How Barrel Length Affects Airgun Accuracy

By Published On: 12 December 2023Categories: Air Gun

When selecting an air rifle or air pistol for target practice or small game hunting, one key factor many shooters consider is ideal barrel length. But does barrel length truly impact downrange accuracy, and if so, how much does it matter? 

Understanding the interplay between barrel length and precision can help inform your equipment choices. We break down the key ways barrel length influences airgun accuracy, so you can determine the best size barrel for your shooting needs.

1 – Velocity and Energy Delivery

The most significant impact of longer airgun barrels is increased muzzle velocity and energy transfer. As pressurised air propels the pellet or BB down the barrel, more time to accelerate translates into higher exit speeds.

Faster velocity produces a flatter trajectory since gravity has less time to influence the projectile’s arched flight path. This allows precise aim for longer range target engagement. 

2 – Sight Radius Amplification

Longer barrels also increase sight radius, which is the distance between front and rear sights. This expands the sight picture for finer aiming precision. With a wider rear notch and front post separating further apart, any angular deviations while aiming get minimised for enhanced accuracy potential.

This advantage truly comes into play at longer shooting distances where precision sight alignment is critical. If mostly engaging shorter range targets under 50 metres, a longer sight radius offers less noticeable improvement.

3 – Stiffness & Vibrations

Longer barrels tend to oscillate less during firing, making them potentially more accurate, while a shorter barrel has less surface area contacting the stock, allowing more flexing. This can degrade precision. Extending barrel length to 18 or 20 inches improves stiffness and dampens vibrations for excellent harmonic consistency.

Barrel Quality and Pellet Matching

While length plays a role, one of the most vital accuracy factors is barrel quality and pellet matching. Superior airgun barrels start with tight dimensional tolerances in bored diameter, straightness, and surface finish. Quality steel or stainless steel materials resist corrosion while maintaining smoothness. If the interior surface is damaged, corroded or excessively worn, more gas escapes around the sides of the pellet in flight, destabilising it.

However, the most finely engineered barrel shoots poorly if not aligned to the sights and paired with pellets it “likes”. This synergy between pellet selection and barrel quality is why factors like ammo choice outweigh purely barrel length considerations.

Shop The Wolfman’s Selection of Accurate Airguns

When considering your next air rifle purchase, keep in mind that while barrel length has some impact, proper setup and practice are more vital. Shop The Wolfman’s range of high performing airguns purposefully built for precision shooting. With leading models from Weihrauch, Bretta, and Crosman, you are sure to find an accurately zeroed airgun matching your needs and budget. 

Get in touch

Orders receive fast delivery and same-day dispatch, along with guidance from our team of friendly airgun experts. Don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about choosing the ideal barrel length or air rifle.

About the Author: The Wolfman Store

After over 30 years experience in the Airgun trade, The Wolfman Store are delighted to announce our new website, enabling us to supply direct to the shooting community for the first time. Combining a vast stock of established favourites with exciting products new to the UK, The Wolfman Store will be striving to provide unparalleled service at the most competitive prices.

Related Products