Fancy Barrels - what's your experience ?

Discussion in 'Reloading' started by frankinaustin, May 23, 2015.

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  1. frankinaustin

    frankinaustin Well-Known Member

    Oct 2, 2013
    Question to those of you who have custom guns with high end barrels - Lilja, Hart, Brux, Shilen - any of them: are any better than another? Why get a fancy barrel? Is it more about getting the specific length, weight, etc? Let me know your wisdom, please.
  2. jfseaman

    jfseaman Well-Known Member

    Apr 8, 2012
    I'm going to restate "fancy barrels", do you mean high end custom vs. factory?

    If so...

    The reason to choose a particular manufacturer is the same as choosing one automobile maker over another. Then you have to choose a model. Then you have to choose the features and options.

    With a barrel it is because

    Brand: want, desire, believe in the manufacturer
    Profile (model): suites the intended use
    Options: want, desire believe in
  3. ShtrRdy

    ShtrRdy Well-Known Member

    Jan 14, 2012
    If you're asking about an after market barrel versus I volume manufactured one, The main difference would be consistency in the bore and barrel. This consistency then leads to improved accuracy and, in particular, first round repeatability.

    If you're asking about fluting, hexagonal, or other shape, those are mostly cosmetic with possibly some weight reduction.
  4. Rick Richard

    Rick Richard Well-Known Member

    Jan 7, 2014
    Custom barrels typically yield consistent accuracy in most cases. Fluting and etc. does reduce some weight, but it more about astectics.
  5. MudRunner2005

    MudRunner2005 Well-Known Member

    Oct 13, 2008
    Aftermarket barrels tend to be made with more care and precision. They are generally hand-lapped after the rifling process. Which also seperates factory barrels from aftermarket... Most aftermarket barrels are cut-rifled, but some are button-rifled, and a few are hammer-forged. Aftermarket match-grade barrels are also air-gauged to super-tight tolerances for consistancy. Also, their quality control standards are generally MUCH tighter than with mass manufactured factory barrels. Most factory barrels are hammer-forged, which is inexpensive, but when done right, can also be a precision barrel that will last a long time. Which is why you can generally make a factory barrel shoot pretty good with some hand or fire lapping, load development, and handloading for it. Granted, that won't work all the time (there will always be lemons out there), but more often than not, an experienced handloader can figure out if it's a shooter in about 50 rounds of load development, after break-in.

    I have lots of semi-custom rifles that have worked-over factory barrels, that have been bore-scoped, re-chambered, hand-lapped, and then custom crowned. The cost is minimal since my smith is a friend of mine, and he knows how to make factory Remington barrels flat-out shoot... But, when those barrels get shot-out, I will be going with aftermarket barrels. Most likely Bartlein, since they offer the twists and contours that I prefer for my rifles, and they are cut-rifled 5R barrels. I have become quite the fan of 5R rifling since my first Remington 5R Milspec in 2009/2010.

    So, also to re-state what the others before me have stated, aftermarket barrels give you alot more options for twist rates and contours, and rifling styles and patterns, than what you get with factory barrels. With factory barrels, you pretty much get what you get. With aftermarket, you not only have the benefits I stated above, but you also get a whole new world of choices to make your rifle better suit your needs for it.

    MTBULLET Well-Known Member

    Jul 16, 2007
    I've used bbls from Lilja/bartlein/pac-nor/bergara/montana x-treme/shilen/douglas , and I've found that if i do my part installing them, they all shot very well.

    FEENIX Well-Known Member LRH Team Member

    Dec 20, 2008
    Here's video example of just one of the advantages of a custom barrel ...

    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 8, 2018
  8. Garycrow

    Garycrow Well-Known Member

    Jan 30, 2011
    Today I ran about 100 rounds through two of my long range rifles, one a 6BR savage with a criterion barrel shooting 105 gr. Amaxs and the other a 6.5x47 Lapua built on a M700 remington shooting 142 gr. sierra matchkings. Most of the shooting was at a 1000 yd steel 8x10" target and I hit it more often than not. I've never seen a rifle with a factory barrel that could do that with any degree of regularity. I'm sure there are some specialty factory rifles that could do it but they're few and far between. The barrel is the heart of the rifle, it's responsible for 90% of the accuracy of a rifle. In my experience a barrel by a top maker installed by a good gunsmith is worlds above anything the major manufacturers put out.
  9. J E Custom

    J E Custom Well-Known Member

    Jul 29, 2004
    Quality and precision is the reason that a high end custom barrel is used on precision rifles.

    You get what you pay for and barrels that are mas produced (Even the after market ones are not as good in my opinion and not that much cheaper that a top quality barrel.

  10. RevJim

    RevJim Well-Known Member

    Dec 25, 2014
    I've used Lilja, Douglas, Shilen, PacNor, Kreiger, $90 Adams & Bennet and $50 Remington take off barrels. I've had great experiences with all of them, but I had to fire-lap the A&B and some of the Remington factory barrels to get what the others had starting out. I tend to just use Shilens and Remingtons lately.
  11. Bbear

    Bbear Well-Known Member

    Mar 13, 2007
    One thing the others have left out is that going with an after-market barrel you can also get a rifle in a caliber not available with the main-stream manufacturers. 6.5 Creedmore was made 'legitimate' due to the number of shooters having barrels made in that caliber. You can also find some of the more obsolete or older cartridges by getting an after-market barrel. Not many makers are bringing out the newest 30/40 Krag models.
    Then there is the combining of options to get a rifle just like you want it, like the 358 winchester I have that is built on a Long action. Something that even when it was a 'common' caliber nobody made.
    Add to that, as was stated earlier, that you can get all sorts of barrel lengths, twist rates, contours etc with the after-market that just aren't available from the factories.
    Shoot a so-called 'barrel-burner' like a 264 Win Mag or a 7mm Rem Mag and you'll find after-market barrels will bring an old favorite back to life.
  12. Clark

    Clark Well-Known Member

    Oct 19, 2006
    I have barrels that are factory stress relieved and honed: Pac Nor, Shilen, Hart, Lothar Walther, Krieger, Lilja, and Parker Hale.

    Those are the A's. They look great and are always good.

    The B's are Shilen SS match, Criterion, Green Mountain, Douglas, Bergara, etc.
    They don't look so good, but often shoot better than i can.
  13. Mike 338

    Mike 338 Well-Known Member

    Feb 4, 2012
    Yeah, fancy barrels are worth it.
  14. roninflag

    roninflag Well-Known Member

    Feb 27, 2006
    the difference in a 2500$ engine and a 25000$ engine. a factory barrel 45$ installed and a custom barrel 450$ installed. the difference is one decimal place; and performance.