Firearms Basics: Rifle Length Terminology

Firearms Basics: Rifle Length Terminology

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If you starting looking carefully at military bolt action rifles, you will find that they generally all fall into one of three categories:

Rifles: 30-32 inches / 760-810mm
Short Rifles: 24-26 inches / 610-660mm
Carbines: 17-20 inches / 430-510mm

How did these different standard lengths come about, and why are the Italians and the Russians different? Let’s have a look…

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  1. GabiTex on September 19, 2022 at 8:00 pm

    Why didn’t the men in ranks duck as they reload or chamber the next round?

  2. Astrid Vallati on September 19, 2022 at 8:03 pm

    Good explanation, EXCEPT for Italian Carcano variants: the one you called a TS, was Actually the FC…Fucile Corto, ( short rifle) of 7.35mm: then reverted to 6.5 in 1940 ( war had begun) and was made from 1940 to 44.
    The M1941 CARCANO was introduced to handle the longer ranges of Desert and Steppes shooting ( the FC was gixed at 300 metres), but handier than the original M91 long.
    Fixed sight 91/38 in both Cav and TS versions continued to 1944.

    Otherwise, a good explanation, except that the German "Karabiner " definition is different from the Misused American Definition: the Germans had Karabiners" which all had SIDE MOUNTED slings, and Gewehrs which had BOTTOM MOUNTED slings, for Non cavalry and later non- mechanised troops..( irrespective of lenght– Gew91, Gew 33/40, ).
    So a correct Classification would be
    INFANTRY Rifle, Dragoon Rifle, Universal Rifle, Short Rifle ( Musketoon), Cavalry Carbine.
    Doc AV

  3. Philip Freeman on September 19, 2022 at 8:07 pm

    Best to stay far away from the muzzle blast too.

  4. Hyrum Cannon on September 19, 2022 at 8:08 pm

    What about the ballistic differences between longer and shorter rifles? Are those just not considered important enough to overrule ergonomic considerations?

  5. laks on September 19, 2022 at 8:09 pm

    Forgot the obrez

  6. wwlb on September 19, 2022 at 8:12 pm

    The Riflest

  7. Boris Slooch on September 19, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    There were even two types of shorter Mosin’s – Dragoon and Cossak. The difference was the Dragoon’s was issued with bayonet and zeroed with bayonet attached (same as Infantry version), and Cossak’s was issued without bayonet and zeroed without it.

  8. Questionable Goods on September 19, 2022 at 8:13 pm

    pfft. I have invented the real sniper rifle. Long barrel and shove it at the enemy face from a mile away.

  9. Dieter on September 19, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    What about scout rifles?

  10. Julian G on September 19, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    I would love a video about the history of bolt actions. Why is the Mauser style the one that almost all modern bolt guns are based on? What made the Mauser 98 so much better than the earlier bolt actions? Why did the Enfield action fall out of favor? What changes were made to the Mauser action that brings it to where it is today?

  11. satanihelvetet on September 19, 2022 at 8:14 pm

    Wery interesting and informative as usual!

    I’ve never heard about the term carbine as coming from the Fensches. In Sweden we named short rifles for the cavalery as ‘Karbin’ (=Carbine, short rifle) back in the 1500 century because they used a carabiner and and a sling to carry the rifle while riding. We still use the word for a short rifle aswell for AR. The standard AR in Sweden is called Ak5 (=automatkarbin – automatic carbine).

    In the more simplified military terminology in Sweden we never call anything that uses a pistol cartridge for a carbine, it’s either a pistol or submachinegun only. If the firearm use a rifle (or AR) cartridge it belongs to the rifle part of fire arms (rifles, carbines, machineguns and AR’s). The only common/widely used fire arm I know that not fits in the Swedish military terminology is the MA1 Carbine.

  12. Astral'o Pithecus on September 19, 2022 at 8:15 pm

    Truppe Speciali is pronounced: True-Pey (hard P – while the Y is not pronounced)
    Spey-Cha-Lee (Y not pronounced – Ch as in Chili..)

  13. M H on September 19, 2022 at 8:16 pm

    nur der langhaarige Waffen-Jesus hat das erarbeitete Wissen und Kenntnis mit praktischer Fertigkeit durch Erprobung, um solche Vidoes zu machen, die alles erklären und für "Sachkundige" für Waffen keine Fragen mehr übriglassen – warum Dinge technischen und historisch so sind wie sie sind.

  14. A.J. Hodges on September 19, 2022 at 8:17 pm

    A modern military "long" rifle is 20" and a modern "carbine" is 14" to 16" with special purpose close quarter rifles having between and 10" and 12" barrels. It shows how military priorities have shifted since WW2.

  15. guywithashirton on September 19, 2022 at 8:17 pm

    i just came to this vid….

  16. Brandoon296 on September 19, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    "No baby it’s not small it’s just a carbine"

  17. Thomas Raithel on September 19, 2022 at 8:18 pm

    THANKS ! ! !

  18. Britt Gardner on September 19, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    Generally speaking, if the overall length of the weapon is about a meter or more, I think of it as a rifle. If it’s shorter, I think of it as a carbine, and both of those are regardless of chambering. But that’s just me. I understand the nebulous nature of the terminology well enough to engage in effective discourse, and I guess that’s what matters most.

