Length of Pull on a Bolt Action Rifle

Very much in line with what we’ve been talking about on the Old Contemptibles, here is a question from Sipsey Street:

A reader asks, and although I have my opinions, I’m wondering what you readers have to say. Remember to look at it from two points of view, from the big shooter forced to deal with a weapon with too short length of pull and a small statured shooter using a weapon with too long a length of pull.

The comments are, as ever, illuminating.

I will say as a student of Gunsite and a devotee of the Steyr Scout rifle that I have found a short LOP (with an IER scope) to be a decided advantage.

What say you?


  1. UltimaRatioRegis says:

    LTCOL P,

    Does the scope make the difference? Over iron sights, I might not want to break stock weld if I could avoid it, and it would seem a slightly longer pull might facilitate that. Or am I off the mark with that assumption?

    • LtCol P says:

      The IER scope is apart of the system of the user-friendly rifle. It makes it easier to shorten the LOP in a way, because you don't have to worry about getting whacked by the scope with an LOP shorter than you're used to.

  2. Mule says:

    Depending on the type of shooting, I am of the opinion that LOP is as important with rifles as it is with shotguns. A rifle that doesn't fit you either way is a detriment; however, I'd agree with Col. Cooper (how magnanimous of me, huh? lol) that a "too short" LOP is easier to deal with than "too long".

    If you do any sort of hunting where running/moving target shots are possible, a properly fitting rifle is very important.

    • LtCol P says:


      You are absolutely correct. The (single, fatal) snap shot I made on the running hog last year was made possible by the light short handy rifle I was carrying– the Steyr Scout. Not only its short length (and short LOP), but also the fact that I wasn't fatigued from carrying it all afternoon. Great rifle.

  3. Russ Koch says:

    Competetive shooting as on a KD range or a bench, seems to require the utmost consideration to every factor of the shooter and the weapon. It's like you are riding one of those exponential curves rising asymptotically to your goal and LOP has to be figured in. That said, the rest of us seem to conform ourselves to whatever it is we are shooting. Like your brother's hand me down mitt that's a little too large–it gets you in the game and after awhile it feels "right" although it may be wrong. I don't believe LOP is a big deal except as something to gab about ( which is why I'm gabbing). But then again, I'm 5'-10" standard issue and everything seems to fit me from my 1903a3 and M1A, to my AR. I will admit to preferring an m16a1 fixed stock to the m4 adjustable thingy. Something does seem wrong with the current system though. I can't count the times I've seen (photos of) soldiers and Marines with the toe of the stock nearly on top of their shoulder as they use their optics (in combat). That breaks one of the fundamental rules of accuracy. They must be choosing to maintain cheek weld over keeping the buttstock in the pocket.

    • LTCOL P says:


      Could be that you are, in fact, the sort of person for whom the rifle was sized. After all, it had to be been designed for that length, and length of pull, for some specific reason. It would be interesting to learn what the criteria were.

  4. Mule says:

    Here's a link to a vid with some pretty amazing moving target shooting. His style is a bit unconventional, but it goes pretty well with a discussion about stock fit & moving target shooting:


    I've been around a few game shots & my old man was the best game shot I've ever seen. He was also a small guy and had to wear a thick pair of shoes to make 5'7". He shot a Savage Model 99 in .300 Savage that he had the stock cut down on & reprofiled to his LOP. He swore by a proper fitting lever action as being the best "jump shooting gun" a man could carry, although this was before semi-autos became more popular.