Short Stroking in Pistol Caliber Carbines: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Considerations

Short Stroking in Pistol Caliber Carbines: Advantages, Disadvantages, and Considerations

Short stroking in Pistol Caliber Carbines (PCCs) has gained attention in the competitive shooting world, as it supposedly offers faster shot-to-shot recovery times. However, it also presents several drawbacks. In this article, we'll dive into the concept of short stroking, its benefits and disadvantages, and factors to consider when considering this approach.

1. What is Short Stroking?

Short stroking is a technique used in competition shooting where PCC shooters handload their ammo to the minimum power factor required to qualify for a match. This results in the bolt not running as hard as it would with factory ball ammo, especially in short barrels. Consequently, the bolt travel distance is reduced, allowing for faster shot-to-shot recovery times or split times.

A typical full-stroke 9mm action features a bolt travel of about 3 inches, getting behind the bolt catch. With short stroking, the bolt travel is shortened by around ¾ inch or more.

2. Advantages of Short Stroking

Short stroking appeals to competitive shooters primarily because of its potential to reduce split times. By minimizing bolt travel distance, the bolt returns to battery faster, allowing for quicker follow-up shots. This can be advantageous in competitive shooting scenarios where speed is crucial.

3. Disadvantages of Short Stroking

Despite its potential benefits, short stroking also presents several drawbacks:

  • Increased felt recoil: Contrary to popular belief, short stroking does not reduce recoil; it increases it. With less travel distance, the buffer spring has less time to slow down the bolt before stopping, resulting in higher felt recoil. This is why short stroking works best with soft-running ammo.
  • Loss of bolt catch functionality: Since the bolt doesn't travel far enough to engage the bolt catch, you lose its use when short stroking.
  • Trigger reset issues: The bolt's travel distance directly affects trigger reset. With less travel, the trigger has less time and distance to reset. This could lead to trigger reset problems, especially if the stroke is shortened by an inch or more. It might require a custom bolt with a sharper cam surface to reset the trigger faster, potentially affecting the trigger's service life.
  • Increased wear on parts: PCCs are already known for being hard on parts, and short stroking can exacerbate this issue. Parts wear out and break faster in PCCs compared to gas-operated AR15s, so short stroking might not be ideal for those concerned about part longevity.

4. Considerations for Short Stroking

Before opting for short stroking, consider the following factors:

  • Ammo selection: As mentioned earlier, short stroking works best with soft-running ammo. Ensure that the ammo you plan to use aligns with the technique.
  • Trigger selection: To avoid trigger reset problems and extend the trigger's service life, invest in a high-quality PCC trigger designed for the increased wear and tear of short-stroke setups.
  • Bolt catch: If retaining the use of your bolt catch is important to you, short stroking might not be the best choice, as it eliminates this functionality.
  • Recoil management: Be prepared for increased felt recoil when using a short-stroke setup. This may require additional practice and training to manage effectively.
  • Parts longevity: Consider the impact of short stroking on the longevity of your PCC's parts. Be prepared for the possibility of increased maintenance and replacement costs.

In conclusion, while short stroking in Pistol Caliber Carbines offers potential advantages for competitive shooters, it also comes with several drawbacks. Weigh the benefits and drawbacks before deciding whether short stroking is the right choice for you. For many PCC shooters, a full-stroke action might be a better choice, as it offers less recoil, less wear on parts, bolt catch functionality, and virtually indiscernible differences in shot recovery time for the majority of shooters. As always, your individual preferences, shooting style, and goals will ultimately dictate the best setup for you.

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