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Centerfire Rifles - Semiautomatic or Gas Operated Centerfire rifles, carbines and other gas operated rifles.

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  #1  
Old 02-15-2011, 9:02 PM
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Default AR-15 barrel length questions.

So im building another AR in 5.56 caliber for longer range shooting with a magnified optic. I'm going to think my absolute max is about 400 yards for paper punching (well attempting up to 400 yards lol practice makes perfect right?). Ive been looking into getting a twist rate like a 1/8 or 1/9 based on the ballistics charts ive looked at with a 55-62 grain bullet. Eventually I'll be reloading but until then I'll be using PMC or UMC .223 rounds from local gun shops and wally world.

Im looking to grab a 20" or 24" barrel. So My question is..would i gain anything extra going to a 24" over a 20"?

From the research i've done I feel like a 24" would be better...or am I *** backwards? Please tell me if I am or steer me in the direction of some info!
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Old 02-15-2011, 9:08 PM
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20" will do fine at 400 yards. Go with that.

24" will make it into a one trick pony...a bench whore. You don't want that. You want it to be somewhat weldy and manueverable.
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  #3  
Old 02-15-2011, 9:14 PM
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makes sense but how about accuracy or range difference?
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Old 02-15-2011, 9:21 PM
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Accuracy is not dependant on barrel length. In fact, a shorter barrel will be stiffer and possibly and inherently more accurate, but let's not get into those miniscule details.

As for range, there are people that shoot out to 400+ yards with a 14.5" barrel, so you will have no problem with a 20".

What makes you able to be accurate at the longer distances will be a good quality optic and good shooting form along with match grade ammo.

The mission will drive the equipment choice. Choose wisely.
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  #5  
Old 02-15-2011, 9:25 PM
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That makes sense..

Well i will be reloading soon so that will be a plus.

As for a good optic I have been thinking a Nikon buckmaster BDC 4-12x50. I believe around $350. Any other suggestions?
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  #6  
Old 02-15-2011, 9:30 PM
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Reloading will really help to get the best potential. Look into a stainless barrel for increased accuracy also over chrome-lined and chrome moly barrels.

As for optics around the $350, check out the Super Sniper scopes and also the Vortex Viper lineup. I actually really like the Vortex Viper and own one. It's very comparable to the Nikon Monarch (which I've used to own) but at a better price point.
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  #7  
Old 02-15-2011, 9:46 PM
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Good info. Thanks a bunch.
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  #8  
Old 02-15-2011, 9:47 PM
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OutlawDon is right on the money.
I have an AR with a 24" bull barrel, while very accurate it is not easy to manuver.
I also have a Vortex scope on mine.

Also I've seen videos of the AMU at camp Perry consistently shoot at 600 yds with "std issue" barrels, 16" I think (i'm sure they are tuned up), with iron sights.
HTH..
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  #9  
Old 02-15-2011, 9:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ub3rDorK View Post
Good info. Thanks a bunch.
You're welcome.

I've built/owned more AR's/optics than I can count, so just wanted to guide you in a good path and potentially save you some money in the end.
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  #10  
Old 02-15-2011, 10:10 PM
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yeah because my first one I was gungho about being tacticool. I want to take a step back with more research this time buying the proper parts for the best accuracy/quality.
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  #11  
Old 02-15-2011, 10:12 PM
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Oh also, a 3-9 would be good? or would I benefit to a higher power say 10-12x?
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  #12  
Old 02-15-2011, 10:30 PM
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A 3-9 is nearly the same range as a 10-12x.

It depends on what you want to achieve and at what distance.

I like 1-4x but also like high powered 20x+ scopes. Pros and cons to each such as weight and reduced field of view.
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  #13  
Old 02-15-2011, 10:41 PM
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I guess u cant go wrong with a 3-9x then.
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  #14  
Old 02-15-2011, 10:48 PM
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Yes. It's a good all-around general purpose power range.
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  #15  
Old 02-15-2011, 11:13 PM
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Default The numerical answers are obvious but....

The longer barrel with have higher muzzle velocity so it will shoot further and flatter, and this will become more and more a apparent at longer ranges. You absolutely can shoot to 400 yards with a 20" or even shorter barrel, and as someone has already mentioned the accuracy may even be better with the shorter barrel...., if it isn't windy, and you are good at calculating bullet drop. Otherwise you will want the fastest shooting highest ballistic coefficient bullet you can find. You can shoot 55 grain bullets to 400 yards but I personally would probably think about 69 or 77 grain SMK (or something similar) at that range, and certain if you were trying for further still. Even more important than length is twist rate and stiffness (thickness) of the barrel. It you intend to hit small targets at long range (say a 4" bull at 400 yards) then you will need to get the rifle, ammo, scope and you to perform to 1MOA of better. This is not a unreasonable goal for a solid AR-15 but it is not a run of the mill AR either. If you decide to use some heavier (longer) ammo then you will want a 1 in 8 or possibly even 1 in 7 if you are going for 90 grain. With a 1 in 9 some of these longer bullets will be insufficiently stabilized and may tumble or at least go off target some at long range. Even a 24" barrel on an otherwise stock AR, hardly makes for an absurdly long rifle. Many common hunting rifles will be longer than a 24" barrel AR, so don't sweat it too much. But as was now said several times the accuracy (if not flatness of trajectory or wind drift) is likely to improve some with a heavy barrel.

