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16" vs 22" barrel?


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#121 choobie

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 10:16 AM


It's not accuracy that is the problem with the short barrel on the 308, it's the muzzle velocity lost due to shorter barrel that neuters the 308 round. I bought the 22" 308 because I wanted a 308 that hit hard like a 308 should. If Barrel length was my selling point and wanted a 16" barrel I would have went with 7.62x39mm.

My suggestion to all you guys thinking of cutting your 22" barrels, don't do it. Go get a cheaper to shoot 7.62 and you'll have ABOUT the same ballistics.


There is a very significant difference in potency between a 16 inch 308 and a 16 inch 7.62x39.

The longer barreled Saiga is too front heavy, especially if you want to add a muzzle device. I'd say 18 inches would be a great compromise in terms of velocity and handling.


Perhaps a heavier stock to counterbalance the weight?

#122 Jim Digriz

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 11:15 AM

Perhaps a heavier stock to counterbalance the weight?


That just makes the whole thing overly heavy. If you can't tote these things very far or for very long, their utility is greatly diminished.

#123 choobie

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:47 PM


Perhaps a heavier stock to counterbalance the weight?


That just makes the whole thing overly heavy. If you can't tote these things very far or for very long, their utility is greatly diminished.


Agreed, but the fact that 308s typically utilize a polymer mag may negate that somewhat. I know my 16" is fairly heavy and don't know what 21" would be like (how many more lbs? Anyone?)

#124 Jim Digriz

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Posted 26 January 2011 - 03:55 PM

Agreed, but the fact that 308s typically utilize a polymer mag may negate that somewhat.


I'm not yet convinced that any of the polymer mags are anywhere near as durable as the (very heavy) csspecs steel mags, or as reliable. Time will tell, I guess, but the track records don't look that great in my research. Maybe one day a Circle 10-like polymer, steel-reinforced mag will hit the market for S308s. Until then, the options are not great; you either have to compromise in terms of weight, or toughness and/or reliability.


I know my 16" is fairly heavy and don't know what 21" would be like (how many more lbs? Anyone?)


Not sure, probably not a whole additional pound, but the problem is that adding weight further from your body multiplies the difficulty in bearing it when holding the rifle in a firing position (or something like it). Adding 6-8 ounces in a buttstock, for instance, is far different from adding that much at the end of the barrel.

#125 Mike1234567

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Posted 13 February 2011 - 08:03 PM

I bought the 21.8 because my research indicates that, depending on ammo, a 18-20" is the best compromise and the only way to get that is to buy the longer barrel and have it cut. This also allows for cutting/recrowning yet again if it's ever worn/damaged without any appreciable decrease in accuracy. Maybe I'm over-thinking it a bit and I'm sorely lacking in practical experience but, again, this seems to be the consensus from what I've read.
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#126 tritium

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Posted 19 February 2011 - 12:21 AM


I bought the 21.8 because my research indicates that, depending on ammo, a 18-20" is the best compromise and the only way to get that is to buy the longer barrel and have it cut. This also allows for cutting/recrowning yet again if it's ever worn/damaged without any appreciable decrease in accuracy. Maybe I'm over-thinking it a bit and I'm sorely lacking in practical experience but, again, this seems to be the consensus from what I've read.


Exact same reasons why I bought the long barrel. I can't say I'll ever cut mine but it's definitely possible and that's a nice option to have. From what I understand though, cutting it back may actually increase accuracy a bit. The main advantage of the long barrel is less muzzle flash, less noise and a little more velocity.

Decreasing the length has nothing to do with accuracy, but it will cut down your muzzle velocity. Other points as stated.
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#127 DrThunder88

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Posted 23 February 2011 - 04:47 AM

Nope. All things being equal they'll demonstrate roughly the same accuracy. As I recall some guy online did some pretty extensive testing on barrel harmonics that indicated shorter barrels make it easier to tune handloads or find a factory load that works well.
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#128 topmaul

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Posted 11 April 2011 - 09:19 PM

My Next Saiga Build will be a 308 after I finish my S-12 I have sitting in the safe. Of course I am upgrading my old S-12 22 inch full choke barrle. 16 or 22 wow I guess it will depend on price and what I can find when I'm ready to buy.

