Rifle Barrel Design And Fitting

WE debated a long time as to whether we would include in-siiuetiuus for boring, reaming, and- rifling barrels in this book, and we decided not to for several reasons. These operations are a separate art in themselves, and a very specialized art in these days. To describe them would require several hundred pages, and peating Arms Company, the Niedner Rifle Corporation, and several such description would be intelligible only to a trained machinist small barrel makers. It was also used at Rock Island Arsenal at or toolmaker, who alone is competent to undertake such work, the time that a portion of the Model 1903 rifles were being made

While it is possible for a very skilled and ingenious machinist to there. Theoretically it is the best steel for high power rifle barrels, set up an engine lathe to bore, ream, and rifle a parrel, yet generally and it is used almost exclusively in Eng!and for this purpose. It speaking, heavy and expensive special machine tools are necessary is slightly more difficult to machine than carbon steel, sometimes for this work, and these arc far beyond the resources of the small requiring a slight change in tools used. It has high tensil strength, professional or amateur gunsmith, necessitating a large and ex- excellent wearing qualities, slightly more resistance to corrosion pensive layout which must be in addition to a general purpose ma- than the ordinary carbon steels, and makes most excellent barrels, chine shop, the latter being needed for related work and for tooling From an entirely practical point of view it has not been demon-

up for the rifling operations. Even a very modest equipment may strated that nickel steel is markedly superior to carbon steel for easily run to $25,000 or higher. The various boring bits, reamers, rifle barrels, but most riflemen think it is. Certainly among the and rifting cutters cannot be bought, but must be made, hardened, older and more used rifle barrels in the writer's gun-room, the and ground by the workman himself, who must have the necessary nickel steel barrels seem to have worn less, and to be brighter and skill. • Such skill cannot be taught in any book, but requires years in better condition than carbon steel barrels of similar service, of training in general machine wort Much of the popularity of nickel steel for barrels is due to its use

There are a number of large companies as well as small firms by the Winchester Repeating Arms Company, who for thirty-five in this country who supply professional and amateur gunsmiths with years have been manufacturing barrels of this steel which have barrels bored and rifled to order to any specification at a reasonable been superb in their workmanship, accuracy, and wearing qualities, price. It is also often entirely practical to remove barrels from The chemical composition of Winchester nickel steel is 3 1/2 per certain rifles, such for example as the surplus military rifles which «„t nickel and 0.30 to 0.40 carbon, and it is made by the acid have been sold in large quantities and at low prices since the World 0pCr, hearth process.

War, and fit these barrels to other receivers and chamber them as As this chapter is being written STAINLESS OR RUST-

desired. In addition barrels for the Spnngfield nfle can be bought PROOF STEEL, is coming more and more into use for a great by members of the National Rita Association through the Director many purposes. Whether it will be the barrel steel of the future

,, . .. , V , , , or not cannot be foretold at present. Some of the earlier forms, of Civilian Marksmanship, and these barrels can hc ,cnt f ^ such as Poldi "Anticoro" steel and Boehler "Antinit" steel, breech, be rethreaded, fitted to other rifle actions and ^hambered haye bcen . ^ frQm ^ Ger fop ^ and or of course they can be fitted to the Springfield breech action by u$C(j ^ rifle Thc compos¡t]on of thcjc ¿WQ ^

anyone having the necessary headspace gages. We are there ore |s not known ^ Amcrican w «Stainless" steel, as now going to confine ourselves to giving the gunsmith that formation w used tQ a ^^ for ^ ^

which will enable h,m to draw up proper specifications ínrhisrifle at ^ buf a high chrome A j compogition of tWs {ron barrels, m fit them to proper breech actions, and if necessary to ag nQw b€Íng ^ ¡f| r¡flc ^^ chromium n pcr ^^ ^^

chlTcarír,dge deT / a - ____.. 0-10 P« cent., and copper 1.50 per cent. Certain intricate heat

BARREL STEEL: In general the steel used in the manu- treatment ¡9 ncccssary {n ordcr raakc k both machineable and rust-

racture of nfle barrels may be divided into four classes: proof_ None of steels are absolutcly r^t-prooi-^X ^n ^

if given enough exposure, but they are very much more resistant to i HI* «»„im,, died "Ordn.nce St«.." than barrd steels. Poldi "Anticoro" stte[ for ex-

Nickel steel. ample, is so resistant that it takes five to ten times as much applies-

4. Stain 1pm or rust proof «eel. tion of the bluing solution to blue it (which is a rusting process) as

, t , , . i »- ordinary barrel steels. Stainless steel is still further resistant, can-

