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Choosing a barrel - expensive vs inexpensive, a comparison Login/Join 
Loves His Wife
Picture of BRL
posted
Stumbled on this YouTube video which compares a BCA barrel to a Proof barrel.

Reading the comments where often the best information lies, there were several comments about the gas port on the BCA barrel was drilled on the rifling lands vs the proof barrel was drilled between the lands. Several say this is one thing that gives the proof barrel an advantage for accuracy.

What are your thoughts on that? Is this just coincidence or do the high end manufacturers make timing the gas port “properly” one of the things in their bag of tricks? Anyone have any tribal knowledge of this factoid?

I’ve not researched any manufacturers descriptions to see if this is an added feature. If this is a factor, I can’t really look until I get the barrels.

It’s easy to see the difference in the tooling marks though to my eye they don’t look awful on the BCA. I know that some will polish feed ramps and “tune” the chamber. It’d probably be better for me to take the time to do this on existing projects that are in the works or have been completed. This might be a better and more economical use of my time than scouring the web for more “deals”for new builds Big Grin Crowning and those types of things are above my pay grade.

Also, do you think BCA test fires $80 barrels or might there be some other reason this one was shot prior to him receiving it?




I am not BIPOLAR. I don't even like bears.


 
Posts: 12925 | Location: Western WI | Registered: January 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The little things that a quality barrel maker (such as Proof) does during the manufacturing process reveal themselves when bullets fly. I have a Proof barrel in a bolt action and I've been around those who have Proof barrels in bolt actions and ARs. Proof definitely makes high quality barrels.

I was not aware of the guy who made the above video. I scanned his videos from 4 years ago, but I didn't quickly see the side by side comparison of the Bear Creek and Proof barrels. There were some comparison videos between budget and premium builds, but he seemed to be coy about what was exactly in each rifle. I scanned enough of his shooting to say that I am not impressed. Precision shooting capabilities are necessary to truly show the differences between great and so-so barrels.

I can't speak for the location of the gas port hole -- lands, grooves, or a part of each. I've never checked. My very competent local gunsmith hasn't checked my barrels. I've seen reports which state it makes a difference, others say not so much.

I do know that the care taken to properly cut the chamber matters to accuracy. I do know that a properly cut and lapped bore matters to accuracy. I know that a straight barrel matters to accuracy. Top barrel manufacturers pay great attention to such things. Value-line barrels -- not so much.
 
Posts: 7824 | Location: Colorado | Registered: January 26, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I was looking at a Bear Creek upper 10 or less years ago. It was kinda an impulse thought. With some quick research, BCA averaged a fair amount of questionable reviews, I passed on the upper.

I’ve never owned one, so not a viable opinion. Maybe they just had a hiccup with production reviewed while I was looking.

One added comment about ‘accuracy’ & all; to me it’s a total package, shooter, ammo, sighting system, trigger, everything. Many of us have heard stories about, ‘this rifle won’t shoot’, or similar. Not always, but much of the time, contributors can be sorted out.
 
Posts: 6098 | Location: WI | Registered: February 29, 2012Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Loves His Wife
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quote:
I was not aware of the guy who made the above video. I scanned his videos from 4 years ago, but I didn't quickly see the side by side comparison of the Bear Creek and Proof barrels. There were some comparison videos between budget and premium builds, but he seemed to be coy about what was exactly in each rifle. I scanned enough of his shooting to say that I am not impressed. Precision shooting capabilities are necessary to truly show the differences between great and so-so barrels.


I’ll agree I was underwhelmed with the knowledge content in his video. The intro made it sound like he was going to expose some big secret, he did not. All he really showed was he had a bore scope.

I’d like to find some content that clearly illustrates the differences between mass manufacturers, your middle of the road barrel makers and this high end custom makers. I’m sure the differences are slight and cumulative , much like the difference between a $1000 1911 and a $3,000 1911.

Of course like sourdough says, there are so many other variables.



I am not BIPOLAR. I don't even like bears.


 
Posts: 12925 | Location: Western WI | Registered: January 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Yeah, that M14 video guy...
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Here are borescope images of various barrels from top-tier barrels to economy barrels at the gas port.

As for weather or not the gas port makes a difference in accuracy, I have seen barrels with gas ports drilled over the lands and still shoot under 1/2 MOA. My double-lug Lothar-Walther (LW) M14 has a gas port like this and I regularly get sub-MOA groups out of it. Actually, I shoot sub-MOA groups out of it more than I do groups over 1 MOA. My LW barrel keeps up with Kreiger barrels just fine. Both are capable of under 1/2 MOA. And that's in a M14.

The real difference is in how smooth the rifling is. The smoothest I've seen are Bartleins, Kreigers, Criterions, and Lothar Walthers. They all look equally smooth under a borescope. The Springfields and Bulas have tooling marks that the other barrel makers don't have. The smoother barrels will resist fouling and will clean up much faster than rougher barrels.

Kreiger said they will not make a gas-gun 5R barrel because they can't guarantee that the gas port is in a groove. Bartlein and Dave Sullivan will turn gas gun 5R barrels as the location of the gas port in a groove is the cornerstone of how the rest of the barrel is made. Thread timing, extractor cutouts and feed ramps are all referenced off the gas port landing in a groove.