I'm leaning towards the 308 with a 16 inch barrel because it's going to be way cool.

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#129 King of the Hill

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Posted 05 May 2011 - 07:44 PM

I have a 22" but really want a 16" also!
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#130 cbr

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Posted 08 October 2011 - 08:21 PM

I know the thread that never dies.....I have gone back and forth for hours about this very topic and have come to the conclusion that there is no correct answer. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, but it really comes down to what you bought the rifle for. Some wish to have a so called Bug Out gun or battle rifle some wish to have a long range rifle. I have gone back and forth several times in the end I prefer the long barrel because I bought the 308 for long range after all. I saw little point in cutting down the barrel only to add 2-3 inches for a flash hider. You can knock off about 50fps per inch of barrel so if you go from 21.8" to 16" that is around 250-350 fps for me that is just giving up too much. If I want Bug Out rifle I have my WASR its light, short barreled, already threaded, common parts, mags are cheap and every where, and the ammo is lighter so I could carry more.

There is no debating accuracy between the two at mid range they are the same you only see a difference in fps or at longer range
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#131 G O B

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:20 AM

A short barrel S-.308 is just too close to an AK. I like the S-.308 with the longer barrel, it is functionally an AK for longer ranges. That way I can use cheap AK ammo MOST of the time, and save the more expen$$$ive .308 for when the extra range justifies the pri$$e!

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#132 Jim Digriz

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 01:19 PM

A short barrel S-.308 is just too close to an AK.


I'm not so sure about that. The difference is something like 800+ ft/lbs of energy at the muzzle.

#133 megawatt

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Posted 11 October 2011 - 10:10 PM

I choose to go with the 16" S308. I have a LTR bolt gun for very long range, I have a EBR (modern M1A in sage chassis) for long range and fast semi auto shooting. But the S308 is my compact very rugged iron sighted durable truck gun, it is the workhorse of my various 308's that I like to shoot. The flash hider/compensator does a great job at handeling any of the muzzle flame and keeps the muzzle flip down to less than you would get from an AK x39 using a slant break. Barrel has been recrowned for accuracy and length is 16.25". I can get in and out of vehicles with no problem, clear a room and walk around with no problem (shoot house simulator), and drop it on the ground with no issues (no scope to break). Most of all I like the folding stock compact size and the light weight lets me train all day with it. For what I want it to do it is a much better package than a 22incher.

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#134 Jim Digriz

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Posted 13 October 2011 - 07:00 AM

The flash hider/compensator does a great job at handeling any of the muzzle flame and keeps the muzzle flip down to less than you would get from an AK x39 using a slant break.


How do you find the noise/blast? I saw a guy with that brake on his PTR 91 at the range the other day, and it was absolutely punishing to everyone around, but probably OK for the person shooting the rifle.

#135 megawatt

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 01:12 AM


How do you find the noise/blast? I saw a guy with that brake on his PTR 91 at the range the other day, and it was absolutely punishing to everyone around, but probably OK for the person shooting the rifle.


It is not a problem to the shooter, I can't feel it on my chest or face when I shoot.

#136 Gonzo the nothingman

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Posted 14 October 2011 - 04:51 PM

I choose to go with the 16" S308. I have a LTR bolt gun for very long range, I have a EBR (modern M1A in sage chassis) for long range and fast semi auto shooting. But the S308 is my compact very rugged iron sighted durable truck gun, it is the workhorse of my various 308's that I like to shoot. The flash hider/compensator does a great job at handeling any of the muzzle flame and keeps the muzzle flip down to less than you would get from an AK x39 using a slant break. Barrel has been recrowned for accuracy and length is 16.25". I can get in and out of vehicles with no problem, clear a room and walk around with no problem (shoot house simulator), and drop it on the ground with no issues (no scope to break). Most of all I like the folding stock compact size and the light weight lets me train all day with it. For what I want it to do it is a much better package than a 22incher.

