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.308 Winchester Barrel Life

 
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Old 05-02-2001, 10:41 PM
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Join Date: May 2001
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.308 Winchester Barrel Life

During a visit to H-S Precision a while back I was shown the results of a 10,000 round barrel test. They took a brand new heavy tactical rifle, c/w one of their cut-rifled barrels and shot it for about 2 1/2 months. They used CO2 during the test to cool the barrel down. This increased the shots per day to about 750 rounds.
After breaking-in the barrel they shot an initial test group with Federal Gold Medal - a 3-shot 100 yard group - then started shooting Winchester 150 grain Power Point factory ammo. The barrel was given a minimal cleaning every 40-50 rounds, and a thorough cleaning every 200-250 rounds. After exactly 1000 rounds were fired they cleaned the barrel and shot a 3-shot test group with Federal Gold Medal match, then put another 1000 rounds of Winchester through it and repeated this for the entire 10,000 rounds.

At the end the barrel was still shooting less than 3/4" for 3 shots @100 yards. This test burned over 62 pounds of ball powder and the fired brass filled five large plastic pails.

Thought that you guys might find this interesting.
ian

posted April 30, 2001 12:55 AM

Warren Jensen
Member

From: Arco, ID US
Registered: April 12, 2001
Posts: 16
Barrel Life
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Ian,
Thank you for the post. My questions may make me sound like a smart ass, and that is not my intent. But after reading your post I now have more questions than before.

Was the purpose of H-S Precision's demonstration/test to show that:

1. You could expect 10,000 rnds. with good accuracy from their barrels.

2. Shooters generally allow barrels to get too hot which reduces barrel life.

3. Shooters generally clean their barrels too often which reduces barrel life.

4. Winchester factory ammo is easy on barrels.

I have never gotten 10,000 rounds through any barrel with good accuracy, and I generally baby the ones I like. So where have I gone wrong?

Their demonstration was remarkable, but I am not certain of which conclusions to draw. Did they infer any conclusions for you?

Warren@lostriverballistic.com http://www.lostriverballistic.com

[This message was edited by Warren Jensen on April 30, 2001 at 08:01 AM.]

posted April 30, 2001 07:56 AM

David P. Herne
Member

From: Houston, Texas (USA)
Registered: April 11, 2001
Posts: 17
Barrel life
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Warren,
You bring up an interesting question regarding the relationship between frequency of cleaning and barrel life.
They're alot hotter than a .308 Win., but since breaking them in, I've cleaned my 7mm Remington and .338 Lapua every twenty rounds, religiously. Do you think this is too often?

Dave

N/A

posted April 30, 2001 08:59 AM

IanM
Member

From: Canada
Registered: April 13, 2001
Posts: 19
H-S Barrel Test
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Warren,
Good questions, I don't really have good answers.
First, I believe that they were torture testing the entire rifle as well as the barrel - I should have made that plain. As a result of the test they did make some changes to the design of some parts of their rifle. This test served an advertising function and was a pretty good test of their rifle re: parts design, material selection, machining etc. They made a point of loading four rounds at a time into a pair of magazines, ran all that ammo through two mags, stuff like that. Operated the safety continuously, did whatever wear and tear he could on the rifle. Ended up with one smooth action, very highly polished bolt.
Other than the fact that the particular barrel maintained very good accuracy for a long time I do not believe that they are keying on any particular point. I don't like to "speak" for them but here is my assessment:

1. You could expect 10,000 rnds. with good accuracy from their barrels. - that is an assumption that they probably hope most buyers or potential buyers would make, given that they were able to keep accuracy for 10,000 rounds.

2. Shooters generally allow barrels to get too hot which reduces barrel life. - the fellow who did the test told me that he allowed the barrel to get very hot, that is why he went to the CO2 for cooling. I would thing that his effort to cool the barrel indicated his concern for over-heating and shortening barrel life.

3. Shooters generally clean their barrels too often which reduces barrel life. - he told me that he did what he considers "average cleaning", not intensive as some folks like to do. Several moist patches at 40-50, brushing and copper removal at 200+.

4. Winchester factory ammo is easy on barrels. - interesting assumption, one of the individuals that I talked to at H-S told me that he understood that ball powder is harder on barrels than stick powder. I had not heard that before and have heard the opposite from other guys. They got a fantastic deal on 10,000 rounds of Winchester ammo that was denied entry into Canada (they did not know the reason), took that opportunity to shoot the test.

Hope this give a bit more info.

posted April 30, 2001 09:31 AM

Warren Jensen
Member

From: Arco, ID US
Registered: April 12, 2001
Posts: 16
Barrel Life
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In reverse order,
4. Ball powders are double based and by definition will burn slightly hotter. I was wondering why they chose Winchester Ammunition. Price was my first guess.

3. I wonder what the accuracy would be if we took those accuracy shots after about 200 rds with only average cleaning at each 50 rounds.

2. Very hot is not good.

1. I am going to venture an opinion here that is only supported by experience and not facts. Something tells me there is a time element that is pertinent to this test. If those 10,000 rounds were fired over the course of 5 years instead of two and a half months I doubt if the barrel would have maintained it's accuracy to the same degree. I think that a short duration test like this shortcuts the normal cycle of shoot, foul , clean, and oxidation that occurs to a rifle barrel in the course of a lifetime. I say this mainly because the results of this test are so exceptional that H-S should be able to produce a field fired barrel with something near this kind of lifespan. I have never heard of one. There has to be something peculiar to a short duration test that does not replicate normal shooting and cleaning. Yes, I am a nonbeliever, but I can't offer a better explanation than that. I am open to suggestions, even if the suggestion is that I am all wet.

