Are longer barrels more accurate?
By B.B. Pelletier
How long must a barrel be to be accurate?
There is no answer to that, because short barrels are JUST as accurate as long barrels. That’s today’s post in one sentence.
I just overheard an airgunner asking his buddy how much more accurate he thought a longer barrel would be for his AirForce Talon SS. As I listened, the two of them hypothesized about all sorts of accuracy influences that don’t really matter or even exist.
Proof that a longer barrel doesn’t increase accuracy
You can explore the accuracy versus barrel length controversy right here on the Pyramyd Air website. Let’s start with a look at the Drulov DU-10 target pistol and the Drulov DU-10 Eagle target rifle. The rifle has a barrel twice as long as the pistol, yet there is NO discernable difference in accuracy. The rifle has a higher velocity as a result of a longer barrel, which means it can shoot farther than the pistol, but it does not group any better at 10 meters. Both are made for 10-meter target shooting and both are equally accurate.
A longer barrel guides the pellet for a longer time, so it MUST be more accurate. Right?
No! When it comes to accuracy, the length of TIME a pellet stays in the barrel is inconsequential. The belief that longer barrels are more accurate might harken back to the days of the Kentucky rifle, when barrels were very long. They got that way to more effectively burn their charge of blackpowder. A side benefit was the increase of distance between the front and rear sight. That made for more precise aiming, which in turn led to greater accuracy. But, the longer barrel, by itself, was no more or less accurate than a short barrel.
Need another example? Here it is. The barrel of a TX200 is less than 10 inches long, yet that rifle is one of the most accurate spring-piston rifles in the world. The TX is legend among field target shooters, who often choose it above every other spring gun made. Yet, it has one of the shortest barrels in the world of spring guns.
Swap barrels on your Talon SS & accuracy stays the same!
Back to where we began. The Talon SS provides the best way to prove this question because you can change barrels in a very short time. AirForce offers a 24″ .22-caliber barrel for the Talon and the Talon SS (and in .177). The Talon SS comes with a 12″ barrel; while the longer barrel increases velocity, the accuracy remains the same. According to AirForce, all three models group about 1″ at 50 yards with any length barrel in either caliber.
A man who proved short barrels are deadly accurate!
Elmer Keith was a famous shooter who wrote a lot about long-range handgun shooting. He’s famous for killing an elk at 400 yards with a handgun, a shot that proves extremely difficult for a marksman rifle shooter. During a demonstration for the U.S. Army, he once shot an entire magazine of Colt .45 Automatic from a government M1911A1 pistol through a man-sized silhouette at 200 yards. Most soldiers find it difficult to hit a man-sized target at 25 yards with the same gun! So, short barrels never bothered Keith!
By following Keith’s instructions, I once shot several cylinders from a snubnosed Colt Agent .38 Special in front of witnesses through a football-sized target at 80 yards. So, there you have it. Long barrels, by themselves, are not more accurate. They may help by increasing the distance between the front and rear sights, but the sheer length of the tube has no bearing on how accurate the gun will be.