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While I personally prefer a longer barrel (because mine is my only 308), you do make an appealing argument with the pictures of your very sexy looking rifle.
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#137 cbr

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Posted 06 November 2011 - 08:56 PM

Megawatt man i love the look of your 308, makes me want to buy another 308 just so i can have a short barrel. i just cant bring myself to cut mine down. ill admit the long barrel is a tad too long and is a little unbalanced but every time i see a short barrel being fired at night i cant help but think of all that unburnt powder when you see that huge fire ball shoot out the barrel.

#138 Zambidis

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:05 PM

A short barrel S-.308 is just too close to an AK


I saw this same assertion by on of the Suarez instructors over on warriortalk. I think it is really overstating things and way off base. The last time I had my chrono out I shot a 10 shot string of 145 grain brown bear 308 out of my 16" S308. I'd have to look for the exact figures but the average was about 2650 FPS. I then shot my 16" 7.62x39 with 124 grain wolf. The average was just over 2300 FPS. Maybe that doesn't sound like much but if you do the math, the energy at the muzzle for the x39 is 1456 ft/lbs and 2260 ft/lbs for the 308. That is an 800+ ft lbs difference at the muzzle. To put that in perspective 800 ft lbs is what a Hot buffalo bore 357 magnum load makes at the muzzle of a 6" revolver.

To add a bit more perspective, if we assume that one really would pick up 250 FPS with the 21" barrel that only makes about 450 ft lbs more. A perhaps notable difference but one much smaller than between the 16" 308 and x39.

Lastly I'll note these numbers are with one brand off the shelf ammo. I would certainly think that one could tailor a load to achieve better performance with the short barrel.

Muzzle energy only tells part of the story. There are two other important things to consider. Exterior ballistics and bullet construction. The 308 has advantages in both these areas over a 7.62x39. It has a higher BC and will retain velocity and be less influenced by wind than the x39. The 308 has a higher sectional density as well. I also believe that bullet selection is better for the 308. I'd encourage people to run the numbers on drop and drift for the x39 the 308 16" and 308 21". Again I think it will show will strongly refute the idea one might as well have a x39 as a 16" 308

I just really don't see how anyone can seriously assert that a 308 out of a 16" barrel is on par with a x39. It simply is not. I was even more amused to see a Suarez instructor making such claims. Given how often I see the 5.56 round disparaged on warrior talk. A 75 grain 5.56 load is way closer to x39 load in terms of energy at the muzzle than the x39 is to the 308 out of a 16" tube. Further the 5.56 has a much higher BC and thus its down range performance eclipses that of the x39. It has more energy by the time they've travel 300 yrds.

No I have been pondering a lot lately if a 6.5 Grendel AR wouldn't make more sense than my 16" S308. Of course I still need to do more testing with the saiga including working on hand loads optimized for it.

I'll try to post some rough estimate tables for those who are interested, but not enough to run the numbers themselves.

