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3 groove Barrels

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Unread 08-14-2008, 03:55 PM
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Location: Oregon City, OR
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Re: 3 groove Barrels

I had a PAC NOR 3 groove and it would not stop coppering as well. Took it off after 400 rounds and replaced.

The accuracy was very inconsistant. Dissapointed would be an understatment!:(

I hope you have a better time with the 3 groove than I.

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Unread 08-16-2008, 02:06 PM
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Re: 3 groove Barrels

I have used 3 groove barrels in my high velocity wildcats in 25 cal, 6.5mm, 270 cal and 7mm extensively.

I have not had one that was a bad copper fouler but I have heard some are. I would say I have used roughly 12 of these barrels in the different calibers listed above in velocities up to 4100 fps in the 25 cal and 4250 fps in the 6.5mm barrels.

I am familiar with Bill Baileys rifle and agree it was much more of a fouler then I have experienced with my personal barrels and tests.

That said, I have seen this with every different barrel design out there, every once in a while some will just foul more. I had a Lilja 1-8 30 cal barrel that you could shoot 5 shots through and have 3 cents worth of copper in the barrel after those shots.

Called up Dan and asked him what the problem was. He said to return the barrel and they would check it and relap it if needed. Got the barrel back and its working perfectly well not so things happen every once in a while even with top end barrels.

As far as what you can expect, here are a few things I have learned testing these barrels. Most of these have been fast twist barrels so it may not pertain to your situtation with the 1-15 twist.

- Barrel life is longer. Roughly 15-18% longer compared to a traditional 6 groove barrel. Roughly 10-12% longer then 5 groove barrels and around 8-10% longer then 4 groove. That being all barrels made from the same material and hardness. Some of the harder cut rifled barrels will last longer then save groove count button pulled barrels so you have to compare apples to apples.

- I have not noticed much difference in accuracy with a 3, 4, 5 or 6 groove barrel when all are fitted and chambered properly and the barrel is of top quality.

- I have noticed that the 3 groove barrels are much harder on thin jacketed bullets. Again, this is for heavy VLD or ULD bullets in fast twist barrels. I do not think you will have these issues but if you use a J-4 based bullet, you may have some problems no matter what twist you use with those velocities.

- I have seen some 3 groove barrels produce a bit more velocity then other rifling designs and some a bit less. I have tested them head to head with the 5R and 5S barrels and can tell you that for the three barrels I tested, the Lilja 3 groove produced the least amount of pressure for a given load using the same chamber, throat, bullet and load and barrel length. In fact a comfortable load in the Lilja was leaving a shiny ejector mark on the 5S barrel. All in all, variations from one barrel to another will effect velocity potential to a higher degree then the number of lands in the barrel, especially with conventional cup jacketed bullets. Now with hard bullets thats a different story.

If I am building a rifle for high velocity using very long, very heavy VLD or ULD bullets in a fast twist barrel, I will not use the 3 groove barrels any more simply because of their high baring surface compression % which is just to hard on these bullets and in time you will have problems.

For those types of rifles I will generally use a 4 groove barrel with BSC % in the 20% range and no more.

For conventional chamberings or with very light weight bullets, its not nearly as critical.

All in all, there is not a huge difference between these barrel designs. Break them in well and on average they will behave like any other top end barrel. Of course there is always a chance of a bad barrel but thats the case with any barrel maker.

What bullet will you be using?
Kirby Allen(50)

Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.

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Unread 08-17-2008, 12:13 AM
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Join Date: Jul 2004
Location: Texas
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Re: 3 groove Barrels

Thanks very much for all of the responses !!!!!!

I am swimming in uncharted waters with this project and wanted to know
as much up front as I could and give the rifle the best chance possible.

The reason I didn't name the barrel maker was to get unbiased replies and I
appreciate everyones comments.

Hears is the build.

Action = Remingtion 40x single shot.
Barrel = Lilja 3 groove .224 cal 1 in 15 twist 26'' or 27'' long.
Cartridge = 223 WSSM.
Bullet weight = 40gr to 50gr.
Bullet type/brand = Open for suggestions (Velocity will be between 4200 ft/sec
and 4400 ft/sec).
Scope will be ether 6.5x20x50 or maby a 8.5x25x50.

I realize barrel life wont be great but thats why I though the 3 groove would work
best and I can set the barrel back if accuracy falls off.

This rifle will be for little critters and hopefully I can see the hit through the scope.

If it doesent meet my expectations I will rebarrel with a 1 in 12 twist and shoot 55 and
60 gr bullets.

Any comments on bullet choices will be a great help. I had though about using a fmj
or a banded solid.

