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falseharmonix 05-13-2010 10:04 PM

Long Action vs Short Action
I'm looking into getting a bolt-action rifle for hunting purposes, and I've come upon a set of terms I don't understand.

What is meant by "Long Action" and "Short Action" ?

Are there any benefits to one vs the other?


Dillinger 05-13-2010 10:23 PM

False - you have just opened a can of worms that will be being hashed & rehashed for MONTHS from now... LOL

Okay, a LONG action is one designed for MAGNUM calibers like the .30-06 or the .300 Win Mag.

A SHORT action is one designed for smaller calibers like the .308 or the .223

Now in a FACTORY action, for the most part, a SHORT action is going to be stiffer, because there is more material in a shorted area.

In a FACTORY LONG action, most factory actions don't have the same, beefy rails over the same dimensions as they do in the short actions.

Less material in areas that are supposed to resist stress under torque means that they are not as inherently accurate as a short action that has more material to resist the stress.

Now, for the next few weeks, even a few months, there will be one post wonders or johnnie come latelys stopping by to name this product or that product that doesn't fall into what I described above, and they may be right.

Then again, we are not talking about custom actions, we aren't talking about a special product line, we are talking a standard factory action. :rolleyes:

Is there a specific caliber that you are looking at building? And a specific brand of rifle action you are looking at for this project?


falseharmonix 05-14-2010 01:23 AM


Originally Posted by Dillinger (Post 284577)
False - you have just opened a can of worms that will be being hashed & rehashed for MONTHS from now... LOL

Considering I haven't posted in months, I thought I would come back and do the things I do best....annoy the $hit out of everyone :cool:


Originally Posted by Dillinger (Post 284577)
Is there a specific caliber that you are looking at building? And a specific brand of rifle action you are looking at for this project?


Yes, I'm looking into a .308 bolt action. My purpose with this rifle will be hunting and long-ish distance lead-surgery, so I'm looking to make it as accurate as possible. I've "heard" and read that bolt action is the way to go for accuracy (another can has just been opened with that statement). I know any factory rifle will need tweaking, so this will be a labor of love.

I'd like to start with something fairly kind on the wallet, and turn it into a surgical tool :cool:

greydog 05-14-2010 01:37 AM

The 308 will be a short action. In a factory rifle, the Remington 700 is one of the most popular and, perhaps, the best to start with with respect to aftermarket goodies. The 700 is easy to work with and is a proven performer.
That said, Ruger, Savage, Winchester, Howa, Tikka, Sako, and a host of others also produce very capable 308 rifles of the semi-precision type. GD

Dillinger 05-14-2010 02:00 AM

The Remington is the most popular action out there, but it's FAR from the best choice.

Yes. You can get every accessory in the world for them.
Yes. They are easy to work on for anyone with a set of tools who calls themselves a "gunsmith".
Yes. They can be had everywhere and they are affordable.

It's a common misconception that the most popular is also "the best". HUGE misconception.

So, you want a .308

Okay. The .308 was my first boltgun project as well.

Here is the thread that tells the story of that first build.

Now, there is a TON to discuss just around the .308 cartridge and what it is capable of, and not capable of.

The VERY first thing I can honestly recommend for you to do False, is to buy the book:

The Ultimate Sniper by Maj. John Plaster ( Retired ).

This book will tell you more than you could possibly imagine about "long range" shooting and what the .308 cartridge will do, and what it's NOT designed to do.

Before you spend ANY money on a rifle, I would HIGHLY suggest you purchase, or borrow, that book and read it from cover to cover.

Feel free to PM me. In 1999, I was RIGHT where you are right now and I had questions and questions and more questions, with not enough answers to be found.


falseharmonix 05-14-2010 02:47 AM

Thanks JD. Sealing the deal on Amazon for the book right now.

Mostly I was headed .308 because of the 4-legged critters I plan to dispatch, but it appears that after reading this book I may have different opinions. I will let you know what I discover and report back as soon as I read it.

Dillinger 05-14-2010 02:56 AM

False - When I started studying rifles of the "S" nature, one that could put down man sized targets, at range, I didn't know where to start.

