300H&H: 24" or 26" barrel? - Ruger Forum

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300H&H: 24" or 26" barrel?

This is a discussion on 300H&H: 24" or 26" barrel? within the Rifles forums, part of the Rifle & Shotgun Forum category; I'm having a rifle custom built. The receiver, caliber, stock have all been decided. The ONLY question remaining is barrel length. Traditionally the 300H&H came ...


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Old December 5th, 2019, 08:37 AM   #1
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300H&H: 24" or 26" barrel?

I'm having a rifle custom built. The receiver, caliber, stock have all been decided. The ONLY question remaining is barrel length. Traditionally the 300H&H came with 26" barrels. Some, especially the more modern versions (what few there are) came with 24" barrels.

This will be a hunting rifle and will have a premium brand hunting profile barrel. It will not be fluted or have a muzzle device. The primary bullet weight will be 180gr but 150gr and 220gr may be used on occasion.

I do not bow at the alter of FPS. However, I recognize that to get the best out of the 300H&H (or any 300mag) it's a good idea to keep the velocity up as much as reasonably possible. In my estimation after reading up on it until my eyes are bleeding the difference is somewhere between 15-50fps @ inch depending which source you believe. Let's call it 40fps so a potential difference of 80fps at the muzzle more or less (probably less). In the big picture is that really going to matter? Whether the bullet leaves at 3000fps or 3100fps it will still deliver more than enough energy at ethical hunting distances to kill anything with thin skin.

I'm leaning towards splitting the difference and going with a 25" barrel. Part of the reason I want a 300H&H is nostalgia and since traditionally it had a 26" barrel I'd like to sorta stick with that theme. OTOH, in every other caliber hunting rifle I own 24" seems to be the sweet spot. Generally there's no difference in accuracy between 24" and 26" barrels and shorter rifles tend to be a bit handier. Asthetically I think the 24 looks better, if that matters.

I'm not a weight weenie. An extra 4oz won't make one bit of difference to me. Balance is important but the magnum length receiver and wood stock should help balance out a longer barrel.

Opinions? One caveat, don't try to persuade me into changing the caliber. That is set in stone. All I want to know is what barrel length will work best for a 300H&H and is the accuracy/performance of any real significance between a 24" and a 26" barrel. Personal experience, anecdotes and SWAG are all welcome.

Thanks in advance.




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Old December 5th, 2019, 08:48 AM   #2
 
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Tough question, one that I have mulled over on various calibers. There is an equation that supposedly gives you the difference, but I have never sat at the range with my chrono and hacksaw to test the validity of the equation. Using load data and bullet length for a Sierra 180 grain gameking (simply as a basis point) the equation is giving me a 41 FPS difference from a 24 to a 26 inch barrel.

While the H&H is a magnum, it clearly isnt in the overbore category that a handful of .308 magnums are that I can think of off the top of my head. For me, with the H&H (great choice by the way) I think a 24" barrel would make a rifle that handles just as sweet as it will look.
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Old December 5th, 2019, 09:41 AM   #3
 
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Bonk I’d say take your pick. I ran some number using a Nosler 180gr Accubond only because it was right in front of me. I used two different velocities, 3010 and 2950, both are attainable velocities with a 24” barrel.

The Accubond has a .507 BC, exiting the barrel at 3010fps the down range energy at 300yds is 2470, your drop with a 100yd zero is -10.7”. Exiting the barrel at 2950fps your down range energy is 2334 and your drop is -11.3”.

If you add an inch or two your velocities will pick up some, but I could live with the above numbers. The drop’s not that bad and it’s still hittin like hammer at 300.
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Old December 5th, 2019, 09:57 AM   #4
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When I was stationed at King Salmon, Alaska while in the Air Force (1963), I bought a Remington Mod 721 in 300 H&H for a "fishing gun". Yes, a fishing gun …. when fishing for salmon or trout, it was very common to have very large Alaska Browns sharing the river. I never had to use it but there were several times when I was glad I had it. It was a very powerful rifle with intense recoil. It had a 26" barrel because that was traditional at the time. Why? Magnum rifle powders can take up to 28" of bullet travel to totally burn up so at 24", there is still a huge muzzle flash and a very loud report. I can't say my Remy was quiet but it wasn't any louder nor did it produce a bigger muzzle flash than non-magnum rifles with 24" barrels. I sold my Rem 721 and have never had a desire to own another 300 H&H ….. but if I did, I'd likely want a 26" barrel, just because.
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Old December 5th, 2019, 10:17 AM   #5
 
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If I were to be hunting and walking in heavy cover the 24" would be more maneuverable and thus be my choice there .

