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How does cold affect your barrel?

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Unread 11-25-2005, 05:03 PM
Join Date: Jun 2007
Location: North Idaho
Posts: 1,877
Re: How does cold affect your barrel?


Most of the issues you are facing come from the flight of the bullet in the different air conditions. Remember that if TEMP, ELEVATION, OR HUMIDITY go down so does the point of impact. I would also chronograph your loads in cold temp to see if the muzzle velocity is effected.
Shawn Carlock
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Unread 11-25-2005, 06:43 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2004
Location: Pennsyltucky
Posts: 2,630
Re: How does cold affect your barrel?

Shawn, i respectfully disagree with your statement.when the temp goes down, so does your point of's just not that simple.i have seen dozens of guns shoot higher when it was colder out.even if the velocity of the bullet is less,that alone could make it print higher.
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Unread 11-25-2005, 09:05 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2001
Posts: 1,459
Re: How does cold affect your barrel?

Changing weather can affect the stock and the action bedding. Why I prefer lam, synthetic or composite stocks. Also, I leave quite a large gap around the barrel and stock so any shift is not going to hit the barrel.

Most powders will 'lose' velocity as temp drops. This will affect trajectory but more importantly, barrel tuning as the load has effectively changed. Like using less powder in the summer.

To solve this, I shoot Hodgdon Extreme powders. These are very temp stable and shoot essentially the same from the summer to mild winter (I don't hunt when it gets really cold - season ends before that). There are a few other companies now making stable powders. Definitely do your research.

For primers, I use the CCI BR2 and Fed 210M for stand cases and the Fed 215M for magnum cases. They all seem to ignite very consistently in varying temperatures.

I do alot of shooting in the warmer months and test in early fall/winter just to make sure all is well. By using a stable stock and stable ammo, I have found almost no change in POI and drop tables.

You could of course work up a cold temp load and test/use only in the winter. That's more of a pain then I like. Plus are very real danger of using a cold load in the summer and locking things up.

I have only experienced once when the barrel itself changed POI due to extreme cold. This was definitely bitterly cold (around minus 10C and no fun to shoot in). After a few shots and the barrel went back to the 'normal' POI. The ammo worked well even with these cold temps.

Testing is the only way to know for sure...

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Unread 11-26-2005, 09:44 AM
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Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Dover De.
Posts: 158
Re: How does cold affect your barrel?

Where I live I sight my rifle in when it get gets cold and the air thins. Like when you have to wear a jacket. I resight it in again in the summer time like when my rifle doesn't shot to point of aim. What I do is make sure my rifle that I'll be using is sighted in before I leave on a hunting trip to what ever the temperture is outside. This works for me. [img]/ubbthreads/images/graemlins/smile.gif[/img]
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Unread 11-26-2005, 08:09 PM
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Join Date: Jan 2003
Location: The rifle range, or archery range or behind the computer in Alaska
Posts: 3,740
Re: How does cold affect your barrel?

I do a great deal of shooting in both 60-80 degree air as well as sub zero air close to sea level. If my ammo is kept in a warm truck around 70 degrees I dont notice a zero or accuracy change out to 300 yards. 400-600 is small and after 600 yards its time to really compensate for the thick air. I only use McMillan stocks to minimize the cold air's effect on my rifle. I am VERY lucky to have a 308 that will not throw bullet #1 out of the group due to the "cold bore" shot. Even if the barrel has been in -10 degrees for quite some time. This is of course if I am using warm ammo. If your ammo is going to get that cold, its best to develop a load for your hunt in those conditions. Personaly I tend to keep ammo in my pocket and load the rifle when I am setting up for the shot.

Some key points to think about in cold air shooting:

Use a GOOD synthetic stock free floated.

Keep the barrel to 26" or less. including brakes.

Keep your ammo warm or develop for the enviornment and/or use only EXTREEM powders or learn in detail what happens to you velocity at various temps, then compensate for your POI and trajectory accordingly.

If your rifle has a cold bore issue, concider a warm up shot followed by the killing shot. You will not need to use this practice up to 300 yards unless you have a real turd of a rifle.
Long range shooting is a process that ends with a result. Once you start to focus on the result (how bad your last shot was, how big the group is going to be, what your buck will score, what your match score is, what place you are in...) then you loose the capacity to focus on the process.
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Unread 11-27-2005, 09:33 PM
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Join Date: Aug 2001
Location: Chicago, IL
Posts: 82
Re: How does cold affect your barrel?

A rule of thumb I was taught when I shot for the All-Army Rifle Team back in the early 1970's was one MOA change for every 15 degrees of temperature change. Thus, if you zeroed your rifle at 60 degrees and then later shot it in 15 degree weather, you'd be 3 MOA low. Of course, this was shooting Lake City Match ammo in Match Grade M-14's. I still shoot Lake City Match .308 ammo in my Ruger 77V, and find this rule of thumb is still pretty accurate.
Jesus saves, but Moses invests
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Unread 11-28-2005, 08:43 AM
Junior Member
Join Date: Nov 2005
Posts: 2
Re: How does cold affect your barrel?

I know guys when shooting their hunting rifles in the summer they keep the ammo in a cooler on ice.
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