I have an inexpensive AR-15 I built a few months ago. It has a 18" rock river heavy stainless varmint barrel in 1 in 8 twist, a 4-16 power Millet TRS-1 (mil mil) a ROck RIver Match trigger, and a PRS stock with Harris bipod. I was very pleasantly surprised last week when I shot 2 groups of 0.6MOA and 0.5MOA using HSM 69 grain match ammo (inexpensive $14 box). Upon reflection I think that I could actually do somewhat better by providing better support of the rear of the stock. So maybe a for real sub 0.5 MOA cheap AR-15, by sticking to what matters for accuracy and leaving off the fluff.
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  #16  
Old 02-16-2011, 7:09 AM
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Originally Posted by OutlawDon View Post
Accuracy is not dependant on barrel length. In fact, a shorter barrel will be stiffer and possibly and inherently more accurate, but let's not get into those miniscule details.

As for range, there are people that shoot out to 400+ yards with a 14.5" barrel, so you will have no problem with a 20".

What makes you able to be accurate at the longer distances will be a good quality optic and good shooting form along with match grade ammo.

The mission will drive the equipment choice. Choose wisely.
Such a good answer.
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  #17  
Old 02-16-2011, 8:45 AM
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The mission will drive the equipment choice. Choose wisely.
I like that!
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  #18  
Old 02-16-2011, 12:56 PM
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OutlawDon has already given great advice, so I'll just second that. I'd stick with an 18-20" barrel, anything longer becomes a PITA to maneuver and handle off a bench, especially if you go with a heavier contour barrel. You mention target shooting with 55-62gr ammo, 1:9" would be perfect for that, but if you're going to reload and really want to maximize potential I'd go with a 1:8" which should give you more stability with heavier loads. I've had very good performance with 69gr SMKs, and the 1:8 will stabilize 75 and 77gr projectiles if you venture that heavy.

Your scope choice is highly dependent on what you'll be doing with it. Higher magnification is nice when shooting from the bench, but shooting off hand it magnifies the movement of your crosshairs just as much as it does the target. 3-9 x 40 is perfectly fine, if you can afford it I'd suggest a 3.5-10 or 4-14, the extra magnification is nice but more so because these variations are more readily available with a 30MM tube. I hear people wanting a 50MM objective to "let in more light" when in actuality a 40 or 42MM objective with a 30MM tube will let in more light and still be a smaller package. The Europeans have been doing this for years but we've been stuck on our 1" tubes out of habit.

Unfortunately there aren't a lot of inexpensive 30MM scopes on the market, but they're out there, and glass is one thing worth spending money for quality. It really irks me to scroll through picture threads and see "precision ARs" with $350 quad rails and $150 scopes on them.
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  #19  
Old 02-16-2011, 1:09 PM
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I would not exceed 20" on a 5.56mm AR. If you want something longer, there are rifles meant for that. It kills resale value and usefulness. Right now you are all about long range precision shooting and bench resting. Once you have an AR you will probably start getting into tactical courses and CQB training. It is a lot more fun and exciting. Don't get me wrong, both types of shooting are fun. I am just saying it would be wise to have something that is at least "acceptable" for running and gunning.

With regards to accuracy, barrel material also comes into play. Stainless steel is the easiest to machine, so the rifling tends to be perfect. This aids in accuracy. Stainless steel will wear out faster, but if you are using for precision shooting rather than CQB it won't be an issue. Things like chrome lining and WASP coating make for imperfections in the rifling and hurt accuracy. They are great on a CQB or main battle rifle where your round count will be extremely high, but not so much on a precision rifle.

I have one bench whore and one CQB rifle. I enjoy CQB training much more, and wanted my bench whore to double as a backup for my CQB rifle. So both have 16 inch barrels (kind of). What separates the two is the precision rifle has a medium contour (straight) stainless steel barrel with a 1:8 twist rate and the CQB rifle has a 14.7" government profile barrel with a permanently attached hider 1:7 twist and is chrome lined. The precision rifle also has a mid length gas tube and a full length free floating railed hand guard to help protect the barrel that extends over a low profile gas block. Right now they both have CQB red dots, as I am saving up for a Leupold Mark 4 3.5-10x40 IR Mil-Dot Scope. It is more than adequate for long range shooting with addition of more powerful optics (or a better shooter than me). With a red dot it does a great job serving as my backup CQB rifle.

