What would be the right barrel length for you?

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What’s the ideal shotgun barrel length?

In recent years there seems to have been a trend for longer barrels for higher pheasants, but it was just that: a trend. In my opinion, the optimum shotgun barrel length for high pheasants is 32″. Anything longer than that simply has no manoeuvrability, and instead of being an extension of your arm, it becomes an unknown entity.

shooting a high pheasant

There is an optimum barrel length and it is important to discover what it is for you.

Balance and pointability

  • The more you increase the shotgun barrel length, the more you add to the front end loading. With over-and-under shotguns, you need to have balance, and the build of the over-and-under enables it to absorb recoil better, so for me the best length of barrel is 30″.
  • For a side-by-side shotgun, 28″ is the perfect length, though a lightweight 30″ can do the job equally well. The shortest length of barrel I’ve seen is 25″, and this certainly has a following, too.
  • Those who are serious about improving their shooting and therefore in need of a more pointable gun, should look at one with 32″ barrels, while for those looking to have more of a swoosh to swing through, the 30″ is the gun to go for.
  • If you’re wondering how to improve your shooting then look at the length of shotgun barrel you currently use and analyse it against your percentage hit rate.
  • If you are happy with your gun and your technique then there is no cause for a change, but if doubt is creeping in, then you might look to try a slightly longer-barrelled gun. The reason to try a new gun before you commit to buying it is to gauge your shooting with a longer barrel.  There is an optimum length and it is important to discover what it is for you.

Shooting with new confidence

You need to look at both the technical aspects and the actual length of the barrels. Only then can you shoot with real confidence.

Those who are shooting with confidence will shoot with a subconscious reaction to the bird; not a conscious reaction to where they are shooting. As with all shooting, you can only shoot well when you are in the right frame of mind and allowing yourself to shoot in an easy manner.