21.5” 308

Range Velocity Impact Drop ToF Energy Drift

0 2900 -2 0 0 2708 0

100 2528 0 2.49 0.11 2058 1.71

200 2196 -3.49 10.47 0.24 1553 5.78

300 1889 -14.28 25.75 0.39 1149 13.24

400 1613 -34.91 50.87 0.56 838 24.9

500 1375 -69.04 89.49 0.76 609 41.62

600 1188 -121.65 146.59 1 454 64.06

700 1061 -198.81 228.24 1.27 362 92.09

800 976 -306.61 340.53 1.56 307 124.75

900 916 -450.39 488.8 1.88 270 161.18

1000 866 -634.92 677.82 2.22 241 200.92

16” 308

Range Velocity Impact Drop ToF Energy Drift

0 2600 -2 0 0 2177 0

100 2255 0 3.08 0.13 1637 1.91

200 1943 -4.91 13.07 0.27 1216 6.67

300 1661 -19.14 32.38 0.44 888 15.46

400 1415 -46.1 64.42 0.63 645 29.15

500 1218 -90.53 113.93 0.86 478 48.49

600 1080 -158.37 186.85 1.12 376 73.53

700 990 -255.78 289.34 1.42 316 103.38

800 926 -388.28 426.92 1.73 276 137.13

900 875 -560.68 604.4 2.06 247 174.25

1000 831 -777.59 826.39 2.42 222 214.53

16” 7.62x39

Range Velocity Impact Drop ToF Energy Drift

0 2300 -2 0 0 1703 0

100 1911 0 4.01 0.15 1176 2.62

200 1575 -7.67 17.68 0.32 799 9.87

300 1299 -29.56 45.58 0.53 543 23.46

400 1105 -72.19 94.22 0.78 393 44.11

500 988 -143.18 171.21 1.07 314 70.96

600 912 -249.44 283.48 1.39 268 102.63

700 851 -397.02 437.07 1.73 233 138.42

800 801 -591.69 637.75 2.09 207 178.07

900 757 -839.26 891.32 2.48 185 221.48

1000 717 -1145.57 1203.64 2.88 166 268.58

75 grain 5.56

Range Velocity Drop ToF Energy Drift

0 2700 -2 0 0 1214 0

100 2513 0 2.74 0.12 1052 1.13

200 2338 -3.53 11.01 0.24 910 3.28

300 2171 -13.46 25.68 0.37 785 7.03

400 2011 -30.8 47.76 0.52 674 12.55

500 1858 -56.77 78.47 0.67 575 20.05

600 1714 -92.84 119.28 0.84 489 29.76

700 1578 -140.77 171.95 1.02 415 41.89

800 1454 -202.65 238.57 1.22 352 56.69

900 1342 -280.94 321.6 1.44 300 74.35

1000 1244 -378.43 423.83 1.67 258 94.98


Hopefully the formatting transfered across well enough to make sense of it.

Edited by Zambidis, 07 November 2011 - 01:08 PM.

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#139 Zambidis

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 01:19 PM

In the end I suppose what makes sense really depends on intended use. While getting a couple hundred FPS can really matter at long range, if one is that serious about shooting long range the S308 is not the platform IMHO. The twist rate doesn't like heavy bullets. And it is not accurate enough for very serious long range shooting or for really trying to stretch the distance. I think the accuracy of the gun is likely to become a limiting factor before the FPS really does. Either one can perform reasonably well out to 500 or 600 yards or so. After that both are pretty well out of their elements anyhow. I am aware of individual rifles that people have been successful in getting consistent COM shots out to 800-900 yards.

I think an 18" tube would be a nice compromise for general use, but one has to ask if the expense of cutting it down is really worth it.

#140 cbr

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 07:23 PM

In the end I suppose what makes sense really depends on intended use. While getting a couple hundred FPS can really matter at long range, if one is that serious about shooting long range the S308 is not the platform IMHO. The twist rate doesn't like heavy bullets. And it is not accurate enough for very serious long range shooting or for really trying to stretch the distance. I think the accuracy of the gun is likely to become a limiting factor before the FPS really does. Either one can perform reasonably well out to 500 or 600 yards or so. After that both are pretty well out of their elements anyhow. I am aware of individual rifles that people have been successful in getting consistent COM shots out to 800-900 yards.

I think an 18" tube would be a nice compromise for general use, but one has to ask if the expense of cutting it down is really worth it.



I dont use my 308 long barrel for extended range, I use mine for hog hunting out in the open fields you can except to take a shot at about 100-200yds not exactly long range. One of the guys I go hunting with uses a Saiga 308 short barrel, just to see what each would do we used the same rounds (Russian surplus) we both took a hog at about the same distance and you could clearly see the difference between the short and long barrel as far as damage. The long barrel just offers more damage when compared to the short barrel.

