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Discussion Starter #1
Any and all opinions would be appreciated on the topic. I'm trying to decide which size to purchase and want to use others experience to educate myself.

Thanks, Theo. :)
 

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20" guns seem to help a bit with the recoil. You will find lot's of 3gunners using them. I have both 20/16 uppers and like both. But I have to agee with the others, I prefer the 16.
 

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It kinda depends on what you are shooting. If its all CQB type stuff, then a shorty might be good for you.

Out here in Colorado and New Mexico you often see stages with targets out to 400 yards. In fact, my club doesent even put on CQB stages anymore. Its all long range from 175-425. I wanted further, but I was threatened with bodily harm and bannishment.

Otherwise a 20 is better. Not only is it a matter of sight radius, but the full length gas system is smoother as far as recoil goes. Using a pigtail gas tube helped, but the recoil was still harsh.

I have a 20 and an 18 inch that I use for IPSC and SOF stuff. I really like the 18. I get the light weight of a 16, but the smooth recoil of a 20.

Just to be different, my 18 is chambered in 223 Ackley. Gained me 200 fps. My 20 is headed off to the gunsmith to be cut down and rechambered this weekend.

The real answer to your question is to see what the top dogs in IPSC and the SOF type matches are using. You usually wont find a 16 in the top 10. Most are 20's and 18's.

Lastly, making minor with a 16 inch barrel can be hard when the temps get up there. You start popping primers.
 

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If you're talking about USPSA 3-Gun, you're going to need to make power factor, too. Some of the ammo out there doesn't make it in a 16" barrel. 18 is a good compromise.
 

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I use a 20" for USPSA 3-gun with no problems. It's a tad bit heavier then the 16" but for me once I get-ta-shootin' I don't even notice. I do however notice recoil and with a 20" 1:7 twist there is less muzzle climb. The 1:7 seems to work better with heavier bullet weights at longer distances(300-400yds). Any poppers beyond 450yds I break out the Super-Duper-Break-Glass-in case of-Emergency-Match-Knockdown-Bullets. :D
Which are equal to a hopped up varmit load.
 

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I believe that Erik Lund, who finished 7th at 3-gun nats this year uses a 16".
 

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The 16" is more versatile for 3 gun. I've never seen target over 175 yds at a 3 gun The distances are never enough to warrant the additional weight and length. Rock River Rules!
 

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Discussion Starter #10
Those who lean towards 20" do so due to what is called the "power factor." Not being a competitor yet I'm not exactly sure what that means.

Thanks, Theo. :)
 

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I use an 18" for open 3 gun. Works very well. It was a heavy 20" and I had it cut and turned down. Didn't affect accuracy at all, but it increased my speed with it.
For limited I use a 20". The 300 yd shots are tough with a 16" (for me anyway).

If I were to get one for "giggles and grins" then I would go for the 20" heavy barrel, std iron sighted model. Its more versatile for assorted matches. You can always buy a new upper and slap it on at a later time. The only problem I have now is that my 17 yr old son loves to shoot and we gotta share the same open gun (what a pain), but its cheaper than buying a whole new open ar type gun.
 

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At the 3-Gun Nationals, 3 people on my squad failed to make minor power factor with their 16" guns. I found Mil Spec Nato will make it when I shot a 16" barrel as will other ammo using heavier bullets. That said, the 16" barrel has been sold and replaced by a 20" cut down to 18" with an EGW race comp. I built this as a Limited or Iron Sight Tactical rifle and wanted the longer sight radius of a 20" and since I can drop a red-dot on it for Open, this is a good all around combo. For major matchs where I can expect knock down targets to 300 yds, I have a scoped 20" JP upper on a BM lower shooting Sierra 69 gr Match Kings .
 

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Discussion Starter #13
So, you are saying that the power factor being reached with a 16" barrel can be a problem, but a problem that can be remedied via the use of the proper ammo?

I want this to be a gun for all seasons. Self-defense, match shooting, freaky long range plinking (whatever that is). I want it to be versatile even if that means barely squeaking by when it comes to match shooting.

Thanks guys and keep the good advice coming, Theo :)
 

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I have never been to a 3gun match where they chronoed the ammo. They have only been local club matches, not big sactioned or national matches. I guess I didn't think about a 16" not making minor. Makes sense.

Guess I need to chrono my ammo out of my different barrels to make sure I stay legal. Thanks for the heads up.
 

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Theophorus said:
Those who lean towards 20" do so due to what is called the "power factor." Not being a competitor yet I'm not exactly sure what that means.

Theo . . . "power factor" was originally an IPSC (practical shooting competition) way to differentiate between wimpy loads and strong loads. You multiply the weight of the bullet in grains by the velocity in feet per second, then divide by 1000 to get the power factor.

For USPSA/IPSC 3-Gun matches, a rifle's power factor must be 160 or greater to shoot for score and reach a higher threshold to "make major" (which means it will score more points for peripheral hits on targets).

The comments above refer to people shooting wimpy (i.e. non mil-spec) 55gr loads in shorter rifles and failing to make the 160PF minimum, i.e. the velocity was too low.
 

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Discussion Starter #16
That doesn't make much sense to me--shooting whimpy loads that is. I mean for me 3 Gun is going to serve as training so I plan on shooting what I would shoot in a real life situation. Anyway, I guess that means a 16" would work just fine.

Thanks, Theo. :)
 

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Theophorus said:
That doesn't make much sense to me--shooting whimpy loads that is. I mean for me 3 Gun is going to serve as training so I plan on shooting what I would shoot in a real life situation. Anyway, I guess that means a 16" would work just fine.

I agree with you, but keep in mind that many others have different reasons for shooting and all are legitimate. A lot of (most) competitive shooters are there for the actual competition aspects and need to get any advantage the rules allow. In general, a lighter load will produce less recoil, which means less movement of the gun, which means faster follow-up shots.
 

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Yeah, thanks for pointing that out. I didn't want the tone of my post to come across as condescending. I apologize to anyone I may have offended. Who knows, I may get bitten by the same bug. :biglaugh:

Thanks, Theo. :)
 

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Theophorus said:
Who knows, I may get bitten by the same bug.

You probably will. Most people that shoot IDPA and USPSA to get some "training" usually tire quickly of getting beat by shooters that are there to play the games for what they are, games.
 

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At local 3 gun matches and the USPSA nationals held out west they did not chrono.
This year at Barry they certainly did and a number of people including 3 on our squad did not make minor.

bullet weight in grains X velocity in feet per second must be greater than 160,00.
But if you like 16 in or even 14.5 in barrels with long flash hidders(?) you can use 62 grain loaded ammo from Winchester, Federal, Brown Bear, Silver Bear or Remmington all make minor in a 14.5 in barrel. I have Wolf that does not make it in the 62 grain load in 14.5 in. In the 16 it just barely makes it. In a 20" barrel even Wolf 55 grain works fine.

As far as 20 vs 16 vs 14.5 -- I don't have to hump a gun that far that the weight makes a difference. But on close targets with large angular movement the lower weight ( lower polar monent ) is faster for target ack but there is greater movement from recoil. A longer range there is probaly a difference but I can't seem to find it. I use 20 barrels not becasue it is better just that is what I have.
Ed Henry
 
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