BMG rifle barrels

Discussion in 'Rifles, Bullets, Barrels & Ballistics' started by JackRabbitSquare, Mar 2, 2009.

  1. JackRabbitSquare

    JackRabbitSquare Well-Known Member

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    So I picked up a .50 BMG action a little while back. It is a McBros Fisher action and I'm looking at getting the parts together to build the rifle. The first major part I guess would be the barrel. I've been doing some research and come up with a list of barrel makers who have 50 cal offerings. I'm sure there are more but these are what I've found so far.

    all prices are for 36" or close to


    1. Lothar Walther - button rifle
    Lothar Walther
    price $350 (CM??)

    2. Lilja - button rifle
    Lilja Precision Rifle Barrels - 50 Caliber Precision Barrels
    price $495 - SS

    3. Krieger - cut barrel
    Calibers & Prices
    Price $540 - SS
    $410 - CM

    4. Bartlein Barrels - cut barrel
    Bartlein Barrels, Inc. - Barrel Pricing
    price $540 - SS
    $420 - CM

    5. Pac-Nor - button rifle
    PAC-NOR Barreling, Inc. - Price List
    price $536 - SS
    $466 - CM


    Twist options 1-15
    3 groove - Pac-Nor
    6 groove - Lilja
    7 groove - Bartlein, Lilja
    8 groove - Pac-Nor, Lothar Walther
    Polygonal - Pac-Nor

    According to their site Krieger will accommodate most twist options.

    I guess now I'm trying to figure out if there is any benefit with a particular groove design? Would any specific barrel manufacturer be a clear choice? Any experiences others might have with building a BMG rifle. This will be my first rifle done up from an action.

    Also what are people using for muzzle brakes on BMG rifles? I'm leaning towards the Armalite AR50 or that style brake as I've read good things about it's recoil reducing benefits. I'm not worried about the noise or blast but do want a rifle that is fun to shoot.
     
  2. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    Of the barrels you list, the Lilja has the biggest following with 50BMG 1000 yard BR shooters. Lilja also contracts with several US military special forces for their 50 cal precision rifles.

    I have used several of their 50 cal barrels and all have been extemely impressive. I have also shot several Pac Nor and Kreiger 50 cal barrels. The Pac Nor were hit and miss with accuracy. All were 1.5 moa or better rifles, some were 3/4 moa.

    I have also shot the Lother Walter barrels on the LAR Grizzly rifles. They shoot very well but they are very hard and difficult to machine so I generally do not recommend them for a barrel blank for a custom rifle.

    The krieger was a good rifle but it fouled pretty heavily, I suspect it was not broken in properly. Barrel break in is extremely critical with a 50 cal.

    Groove design means very little in the 50 cals. I have seen 1/2 moa rifles in a wide range of groove designs.

    Twist rate is also an easy choice. 1-15 is what you need. No need for a fast twist. THe 1-15 will shoot any 50 cal bullet up to the 800 gr solid match bullets.

    In fact faster twists have some ill effects in the 50 BMG. Go with the standard twist. Do not try to reinvent the wheel, its been done and redone many times, 1-15 is the best way to go.

    Also, unless your wedded to a 36" barrel, its really not needed for the 50 BMG. Anything from 30-32" is plenty of barrel length. THe added performance you will get in a 36" barrel is really not worth the pain in the rear of dealing with all the extra length of barrel as far as handling the rifle.

    I would strongly recommend the Armalite muzzle brake. Its big and ugly and it flat out works better then any other 50 cal brake on the market. I took two shooters out today and shot a 50 BMG AR-50 I just got in for a customer and shooting my practice ammo, recoil was about like a 270 Win. This load consists of a 650 gr Winchester FMJ in Win cases loaded to 2700 fps with 225 gr WC872. They were keeping all their shots on my 20" diameter gong at 1010 yards once we get her dialed in. We put nearly 100 rounds of ammo through the rifle and we were all shooting in light shirts. The more you shot the rifle the funner it got because of the lack of recoil.

    You do have to get used to the muzzle blast but thats pretty easy to do. Get some good ear protection and eye protection and you will be fine.

    If it were me, it would be a Lilja SS barrel with an armalite muzzle brake.
     

  3. pjracer

    pjracer Well-Known Member

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    im not a 50 man but i would go with who builds them, Lilja or McMillan.
     
  4. JackRabbitSquare

    JackRabbitSquare Well-Known Member

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    Thanks for the input. I've not any brand bias so I'm just looking for what will be the best for the money.

    I'm not stuck on a 36" barrel but thought it was needed for the 750 gr and heavier bullets?

    As for the muzzle brake I want the most effective brake I can buy. I've got a JP muzzle brake on my .338 UM and while it is not comfortable for anyone nearby it is amazing what it does for the recoil. It really makes the gun fun to shoot, that's what I'm looking for in a BMG rifle.

    Looks don't matter much to me, I get a bit of flack carrying around my Ultra Mag during elk season. I usually get one of those "What you planning on shooting with that" comments once a season. :rolleyes:
     
  5. JackRabbitSquare

    JackRabbitSquare Well-Known Member

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    Oh, any thoughts on the BMG Improoved?
     