Last edited by tacticalcity; 02-16-2011 at 1:16 PM..
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  #20  
Old 02-16-2011, 7:01 PM
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Well i dont plan on selling anything...as for usefullness. its basically going to be a fun paper punching gun customized to my liking. Instead of just a regular bolt gun with a small amount of modifications...I want the whole rifle to be my choice in parts i guess you would say.

I dont do tactical training or shooting (i would love to try it out) so I stick with what I want to learn about with my AR type rifle. Plus I can always build another tactical style AR...I just at this time did not want mine like that.

I think i've boiled it down to a 20" stainless barrel with a 1/8 twist and a Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x 40mm unless someone can tell me why I should get another scope over this for the price. I looked at the vortex ones but who is vortex? What makes it better than what I would choose with the Nikon?
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  #21  
Old 02-16-2011, 7:22 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ub3rDorK View Post
I think i've boiled it down to a 20" stainless barrel with a 1/8 twist and a Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x 40mm unless someone can tell me why I should get another scope over this for the price. I looked at the vortex ones but who is vortex? What makes it better than what I would choose with the Nikon?
Actually I've been pleasantly surprised by all the Vortex optics I've used. I don't own any of their scopes, but do have a pair of their binos and have shot with their scopes. Very nice stuff given the price range. Their quality of their Viper series scopes is comparable to the Leupold VXIII in my opinion.

That's not to say you shouldn't get the Nikon, just tossing out a tidbit of info.
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  #22  
Old 02-16-2011, 7:28 PM
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hmmm I wish I could try these things out.....damn

Ive had good luck with Nikon in the past. I shoot Nikon as a photographer and its some of the best glass out there...assuming their scopes up to par like their lenses..I guess thats what makes me partial to it.
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Old 02-16-2011, 7:42 PM
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Originally Posted by Ub3rDorK View Post

I think i've boiled it down to a 20" stainless barrel with a 1/8 twist and a Nikon Buckmaster 4.5-14x 40mm unless someone can tell me why I should get another scope over this for the price. I looked at the vortex ones but who is vortex? What makes it better than what I would choose with the Nikon?
Who is Vortex Optics?

http://www.ar15.com/forums/topic.htm...f=277&t=159590

Vortex is not better than Nikon, nor vice versa. Both make great scopes and I've owned the Buckmaster and Monarch models. You won't go wrong choosing either brand. The Viper models just gives you Nikon Monarch/and above level features and quality, but at a better price point.
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  #24  
Old 02-16-2011, 7:49 PM
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hmmmmm interesting...man you've been very helpful. I appreciate it!
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Old 02-16-2011, 7:56 PM
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I have a 24 inch bull barrel stainless steel from here http://jtdistributing.net/store/more_k_bbk.html and its super heavy, bipod only action. But I can knock 400 yards all day long on a 62 grain bullet.

I feel there are two types of builds with an AR, tactical and target/hunting. Might as well go with something that is gonna be optimal. the 24in barrel is shorter than my 308 hunting rifle with the stock collapsed for transport.

Get the 24. Oh and mine has a 1:9 twist and I am also using a Millett TRS-1. Awesome scope for the record
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Old 02-16-2011, 7:58 PM
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Originally Posted by Ub3rDorK View Post
hmmmmm interesting...man you've been very helpful. I appreciate it!
My pleasure bro! They are all great scopes so it's all preference at this point.

And just to show I'm not talking out my arse...here's a few scopes I've owned and tried out. Only one I kept is the Vortex.



Buckmaster



Monarch



Bushnell 4200



Primary Arms



Vortex Viper

Last edited by OutlawDon; 02-16-2011 at 8:14 PM..
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  #27  
Old 02-16-2011, 8:10 PM
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mmm that monarch looks sexy!
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Old 02-16-2011, 8:16 PM
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Nikon glass is super-clear and usually a bargain.......

My take? 24" 1/8 Wylde by White Oak.
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  #29  
Old 02-16-2011, 8:44 PM
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I just realized in your AR's your uppers dont have forward assist and the shell deflectors I guess you would call them...Any particular reason?
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Old 02-16-2011, 9:03 PM
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I just realized in your AR's your uppers dont have forward assist and the shell deflectors I guess you would call them...Any particular reason?
It's a Sun Devil billet upper. No reason and I liked the look. Most of us don't use the forward assist/deflector much anyway. And the dust cover is also rarely used but has its purpose if we were using it in dusty conditions. It made for a cleaner and stout look.

