The Accurate Barrel

When it comes to barrels, you should be more concerned with the quality and precision of manufacture than whether a barrel's made of stainless steel or a chrome-moly alloy, although stainless stands up longer to wear. Producers may proudly declare the superiority of their barrel-making process, but there doesn't seem to be any inherent advantage in hammer-forged or button rifling. Both techniques create stress because steel is crushed into the desired shape and the stress relieved by heat treatment. Some fine sniper rifles, including the Steyr SSG and SIG-Sauer SSG 3000, employ hammer-forged barrels.

Other makers insist that only by cutting or machining the rifling can stress be avoided and quality result—but after machining they lap their barrels, which, it can be argued, has as much to do with barrel performance as does precise cutting. Simply lapping a mediocre barrel— polishing the bore with special abrasives—won't necessarily make it a tack-driver, for too much lapping wears down crisp rifling edges, further degrading accuracy. Quality of manufacture, no matter which process is used, is what matters most. Larry Miller, a Wisconsin high-power rifle champion, once had me examine his Palma Match rifle's finely lapped bore through an expensive 40x bore scope. I could see that every centimeter was brightly polished. By contrast, we next looked at a factory-made varmint rifle's bore—I saw tool marks, tiny crevices, and minuscule burrs on the rifling.

Not only do these bore imperfections interfere with a bullet smoothly transiting the barrel, but they strip away tiny bits of copper jacket from the bullet. After a few rounds, this copper accumulation degrades accuracy because it slightly changes how subsequent bullets travel down the bore. This is why benchresi competitors clean their bores every 10 rounds to preclude copper buildup.

H.S. Precision cuts their own rifled barrels

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Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Hunting Mastery Selected Tips

Deer hunting is an interesting thing that reminds you of those golden old ages of 19th centuries, where a handsome hunk well equipped with all hunting material rides on horse searching for his target animal either for the purpose of displaying his masculine powers or for enticing and wooing his lady love.

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