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How Barrel Length Can Affect Shooting Performance

Differences in barrel length can affect velocities, handling and much more.

How Barrel Length Can Affect Shooting Performance

A few years before I retired from the Marine Corps, there was an initiative at headquarters calling for a wholesale replacement of the M16A2 rifle with the M4 carbine, which would have reduced the rifle’s 20-inch barrel to the M4’s 14.5-inch tube. At the time I was operations officer at I Marine Expeditionary Force, so it was really none of my business, but I went nuts. The obvious loss of velocity, and thus reduced energy and effective range, concerned me.

This was back in the Dark Ages, before the Marines had fully embraced optical sights, and I was equally concerned about loss of precision using battle sights with the M4’s much shorter sight radius. I did a lot...

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