Short Action vs. Long Action

Short Action vs. Long Action

Do you need to replace the stock on your Browning A-Bolt or Remington 700? Are you confused whether your rifle is short or long action? Don’t worry, you’re not alone. Many centerfire rifle owners face this dilemma when ordering parts for the first time. That’s why we’ve gathered this list of easy references that will hopefully assist you in choosing the correct part the first time.

The explanation for which action you have is simple. It all depends on the length of your rifle’s receiver.

Many popular manufacturers use consistent measurements that will help identify your action length. For example, if you own a Remington, Savage, or Winchester rifle, then the center to center measurement of the action holes (receiver screws) on the bottom of the stock will help you quickly answer this question.

Remington 700Remington 700

For easy reference, we’ve provided a list of popular manufacturers' action lengths.

Short Action – 7.25” 

Long Action – 8” 

Short Action – 7.25”

Long Action – 7.75”

Short Action – 7”

Long Action – 7.50”

Mossberg Patriot

Short Action – 4.715”

Long Action – 5.225”

 Long Action – 7.35”

Short Action – 6.5”

Magnum – Longer than 7.35”

An exception to Remington’s standard measurement, as well as to the typical caliber designations.

Short Action – 6.75”

Long Action – 7.062”

Measurement is the entire length of the trigger guard.

Short Action – 7.625"

 Long Action – 8.375”

Ruger American

Short Action – 4.046”

Long Action – 4.578”

Short Action

1st Generation manufactured from 1959 to 1987. (Staggered feed Magazine) - 4.522” 

 2nd Generation manufactured from 1998 to 2006 (Staggered feed Magazine) - 4.275”

3rd Generation manufactured from 2006 up (Center feed Magazine) - 4.400” 

Long Action – 5.062”

(Staggered feed Magazine)

Short Action – 6.906”

Long Action – 7.468”

Short Action – 7.031”

Long Action – 7.57”

Magnum – Longer than 7.57”

Don’t see your particular model? Perhaps the caliber of your rifle can help identify your action.

Rifle cartridges follow a measurement guideline as well, and can be a real time saver in some cases. (Note: There are exceptions to every rule and in this case one of them is the Remington 788. Caliber will not be a reliable way to identify the action).

Short action rounds will have an overall length of less than 2.8” and the long action rounds will have a greater overall length that will not exceed 3.340”.

This is a standard guideline, but will not always apply to magnum cartridges. However, for the sake of keeping it simple and avoiding confusing exemptions, we are going to just stick with which calibers are long or short action. We’ll leave most of the medium, magnum, and ultra magnum action discussions for the gun board experts.

Notice we said “most”? That’s because of those pesky exceptions to the rules. This time it’s Sako rifles, which have a unique system all their own. Sako actions are built to match their caliber and are given an action designation that is not used by any other manufacturer.

Action I – Short Action – .222 Rem & .223 Rem

Action III – Medium Action – .22-250 Rem, .243 Win, .260 Rem, 7mm-08, & .308 Win

Action SM – Short Magnum Action – .270 WSM & .300 WSM

Action IV – Long Action – .25-06 Rem, 6.5x55 SE, .270 Win, 7x64, .30-06 Sprg, 9.3x66, & 9.3x66 Sako

Action V – Magnum Action – 7mm Rem Mag, .300 Win Mag, .338 Win Mag, & .375 H&H Mag.

Before proceeding, we should reiterate that measuring the action on most rifles should be the first option. This will help to avoid errors caused by model variations, or any previous customizations that may have occurred.

Below is a small list of some of the more popular calibers.


.17 Remington
.204 Ruger
.222 Remington
.222 Remington Magnum
.224 Weatherby Magnum
.22-250 Remington
.223 Remington (5.56 NATO)
.243 Winchester
.250 Savage
.260 Remington
.270 WSM
6mm Remington
.30-30 Winchester
.308 Winchester
.300 WSM
.325 WSM
.338 Federal
.35 Remington
.44-40 Winchester


.240 Weatherby Magnum
.25-06 Remington
.257 Remington
.270 Winchester
.30-06 Springfield
.35 Whelen
.45-70 Government
7mm Remington Magnum
8x57 Mauser

Note: Calibers designated with WSM (Winchester Short Magnum) may have a long action caliber, but will be short action. For example, .270 Win. (long) vs .270 WSM (short).

Hopefully this article proves to be a valuable resource and helps save you time and money on your future gun parts orders.

Disclaimer:  This list is not all-inclusive and if further assistance is required, it is recommended that you seek guidance from a competent Gunsmith before purchasing rifle parts.