I recently saw a nice 6.5 x '06 rifle built on a pre-'64 Win action. It featured a 23" barrel, which struck me as perhaps a tad short. If you had your druthers, what length barrel would you install on a 6.5 x '06 action?
Thanks for your guidance! Since it's not a particularly light stock and action, 23" seems sort of short. If you're already toting a mid-weight rifle, I figure you should get the extra velocity from a 26" barrel. After all, most people don't consider 6.5 x '06 unless they want a longer range gun. With a 23" barrel, it strikes me that you might as well just stick with 6.5 x 55.
First thing I want to know is who's barrel what contour,twist,gunsmith,how many rds fired,weigth,what bullet is it throated for and if there was any loading data. Nolser #6 list data for 6.5X06 with a 24" barrel myself I don't see much problem with a 23" barrel if the gun is put together right and it fits my needs. I would think who ever put the rifle together may of just wanted a 6.5x06 for a hunting rifle maybe with alittle more case capacity than a 6.5x55 or 260 since he used a long action and may not be interested in a LR. My LR 6.5x284 has a 28" barrel and I would think around 24" to 26" barrel for a 6.5x06AI and if I was doing a 6.5x06 I use maybe a Broughton 5c barrel 23" to 24". Well all view things different when we build them.
WEll even if your not driving the selected bullet to the top end capability of the barrel I wouldn't discount the barrel only due to the length. I have a 16.5" barrel on my Ruger .308 and it has dropped stuff reliably way out of proportion to what you would think was an acceptable range. THe velocity might not be way up on the Mach list but it still is very accurate and hits hard out to past 400yds. I mostly only shoot Remington Core Lokts in it as well.
With the powders that are available, and the vast assortment of bullets by various makers, I would not figure it to be handicapped with a 23" barrel. Now if it has been shot out thats another thing but if it is in good shape I would say give it a try with some of the 140 - 160gr bullets and see how it shoots.