Barrel Compromise: Weight Vs. Practicality By Bryan Chatwell


Mar 6, 2008
It’s not a secret that heavier barrels give better and more repeatable accuracy. Bench rest shooters use either a heavy varmint or a light varmint contour barrel at around 20 inches overall length. This makes for a very rigid barrel, little barrel whip and vibration, hence the small groups. However the long range hunter does not have the option of having a short 20 inch barrel, and even the light varmint contour is too heavy to carry around mountain tops at high altitude. There has to be a compromise between weight and ability to carry. The Shilen number 5 contour is a popular choice but is a little on the light side for my personal liking. The Light Palma contour however is a perfect compromise. The Light Palma contour is heavier than the number five contour but lighter than the factory Remington varmint/Sendero profile. Read More...
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Thanks for the thoughts Brian. Do you feel that a light palma contour would work on an Edge with a 30 inch barrel? One which is essentially a fairly heavy hunting rifle that would be used for long range hunting? Also have you used the deep flutes offered by Broughton? I apprreciate the perspective. I have gone with both the Sendero and the varmint contours in the past but could always use a little less carry weight Thanks 30-338
Appreciate the article. Keep em coming.

Personally though, I dunno. My Krieger #5 Bull Sporter is the same diameter as the light plama at the neck but is .700" at the muzzle compared to the light palma's .750". For that, I save a full half pound of weight at the end of the barrel.

Everything you write makes sense, but that 1/2 pound means alot to me too. I'm just sayin.
Excellent perspective and comments! I've taken a bit different approach in 'rebuilding' a M700
chambered in 308 Win: Literally replacing everything except the action, extractor and plunger
(ejector), settled on a 'lightweight' 24" super match barrel. Opting for a very accurate first shot
from a cold barrel vs a heavier barrel which didn't necessarily provide any better accuracy for a
cold shot, yet was lighter and more portable as far as carrying while hiking/backpacking the back
BTW, while I'm still 'fine-tuning', the rifle has alread demonstrated sub-MOA accuracy out to 300 yds. Utlimately, it will provide excellent accuracy with the first shot out to 700-yds, and still be comfortable to carry for miles upon miles into the backcountry.
If you can place your first shot exactly where it needs to go, there doesn't appear to be much need for a second, third, or more shots, period.
Thanks for your article, all those tips are answering the questions I had about my future long range hunting rifle project, before I even asked them to anyone. Will be considering the light palma contour as one of the options.
Good article. Thanks!

My .308 has a 24" Krieger, turned to the Remington Varmint contour - not bad, but I'd like to shave a little weight from it for hunting. I'm familiar with the Palma contour barrels, and it does look like a viable option.

Regards, Guy
I dont have an overall weight of the rifle as of right now, but I will get one. I overlooked that and apologize. Yes In my opinion the light palma would be just fine for an Edge. The deep Broughton flutes I have seen have been on heavy Palma barrels so I cant honestly say how the would effect a light Palma barrel but no doubt Tim North can answer that question. About the comment of the #5 barrel and the light Palma your right the #5 is accurate and lighter. I own several #5's but honestly like the Light Palma better. Thanks for the comments guys....I will be weighing that rifle tonight and posting the overall weight......also in the next month or two I should have an article posted on customizing the Remington 700 action(mostly the Bolt). Thanks again...Bryan
I shoot light long range competition but for most of my life I have shot in the field for elk and mulies. I am re-barreling my 7WSM and am torn between light and medium palma 1-9 twist. Want to do well in the matches and still not kill myself in the high country.

What are your thoughts ??
If you dont mind the extra money a fluted medium palma would be just about perfect. If not I would go with the light Palma but being a 7wsm you will get beat up shooting matches with it for sure. Not sure what you overall lenghth will be but you could always call the manufacturer of the barrel your going to use and ask them the difference in weight at a given barrel length. That is what I would do then you can decide based on what the believe the difference will be....hope that helps some.....Bryan
great reading just finally finished built my 338 RCM on a savage action a ABS carbon barrel 20" total weight is 6 1/2 lbs with scope and ammo trigger is a sharp shooter 2 1/2 lb groups are 1/2 at 300yrs and 3 1/2 at 1,000yrds
I am having a .338 Rayhill Rocket built. I'm 5'8" and 150lbs
My elk hunt is on private ground we never walk more that 2 miles and maybe 200ft elevation change.
I shoot a match from 1/2 mile to 2,000yds, what length and contour should the barrel be for best accuracy? A heavy barrel doesnt bother me but how heavy for accuracy?

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