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The diference in "loudness" of the gun's report between a 24" and a 26" barrel is going to be negligable if at all perceptible. It likely wasn't the gun but the loads that got you kicked off the pheasant property Betty. What the shorter barrel DOES do is put the muzzel more in line with the guys' ears on either side of you in the blind of the goose set. It is just a little easier to ring your buddies' ears with a shorter barrel than with a longer one is all. I have a 24" pipe on my SBE II and run an extended choke so it's actually right about 25". The thing I ALWAYS do (which you should do anyways right?) is just stick to my shooting lanes when I have other hunters on either side of me so I DON'T ring their ears.
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Barrel length no longer contributes to velocity of shot. With modern/ progressive powders reaching their full burn potential with in the first 6 inches and less of the barrel, length discrepancies will not contribute to any substantial loss or gain in velocity. (IE less than 100fps). In the time of black powder barrel length did however play a major role in performance as the slower burning powders need longer tubes to fully ignite. But today a longer barrel means a longer site plain which is easier to keep on target at distance.
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