Before I met my gunsmith, a very informative guy recommend that book and a couple of others.

Because of my ADHD/OCD, I needed to devour the literature and learn more. And the more I read, the more I needed to read.

I recommended the same to trueevil1313 and he loved the hell out of the book.

This book is one that I have now read 4 times. Each time through, I learn something else that I didn't comprehend the first time, or had forgotten.

This is a book that will give you 10 times your money back and will be a corner stone of your future long range shooting library.

I look forward to hearing your feedback. PM me if you have any questions.


greydog 05-14-2010 03:16 AM

It's not a total misconception. The Remington 700 is one of the easiest rifle actions upon which to build a precision rifle. A good deal of this may have to do with the concentric design. In addition, the round bottom, though some may argue, makes bedding easy to accomplish. When I started gunsmithing professionally (34 years ago, now), my primary area of interest was benchrest competition. The only factory action which enjoyed any success was the Remington 700.
Now, there will be some who will jump right up and say "that's only because there were so many of them" but that's not the case. They were simply the best factory action for the purpose. When Mike Walker showed up with his first 222 and started winning matches, the 222 was part of the equation but the 722 action was a huge contributing factor as well. Remington 700s and their derivitives were the most popular because they worked the best.
I have always been very fond of the Winchester Model 70 and I have had some very good shooting rifles built on these actions. In fact, right now, I have four really good target rifles built on model 70 actions (A 308 Norma, a 308, a 6.5x55, and a 6mmBR). As good as they are, I know I could build a rifle which was at least equal to them and probably better, with much less effort, if I used a Model 700 action as a basis. Why do I know this? Because, over the last 34 years I have built a whole bunch of accuracy oriented rifles using Remingtons, Winchesters, Rugers, Savages, Sakos, Howas, Mausers, Springfields, Enfields, and a bunch of custom actions. The Remington 700 and it's derivatives (Model 600, Model 7, XP100, 40X) have always been the easiest to get to work (except for the customs).
Some will say the 700 action isn't all that stiff (it isn't) and it torques in the bedding (if the bedding is poor, it can). In the end, these things don't matter because it flat works! The basic concept works so well that many accuracy oriented custom actions are simply precision built copies of a Remington 700 or a 40X.
In the 1970's I always told people that the best rugged hunting rifle action was a Mauser. The best combination of class and precision was the Model 70 (pre-64) and the best accuracy action was the Remington 700. If we are talking about common factory actions, I have no reason to change my mind today.
I was recently sent one of the Remington 700 Varmint Synthetic rifles in 308 to modify. When the whole job was completed, I fired three consecutive 5 shot groups at one hundred yards; all of which were under 3/8". Maybe the Remington 700 is far from the best but I'll tell you what, it's pretty darn good! GD

Dillinger 05-14-2010 03:29 AM

^^ That is hardly the case. :rolleyes:

The Remington 700 is the most copied because it's the most popular and has the widest aftermarket available. It's the chevy 350 of it's realm. And yes, anyone with any level of skill can work on them.

That doesn't make it the best. It makes them the most popular.

What won matches back in the day, doesn't win matches today. Whether it be the bullets, the calibers, the barrels, the triggers or the actions. What was winning competitions 15 years ago, isn't winning competitions today. That is why the benchrest community is constantly changing and upgrading their gear.

Hell, even what was known to be fact in the world of ballistics back 15 or 20 years ago, isn't what is used today.

While Remington has been making rifles and rifle actions for a VERY LONG TIME, Remington was bought by an investment company years ago and has become one HELL of a great marketing company.

If you do the research on your own, and you decide on the Remington 700, you will have a very EASY platform to build upon. You will have an almost unlimited choice of everything you could want to add or change.

