrel because there's more metal to dampen barrel harmonics?

Using the Savage rifles as examples, I'm really curious how rifles that shoot the same cartridge have so many different barrel lengths. What reasons are there for this?

I have my own assumptions, but I don't doubt I could be wrong.

As usual, I'm deferring to you ... the experts ... who know more about rifles.

I suppose there's a "magic" ratio of barrel length-to-thickness. Thus, that one rifle with a short barrel, but very thick, barrel.

Thank you! :-)


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Here are a few links you'll find interesting.

Very good write-up. Read me 1st.


Length Vs Velocity

The length you choose depends upon the requirements you need. Velocity? Long barrel. Portability? Short barrel. Etc

The links above will give you much food for thought.

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Thank you again Mr. Patriot! :)

Per the middle article from Lilja barrels, I'll stick with a 26" long barrel with a heavy varmint contour and a 1:12 twist for Sierra 168 gr. SMK bullets. I think Shilen's #7 Heavy Varmint will work with an almost 1" thick muzzle diameter (.940").

I'm going for a very good target shooting rifle which I assume will be better than a typical factory rifle. I've seen video of a Savage 10 FCP-K in .308 hitting steel at 700 yards with a 24" barrel. So ... I assume a 26" barrel will impart 1,000 yard capability should I ever have the chance to try my luck at that distance. However, I'm modestly hoping for an excellent 500 yard gun.

I'll make it look like an M-40A3 using a McMillan A4 gunstock not only because McMillans are high quality stocks, but because you just simply must have the "cool" factor at the gun range!

I am also encouraged by how the authors of the first article mentioned using an SWFA 16x power scope too.

Anyway ... I need to gradually get all the components, get the bolt/receiver trued, and go from there.

My acquaintance is a serious hunter. So I think his reaction was given without knowing my intended use. A rifle with a 26" heavy barrel is probably not a good brush gun like a good ole 30-30.

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I've got a Savage F/TR in .308. I've also got an Axis in .308. Ones got a 30" Very heavy barrel. The other a 24, with light profile. I can get every shot in one hole with the F/TR. SOMETIMES...  The axis... Under an inch. ALL THE TIME... One will run you 1200+. The other 3 bills out the door. How important is that half inch to you? 😂

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