Monday, September 29, 2014

Thinking About Rifles - VII

Length is important when we consider rifles, but there is more to it than that.  Overall length is perhaps the easiest to consider because a rifle must be handy.  If a rifle isn't handy, it's not apt to be "at hand" when you need it.  If we consider Mr. Garand's battle implement to be the upper weight for a practical rifle, at 11 lbs, then we should also slide look down the page to see the overall length.  We find that it is 43" long.

I measured some of my hunting rifles, and found that the common length of a standard over-the-counter hunting rifle seems to be between 40 and 43 inches.  That's some sort of magic number, apparently, so we can use that as the outer maximum length of a practical rifle. Shorter is better, generally, as handiness plays such a big part of rifle use, but we'll use 43 inches as the maximum length of our mythical practical rifle.

The next length we'll consider is more important, and vastly more personal.  Here we're talking length of pull.  The distance between the trigger and the butt of the rifle, and many shooters find that it is a vastly personal distance that determines if they're able to shoot the rifle accurately or not.  Length of pull determines whether a rifle is too long or too short.

For example, several years ago I bought a Cricket rifle to use as a grandkid training device.  It's a diminutive little rifle, 30 inches overall, but the stock is short, for tiny people, with a length of pull of 12 inches.  I simply cannot shoot that rifle, it's altogether too short.  My seven year old grandson can shoot it just fine.

On the other hand, we find that a length of pull that's too long is also problematic, and I suspect that many rifle shooters suffer from a length of pull that is too long.  We've all seen a young shooter, perhaps trying his father's rifle, struggle with a stock that is simply too long.  The military nowadays uses adjustable stocks on the M4 carbine for just that reason.  We shoot better with a stock that fits, which is something that shotgunners have known for decades.

Some rifle manufacturers have agreed, and some rifles come with adjustable stocks.   I note that the Ruger Gunsite Scout rifle comes with spacers on their stock that allows the shooter to adjust the length of pull, from 12.75 to 14.5 inches.  I wish that Ruger would adopt such a system for all their rifles.

Length of pull is hugely important, a basic consideration, and one that is vastly personal.  Your body determines whether a stock fits you or not, and a "one-size-fits all" approach simply doesn't work.Your stock had to fit you for the rifle to be practical.

So, once again, we'll modify the criteria for what we consider to be a practical rifle.
1. magazine fed repeating rifle
2.  weighing between 2.5 and 5 kilos
3.The cartridge must be capable of striking a single decisive blow on the target likely to be encountered at a distance where the operator is capable of placing the bullet in the vital area of the target.
4.  Maximum length of 43 inches, with the length of pull properly proportioned to the individual operator.

Now, we're getting it nailed down.


Old NFO said...

Meh... I can't shoot a Cricket either, unless I shoot it like a pistol! I like right at 13 1/2 inch pull.

Retired Spook said...

I can shoot the grand-daughter's Savage M-11, with it's 13-inch LOP. Unfortunately, she can shoot my Ruger M-77, with it's 13.5-inch LOP pretty well, too. Does not bode well for keeping my collection intact when she gets older.