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Long Action vs Short Action


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Old 05-14-2010, 02:18 PM   #11
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Originally Posted by greydog View Post
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
Great post GD. I'd love more info on your 700 bolt with interchangeable bolt heads.
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:01 PM   #12
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I made the bolt with the interchangeable bolt heads for a number of reasons. First, I did want the ability to switch from standard (308, 6BR etc.) bolt face to small (223). Secondly, I wanted to do away with the brazed-on Remington handle. In other words, I wanted the bolt handle and extraction cam to be an integral part of the bolt body. I wanted to make the locking portion of the bolt of EN30B which is a nickel steel alloy with superior impact resistance and high tensile strength. Great stuff but it is somewhat difficult to machine so I didn't want to whittle the whole bolt out of this material. By making the bolt body out of common carbon steel (C1045) I was able to use a material which was easy to machine, commonly available (read cheap), and was easy to selectively harden for the cocking and extraction cam surfaces. The bolt head is pinned to the bolt body (just like a Savage) and the bolt uses the original Remington striker assembly but with a reduced diameter firing pin. This is one of those jobs where it takes 6 hours to make one and eight hours to make three. Today, with the excellent Remington replacement bolts available from Dave Kiff, I wouldn't even consider it for a Remington unless I wanted to make some real changes to the bolt design. GD
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Old 05-14-2010, 03:09 PM   #13
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At one time winchester wanted to confuse everyone and their brother, cousin and mother so they as many as 4 different length actions on the market at one time.
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Old 05-14-2010, 04:16 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by greydog View Post
I made the bolt with the interchangeable bolt heads for a number of reasons. First, I did want the ability to switch from standard (308, 6BR etc.) bolt face to small (223). Secondly, I wanted to do away with the brazed-on Remington handle. In other words, I wanted the bolt handle and extraction cam to be an integral part of the bolt body. I wanted to make the locking portion of the bolt of EN30B which is a nickel steel alloy with superior impact resistance and high tensile strength. Great stuff but it is somewhat difficult to machine so I didn't want to whittle the whole bolt out of this material. By making the bolt body out of common carbon steel (C1045) I was able to use a material which was easy to machine, commonly available (read cheap), and was easy to selectively harden for the cocking and extraction cam surfaces. The bolt head is pinned to the bolt body (just like a Savage) and the bolt uses the original Remington striker assembly but with a reduced diameter firing pin. This is one of those jobs where it takes 6 hours to make one and eight hours to make three. Today, with the excellent Remington replacement bolts available from Dave Kiff, I wouldn't even consider it for a Remington unless I wanted to make some real changes to the bolt design. GD
Thanks!! Sounds like it was a cool project. Keep writing, please.
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Old 05-14-2010, 07:16 PM   #15
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Originally Posted by cpttango30 View Post
At one time winchester wanted to confuse everyone and their brother, cousin and mother so they as many as 4 different length actions on the market at one time.
Yes, at the end of the New Haven production, Winchester did indeed list multiple action lengths but, in reality, there were only three lengths. The long (or standard), short, and super short. Their long magnum action, for the 375 H&H, was really the same length as the standard but the loading port was opened up to the rear. The Winchester short action was really more of a medium. I built a 6.5x55 on one and it was perfect. It was, and is, longer than necessary for the 308 but it gave some latitude for bullet seating. The super short was developed solely for the WSSM cartridges. One action which Winchester made but was seldom seen (I think they made 25 of them) was the Model 70 single shot. This one had no magazine cutout. These may have been made for the international 300 meter team. They had to produce 25 in order to be able to use them in competition (kind of like Nascar rules). I saw one in the late seventies and had hoped to get my hands on one; didn't happen though.
I have to mention, I think the FN produced Model 70's are better than the New Haven classics. If they are produced in an appropriate configuration, they might make a pretty nice hunting/target 308.
A really usable rifle which works in both areas is sort of difficult to achieve. One will get a little tired of packing a ten pound 308 around; yet it's not really heavy enough to make a serious target rifle. Such a rifle can be quite enjoyable though. Accuracy can be very impressive and ten pounds isn't really too bad to carry. GD
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Old 05-15-2010, 12:24 AM   #16
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Another thing to consider is that a Remington 700 reciever, long or short, can be trued and give good accuracy and performance. However, the cost of labor these days has made it more practical to buy an aftermarket custom reciever which is ready to go. In my case, I had the stock Remington reciever and bolt trued for my entry level target rifle which cost around $800.00 and not including the cost of the original rifle which was $550.00. Everything else on the rifle was thrown out except the reciever housing and it's bolt. In retrospect I could have bought a BAT reciever, ready to go, for $1400.00. I would have saved money or at least broke even if I had bought an aftermarket reciever.

Also, regardless how much money you put into truing a factory reciever of any brand or how good it may be from the work you had done to it, when I comes time to sell it you'll get no more than what a bone stock factory reciever would go for.
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Old 05-15-2010, 05:04 PM   #17
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Exactly so. A 700 is a 700 no matter who worked on it and what they did to it. Custom actions will depreciate to a certain extent but will probably be better to resell than most factory actions. Pre-64 Model 70's may be an exception but their lack of availability really puts them into their own class. Also, they will not equal the customs for the basis of a precision rifle. GD
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Old 05-18-2010, 09:19 AM   #18
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Originally Posted by falseharmonix View Post
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?
Getting back to the original questions at hand...

For hunting purposes, with the .308 being a "short action" round, theoretically with the shorter bolt throw, follow up shots can be attained more quickly.

If you were chambering in another caliber, say 6.5x.284, some will use a short action for this round as well. But, if you're set-up for heavy bullets seated way out, you apparently cannot unchamber a loaded round without having to remove the bolt in some actions. Also, the longer, heavier bullets may not fit in the internal magazines. Using a long action for this round you'd have no problem since they have a larger loading port. A long action would give you more flexibility down the road should you decide you wanted a different caliber (.270, 30.06, etc.) to hunt with. Since we're talking hunting rifle(s) here, with a properly bedded stock, the additional "flex" in the long action most likely wouldn't be anything you'd ever notice in your group sizes. A one piece base will probably help that too. Most of the hunters I see at the local range a quite happy with "minute of paper plate" accuracy as they say.

-Rick
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Old 05-18-2010, 05:34 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Switchbarrel View Post
Getting back to the original questions at hand...

For hunting purposes, with the .308 being a "short action" round, theoretically with the shorter bolt throw, follow up shots can be attained more quickly.

If you were chambering in another caliber, say 6.5x.284, some will use a short action for this round as well. But, if you're set-up for heavy bullets seated way out, you apparently cannot unchamber a loaded round without having to remove the bolt in some actions. Also, the longer, heavier bullets may not fit in the internal magazines. Using a long action for this round you'd have no problem since they have a larger loading port. A long action would give you more flexibility down the road should you decide you wanted a different caliber (.270, 30.06, etc.) to hunt with. Since we're talking hunting rifle(s) here, with a properly bedded stock, the additional "flex" in the long action most likely wouldn't be anything you'd ever notice in your group sizes. A one piece base will probably help that too. Most of the hunters I see at the local range a quite happy with "minute of paper plate" accuracy as they say.

-Rick
Thank you for the info. I'm waiting on some reading material to come my way before I make any decisions. I'm not dead set on .308, but I will have to see what fits my personal needs best.

Also, while I am building a rifle meant for hunting, I am willing to drop the time and money into making it drive minute of gnat's a$$. Overkill? Probably, but I want to anyway
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Last edited by falseharmonix; 05-18-2010 at 05:44 PM.
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Old 02-05-2014, 05:47 PM   #20
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Need information. Are you still around
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