Warren@lostriverballistic.com http://www.lostriverballistic.com

posted April 30, 2001 08:18 PM

IanM
Member

From: Canada
Registered: April 13, 2001
Posts: 19
Barrel test
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
In reverse, reverse order(?):
"Ball powders are double based and by definition will burn slightly hotter"
I will take your word for that, thanks.
"I was wondering why they chose Winchester Ammunition. Price was my first guess."
Exactly, and it was perfectly good hunting ammo.

"I wonder what the accuracy would be if we took those accuracy shots after about 200 rds with only average cleaning at each 50 rounds."
No idea.

"Very hot is not good."
Agree but I must say that I am amazed at how well some really abused and overheated barrels continue to shoot. I watched a guy shoot 20 consecutive rounds of .300 Win. mag through a heavy Hart barrel and it still held amazing accuracy for a second twenty rounds - all at 1100 yards.

"I am going to venture an opinion here that is only supported by experience and not facts. Something tells me there is a time element that is pertinent to this test. ... There has to be something peculiar to a short duration test that does not replicate normal shooting and cleaning. ...

I have to agree that such a drastic amount of shooting is not indicative of what wear and tear might occure over the years. On the other hand I have seen intensive shooting accelerate problems that might only show up after a certain number of rounds have been fired.

I did not bring up this subject to insinuate that all barrels, or only H-S barrels, might perform like the one in the test. I have 3750 rounds through a .308 Win. H-S barrel and it shot two 5-shot/100 yard groups in the 0.4's last weekend with Federal match ammo. That is the average this barrel has maintained since I got it - with ammo it likes and when I can hold that well. I do not have any idea how long it will continue to break 1/2 minute, hope to find out.

posted April 30, 2001 11:37 PM

Warren Jensen
Member

From: Arco, ID US
Registered: April 12, 2001
Posts: 16
Barrel LIfe
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ian,
I am not indicating I think there was anything wrong with the test, and it was a remarkable accomplishment. What I am most curious about is why a disparity between the test results and practical application. I have heard of a very few barrels maintaining very good accuracy to 5000 rounds and above. I know of one that the owner claims went to 6500 rounds. But that is it. Have you ever heard of one going to 8,000, 9,000, or 10,000 rounds with good accuracy. I haven't. It is not like it takes 20 years. Many competiters shoot 2000 rounds and more a year. I shoot more than that, but not in competition.

I think there is a parameter unaccounted for here and I am irritated that I cannot come up with it. Thank you for your patience.

Warren@lostriverballistic.com http://www.lostriverballistic.com

posted May 01, 2001 07:40 AM

IanM
Member

From: Canada
Registered: April 13, 2001
Posts: 19
Barrel test results
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Warren,
You have identified an interesting aspect of the test that H-S conducted. I would sure like to see some input on this from other guys who might be interested in the topic. I tend to agree with you that the test is atypical, and like you I have never heard of a barrel lasting that long.
I guess such a test automatically raised one's expectations (or hopes) that his current barrel might do as well. Like you I hope for 5-6000, would sure like to get 10,000 if the barrel-god's smiled...

I just started keeping good logs on my barrels, hope to get some info regarding how many rounds at a given accuracy level I get given my type of shooting and maintenance.

posted May 01, 2001 10:11 AM

Fergus Bailey
Member

From: Australia
Registered: April 12, 2001
Posts: 12
Given that “gas cutting” of the throat is typically the most significant single factor in barrel life, this test seems like a reasonable test of the barrel’s throat under intense conditions and its resulting ability to hold up and deliver a high standard of accuracy over a long period.
I cant talk for fullbore/high power competitors, but the cleaning regime used by HS Precision in this test is not typical of a long range (or short range) BR shooter. I think the majority shooting uncoated bullets would clean after each detail fired. This is typically 10–15, maybe as many as 20 shoots, followed by a fairly thorough cleaning of the barrel.

I tend to look at barrel cleaning as a necessary evil. I accept that it is a requirement for maintaining premier accuracy in my rifles, but I am also aware that each time I push a cleaning rod down the barrel that I could be doing damage to the barrel surface. Then, there is the issue of solvents, with many also being a potential point of damage to the long life of the barrel. Given all this, the cleaning used in the test is not indicative of what I would do, so may exaggerate the accurate life of a barrel.

Having said all that, most of the cartridges I fire are much hotter/higher intensity than the .308 Win so my expectations are far lower than 10,000 rounds of accurate shooting (or even 5K). If they give me 2500, I would be very surprised (but happy).

Fergus
http://www.angelfire.com/ab/fergus

posted May 02, 2001 07:39 PM

IanM
Member

From: Canada
Registered: April 13, 2001
Posts: 19
Barrel test
--------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Fergus,
You have a very good point about throat erosion, and the H-S fellow told us that there was a lot of erosion, although he had not put a bore-scope in for a good look at that point.
An interesting point - when I asked him to shoot a group he agreed but said that the barrel would need to be fouled before it would shoot decently. He fired several rounds, then said "Watch this, it is not fouled enough." and proceeded to shoot a 3-shot group with Fed. Gold Medal that was about 2-21/2 inches. Then he told us that it took eight or nine shots, which he had now fired, and that the barrel should settle down. The next three shots went under 0.7". The young fellow that was doing the test shooting obviously knew the rifle very well - which is to be expected after shooting 10,000 rounds through it.

The need to foul a clean, well-worn barrel probably brings up another interesting topic of discussion.

posted May 02, 2001 08:42 PM
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