All these velocity calculations are great but nothing beats seeing the difference first hand.
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#141 Zambidis

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 08:30 PM

All these velocity calculations are great but nothing beats seeing the difference first hand.


Both pigs were dead?

I'd agree but there are enough variables at play that I'm not sure I would make too strong of findings from an experiment that involved two rounds and two different animals under uncontrolled conditions.

I don't really doubt what you are saying 400 Ft lbs of energy is nothing to sneeze at, about what a 9mm has.

Inside of 300 yards both can get the job done for anything I would use a .308 for.

Also there is still the issue that one might well be able to use a load optimized for the shorter tube and thus negate some of the difference.

#142 cbr

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 10:41 PM

All these velocity calculations are great but nothing beats seeing the difference first hand.


Both pigs were dead?

I'd agree but there are enough variables at play that I'm not sure I would make too strong of findings from an experiment that involved two rounds and two different animals under uncontrolled conditions.

I don't really doubt what you are saying 400 Ft lbs of energy is nothing to sneeze at, about what a 9mm has.

Inside of 300 yards both can get the job done for anything I would use a .308 for.

Also there is still the issue that one might well be able to use a load optimized for the shorter tube and thus negate some of the difference.



Yes you can load faster burning rounds but for the cost of the rifle i see little point, there will never be a clear answer. Some swear the short barrel is better but for me I already have a short barrel AK in 7.62 that is good to go up to 150yds. The 308 just seems like such a waste to use in a short barrel evident by the huge fire ball of unburnt powder.

I just cant give up the power of the long barrel vs short barrel. I look at the 308 as a hunting round none of my hunting rifles have 16" barrels because well they are hunting rifles not so called battle rifles. there is a much better chance that i'll go hog hunting this weekend vs a Mad Max end of world SHTF situation so the long barrel 308 fits the bill far better.

#143 Zambidis

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Posted 07 November 2011 - 11:51 PM

I just cant give up the power of the long barrel vs short barrel. I look at the 308 as a hunting round


Certainly if one is after maximum velocity the longer barrel is the way to go. As is evident throughout this thread intended use is the first thing that needs to be answered before making a decision about which barrel length one is likely to prefer.

#144 bpatterson

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 08:45 PM

the 308 out of a 16" barrel has shown time and time again that accurate shots are more than possible at 1000m. Yall are taking the energy difference thing too far, as the biggest factor is going to be the shooter. 16" is great for the 308. The size and weight of a 21"er with a scope, mount, and full mag, not to mention the horrible OAL of the rifle, and you might as well look into other rifles and calibers if distance and accuracy are what you want.

#145 Zambidis

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Posted 13 November 2011 - 11:08 PM

Yall are taking the energy difference thing too far, as the biggest factor is going to be the shooter.


Well to be fair it is not just energy (although that certainly makes a difference at extended ranges if the goal is not simply to make a hit but to kill what is hit). Beyond energy, velocity impacts the exterior ballistics in other ways, the drop, the wind drift, and at what range the round cease to be supersonic--which of course affects the rounds stability and in turn accuracy. If one is real serious about shooting at longer ranges a few hundred FPS can actually be fairly noteworthy. Less drop and less drift means more forgiveness in ranging and wind reading mistakes. Of course if one is very serious about shooting at long range they likely are not using a saiga. Some saigas can certainly make hits on man size targets at 1K yards. There are many reports of it occurring at Suarez's GSR courses. There are also reports that not all the guns are getting out that far with consistency. This is likely more a product of the accuracy of the guns/loads in question. If you have a 2.5 MOA gun at 100yards you are talking at least 25" groups out at 1k yards. I would agree that a lot of people are going to be more limited by their own abilities than their weapons.

Edited by Zambidis, 18 November 2011 - 11:00 PM.

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#146 Ken1961

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Posted 29 November 2011 - 08:49 AM

Thanks to all of you for reviving this thread. I've been mulling over the next rifle purchase and was thinking of going with the Ruger Scout but really wished it had been a semi rather than a bolt gun.

