Rifle Balance?

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by edge, May 17, 2011.

  1. edge

    edge Well-Known Member

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    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.

    edge.
     
  2. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    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.
     

  3. edge

    edge Well-Known Member

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    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!!

    edge.
     
  4. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

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    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.

    J E CUSTOM
     
  5. carbinero

    carbinero Member

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    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: May 17, 2011
  6. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    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.

    [​IMG]

    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: May 18, 2011
  7. sinarms

    sinarms Well-Known Member

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

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  8. LouBoyd

    LouBoyd Well-Known Member

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    There's a big difference in the ideal balance of a rifle for shooting supported (bags or bipod) versus shooting offhand. I can't think of any rifles I own which do both really well. A Springfield M1A comes to mind as being about in the middle but not great for either shooting style.
     
  9. Bart B

    Bart B Well-Known Member

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    Some folks who've rebarreled their sporters to a heavier one found out it wouldn't shoot as accurate. All that extra up front weight caused the stock's fore end to bend up more such that it touched the barrel when shot off a rest of some type (bag on a bench, bipod). With the forend resting on the support without being held, the barrel didnt' touch the fore end. As soon as the rifle was shouldered with downward pressure from the shooter's cheek on the cheek piece, that added force bent the fore end up more and contact was made. Accuracy got worse and vertical shot stringing became quite noticable.

    Stock fore ends bend more than most folks realize. That old "dollar bill" test should be made with a stack of bills at least 1/16th inch thick.
     
  10. Buffalobob

    Buffalobob Writers Guild

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    For a long range rifle that will be primarily fired from a prone position using a bipod you want about 2-3 pounds of downward force on the rear bag ( I would have to get out a couple of rifles and check the exact poundage). Exactly where the balance point is does not matter very much.

    For a hunting rifle that is primarily fired from the shoulder you want the balance as close to the shoulder as possible to reduce the weight on the forward hand. Adding weight to a off hand hunting may change the rotational tendencies.

    Here are a couple of photos of adding 2# of weight to a stock to get more downward force on the rear bag. End weight of the rifle is 18#.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: May 19, 2011
  11. Bart B

    Bart B Well-Known Member

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    Competitive shooters using shoulder fired rifles in all positions favor balance to be just forward of the receiver ring. Front heavy rifles tend to have smaller aiming areas on target because they move slower and less amounts due to the weight mostly being towards the muzzle end.
     
  12. edge

    edge Well-Known Member

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    Thanks, I would have to say that mine is almost exactly like yours Buffalobob. Using bags or bipod it is fine but if you want an offhand shot it just feels wrong.


    edge.