  19. Jason Darsh on September 19, 2022 at 8:19 pm

    Ian, I know a guy who does wallpaper…

  20. Jan Borkovec on September 19, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    Ian not looking great this time.
    1. Creating blocks of human flesh without armour and cover stopped working out so well.
    2. (~0.5 – 1 meter?) less weight and bulkiness really does make a difference seated in a transportation vehicle.
    3. Video has just crossed mid length. Who knows, what rhetoric treasure has yet to unleash.

  21. Campus ballistics on September 19, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    Where’s the obrez category?

  22. Ariel Garcia on September 19, 2022 at 8:20 pm

    This video is 3 years old now and, something I love about this channel is that I will never be out of content, there’s always something to watch. Also Ian will never run out of content for sure

  23. Kumquat Lord on September 19, 2022 at 8:21 pm

    8:32 I’d consider it to be a "battle rifle"

  24. Sergio Manuel on September 19, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    Ian is what Heath Ledger’s Joker would have been if he had good parents…

  25. Salty Mango on September 19, 2022 at 8:22 pm

    very informative; well done

  26. dave harris on September 19, 2022 at 8:22 pm


  27. Daniel Vedberg Sekulic on September 19, 2022 at 8:23 pm

    Its easy it goes elephant gun, long, perfect size, small, snub and obrez for when you dont need to hit the side of barns

  28. 207 Unlimited on September 19, 2022 at 8:23 pm


  29. Ho Han on September 19, 2022 at 8:25 pm

    I had a bad news for you carbine.
    You adopted.

  30. Ivan Hernandez on September 19, 2022 at 8:25 pm

    The muzzle is past their heads but what about their ears? 😬

  31. Lane Hanna on September 19, 2022 at 8:26 pm

    Put this question in the search bar was a bit discouraged until I saw forgotten weapons and I knew it was going to be simple clean and clear-cut

  32. Vikki McDonough on September 19, 2022 at 8:27 pm

    3:25 – Horses Do Not Like long pointy things.

  33. Toiletcreature Toiletcreature on September 19, 2022 at 8:30 pm

    Also, long barrels were needed on black powder guns because black powder didn’t expand as quickly as smokeless powder so you needed a longer barrel to accelerate the bullet

  34. Airgun 117 2 on September 19, 2022 at 8:31 pm

    My uncle has this bayonet 3:36

  35. Thomas Goller on September 19, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    So is my 20" AR15 considered a carbine? If so what is my 16" AR15 carbine considered

  36. Blue Eyes White Teddy on September 19, 2022 at 8:32 pm

    76-81 cm Older Rifles
    43-51 cm Carbines
    60-66 cm Shorter Rifles

  37. Kam Sankowski on September 19, 2022 at 8:35 pm

    Great information. Thank you.

  38. Stephen Rice on September 19, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    Marvellous, easily digested guide to firearm sizes . Now , would it be possible to do a similar job for ammunition. There is a plethora of different nomenclature but I’m finding it a bit of a swamp . If you could come up with a way of removing the mud from the pool I’d be grateful. Great video 👍🇬🇧

  39. Bivvy Stridents on September 19, 2022 at 8:36 pm

    This guy looks like he’s seen Dream Theater like 18 times

  40. Michael Scheele on September 19, 2022 at 8:42 pm

    Ian, were the barrel lengths of sporting rifles influenced by popular military rifles of the day?

  41. Texas Smelting on September 19, 2022 at 8:44 pm

    Mosin 🙂

  42. James Wright on September 19, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    The boers taught the british that standing in ranks and firing in volleys wasn’t such a good idea.

  43. Adam Coleman on September 19, 2022 at 8:45 pm

    Incredibly informative, great video Ian—always look forward to your stuff

  44. Nirave Rathod on September 19, 2022 at 8:46 pm

    Great video… incomplete though. Could have included the Jezail too. Its an iconic rifle, and deserves a spot even though not from too modern era

  45. ProjectThunderclaw on September 19, 2022 at 8:49 pm

    As late as WWI, if the cavalry needed a long, stabby implement, they would be equipped with honest-to-goodness lances. There’s archival footage on YouTube of British troops learning to use both swords and lances without dropping them, it’s kind of fun to see.

  46. Richard Milsom on September 19, 2022 at 8:50 pm

    So you missed out the long Tom to SMLE / No3/4 and then Jungle Carbine?…….Per-leeeeeese-explain!

  47. Astral'o Pithecus on September 19, 2022 at 8:51 pm

    Sorry for my ignorance, but doesn’t a long barrel increase accuracy? That’s why people use "Sawed off" shotguns, to have a wider spread and a more lethal weapon at short ranges…

  48. Armament Armed Arm on September 19, 2022 at 8:53 pm

    So the long barrels were a product of military offficers not understanding the capabilities of the new weapons they were ordering. Totally fits with the history of that period.

  49. Christofer Green on September 19, 2022 at 8:54 pm

    I always learn something watching your channel, thanks

  50. The Game Philosopher on September 19, 2022 at 9:00 pm

    dragoons could also fight on horseback too as you had things like that being done in the US Cav and some of the later cav fighting with guns on horseback because the steel was becoming more risky to use when better infantry tactics were adopted with the rifle and the early machine guns

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