Sporter barrel as accurate as heavier barrel?

ndking1126

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I'm going to buy a match barrel for my Savage 110. Itll be 7mmRM with a 9 twist. I've done this before, but always with a heavy sporter or varmint contour. I've always bought Shilen, but this one might be a Criterion sporter.

Assuming the barrel I receive is made correctly from the manufacturer (ie, it's not a lemon), is there any likely difference in accuracy because of the contour? Will one likely be more picky with finding an accurate load just because of contour?

I've researched this and find conflicting info and was hoping for input here before making my purchase. I'm building a rifle for a likely CO elk hunting trip later this year, so weight is a concern.
 
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ndking1126

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One other comment, given this will be a hunting rifle, I'm not worried about it heating up more quickly. I know the smaller barrels need more time between shots, especially with the amount of powder in a magnum.
 

cajun

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In general a heavier barrel will shoot better because it is stiffer. This has been my experience. They also resist bullet stringing when getting hot. This is not to say a thinner sporter barrel cant be accurate they certainly can. Generally the longer barrel length and the thinner the barrel the more iffy it gets. If your getting a custom lapped barrel from a well known company you should be fine. Also different companies have different tapers. Looking at criterion there is only about 6 ounces difference in the sporter vs heavy sporter at 24”.
 

Shane Lindsey

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I think cartridge has alot to do with this as well. I think the “heavier” the rifle the more forgiving it is with regards to shooter induced errors. It just doesn’t move as much.

A good match sporter barrel shoots as good as a heavier one does. May need to shoot slower as mentioned, but that goes for the carbon barrels as well.

I have had sporter, sendero, magnum tapers on a non magnum cartridge, and a few carbon fibers.

FWIW, I have a Bartlein 3b fluted and I think it is the perfect balance of weight/rigidity for a carry rifle weight.
 

Savage 12BVSS

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In general a heavier barrel will shoot better because it is stiffer. This has been my experience. They also resist bullet stringing when getting hot. This is not to say a thinner sporter barrel cant be accurate they certainly can. Generally the longer barrel length and the thinner the barrel the more iffy it gets. If your getting a custom lapped barrel from a well known company you should be fine. Also different companies have different tapers. Looking at criterion there is only about 6 ounces difference in the sporter vs heavy sporter at 24”.
I agree with this post, I own and shoot both types of barrel's and barrel whip changes due to stiffening effect in the heavier contours, of course heat effect is lessened also. Do lighter sporter contours shoot well? Most do but are more prone to groups walking or stringing if you aren't patient in cooldowns. I have a 20" #3 douglass contour and it is very good with load work or large group shooting, I believe it's about perfect. I also have a light sporter in 20" that will only shoot two rounds and then a cooldown to prevent group from taking off. All three heavy barrels are fun for everything but lugging around :( I always get longer accuracy control when shooting due to slower heat up, they also seem easier to tune load's for.

If it wasn't for hunting and climbing trees and the hiking long distances all my rifles would have a varmint contour or heavier........... Just my personal experience with both.
 

nksmfamjp

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I hope this is right that sporter weight like #3 is as accurate as something heavier like a #4 or #5. To keep my weight under control, I decided the #3 would be ok...


but based on what?? I know of no testing, just talk about it from the barrel makers.
 

rammac

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I think you're getting a lot of feedback from people that are used to looking for high scores on paper in match conditions, for a hunting rifle, the thinner profile will work fine.

I own a Kimber Mountain Ascent in .308 and it'll hold sub MOA groups for the first 3 or 4 shots of rapid fire, if I slow down I can get some really nice 5 round groups. For hunting that's all I need. I shoot anything from 110 grain to 180 grain bullets so weight hasn't had much of an effect on my groups either.
 

ndking1126

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Thanks everyone for their feedback. Criterion's published weight difference seems to put the weights closer than other manufacturers publish. I have a heavy sporter that after adding a VX3i weights a hair over 10lbs. 9 pounds was the arbitrary number I was hoping for. The B&C stock it wears isnt a lightweight option by any means. I love how easy that rifle is too shoot.. always a trade off I guess. I'm leaning heavily towards the sporter. Thanks again!
 

Plinker147

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There is some truth to the heavy stiffer are more accurate. Lighter barrels can be just as accurate. The heavier are just plain easier to shoot accurate thus giving the impression that they are that much better. To me its shoot-ability is the biggest difference. For a hunting rifle I think that 3B contour is a happy medium. I would recommend staying with a barrel that is .670-.700 at muzzle. That gives a good compromise with weight and barrel thickness.
 

nksmfamjp

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Logically, I can see heavier and shorter barrels are more accurate as the amplitude of their vibrations will be smaller for the same load and gun. On top of that, the load will be tuned to a consistent release point in the vibration. ....but if load tune is slightly off as it surely always is, then the smaller amplitude causes the actual POI to be closer to the nominal POI.

Now with the longer thinner barrel with the same basic load, it will have greater amplitude. This means the nominal poi could be the same. If the load is tuned better for this barrel, or both are tuned to nominal, then poi is the same. With tuning error, the thicker/shorter barrel will always be more accurate.
This is really just an untested hypothesis. Wish I had the money/carear to test!
 

FrogFire7

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Small sample size here, but last year I did the same thing and swapped out a savage barrel to a sporter contour. Had built several bull and varmint contour savages before as well.

For this build, I wanted a varmint rifle uner 8 lbs that I could accurately shoot to 1,000 yards. So, I bought the absolute thinnest barrel offered by x-caliber (previously used Criterion and love their barrels as well) in .22-250 and it finished at 24". This barrel shoots one hole at 100 yards, under 1" at 300. This is taking my time and not letting it get hot. I don't even know how it shoots hot, because I try to not let it get that way.

So I guess long story short, I believe sporter barrels can be capable of excellent accuracy. Just take your time, don't let it get hot, and find a good powder charge that the barrel likes . Good luck!!
 

Mustang72

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Maybe I am just lucky. I have multiple sporter barrels that shoot 1/2 moa or better. My 7 mag shoots .25-.35when I do my part. That's with a factory spotter barrel and two different loads. I shoot 3 round groups not 5 with sported barrels since they are hunting guns. Finding the right load is the key.Heavy barrels are easier to shoot well but some of my heavy haven't been as accurate as some of my sporters. For a hunting rifle how much accuracy and how many rounds do you really need?
 
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