Military Wiki
308x1.5" Barnes
Type Rifle
Place of origin USA
Production history
Designer Frank Barnes
Designed 1961
Variants .30 BR
Parent cartridge .308 Winchester (7.62x51 NATO)
Case type Rimless Bottlenecked
Bullet diameter .308 in (7.8 mm)
Neck diameter .344 in (8.7 mm)
Shoulder diameter .460 in (11.7 mm)
Base diameter .471 in (12.0 mm)
Rim diameter .473 in (12.0 mm)
Rim thickness .054 in (1.4 mm)
Case length 1.500 in (38.1 mm)
Overall length Approximately 2.83 in (72 mm)
Case capacity 38.0 gr H2O (2.46 cm3)
Rifling twist 12
Primer type Large rifle
Maximum pressure Approximately 60,000 psi (4,100 bar)

The .308x1.5" Barnes is a wildcat cartridge based on the .308 Winchester (7.62x51 NATO). The cartridge is similar to the 7.62x39 Russian (M43) cartridge though by all accounts the .308x1.5" Barnes outperforms the Soviet cartridge. It was designed by Frank C. Barnes in March 1961 by shortening the .308 Winchester to 1.5 in (38 mm) and giving it a shoulder angle of 20° (α=40°) similar to the parent cartridge. [1]


The first rifles commissioned for the developmental work by Barnes for the .308x1.5" Barnes cartridge were a Swedish Model 96 Mauser with a 1 in 12 (305 mm) twist built by Les Corbet and a Remington Rolling Block with a 1 in 10 (254 mm) twist built by P.O. Ackley. Due to the weights of the bullet and the performance of the cartridge the 1 in 12 twist rate became the standard by general consensus.

Similar Cartridges[]

The legacy of the Barnes cartridge is found in its progeny cartridges. The .308x1.5" Barnes caused a wildcatting craze which had individuals necking the cartridge down to .224 (5.56 mm), .243 (6 mm), .264 (6.5 mm), .284 (7 mm) and necking up to .338 ( 8.5 mm) .375 (9.5 mm). Due to the cartridges’ efficiency and accuracy many of these cartridges such as the .22 BR, 6mm BR, 6mm BR Norma, 7mm BR and the .30 BR went on to become popular benchrest cartridges and some of these were adopted by mainstream ammunition manufacturers. The .308x1.5" Barnes was one of the original short fat cartridge designs having a length to width ration of 3.17. The short fat cartridge design is considered to promote efficiency and shot to shot consistency.

The .308x1.5" Barnes cartridge is comparable to cartridge such as the 7.62x39 and the 30-30 Winchester. The .308x1.5" Barnes is capable of launching a 150 gr (9.7 g) bullet at 2,500 ft/s (760 m/s). While the Barnes cartridge and the 7.62x39 cartridges are of a similar length, the .308x1.5" Barnes has a greater body girth which provides a greater propellant capacity which in turn contributes to its performance advantage over the 7.62x39 cartridge. While the 30-30 Winchester has about a 16% greater capacity over the Barnes cartridge, the 30-30 Winchester has a SAAMI recommended pressure limit of 42,000 psi (2,900 bar). For this reason most factory 30-30 ammunition loaded with a 150 gr (9.7 g) bullet achieves a mere 2,390 ft/s (730 m/s). Furthermore, the Barnes cartridge is capable of launching heavier bullet when compared with the 7.62x39 and has the advantage of using spitzer bullet and is chambered in strong bolt action rifles whereas the 30-30 Winchester is commonly loaded with round nose or flat nose bullets due to the fact that it is chambered in lever action rifles with tubular magazines.

The .308x1.5" Barnes was intended a short range deer cartridge that could be used also as a varmint and predator cartridge. Loaded with the 150 gr (9.7 g) the cartridge is capable of taking deer sized game out to 150 yd (140 m). For predators and varmint hunting bullet weighting 90–125 gr (5.8–8.1 g) are commonly used.


Further reading[]

  • De Haas, Frank (2003). Bolt Action Rifles - 4th Edition. 
  • Donnelly, John J. (1987). The Handloader's Manual of Cartridge Conversions. 
  • Howell, Ken (1995). Designing and Forming Custom Cartridges. 
  • Barnes, Frank C. (1997) [1965]. McPherson, M.L.. ed. Cartridges of the World (8th ed.). 

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