Under these general classes each barrel manufacturer has his not bc 8UCCCMfuIly blued, and is generally copper plated outside and own specifications as to chemical composition and physical properties ^ sut,jected w a creatment which turns the copper black. All under which he buys his steel from the steel mills in the form of of Aese itccIj arc vcry difficuit t0 bore, ream, and rifle, requiring

;ong bars. It would do us little or no good to know all these spect- tools of a very spcdal stccl xhis, in addition to the original cost fications in detail, so instead we will look at the general properties 0f ^^ 8tecjs ¡n thc bar> makc barrels constructed of them much of these four classes of barrel steel.

BLACK POWDER STEEL, the steel generally used before 217

the advent of high power cartridges and jacketed bullets, is generally more expensive than ordinary barrels. Owing to the difficulties a rather soft, simple carbon steel. It is easily machined, and works connected with machining, heat treatment, bluing and fitting of up into a smooth, even, and uniform bore and rifling. Its limitations these steels, it is thought that they cannot be utilized profitably in are that it has not the tensil strength and elasticity for cartridges work by the average gunsmith who had better place orders for com-

giving breech pressures over about 25,000 pounds per square inch, plete barrels fitted to actions and bolts, and ready chambered by that is for high power cartridges, and it often wears out vcry quickly the manufacturers specializing in them.

from friction when bullets jacketed with hard metals are used. OUTSIDE DIMENSIONS AND WEIGHTS. Besides being

For .22 and .25 caliber rim fire rifles to be used with lead bullets of proper steel, a rifle barrel must have a certain minimum thickness exclusively it is probably as satisfactory as any of the other classes or wall diameter in order to be safe against bulging or bursting, of steel, and it is believed that its use should now bc restricted to this thickness depending upon the cartridge to be used, that is the these calibers of rifles. breech pressure. Other things being equal, thc heavier the barrel

HIGH POWER CARBON STEEL, or Ordnance steel, is the the more accurate it will always be. Barrel length also must be steel now being used by a majority of the manufacturers of high considered, and there are many other factors which must be care-

powcT rifles, including Springfield Armory, The Remington Arms fully weighed in the final determination of the diameter and length

Company, and the Savage Arms Corporation. It is an exceedingly of the barrel of any rifle.

satisfactory steel for all kinds of rifle barrels, being easily machined, The barrels of our old lever and pump action repeating rifles having high tensil strength, excellent wearing qualities, and making were made very light in weight and small in diameter in order to very fine barrels. A typical composition of such steel is: reduce the weight of the complete rifle. They were also usually r 045 t£) o tB cut with two or three transverse dovetail slots for the attachment

MBn?an«W 7.7.V.*.'.'.'*.' l.'oo to l.'ao of sights and forearm. Such barrels performed fairly well with

-OB blicic P<wder cartridges, the breech pressures of which did not

. , . often exceed 20,000 pounds per square inch, and they will still be

Often it is heat treated to increase its yield point and its ultimate nrM*ctOTy for such light cartridges at the various .22 calfben in strength, which in Government barrels are about 75.000 and 110,000 rim firC| and the ¿5-20 and J2-20 center fires. But auch barrels arc pounds per square inch respectively. not satisfactory for modern hizh power cartridge* giving pressures

_____ 216 from 36,000 pound» to 50,005 pounds, not because they are not

NICKEL STEEL is used for barrels by the Winchester Re- safe enough, but because they are not »tiff enough. TTieie thin, slotted barrels when fired with high power cartridges vibrate with very great amplitude and as each cartridge differs slightly from every other cartridge, one may set up a slightly different vibration from the next, and thus cause a delivery of the bullet from the muzzle at a widely varying point in the vibration. The result is mediocre accuracy.

In the design of modern barrels, in addition to safety and stiffness, we must consider the ultimate weight of the rifle and its balance. In a hunting rifle we desire as light weight as is consistent with accuracy and moderate recoil, and the balance should be only a short distance in front of the trigger so it will handle and move quickly for snap shots and shooting at running game. In a target weapon, on the other hand there should be weight to hold it steady, and this will also minimize movement from little tendencies to flinch or jerk the trigger, or small muscular tremors, which will not disturb it so much. And with the target rifle we prefer that it be a little muzzle heavy so that in the process of holding and aiming it will swing slower towards and away from the bull's-eye.

To reduce weight and give the desired balance, and at the tame time minimize vibration, the modern hunting rifle barrel is made

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