Hunting from blind / stand or open plains and/or long range shooting , the 26 " would get the nod .

If 24" seems to be the sweet spot and it looks better to you ...Go with 24"

The barrel on my 1903A3 Springfield sporter is 24" and is just the right length for the woods hunting in Louisiana. In the deep swamps a 20" barreled model 94 Winchester gets the nod but the swamps are thick and shots taken are fast and measured in feet
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Old December 5th, 2019, 11:54 AM   #6
 
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But were it my rifle, it would be 26”.
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Old December 5th, 2019, 12:08 PM   #7
 
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To get the ballistic advantage of the .300 H&H cartridge, 26" is the choice. Otherwise you are shooting an expensive .30-06.


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Old December 6th, 2019, 06:59 PM   #8
 
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Awesome project, if I have ever have a 300 H&H built, would go with nostalgic length as well! But be happy with it for sure.

Have two 25 inch mausers and really like them, 26 would not bother me one bit. If brush hunting, would just take a different gun.
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Old December 6th, 2019, 10:35 PM   #9
 
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I think it depends on what type of hunting you are doing. Deep woods, 24”, open long shots, 26”. I prefer the handling of shorter barrels, and I shoot .338 win mag (based on the h&h cartridge) in a 24” and 21” barrels. The accuracy difference between the two is negligible, and the critters on the other end don't complain. My .02.
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Old December 7th, 2019, 08:15 AM   #10
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I'd go with as long a barrel as possible just because of muzzle blast / noise. As I get older I have no patience for needless excess in those areas.

Same goes for handguns. People say the 327 LCR is a great little gun "except for" the huge blast and noise. So that makes me totally uninterested, and has me going back to my good old .38 special.
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Old December 7th, 2019, 08:31 AM   #11
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Let's stop and think for a minute …. what is the intended purpose of a 300 H&H magnum rifle? Is it for "deep woods" hunting? No. Is it for deer at modest distances? No. There are plenty of other calibers that work well for those scenarios. A 300 H&H is primarily a long range gun for large game such as elk, moose, caribou, bear and African game. When using a 300 H&H for it's intended purpose, that extra 100 fps from a 26" barrel can make the difference of a wound versus a clean kill. In my opinion (based on personal experience), you don't buy a 300 H&H for a general purpose big game rifle …. recoil is too intense and the gun is a massive overkill for deer hunting.

The 300 H&H cartridge has quite a history. It started in 1925, introduce by the British custom gun maker Holland & Holland. It was one of the very first belted magnums and proved it's accuracy by winning many long range target competitions back in the late 20's. H&H intended the gun for African game and found it also performed exceptionally well for large American species. Winchester was the first US gun manufacture to make a rifle for the 300 H&H … a model 70 back in 1937. Later in 1948, Remington designed a Model 721 specifically for the 300 H&H. The more popular 300 Win Mag has pretty much made the 300 H&H obsolete, however there are still many 300 H&H Winchesters and Remingtons in circulation so you can still buy ammo, although scarce and expensive.
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Old December 7th, 2019, 10:12 AM   #12
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Thanks for all the input fella's. I appreciate it. There's a lot of wisdom, knowledge and sage advice on this forum if you're willing to ask for it and listen to what folks have to say. Since I started this thread a couple of days ago almost every spare minute I've had has been devoted to studying the ballistics and reloading for different barrel lengths. Especially for 300H&H. Here's what I've learned:

Accuracy and barrel length have no direct correlation.

Muzzle velocity and barrel length do have a direct correlation but longer doesn't always equal faster. Usually, but not always. As most experienced handloaders already know the burn rate of the powder probably has as much to do with velocity as barrel length. Fast burning powder isn't efficient in long barrels and slow burning powder isn't efficient in short barrels. Ideally the powder chosen will burn at a rate where it's completely burned just before the bullet exits the muzzle. If it burns out before then you may actually lose some velocity due to friction and decreasing inertia. With shorter barrels the powder usually isn't completely burned so adding an inch will increase velocity. In addition to burn rate and barrel length the bullet weight matters. The perfect powder that completely burns just before the muzzle with a 150gr bullet will not completely burn at the same point with a 220gr bullet. You have to match the powder to the bullet and the barrel length to get the best results. Change one of these and you probably have to change one or both of the other two as well.

