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Rifle Balance?

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Unread 05-17-2011, 08:20 AM
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Rifle Balance?

I am curious how rifle builders decide on rifle balance vs overall rifle weight.

I know that some of the rifles talked about have 30 in and longer barrels and wondered how the gunsmiths get around the front heavy weight.
Basically do you not care that it is front heavy since it will always be shot from a fully stable platform like a bi-pod or bags, or do you add weight to the stock so that it does balance?

I have a 12+ pound rifle that is very front heavy since I have a Tupperware stock to save weight.
I don't know if that hurts anything as far as accuracy, but it definitely wants to be carried with the muzzle down and you couldn't carry it with a conventional sling if you wanted it readily accessible.

Thanks in advance.

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Unread 05-17-2011, 11:04 AM
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Re: Rifle Balance?

I suspect that the gunsmiths operate by experience rather than mathematics as calculating the balance point is a tedious operation.

A rifle that is very barrel heavy and shot from a bipod will be very sensitive to stock pressure and be tricky to shoot well. I added two pounds of lead to a stock to get more weight onto the rear bag. It helped the consistency a lot.
The Smokin Fur Rifle Club
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Unread 05-17-2011, 01:05 PM
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Re: Rifle Balance?

How do you know if you need it or if you just are not a good shot
I do like the idea of blaming the rifle!!

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Unread 05-17-2011, 02:26 PM
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Re: Rifle Balance?

There is no good way to balance a Long barrel rifle or a formula because it would become
extremely heavy and cumbersome.

I like to use Laminate stocks to help (They have more weight in the but stock) but they do add weight all over.

The place that balance becomes important is in a rifle that is used for running shots.

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Unread 05-17-2011, 05:09 PM
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Join Date: Dec 2009
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Re: Rifle Balance?

I like carrying front down anyhow, but FWIW, I filled a little, then a little more in the hollow of the buttstock with fiber mesh and slow cure 2 part epoxy from hobby store (cheap). Upon the 2nd pour, the balance feels "just right," and I'd say I added about a pound total. It's still hollow enough to take another several ounces if I wished.

ETA: Oh, I don't consider myself a "rifle builder," but I sure have spent a lot of time modifying my own! Cheers--

Last edited by carbinero; 05-17-2011 at 05:12 PM.
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Unread 05-17-2011, 06:03 PM
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Location: Patagonia Mountains, Arizona
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Re: Rifle Balance?

Here is a rifle which actually is well balanced. It is both balanced on the shooters shoulder and has balanced recoil (essentially none). It's a Carl Gustav recoilless rifle and weighs about 32 lbs.

I can't think of any hunting rifles which are close to being mechanically balanced. The entire mass is in front of the shoulder and supported by the strength of the shooters hands and arms unless it's on a bipod or rest. Ether the torque moment required to hold and swing with rifle is easily within the strength limits of the shooter or it's not. That makes people call the rifle balanced or not.

I ripped muscles in both my shoulders four years ago and all of my rifles and pistols instantly became "unbalanced". As I healed they started returning to being "balanced" again. The first I could shoot again were my Carbon 15 rifle and a Browning 905 22short pistol. I'm mostly recovered now but my Pauza P50 (26 lb) 50 BMG semi-auto is still to heavy to hold on target offhand like I could before my injury. It's fine with a bipod.

In my opiniion there is no formula for a "balanced" rifle fired offhand. It's determined by the strength and abilities of the shooter. I have several rifles that I only shoot off bags or a bipod. The're too heavy to shoot offhand comfortably and introduce muscle shake if I try. It's not just the rilfe weight. it's the incremental weight times the distance from the stock which matters most. A 10 pound rifles with a 30" bull barrel will be harder to hold and swing than a 12 pound rifle with a 24" tapered barrel.

I would never add weight to the stock of a rifle. I won't carry pounds of extra weght for hours in the field to help me balance a rifle for less than a minute of shooting it. An underhook can keep the buttstock from sliding up the shoulder on long barrel rifles while adding very little weight. Our great-grandfathers knew that for their long muzzle loaders. If the barrel is so heavy I can't hold it up comfortably there are a lot of lightweight options like a bipod or shooting sticks or a sling to hold the left elbow up.

Benchrest rifles are a different story as weght distribution over the rest affects point of impact.

Last edited by LouBoyd; 05-18-2011 at 08:29 PM.
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Unread 05-18-2011, 08:00 PM
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Location: Watertown, SD
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Re: Rifle Balance?

This is my best balanced out rifle, if I remember right it is just under 10lbs too

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