Some barrel makers disregard it and I haven't seen an accuracy issue because of it.

Here's a Bartlein cut-rifled barrel:


Kreiger cut-rifled new


GI M14 chrome lined barrel in excellent condition:


The rest are button rifle barrels.

This Criterion is cut into a land and groove


This Criterion 5R has about 1K rounds through it and it shoots like a laser beam. I've shot this out to 900 yards and got 5 for 5 hits on a 36" plate on my first try. This one also has a gas port over and land and a groove.


Now we're on to the bargain barrels. These will have distinct tooling marks that aren't present in your more expensive barrels. They are harder to clean and foul quicker. Surprisingly, the gas ports are in grooves.

This is a button rifled barrel from a Springfield scout.


This is a low-round-count Bula barrel which it is rumored was made from a Shaw blank. I can't confirm that though. I think I shot 50 rounds through it.


The other thing you have to consider is the consistency of the bore diameter. If you have a range rod and can choose an insert that fits into the bore, the barrel can have tight and loose spots throughout the bore.

The other factor is barrel straightness and how much the bore deviates or curves inside the barrel over the length of the barrel. Even if the bore is centered at both ends, it can and does curve or deviate throughout the barrel from the outer diameter between centers.

Hope this gives you some insight to quality versus bargain barrels.

Tony.

This message has been edited. Last edited by: benny6,


Owner, TonyBen, LLC, Type-07 FFL
www.tonybenm14.com (Site under construction).
e-mail: tonyben@tonybenm14.com
 
Posts: 5335 | Location: Auburndale, FL | Registered: February 13, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Loves His Wife
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Wow! Thanks for that outstanding post. That’s some very clear evidence of the difference in quality and build.



I am not BIPOLAR. I don't even like bears.


 
Posts: 12925 | Location: Western WI | Registered: January 05, 2009Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Yeah, that M14 video guy...
Picture of benny6
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You're welcome! And for posterity, here's a new, unchambered and unused Proof Research barrel. No gas port, it's for a bolt gun.



Another commentary on bore diameter; in some cases, I've seen the muzzle diameter be just a little tighter than the chamber bore diameter. What you don't want is for the muzzle diameter to be larger than the bore diameter. That means a bullet would start in an undersized bore and just as it exits, it goes into a larger muzzle diameter. That can wreak havoc on accuracy.

It's also not advised to do barrel fluting on a button rifled barrel. Button rifling happens after stress relieving and if the barrel gets fluted, the stresses incurred during the button rifling process can vary the bore diameter, resulting in accuracy loss. Cut rifled barrels don't have this issue.

The same can be said with chopping a button rifled barrel shorter after it's been rifled. You can have a larger bore diameter at the muzzle when you chop off the extra barrel length.

Bore diameter is gauged with pilots that step up in 2 ten-thousandth of an inch (0.0002") increments. Some 30 caliber match bores can come with rifling tighter than 0.2992". Bartlein usually hits right at 0.3000". I've had some bores be too tight for my pull-through reamer and I end up having to use my live pilot lathe reamer which accepts interchangeable pilots of different sizes.

Edit: Here are some more barrel pics I have from barrels off the shelf next to me.
These next two are from a lightly used Remington CSR 16" fluted barrel.

This one is at the throat...


This one is half way down the barrel...


This next one is from a factory Savage 12FV that had maybe 20 rounds down the barrel, max. I cut this one up to practice barrel and muzzle threading. I installed a featherweight Criterion barrel in the action for hunting in its place.


This one appears to be an unfired Remington 700 barrel. You can still see the machining marks perpendicular to the rifling.


Tony.


Owner, TonyBen, LLC, Type-07 FFL
www.tonybenm14.com (Site under construction).
e-mail: tonyben@tonybenm14.com
 
Posts: 5335 | Location: Auburndale, FL | Registered: February 13, 2001Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Originally posted by benny6:
It's also not advised to do barrel fluting on a button rifled barrel. Button rifling happens after stress relieving and if the barrel gets fluted, the stresses incurred during the button rifling process can vary the bore diameter, resulting in accuracy loss. Cut rifled barrels don't have this issue.

I agree that fluting a button rifled barrel produces some challenges. However, Wilson Combat seems to have figured out such challenges.

I have (and have shot out) Wilson barrels that are both fluted and unfluted. Accuracy wise, IMO they are among the best production AR barrels out there. Not quite up to the accuracy standards of my Krieger and Bartlein AR barrels, but respectably close. I see no real-world accuracy differences between their fluted and unfluted barrels -- if anything, my fluted ones have been a smidgeon more accurate and a smidgeon more ammo tolerant. I recall that Wilson air gauges their AR barrels to confirm consistent bore sizes.

My Wilson AR barrels aren't just sorta-kinda accurate. They produce repeatable sub-MOA results at hundreds of yards.

***
Among the best barrels I have is a Bartlein BB steel 6 Creedmoor bolt action. My 'smith noted the high quality of the BB steel barrels that he has chambered. All I know is that this barrel has produced 1/2 MOA and better verticals out to 800 yards with factory ammo, and it carbon fouls less than any barrel I've owned.
 
Posts: 7824 | Location: Colorado | Registered: January 26, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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