When purchase or reading around centerfire bolt-action rifles, you’ll almost always listen the state “long-action” or “short-action” used in the firearms’ descriptions. What carry out these state mean?

Two things are being referenced in both terms: the length of the rifle’s receiver and the length dimension of the bolt. Over there are, actually three activity 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 typical centerfire cartridges come in brief or long actions.

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The .30-06 Springfield collection the stage for the long-action rifle. This round has actually a cartridge overall length (or COL, as you’ll check out it described often) the 3.340 inches. Many of today’s long-action cartridges will certainly fit right into a newspaper and action of this length. In fact, countless long-popular searching cartridges had actually their instances designed around this 3.340-inch measurement, such together the .270 Winchester, .280 Remington, .35 Whelen, .264 Winchester and also 7mm Remington, and much more recent cartridges like the .26 and .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 v us since the early part of the 20th century, and the tendency to shorten both cartridge length and also receiver length by a half-inch or so end the 3.340-inch size of the long-action cartridges caused lighter, an ext rigid rifle. The .300 Savage and also the .250-3000 Savage were among the forerunners in the short-action category, yet it to be the .308 Winchester round, introduced in the early 1950s, that began what to be then quick cartridge craze. The .308 Winchester easily bred whole family that cartridges, including the .243 Winchester, .358 Winchester, and after that the .260 Remington, 7mm-08 Remington and also .338 Federal.


It’s basic to see the difference in between long and short-action bolts as soon as they are removed from the action. .308 is on the left and .30-06 is ~ above the right.

The an option of action length is important a subjective matter. If you gain the services of a short, light, handy rifle, say because that mountain hunting or in the tight boundaries of a blind, the short-action may be for you. If you a traditionalist that enjoys transferring the classic long-action calibers, well, over there is absolutely nothing not correct with among those in a much longer rifle. The load difference in between the two is usually right around a half-pound. I occasionally prefer the additional weight that a long-action rifle, say when I’m high in a tree stand, due to the fact that that extra weight and length can assist steady the gun when shooting there is no a rest. However, if i’m doing part strenuous hiking throughout a hunt, I regularly go through a short-action, that half-pound shaved off the rifle a real advantage during a long, active day afield. Really, the choice comes down to the kind of searching or shooting you prefer.

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