When purchase or reading around centerfire bolt-action rifles, you’ll practically always hear the terms “long-action” or “short-action” provided in the firearms’ descriptions. What carry out these terms mean?

Two things are being referenced in both terms: the length of the rifle’s receiver and also the length dimension of the bolt. There are, in reality three action lengths—short, long and also magnum—but the magnum-length actions are scheduled 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 actually a cartridge in its entirety length (or COL, together you’ll see it described often) the 3.340 inches. Most of today’s long-action cartridges will fit into a newspaper and activity of this length. In fact, numerous long-popular hunting cartridges had actually their situations designed approximately 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 like the .26 and also .28 Nosler.


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

Shorter cartridges have been v us since the early component of the 20th century, and the trend to shorten both cartridge length and also receiver size by a half-inch or so over the 3.340-inch size of the long-action cartridges resulted in lighter, an ext rigid rifle. The .300 Savage and also the .250-3000 Savage were amongst the forerunners in the short-action category, but it was the .308 Winchester round, introduced in the at an early stage 1950s, that started what was then short cartridge craze. The .308 Winchester quickly bred whole family that cartridges, consisting of the .243 Winchester, .358 Winchester, and after that the .260 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington and .338 Federal.


It’s straightforward to view the difference between long and also short-action bolts when they are eliminated from the action. .308 is on the left and also .30-06 is on the right.

The choice of action length is important a spatu matter. If you enjoy the services of a short, light, handy rifle, say for mountain hunting or in the tight confines of a blind, the short-action may be for you. If she a traditionalist that enjoys delivering the standard long-action calibers, well, over there is certain nothing dorn with one of those in a much longer rifle. The weight difference in between the 2 is generally right approximately a half-pound. I sometimes prefer the additional weight the a long-action rifle, say when I’m high in a tree stand, since that extra weight and also length can aid steady the gun once shooting there is no a rest. However, if ns doing part strenuous hiking throughout a hunt, I regularly go v a short-action, that half-pound shaved off the rifle a real advantage during a long, energetic day afield. Really, the choice comes under to the form of searching or shoot you prefer.

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Head to the total store and feel for you yourself the difference between long and also short-action rifles, take a look in ~ the ballistics connected with the various cartridges that loss into each class, also borrow rifles in various calibers and action lengths native friends to test fire ~ above the variety and you’ll do a much better informed decision about what will work best for you.