20 in heavy barreled rifles?


Oct 15, 2009
My LGS has a Bergara Wilderness Terrain 308 inbound and is supposed to be here next week. I have come to like Bargara rifles very much and have shopped for one in 308 but, like many other things, they have been virtually non existent. However, it comes with a 20 in semi-heavy barrel and that made me pause.

My specific question is not so much this particular rifle/caliber but the barrel length. I have always tended to buy rifles in any caliber with 22 or 24 inch barrels with the exception of AR's. I realize there will be a velocity loss compared to the longer barrels but I'm more interested in the accuracy results others may have found with similarly configured rifles. Part of me reasons there can't be too many horror stories since several manufacturers offer similar rifles. I tried to look up reviews online but all of them for this particular model were in longer barreled calibers.

So, if anyone can shed any light on this I would appreciate it. I'm not going to be shooting waaaaaay out there because I don't have the facilities or knowledge but I don't want to spend my money if I would be better off looking for something else.

Thanks in advance.

A lot of benchrest rifles have stout, stiff, 20 & 21" barrels which produce superb accuracy.

Remington came out with the "LTR" or "Light Tactical Rifle" version of their Rem 700, intended for SWAT teams, 20" varmint contour barrel, fluted to reduce the weight a bit. The ones I've worked with were every bit as accurate as the 24" versions, and considerably more portable.

I don't think the shorter barrels are any less accurate than the longer barrels - if anything I think they tend to be a bit more accurate.

Barrels got shorter, as bullets got better (read higher BCs), and suppressors became more accessible. I don’t even own a rifle with a barrel longer than 23” anymore... most of them are 20”-22”. I’ve gone as short as 17” on bolt guns, but I primarily shoot suppressed anymore.

Tikka makes the CTR in 20” barreled models (6.5 Creed, .260, and .308).... they’re the best shooting factory rifles I’ve ever owned.

If I ever see one in 6 Creed, I’ll snatch it up in a heartbeat.
We have a stubby 20” 223 and it’s cloverleaf all day long. Being shorter it’s stiffer, so vibrations are tighter.

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I have read alot about shorter barrels being stiffer, and therefore more likely to be accurate. I've never tested it, but the logic is sound.

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I have three AR 15’s in 223. A pre ban 16” light barrel, then two with a 18” and then 20” BHW barrels. Both are Bull Barrels. The Bull barrels are both very accurate barrels. Much of consistency and accuracy is based upon the bullet exiting the barrel with the end of the barrel at the same point. When the percussion of the rounds goes off a harmonic wave goes down the barrel. The lighter the barrels the higher the wave and distortion. The heavier the barrel the stiffer the barrel the smaller the harmonic wave. Obviously the longer the barrel the thicker it has to be to minimize harmonic distortion. I did order a Remage barrel for a bolt gun build. M40 profile, which is a profile used by the military M40 sniper rifle. It is heavy. It is a 26” 1x8 twist P3 polygonal barrel chambered in 260 Rem . Going onto a long action. With a precision stock with scope this rifle is going to push 14 plus pounds. Not going to be a mountain rifle by any means but it should be able to shoot the testicles of a gnat at 1,000 yds

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I wouldn't worry about it too much, you’re only talking about 100 f/s loss over a 24” bbl. The 1:10” twist will help stabilize your load over a 1:12, you'll end up with the same # of revolutions in a 20" bbl.

Like Guy said, short barrels are stiffer than their longer counterparts, and tend to shoot better! It's a fact.

I have a 18.5" Hawk Hill on an AI AT I run suppressed and why I went with a 18.5" bbl. It shoots 168 SMK's at 2,550 f/s with H4895 and do it with authority out to 800-900 yards.

You could expect 25-35 f/s over that depending on the barrel and how fast/slow it is and/or how hot/not you build your loads. The above load is Not Hot.
Short, stiff barrels will typically outshoot a long, light contour barrel all day long. I've had a couple of rifles with a shorter, heavier barrels that shot excellent...particularly on longer strings of fire. It takes more to heat them up and it takes more to make them crawl compared to the lighter contours in vogue today.

Also, don't be surprised if your suspected velocity loss isn't there as well. 308WIN typically does great in a 20" barrel and I've got a 19" .308 that would outrun my 24" .308 with almost any load.

The only reason I'd be concerned is the overall weight of the rifle, but for many hunters that isn't an issue.