Too fast is not good. Bullet stability, frangibility and energy delivered on target are all affected by velocity. The trick is to find a bullet/barrel/caliber/powder combo that is fast enough but not too fast. Even if you find the perfect combo it may be too much for the distance and game you're shooting. Too much energy, even if it's efficient and accurate, will destroy too much meat. You want enough but not too much. My research suggests that hot 300 magnums may be too much gun at close ranges. If you know you're shooting deer+ sized animals at 300+ yards then a super fast 300 caliber is exactly what you want. Anything closer and it's over kill. The critter is still dead but you may have wasted some meat in the process.

The best accuracy is usually found with loads less than max. Again, the key word is usually.

So, having dumped all this into the Bonk Commodore 64 brain I've decided to go with a 26" barrel.

I don't want to recreate a 300WinMag with this rifle. If I had wanted that I would have bought an off the rack rifle.

I'm building this rifle to take with me on an African PG hunt I recently booked. In that regard I wanted a classic old school caliber. I have a safe full of rifles but I'm building my dream rifle for a dream hunt.

It's not going to be a brush gun. The place I'm going to hunt (Eastern RSA) is more open than brush.

I'll be hunting for kudu, nyala, waterbuck, etc. Maybe a zebra. IOW, larger than deer sized game. My favorite 30-06 will work just fine but IMO the 300H&H when loaded to it's potential will be slightly better at longer distances. My personal limit is around 300 yards. I'm capable of excellent shooting at 600 but for me and my world I have an ethical hunting limit of around 300, plus or minus. YMMV.

I plan to load 200gr bullets at around 2900fps using a slow to medium burn powder. Based on what I can tell a 26" barrel should deliver the accuracy, performance and burn rate I'm looking for. Originally I thought 180's would do the trick but a lot of what I read suggests that the 300H&H shines with the 200's and only mimics a 30-06 at lighter bullet weights. I figure I might as well let the caliber do what it does best. Besides, I've always been a fan of big bullets moving at reasonable velocities. Why change now?

I placed the order and put a deposit down yesterday. It should be ready by late Spring.

Oh, I almost forgot. The rifle is a CZ550 receiver, Lilja barrel and hand made dark walnut stock with an ebony fore end. No express sights or barrel band. I already have a pseudo DG rifle with that stuff in 375H&H. This one will be my perfect PG rifle. Wayne Jacobson of American Hunting Rifles is doing the build for me. His reputation is stellar and he's a great guy to talk to. Friendly but very professional.

I'll keep y'all posted.

PS: The stuff I wrote above is how I understand it. Feel free to correct/educate me if I'm out in left field about the science. I'm still getting a 26" though.

Last edited by Bonk; December 7th, 2019 at 10:22 AM.
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Old December 7th, 2019, 11:21 AM   #13
 
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I think you made the correct choice at 26 inches. You can always shorten it later if you want to. But if you went with 24 inches, it would be difficult to add an inch or two.
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Old December 8th, 2019, 06:47 AM   #14
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I never got anywhere near the southern part of Africa, but to me it "sounds" like a good gun for the job and those sizes of animals. If you're taking something that means a lot to you and you built especially for the hunt, that's half the fun.

Nowadays a lot of bullet designs are made to cover a variety of velocities, so presumably you can load up something tough and heavy that will cover both close and far shots without totally disintegrating.

To me, the most nail-biting portion of the trip would be hoping and praying my gun and ammo show up intact (if at all) and clear customs. I have a case of .280 ammo that's probably still stuck on a bureaucrat's shelf in Belgium, 20 years later, because my export broker had supposedly done all the paperwork to have it transit through Brussels en route to Dakar.

If you are flying direct without stopping in a third country, it should be much better. Also, South Africa is a much more developed country than many other African nations. They know what side their bread is buttered on, so hopefully have good, clear processes for the hunting tourists and the professional hunters so it can all be arranged in advance by your PH and go smoothly through the customs bureaucracy.
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Old December 8th, 2019, 07:02 AM   #15
 
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I know little of ballistics, but my old "Southgate" Weatherby in 300 H&H had a 26" barrel.

Last edited by oldster; December 8th, 2019 at 07:09 AM.
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