Nitrided rifle barrels?

Rockfish Dave

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Dec 21, 2008
Messages
343
I've treated 6 rifle barrels, 3 pistol barrels, 4 muzzle brakes, and one action.

I am breaking in my second barrel on a new build now. When I finish I will ship the action, muzzle brakes and barrels off for treatment as well.

It makes cleaning a ridiculously easy task. The treated action is by far the smoothest I have, and stays cleaner since I don't lube it. I have actions with other coatings, including DLC IonBond, and the Nitrided action beats them all.

There are differing claims on barrel life, but to put it in perspective: Treating adds 8%-12% to the cost. I get easier cleaning and increased corrosion resistance and I'd only need to increase the barrel life by a small margin to see it break even.

I don't bother with setting back and rechambering barrels since by the time I pay postage, and smithing fees I'm well on my way to a new barrel. Melonite barrels can and have been rechambered but it takes carbide tools and someone with experience to do so.

I have not noticed any increase or decrease in accuracy. My barrels hammered before treatment and hammer after. I have heard of decreases in accuracy with button rifled barrels, but not with barrels with cut rifling provided the pre-treatment and post treatment are done as I explain below. Mine are bartlien gain twist cut rifled barrels.

The black color can be worn off (noticeable on the bolt) but the case hardness and increased corrosion resistance remains.

When breaking in a barrel take your time. The goal is to get to a point where it no longer copper fouls with a minimum amount of rounds, heat and pressure.

Since I load my own I usually use reduced power loads for my break in. Again, I want to reduce heat & pressure while still removing any tool marks at the lands. In my experience it has taken as few as 25 or as many as 40 to achieve a broken in barrel.

If it is a used barrel, I wouldn't send it of for Nitriding. There is a very specific reason why, and although I can wrap my mind around it, I am not technical enough to explain why. So just suffice it to say, only treat new barrels with a minimal number of rounds down the pipe and in such a way to minimize heat and pressure (if you hand load).

Shoot one, clean for at least 5 rounds. I have done this for up to the first 10 rounds. Stripping the copper each time.

Shoot 5 and clean, stripping the copper. I usually do this for 2 strings. Taking my time between shots to keep the barrel cool.

If it still is fouling I'll shoot a 10 shot sting and clean like above.

If the barrel is no longer copper fouling, I clean it like it will be used in surgery, until there are nothing but clean patches (both carbon and copper). I run a oiled patch down the barrel and pack it for shipping.

For the action, I make sure I had at least 70% lug contact. Regardless, I will normally lap the lugs with fine grit even if I have >70% contact. Before shipping my action off (or any of the other actions for that matter) I clean the paste off, then sonic clean the action and bolt face. For the action I sprayed it down with oil and packed it for shipping.

When a barrel or action comes back from treatment it will have lot's of residual salts and a thin film that needs to be removed. When cleaning the barrel it is easiest to spray everything down with Kroil and let it sit a day. Next use a bore brush one size smaller than the actual caliber. I run it through the barrel around 20 times. Run a oiled patch down the barrel. Next the correct size brush, and a patch like above. Repeat with a new brush and patch one more time. Finally I'll clean with normal solvents. In the end I will burn through 3 brushes. I can actually feel the salts in the barrel, it's very gritty.


For the action I do the same with Kroil. I'll use drill bits by hand to remove the residual salts from the pin holes and plungers. I use a brush to clear the inside of the bolt, etc.

If it sounds like allot of work, that's because it is. But the end result is worth it to me.
 
Last edited:

jdg300rum

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Feb 17, 2006
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161
Who does the nitriding on barrels? Can you send them in one at a time or does this have to be done with the barrel maker?
 

Rockfish Dave

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Dec 21, 2008
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343
There are several processors.

Originally I sent them direct to MMI, but they quit accepting individuals parts because of the amount of time and effort needed to process individual pieces. They have since gone to having having the individual parts outsourced to processors who send in batches of parts ready to treat.

My last few barrels were through Rock Creek for Nitriding. Rock Creek processes them in batches, so you may have to wait until they have enough to send. My next shipment will be large enough that I was told that it would be processed on receipt (a full batch by it's self).

If you email Rock Creek they should be able to walk you through what to do.

[email protected]

Currently the individual handling the Nitriding for Rock Creek is: Russell

Pricing as of 3/4/2015:
Barrels-$75/ea
Muzzle Brakes -$15/ea
Actions-$55/ea
(These prices do not include shipping)

Some final notes:

Make sure everything that you want treated is fully disassembled down to the single components: Muzzle brakes, barrels, action (with no pins, triggers, bolt release, etc. Just the action), Bolt (no handle, ejector, extractor firing pin, shroud, or cocking piece), handle (just the handle), and bolt shroud.