  6. jmden

    jmden Well-Known Member

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    I think Kirby's got one of those too...:rolleyes: about 14K ft. lbs. of muzzle energy.

    510 Allen Magnum
    50 BMG parent case, fireformed to min body taper and sharper shoulder angle.
    750 gr. A-Max or ULD RBBT at 2900 fps in 34” barrel length
    Designed for heavy game hunting where legal and extreme range target shooting.
    Appropriate powders: H-50BMG, WC872, H-US869, VV 20N29

    http://www.longrangehunting.com/forums/f19/allen-mags-33058/
     
    Last edited: Mar 3, 2009
  7. benich

    benich Member

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    Lilja - Krieger then others can follow. Lothar Walther were great on my State Arms rifles 36" barrel length. If your not worried about accuracythen you can drop down a few hundred dollars & get some 4140 chrome moly barrels from Legamec, Safety Harbor, Bohica, Serbu etc. They will sell you a barrel, you just have to ask.
     
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2009
  8. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    JackRabbitSquare,

    Something like this?

    [​IMG]

    Left to right, standard 50 BMG, 510 Allen Magnum and then 50 Allen Tactical, all loaded with the 750 gr A-Max.

    There is more to an improved 50 BMG then just shooting a standard 50 BMG round and ejecting a fully formed improved round. The shoulder/body junction needs to be annealed very well or you will never get a sharp shoulder on fireforming, brass is much heaiver then conventional cases and pressures are far less then most modern conventional magnums so you need a soft shoulder to blow out fully.

    Also, the brass on the BMG is thick. Blow it out to reduce body taper and it will increase sizing pressure needed to FL size it and because of the size of the round, you should FL size your brass everytime to insure easy chambering. You do not need to bump the shoulder much but just enough to chamber easily.

    If you accept these few things, the improved BMGs are fun to work with and rewarding for sure.
     
  9. JackRabbitSquare

    JackRabbitSquare Well-Known Member

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    When fire forming do you use a live round or something like the cream of wheat trick?

    I like the idea of the improved case but I'm not sure if I want to sign up for that much work. With the cost of BMG components going up all the time it is going to be an expensive rifle to feed. But on the same token I want to build the best rifle I can so why not go for broke. :D
     
  10. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    With a case this large and with brass walls this thick and heavy, you really have to use a live fireforming process to fully form a case. The good news, generally, fireforming loads shoot EXTREMELY well even at long range. A couple weekends ago I took a customers 510 AM out to test it for accuracy and with fireforming loads, it was easily 3/4 moa at around 1100 yards.

    Shooting a BMG is expensive but so are any of the other high intensity rounds. If you look at brass costs, look at the 338 Lapua, you will be paying around $2.40 to $2.60 per case. I just picked up 100 Win 50 BMG cases for $2.00 each so its actually cheaper there.

    Bullets are spendy, no doubt, you will be looking at around $2.00 each for match bullets, around $1.00 each for new surplus bullets. If you look at some of the new custom long range bullets in conventional calibers, they are in this same price range...... Certainly some are much cheaper so on average the BMG is more expensive but remember you will not be putting 100 rounds through a BMG rifle in a session or even weekend.

    Primers are much more expensive then conventional primers but this is not a huge investment for 500 primers, well under $200 and 500 shots out of a single shot BMG is alot of shooting.

    Powder, this can vary GREATLY. Most of the surplus powder out there such as WC860 and WC872 work great in the BMG as thats what they were made for but they are dirty and a bit sensitive to temp changes. Still at around $60 per 8 lbs, its hard to beat for plinking loads.

    For match ammo, H-50BMG works great but is about 2.5 times more expensive then the surplus powders. VV 20N29 is a great match powder as well but even more spendy.

    So for high volume shooting ammo, the surplus powders are great, when you want to get serious, get some good powder.

    Yes they are more expensive but not dramatically more then the top end conventional chamberings.
     
  11. edge

    edge Well-Known Member

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    Probably a stupid question, BUT :)

    Can you shoot a 750 grain bullet sub sonic with a 15 twist?

    edge.
     
  12. JackRabbitSquare

    JackRabbitSquare Well-Known Member

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    Yeah I've compared shooting the BMG to my 338 UM and realistically it isn't THAT much more expensive. Especially since I was paying $2.50 a round for loaded 338UM before I started reloading for it.

    2x the powder, primers are 10x the cost but the bullets and brass are comparable.

    That's good news about fire forming though. Using a live round for fire forming, and one that seems to shoot well, would be a big difference. I might have to think about this some more. I could probably get a bunch of Military pulled bullets and powder for the fire forming. I know LOTS of people who want to shoot the rifle when I get it done. lol

    Plinking and letting others play with the cheap stuff and then use the fire formed brass for some good long range match quality ammo might be the way to go.
     
  13. Fiftydriver

    Fiftydriver <strong>Official LRH Sponsor</strong>

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    I believe a 1-15 would work subsonic but I have never tested it to see if it would. I know that all of the 50 piecekeepers I have seen were using 1-15 barrels. That wound is based on the 460 Wby necked up.
     
  14. edge

    edge Well-Known Member

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    Thanks :)