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American Handgunner Nov/Dec 2012 Digital Edition - Page 38

HANDGUNHUNTING tIps, tecHNIQUes AND poLItIcAL INcorrectNess J.D. JoNes No Big BaRRel leNgths Deal aND Case CapaCities ifles with short barrels are becoming very commonplace. Standard for many AR-15s in .223 is a barrel length of 16". That’s the shortest you can legally own without a Short Barreled Rifle (SBR) Federal $200 tax stamp. The special purpose SSK Hoaginator M16 sports a 6" barrel, and 55-grain ball does about 2,150 fps. AR rifles in .308 are often 16" for civilian rifles, and shorter for military and LE, and are generating a great deal of interest. Riflemen have suddenly realized a 16" barrel gives away literally nothing to a 24" barrel in accuracy or power. The .30-06 was the US round of choice in WWI, WWII and Korea and found usage in Springfield bolt guns, Garands, BARs and Browning machine guns, and is still in military use in many countries. Somebody realized the .30-06 case could be reduced in size without reducing ballistics due to improvements in powders. That turned out to be the 7.62X51 or .308 Winchester in civilian jargon, initially championed in the M14. No doubt about it the military version easily beats the .30-06 by a considerable margin ballistically. Normally the military 150-grain 06 gives 2,700 fps from a 24" barrel. I’ve chronographed some .308 military 150-grain ammo (usually about 144 grains) at an average of 2,975 fps from a 24" barrel. You might think the larger .30-06 case loaded with modern powders, to the same pressures as the .308, might well surpass it ballistically — and you would be correct. Note though, firing just one high pressure round through an M-1 Garand will probably bend the operating rod and drastically reduce accuracy. Continued use of over-pressure .30-06 ammunition can break the rear of the receiver. I’ve seen about 20 of those. A .30-06 and .308 with the same weight bullets. the .308 exceeds the velocity of the .30-06 by over 200 fps with military ammunition. 38 R shorter bArrels w the smaller cartridge, the .222 Magnum JDJ, provides .22-250 ballistics in the contender — which is not capable of handling the .22-250. hat happens when we take a .308 in a 22" or 24" and cut it to 15"? Not much. Handgun Metallic Silhouette shooters using rifle cartridges such as the .308 in short-barreled custom XP 100s have been shooting phenomenal groups since the late 1970s. What about velocity? I ran about 20 factory loads in .308 and about 15 in .30-06 in 15" T/C Encores and appropriate rifles. In normal factory hunting ammo, figure about 5 percent average velocity loss between pistol and rifle. Ballpark that at about 130 fps or so. Some “lots” of the same manufacturers ammo may vary more than that, so who cares? What does it actually mean in a hunting situation? A big difference in trajectory? Nope, at hunting ranges the difference is unnoticeable. How about bullet performance? Most of them will loose more than 100 fps per hundred yards. Lets say, when fired from a pistol, the bullet will give the same performance, but at 50 yards less than when fired from a rifle. So, a good pistol shot with a .308 has a very effective 300-plus-yard deer killer. A hunter shouldn’t need more than that. The 06, which has a larger case capacity and is loaded by factories to lower pressures than the .308, separates the .222 Mag JDJ, .22-250, .458 SOcOM, the pistol and rifle with a percent or two higher .45-70, .308, .30-06. in each case the smaller than the .308. Going to the magnums in short cartridge has superior performance ballistibarrels, the difference doesn’t change much. cally, or at least in the gun it can be used in. is handloading better? c an’t a handloader use pistol powders in those rifle cases and beat the velocities generated by rifle powders? Nope, not likely to happen, as the pistol powders are too fast burning and would give excessive pressures with far less velocity. Generally speaking, the powders that do best in the rifles also do best in the pistols. One trend I noticed was longer barrels seem to give slightly more uniform velocities with the same ammunition. However, certainly not always, and other factors other than barrel length could also be at work. In hunting calibers, depending on what is on the trophy list, even a 10" barrel can be very effective. A 300-grain bullet at 2,000 fps in a properly set up .45-70 Contender is safe and effective. Many other calibers gain little going from handgun to carbine barrel lengths. Place the bullet in the right place and barrel length isn’t going to be noticed by anyone or anything. Forget those “I put that XXX-grainer from my ’80-ought-’80 Hong Kong right through the lungs of that 86-pound whitetail and she walked off like she wasn’t even hit. Gonna get a ’90ought-’90 next year.” Because it just didn’t happen that way. * WWW.AMERICANHANDGUNNER.COM • NOVEMBER/DECEMBER2012

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