Be sure to tell them the Barrel Maker and type of steel Chrome-molly or Stainless Steel, as this will have an impact on how it is treated.
 

Rockfish Dave

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Dec 21, 2008
Messages
343
I believe H&M is still accepting direct from customers. Their history (from memory) is: They originally owned and operated MMI. They sold MMI and opened a new operation. H&M is also a large volume firearm parts processor, so they also have experience with the idiosyncrasies of treating firearm parts.

I do not have any first hand experience with using them though.

Welcome to H & M Metal Processing
 

Rockfish Dave

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Dec 21, 2008
Messages
343
Thanks.

I have read posts by people who have not followed what I outlined above by:

Treating Button Rifled barrels
Sending used barrels
Not cleaning thoroughly before sending for treatment
Not cleaning thoroughly after receiving back from treatment
Not disassembling all parts (the processor isn't a mind reader) and the barrel and muzzle brake are treated as one part (etc).

And they wonder why their once good shooting barrel now shoots horrible. It can usually be tracked back to one of the above...

Nitriding is not without risk, but if one follows what I wrote everything should work out fine and they will enjoy the benefits of a nitrided barrel and/or action.

BTW: the nitrided parts can still be cerecoted, duracoated or painted just like any other part.
 

winmagman

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Mar 13, 2003
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1,379
Location
Southern Wisconsin
Rockfish,

Curious about the button rifled barrel comment. Would you have a link or source that I could read up on that?

I spoke with Tim North at Broughton Barrels and he has no problem with treating one of his barrels, but he's a barrel maker not a Nitride applicator.

The reason I ask is that I have a Broughton at the gunsmiths now getting bore scoped to see if it's clean enough and has little enough wear after break in to be nitrided. I want to make the most informed decision I can.

Chris
 

Rockfish Dave

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Joined
Dec 21, 2008
Messages
343
Rockfish,

Curious about the button rifled barrel comment. Would you have a link or source that I could read up on that?

I spoke with Tim North at Broughton Barrels and he has no problem with treating one of his barrels, but he's a barrel maker not a Nitride applicator.

The reason I ask is that I have a Broughton at the gunsmiths now getting bore scoped to see if it's clean enough and has little enough wear after break in to be nitrided. I want to make the most informed decision I can.

Chris

Chris,

I have read it else where, but for the most part it was anecdotal from those that have tried.

It seems to be a bit of hit or miss. Some work out some don't.

My pistol barrels may or may not be button rifled and they shot great before and shoot great after, so who knows.

If the maker is good with it, go for it. Or if you are still unsure call MMI or H&M maybe they can advise you better?
 

WEATHERBY460

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Oct 9, 2009
Messages
550
Location
ILLINOIS
Great info....I feel better now.

I am getting new custom made, and it has been a year at the smith. He offered to get the gun nitride for me for free since I waited so long. I agreed.

Now it will be just another 3 weeks. Thanks
 

shortgrass

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Mar 31, 2010
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2,667
Location
Western Oklahoma
I've had upwards of 60 barrels Melonite/Blk. Nitride treated. Several for myself, the rest for customers. Roughly 2/3 of those are button rifled barrels. I've had no complaints from customers, and I have no issues with those I've had done for myself where accuracy is concerned. The personal barrels I've had treated are both button & cut rifled. As for break-in,,, what you are trying to do is "smooth" the transition where reaming ends and rifling begins. If you're trying to "smooth" out tool marks further into the barrel, find another barrel maker! I've had very good results having barrels treated and believe it is benificial to those barrels chambered in "high intensity, high preformance" rounds. I'm not a hugh fan of having actions & bolts treated. I see no reason to. I've never "worn out" an action,,,,,, I've worn out more than a couple of barrels (I like those small bore, high velocity rds. for varmint hunting). I've used MMI, Controlled Thermal Technologies, and H&M with equal results from all. I send a 'batch' when I have one (a batch is 4-6 barrels).
 

shortgrass

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Mar 31, 2010
Messages
2,667
Location
Western Oklahoma
How about some pictures?
Pictures? Melonite.Blk. Nitriding is done to increase barrel life. If color is what you're looking for a pic on a computer rarely good enough to be able to tell much. Looks like bluing, to me. Besides, who's got the time to take pics just to post on the web?
 

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