I will post the results of this build as soon as I finnish the build and testing.

Thanks again to everyone and keep the comments coming.


Last edited by J E Custom; 08-17-2008 at 12:19 AM.
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Unread 08-17-2008, 11:13 AM
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Join Date: Jan 2004
Location: Blackfoot, Idaho
Posts: 8,831
Re: 3 groove Barrels

At those velocities and rifling I doubt Bergers will hold up. However the slow twist may make it tollerable. It will be a good data point and maybe allow me to get that hot shootin LR 223 cal yote gun I'm been dreaming about.

Keep us posted.

You're pushing some limits which in my mind is very near the "bleeding edge" you'll be like the front end of an Ice Breaker, taking the blunt of the challenges.

Keep us posted.
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Unread 08-17-2008, 02:04 PM
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Join Date: Jul 2002
Posts: 2,855
Re: 3 groove Barrels

I have used two Lilja 3 groove and two Pacnor 3 groove , both Lilja barrels shot great , fouled very little but their were is reasonably mild rounds one was my 260 the other was 300 win mag. The two pac-Nor barrels both fouled worse than the Liljas but not as bad as a factory barrel one was 22-250 Ackley the other was 243 Ackley.

I know that with the two later barrels they would blow bullets up once the speed was in the 4K range both 1-8 twist. Had to stick with the V-max and Ballictic Tips for the realy high speeds.

I'm pretty sold on cut rifled barrles now especialy the 5R barrels like the Rock Creek , Obermeyer and Bartlein although my next build will be on a buttoned 5R made by Broughton.
I think that the more land and grooves you have makes a realy big differance in keeping bullets together at high speeds , the 3 groove barrles have much wider lands and those put a good bit more stress on the bullet which helps to break them up.

For a real hot rod like your building my vote would be for a 5R from a cut rifled maker , Rockcreek , Obermeyer and Bartlein (in no particular order)
Si Vis Pacem Parabellum
Molon Labe
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Unread 08-17-2008, 02:15 PM
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Join Date: Feb 2005
Location: USA
Posts: 2,598
Re: 3 groove Barrels

That is my preference as well James.
range it,check the wind, dial in correction, aim and only one shot
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Unread 08-17-2008, 03:10 PM
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Re: 3 groove Barrels

When I was wringing out my 7mm Allen Magnum with the Lilja 3 groove barrels, I ran into problems when the barrels got roughly 200-300 rounds down the barrel.

Shooting the 200 gr ULD RBBT from wildcat bullets using the J-4 jacket, they would shoot great to start with and then the bullets would start coming apart and eventually every one shot, no matter the velocity used would tear the bullets apart.

Mike Rock contacted me after hearing about my problems and said he had the cure all for my problems. He sent me a 1-8.7 5R barrel out to try and see what happened telling me I would never have a bullet fail again.

Got the barrel fitted and took the rifle out to the range. At 500 yards, the first shot landed predictably, shot number two turned to dust as did every bullet after that......

I am not hammering on Rock barrels, I worked with James who is the head barrel maker to have him design a thinner rifling design that worked extremely well with no problems at all.

It all comes down to baring surface compression(BSC). The 3 groove barrels will be up in the 30% range for baring surface compression. I do not have the exact numbers but in comparision, the numbers looked something like this comparing several barrels in 7mm bore.

Rock 5R........................35%
Lilja 3 groove.................30%
Lilja 4 groove.................22%
Lilja 6 groove.................20%

I have never had a problem with the 4 or 6 groove barrels. I had serious problems with the original Rock design and most of the Lilja barrels in 3 groove gave me problems as well. Again, all when using the J-4 based bullets.

BSC % is simply a function of the area a bullet is compressed by the lands. Really has very little if anything to do with the width of a single land in and of itself.

If a 3 groove land was the same width as a 6 groove land, they would have no problems at all with thin jacketed bullets.

As far as barrel life goes, again we need to look at a single land to figure out which rifling design will last longest. Just because there are only 3 lands in a barrel does not nessesarily mean it will have the longest barrel life.

If you took a 3 groove, 4 groove, 5 groove and 6 groove all having the same land width, they would all have the same barrel life given that all barrels were made from the same material and hardness of material.

The wider the land crosssection, the longer it will take to erode from firing, simple as that, the thinner the cross section of the land, the faster it will erode.
Kirby Allen(50)

Allen Precision Shooting
Home of the Allen Magnum, Allen Xpress and Allen Tactical Wildcats and the Painkiller Muzzle brakes.

Farther, Faster and Flatter then ever before.

Web Page:
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