Just make sure that you choose the platform that is right for YOU and YOUR needs based on what you have done the research on.


greydog 05-14-2010 07:03 AM

Surprisingly enough, what was winning matches 15 years ago is indeed winning matches today. This especially in the arena of shortrange BR (at least as far as the rifles go. There have been numerous refinements of benchtop equipment, some of which have been beneficial).
The greatest degree of innovation has been in the area of long range precision and "F" class. This primarily because it has taken a long time for short range BR building techniques to filter down and because many of the long range innovations have come about from the mixing of those BR building techniques which were applicable with the differing requirements of long range rifles. Whatever the reason, the "F" class guys especially, will try almost anything.
Now, I don't want you to misunderstand me. I don't think think the Remington 700 action is the best for every application. I don't even think it is the easiest action on which to build a precision rifle (that honor goes to the multitude of precision custom actions available today). I do think it is the standard commercial action which offers the best chance of producing the best accuracy. Again, this is not to say that other actions are not capable of being built into great rifles; only that the 700 is popular by virtue of it's track record and that popularity has been earned.
Your statement that "anyone with any level of skill can work on them" is facetious at best. Anyone with any level of skill can work on anything. Whether or not they can produce results is another matter. Indeed to be competitive with today's crop of custom precision actions, a Remington 700 (or any other common commercial action, for that matter) requires works which may well be beyond the capabilities of many otherwise skilled 'smiths.
For instance, while the re-cutting of the receiver threads is often recommended, many are performing the operation essentially by rote with no real understanding of the requirements of alignment and concentricity. These requirements are the same whether the action is a Remington, a Winchester, a Ruger or anything else.
By the way, the flaw I most often see in Remington threads is that they are out of round. This is likely due to a certain amount of distortion during heat treating. The flaw I most often see in Winchesters (apart from the imcomplete thread) is that they are misaligned. Whether this is also a result of heat treat distortion or an error in fixturing, I can'y say for sure but I suspect it is usually the former.
Anyway, the re-cutting of receiver threads, locking lug seats, and receiver face are considered almost mandatory on any commercial action if we are to be competitive with the customs. In truth, these operations are no easier to accomplish on a Remington than they are on a Ruger or a Winchester or any other bolt action. They are essentially the same. Likewise with the machining of the locking lugs and bolt face. They are the same job with the same requirements; straightness, squareness, and concentricity.
The other area where the standard commercial actions come up a bit short is in the fit of the bolt to the bore of the receiver. Six thousandths is a pretty common tolerance and twelve is not unheard of. I worked on one Howa which had a diametrical clearance of .016"! For a pure competition rifle, fired in clean conditions, .001" can work. For any kind of a field rifle, or a competition rifle which likely to see some dirt, such minimal clearance can be problematic or to put it another way, the bolt might get stuck! For these rifles one might consider .004" to be minimum clearance. Some years back, I started dovetailing inserts into the bolt body at the rear to eliminate the clearance. In use the bolt felt just like any other when racked back and forth. Clearances were normal. When the handle was turned down though, the bolt was centered in the bore and there was no movement. Again, this job takes the same set-up and the same effort whether the bolt belongs to a Remington or a Winchester. By the way, a set of these inserts installed in the aforementioned Howa (of the .016 clearance), turned it from a rifle which produced 1 1/2 inch vertical groups at 100 yards to one which shot nice , round, 5/8 inchers. This was one of the more spectacular successes for the system. I have to confess, this was not wholey my idea but was an adaptation of Jim Borden's "Bumps" which he had built into his bolts at the time (early ninties?).
The point is this, in reality such remedial work is really no easier to do on a Remington than any other action. The difference is only that, in pure accuracy terms, the results are frequently better.
Right now, I have a 308 built on a sleeved Remington action. This action came to me with a messed up bolt so I built a new bolt with interchangeable bolt heads for it. This is my purpose built 300 meter rifle and it's allowed me to take home trophies and receive accolades. I have another 308 built on a pre-war Model 70 action which has been massaged every way I know how. If I had to choose between the two, I would take the Winchester every time but the truth is, the Remington just plain shoots better. Because of the example of these two rifles, as well as a host of others spanning the last thirty-some years, when someone asks about accuracy with a common production action, I always go with the Remington. These days, I also add that they will be money ahead to go with a custom action but odds are, it will look quite a bit like a Remington 700. GD

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