Well, I'm aout to do another one of these PITA long winded things I'm known for, so I'll start by apologising. If you folks get sick of seeing it, just tell me to go away, and I'll likey comply.
That said, back to the torture chamber I go.
Something struck me square in the forehead tonite. I was doing some pricing, and I discovered that people are willing to pay a great deal of cash for a custom action. Some prices, as they applied to my project:
Alternatively, someone will purchase a donor rifle for somewhere in the $300.00 to $700.00 range and pay at least that much over again to have it "fixed" for use in a proper custom project. Typically additng up to a cost very similar to prices above.
Then, these same people who plunked down over a grand for the action are only willing to pay a third of that price for a custom barrel. Prices, again, for the same basic rifle build, but not including chambering, threading, or crowning. (Price does include contouring however).
Certainly, the barrel will wear and the action will be good for MUCH longer, however, considering the relative critical neccesity of the barrel in the final rifle, I would imagine prices would be more, or that actions would be a bit less expensive.
Ah well, the laws of economics are irrefutable. Effective demand vs oversupply has made barrels cheaper than actions.
But, I must wonder, given the boutique pricing some will pay for carbon wrapping on their barrels, would there be a market for a barrel that would be quantifiably superior to the offerings above?
Basically, this is an extension of the "musings on barrel life" thread. The conclusions I came to there boiled down to economic unfeasability of a truly ling lasting high accuracy barrel. I am wondering now, is that economic unfeasability an illusion?
Would people be willing to pay more for a barrel than they do an action if that barrel could shoot as accurately as the best of the above, provide more velocity in an equal length and last at least twice as long?
As near as I can tell, $1500 - $1800 is the range that the barrel would cost if I were to have it made in the following manner:
174-SXR with specific integrated heat and cryo treat
single point cut rifled
bore plasma nitrided
hand lapped again
turned down and carbon wrapped.
What the price means, is basically an increase in cost to build any give rifle of $1200.00. The benefits being:
Slightly, but not insignificantly better velocity
Significantly lower weight
Significanlty cooler temperature
reduced or eliminated barrel break in
slightly more consistant velocities (lower SD and ES)
approximately double barrel life.
So what it boils down to is would people pay $1200 for that list of benefits? More to the point, would ENOUGH people pay $1200 for that list of benefits OFTEN ENOUGH to make it a viable product?
If the barrel were masterfully marketed to the proper target group it would most probably sell in quantities sufficient to at least get started. Customer group would most probably include upper end folks that like to bring home the trophy (Karl Malone, Rulon Jones etc types, big money types who would pay $15-50K for a trophy elk including wining, dining, lodging and a couple of hundred $ tip for the 'guide'.
I don't think that the 'general' guy that hangs around here (LRH) would be much of a market. It seems that some like a bunch of high quality rifles, while others like several decent shooting less expensive rifles.
The first implementer of new ideas (the bleeding edge) is a bit painful, regardless of the area of technology being discussed. Its great to come up with a new good idea more commitment than most have to bring it to reality.
Just my .02 cents worth after a long hard day learning something new.
I may be the slowest guy on the mountain . . . . but . . . . I'm on the mountain!
Barrels are like tires on truck to me. Good ones are needed but will wear out and need repalcing. If i can buy 4 barrels for the price of one of yours then i would be able to keep my habit going better.
Also i have no desire for a polygonal barrel, other than on my glock and even it doesnt have one.If polygonal barrels were that much better accuarcy wise you would see them all over the BR circuit. They will last longer but i want the utmost accuracy that i can get. That allows my bad habits to show up less.
I especially like the comparison between spending the same amount of money on one such barrel vs. four of the more typical offerings... That really puts things in perspective!
As far as polygons go, I think it's safe to say that properly made they can be every bit as accurate as any other rifling shape. David Tubb shoots exclusively polygon barrels, and he doesn't do half bad with them!
Sure, they don't appear at BR competition as often or in as great a quantity as other types, but I would contend that that's because of a few factors that have nothing to do with the ultimate accuracy potential of the design.
Such factors as cost, they tend to be a bit pricier. Availability, only a few barrelmakers will make them. and reputation / hesitation. Hammerforged polygons, as used in some military weapons, and as was used in ages past is terrible for accuracy. Not understanding that those barrels were made with a radically different method, many have just heard that poly barrels can't shoot with regular, and steer clear of them. Further, there is a great hesitation to change what is already winning matches.
As far as being the blinding edge being painful, I'm afraid I'd have to leave that pain to another. I couldn't even begin to imagine having the capital required to tool up to build such a product!
No, I really don't have all that much time on my hands. I'm just an obsessive compulsive type who latches on and can't let go. I don't sleep all that much, mostly becasue no matter how tired I am, I can't make the whirlwind inside my head stop turning long enough to actually get to sleep. Even when I'm not online at night, I'll lay in bed for hours, dead exhausted, with my mind racing, exploring, and figuring.
Once a week or so, I'll be so dead exhausted that my mind will actually cease to function. I get very silly at that point, and my sense of humor takes on overdrive, hand in hand with the silliness. I stumble around like I'm drunk, and my speach is loud and unintelligible.
That's my wife's cue that I'm ready to sleep myself out. Three drinks and some ny-quil and I can get a good 12 hours of sleep. When I wake up, I'll be groggy and slow, but the whirlwind starts winding back up to hurricane force, and it starts all over again.
On the other hand, If I were in a position to market such a barrel, I would probably start with the benchresters. Here's why:
1: these guys may not be eager to fix ehat works, but they ARE quite eager to jump on a product that proves itself in a public and unarguable way.
2: at the very top level of competition, there is very little hesitation to spend a small fortune to achieve the very best of the very best.
3: it would provide exactly the kind of reputation and public "press release" such a rediculous new product would require to make it.
What I would do is offer three top level shooters a free barrel until I got 3 takers. The agreement goes like this:
1: You can have this barrel for free if you use it in competition over the next year.
2: if it doesn't shoot for you, I will pay to have it replaced by the barrelmaker of your choice
3: if you win a high attendance national match with it, I will replace it for free with another one built to your spec once.
4: If you set a high profile world record with it, I will provide you with free barrels for that one rifle for life.
5: the only thing I ask in return is that you allow me to advertise the fact that your match win and / or world record was shot with my barrel.
6: if you have any complaints or problems with my product, feel free to speak candidly about them with anyone you wish, but please also tell me so I can implement improvements immediatly.
The other factor in my favor at the top level of BR is load development. These guys are so picky about accuracy that many of them redevelop loads for every new barrel, even if it's materially identical, including cut with the same reamers on the same machine.
You over looked a few things. The cost of production is affected by the volume and the set up time. If you run barrels in the hundreds, and actions in the tens, the actions are more expensive, as there is more set-up time for actions.
Also, you forgot liability insurance on each action (not required for each barrel), and compliance with BATFE, and the endless paperwork - none of which is required by a barrel maker.
However, if you keep complaining about how cheap barrels are, I'm sure the barrel industry would be willing to comply with your unhappiness and adjust the price of barrels...
Unfortunately, that would also effect the rest of us, who are very happy with the current prices, and might be even happier if they went...
I agree with the other gentlemen, you have WAY too much time on your hands.