Most receivers have those features, but you can find some with out one or the other, or completely slick. Again, it's just a preference.

"Look at me, I'm so slick!!"...DPMS slick upper.

Last edited by OutlawDon; 02-16-2011 at 9:05 PM..
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  #31  
Old 02-16-2011, 9:57 PM
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pretty clean, yet makes sense...a dust cover for when you go shoot then immediately go clean it after you finish shooting haha
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:21 PM
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If you want more punch out to 400 yards in a 16" barrel - Go with the 6.8 upper...
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  #33  
Old 02-16-2011, 10:34 PM
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Default I probably wouldn't get the Buckmaster for your application

The Buckmaster 4.5-14 isn't really designed for target shooting. The turrets are covered, the tube is only 1 inch, the objective is only 40mm, the adjustment range isn't very large (for long range shooting), and the minimum parallax adjustment is 50 yards. I thought, like you, that Nikon was likely to make one heck of a scope since their camera lenses are so good, but I think it is a whole different operation that makes their rifle scopes. For similar or less money you can get a Millett TRS-1 with 4-16 power, 30mm tube, 50mm objective, larger windage and elevation range, 10 yard minimum focus, illuminated reticle, and open turrets. Most importantly though, for me at least, is the 1/10th mil adjustments as opposed to 1/4 MOA on the Nikon. Combined with the mil dot reticle, the 1/10 mil adjustments make the scope incredibly easy to adjust. If your impact point is off by one dot you turn the turret 10 clicks, half a dot 5 clicks, etc.

I have a Millett TRS-1 on my AR-15 target rifle and it is capable of well below MOA shooting. The scope is very solid, pretty good glass (not like a $3,000 German scope, but at $300 I don't expect it to be), very stable and repeatable, and it has the features you will want for target shooting.
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Old 02-16-2011, 10:54 PM
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whats the point of having a illuminated reticle?

Also I never thought about it that way with the side knobs...How is millet anyway? Im pretty picky on cheap glass...on camera or rifle...its gotta not look like garbage at high magnification like distortion and fringing etc..

Last edited by Ub3rDorK; 02-16-2011 at 10:58 PM..
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:59 PM
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Just to be pedantic twist rate is only sort of about bullet weight - it's actually about bearing surface (the amount of area on the bullet that contacts the barrel), which is usually higher on heavier bullets. But the design of the bullet matters (a longer ogive means a shorter bearing area, also flat-base has more bearing area than boat-tail).

*Usually* a heavier bullet has a longer bearing surface, so most people refer to bullet weights instead of bearing area, which would make everyone do math.

That being said 1:8 is a good general choice, I wish more people made those.

1:7 is also good if you plan on staying with longer/heavier bullets.

1:9 or slower is pretty much only for short, light weight bullets.

I saw a 1:12 AR barrel once and I could not figure out what it was for. 22lr conversions?
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Old 02-17-2011, 1:21 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by automatikdonn View Post
I have a 24 inch bull barrel stainless steel from here http://jtdistributing.net/store/more_k_bbk.html and its super heavy, bipod only action. But I can knock 400 yards all day long on a 62 grain bullet.
Accuracy has little to do with barrel length and a lot to do with barrel quality, rigidity, ammunition choice, and shooter skill. I can consistently hit an 8" plate at 400yds with an 18" barrel and I still need improvement. There's a reason service rifle competition is done with 20" barrels.

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I saw a 1:12 AR barrel once and I could not figure out what it was for. 22lr conversions?
The original M16 spec was 1:12, all they shot was 55gr M193, 1:12 stabilized that just fine. I think it has remained the standard twist for bolt guns until recently because .223 has traditionally been a varmint cartridge and typically the bullets used for varmint hunting are 45-55gr.
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Old 02-17-2011, 3:01 AM
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20"
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  #38  
Old 02-17-2011, 6:41 AM
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20"
you seem to be a little late!
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  #39  
Old 02-17-2011, 3:07 PM
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As far as choosing a shorter barrel length for "maneuvering" If you're planning on doing to bulk of your shooting @ long range, I don't think you're going to need to move around a whole lot. You're not clearing buildings. Personally I prefer longer barrels, but different strokes...
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Old 02-17-2011, 3:17 PM
evolixsurf evolixsurf is offline
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if you want to go out to 400 yards I would get something more than a 3-9x or even a 12x... Who cares about field of view when you are just shooting targets. Get something that magnafies more. Look at mueller tactical mil dot scope. cheap and clear. Lifetime warranty. http://www.eabco.com/Muellerreddot.htm

Ive got the 4-16 and wish i went with the higher power for long range.
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