How is correct rifle balance/handling achieved?


Well-Known Member
Dec 18, 2009
I have recently been pondering the importance of balance to rifle handling characteristics in the field. I have been thinking about this because I am planning to re-barrel several of my rifles.

Most often, when barrel options are being discussed, the focus is on twist, barrel length, barrel profile, and desired gun weight. I have never been privy to a discussion of how barrel choice affects balance and handling characteristics.

Among my favorite rifles to carry afield are my Marlin 1895G (45-70) and my Ruger #1A (7x57). The 1895 is short, flat, and easy to carry in one hand. I absolutely love both the carry and handling characteristics of my Ruger #1A. It, too, is easy to carry. What I like most about it, though, is that it points,feels, and handles like a shotgun when I have it shouldered.

I would be hard pressed to explain why the Ruger handles as it does. I am only capable of recognizing the sensation. I have experienced the same thing while shooting a quality over/under shotgun. Is it possible to achieve something like that in a bolt action repeater? If so, what elements would I need to consider? In short, what exactly makes a long arm just feel right?

This seems to me like it would make for an interesting subject for a technical article.

If anyone knows something about this, I would be interested in your thoughts. If someone knows where I might educate myself about this, I would be equally grateful to be pointed in the right direction.
Interesting brain food!

Being new to LR shooting I presumed I was the only one who has this question. Hopefully I don't confuse the issue because I find it rather simple.

After shooting my custom 708 (Gunsmith A), I noticed "something" was different compared to my other rifles. The center of gravity (CG) appeared to be located under or very near the recoil lug. It really felt sweet…but being new, I didn't know why. I couldn't connect the dots.

This rifle (Gunsmith A) is unbelievable in craftsmanship and accuracy. If I ever feel the need to slap myself on the back about my precision reloading ability, I load up something, anything, for this rifle and it shoots lights out. Who cares, it makes me look/feel great…

My other custom rifle just didn't "feel" the same way and I finally picked up the phone and called the smith who made the one mentioned above (I am in Texas, he is in Oregon) and asked about CG. He made it simple and I just sent him my other custom rifle (708 by Gunsmith B) and he simply uses lead shot to get the CG at or about the recoil lug.

Let me caution you, if you balance two of your rifles, my experience has shown me it is very similar to purchasing a Jewell trigger—if you buy one or two, you will never like your factory triggers. This ends up costing you another Jewell trigger…on each gun that doesn't have one.

I am not here to spend your money…

Naturally, if weight is being added, the weight will increase. I can't comment as to how that will affect your use of your carry rifle. I don't carry. My long-range use is completely different, I presume, compared to most/all LR shooters and I don't care a bit as to weight. My long range rifles are a tool.

I'll leave it at that.
Some times the balance can make the difference in the overall performance of
the rifle.

I have a few pointers to achieve good balance in a rifle= first you must decide
how much you want the rifle to weigh.

If you are shooting for 6 or 7 pounds then I recomend a light contour and a composite
stock with a hollow but stock also a less than 2 pound scope and aluminum rings and

If you are looking for a 8 to 10 pound rifle a medium contour with almost any wood
stock will balance fairly well as long as you keep the barrel length short.

And if you want a heavy barrel then I would recomend a Laminate because the butt
end is solid and weighs more than a walnut stock and arround a 1/2 pound more than
a composit.

The balance point that I prefer for all round hunting is the front bedding screw.
If you are shooting offhand a lot then I like to move it back to under the magazine.

For a Running shot rifle where weight is an aid I use a short (20 to 22') heavy barrel
some where around a # 7 taper or Hunter bench taper(My favorite because it tapers
.018 per inch) with a varmint laminate and a check piece.

This makes the rifle easy to swing and the weight helps on follow through and on follow
up shots.

Most long range rifles will be muzzle heavy because of the long, heavy barrels with a
bipod, and if a composit stock is used slugging/weighting of the but stock is nessary to get
good balance. Most shooters don't worry about balance because most of the shots are
in the prone position off a bipod.

When slugging is nessary if you use a composite, I recomend the use of a laminate instead.

Just the way I do it.

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