I think the next one may be the S. .308 instead. I'm putting together a work bench and reloading station over the next year (instead of trying to build my own AKs, way to cost prohibitive) and look forward to tailoring a load for the shorter barrel in either weapon.

It sounds like the .308 out of a 16" tube is suitable out to 500m with good loads and a bolt gun with longer barrel for further. Am I getting that right?
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#147 leadslinger

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 02:09 PM

i have been looking at this as well. Hell Gunsite and Ruger have done well marketing this rifle. I am still flip flopping over barrel length.
If you check this article out the gunsite guys suggested a 18 inch barrel but was nixt by one of thier higher ups. Also the steyer scout has a 20 inch barrel which Copper collaborated on its development. http://www.americanr...e-scout-review/

i like the ultra reliability of the bolt action rifle. This barrel is stepped down or tapered to provide extra rigidity which will provide better accuracy. Then mag capacity is already good and mag issues seem flushed out. Still i like AK's and the ease of squeezing off rounds with a trigger pull. I have never really practiced at trying to get rounds off quickly with bolt action. I am sure with practice one could get proficient. Then there is the fact that all the goodies oen might want have been considered and provided....hmm I think i may be convincing myself here.....

it would make me think that getting the 21.5 and getting it cut to 18 or 19 would be the best of both worlds. Now the quandry,,,, if you wanted to put a flash hider on the beast then you would be bake at the 21 inch mark. I have a 20 inch S12 and it doesn't seem all that bad handling but we are talking at home and range not hauling around the bush. weight of the gun and ammo would also be a factor on either weapon.

Ammo cost would be another factor. Reloading for the .308 would bring cost down. With both guns it seems like a waste of powder and velocity to shoot the .308 out of the 16 inch barrel but the ballistic gain over the 7.62 x39 or the .223 would be nice. It still seems like a waste not to be able to take full advantage of the .308 round and since ruger is not offereing a longer barrel then i am leaning more towards the saiga with a longer barrel.

i would need to sell my 7.62 x 39 , mags and ammo to fund the switch and built a stash of mags.

If i had the cash i would just pull the trigger on a 21 inch barrel shoot and handle it and a frineds short barrel to be able to make a more informed decision. Hell i may not like it at all and just stay with the 7.62 x 39. If there was a ton of brass out there to reload for it i may not even be looking at this project.
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#148 leadslinger

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Posted 11 December 2011 - 09:02 PM

Okay, i just finished several hours of searching and reading this thread and other info. definetly looks like the 16 inch barrel is a viable option. The main thing is velocity loss and that doesn't seem to be too awfull. It seems that 600 yards is generally considered the max effective for the 16 barrel and that is more than i will be ever be shooting any of my rifles. Now I just need to find a way to quiet it down and reduce muzzle flash....Oh yeah and find a way to fund it.

here are a few of the links:
http://www.snipersch...e-barrel-length

http://www.tacticalo...com/SWATbarrel/

http://308ar.com/for...at-much-slower/

http://www.thehighro...p/t-148460.html

http://www.pof-usa.n...ronoresults.htm

http://thefiringline...t=437873&page=2

http://www.thehighro...p/t-491328.html

hope these help in making your decision.

Edited by leadslinger, 11 December 2011 - 09:43 PM.

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#149 cbr

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Posted 14 December 2011 - 09:38 PM

definetly looks like the 16 inch barrel is a viable option. The main thing is velocity loss and that doesn't seem to be too awfull. It seems that 600 yards is generally considered the max effective for the 16 barrel and that is more than i will be ever be shooting any of my rifles. Now I just need to find a way to quiet it down and reduce muzzle flash



That is my main reason for not going with the 16" because most people add a flash hider which will increase your length to 18"if not more. Id much rather have 3-6" of extra barrel which will increase velocity. Id say 600yds is asking a lot of the Saiga maybe with a bolt action 308

#150 Zambidis

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Posted 18 December 2011 - 02:38 AM

COM shots at 600 are very doable with a Saiga loaded with decent ammo.




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