Stainless or Chrome moly


Well-Known Member
Dec 27, 2009
South Central PA
I was looking on the pac nor website and trying to decide on the barrel that i want to get and came across the question of do i want stainless or chrome moly. As for me i usually opt for the cheaper but is there any real benefits to one or the other. Accuracy? Longevity? or anything else? Thanks for any info that you have.
well i did a search and nothing come up but as soon as i posted the above i seen at the bottom of the page that this topic has come up before so after reading through that my question has changed.

My new question which one do you think will hold up better to a 6.5mm STW which is a barrel burner? I do not plan to hunt with it in extream artic weather so take that out of the equation

From what Iv heard stainless lasts longer than chrome moly. Something like 20% longer. I'm no expert though. I'm sure someone has a more definitive answer. Good Luck!

You're popping up all over the place. Kind of like a prairie dog. I'm having a hard time keep up with you.:)

I've always been told a CM action and a SS barrel. I am not aware of quality barrels being anything other than SS.

The rifling configuration may affect barrel life more than metal composition.

I have a Lilja SS 3 groove barrel that seems to be lasting longer than its life expectancy? However the 3 groove may have other considerations especially in a high velocity bullet and a fast twist.......
I prefer SS.

FAQ 6mmbr site :What is Better, Stainless or Chrome-Moly Steel? Over 90% of high-grade match barrels are made from Stainless Steel. Stainless is easier to machine because it is slightly softer. It is also easier to apply a fine, hand-lapped finish to a stainless bore. That said, chrome-moly barrels can be just as accurate, when made correctly, and there is evidence a chrome-moly barrel will hold its accuracy longer than a stainless barrel.
The stainless barrels have a little more barrel life because of toughness, but they have less
tensile strength that chrome molly.

Also the stainless barrels are tougher to drill and rifle so they are normally lapped to remove
machine/tool marks from the bore, and as a result they break in faster and foul less during
break in.

The stainless barrels are more expensive than the chrome molly barrels but In my opinion
worth the difference in price and in the long run cheaper because of longevity.

If the barrel maker does his part they both can be accurate.

Also cold tempreture is not an issue with the stainless and is just a wives tale that has been
proven wrong buy the barrel makers themselves.(If the stainless was dangerous in cold with
all of the lawsuits that flood our court's do you think that the barrel makers would risk loosing
there business over a product that was more diffacult to build)?

For hunting I feel that the stainless is also easier to care for.

I suspect even among the best gunsmiths and barrel makers there can be some debate, but FWIW here is what Dan Lilja says about it:

Q. What are the differences between chrome-moly barrels and stainless steel barrels?

A. "We buy our steels directly from the steel mills. Our steel is made to our specifications as far as chemistry and heat treatments are concerned. Our chrome-moly is a modified 4140 type steel and the stainless steel is type 416 with a few extra steps and tests in its manufacture. We have used steel of both types from several different mills and have settled on what we feel is the best available.
The primary difference between the two types, as far as rifle barrels are concerned, is that chrome-moly can be blued and stainless steel cannot be using conventional methods. Rifle barrels made from stainless steel will last longer, as related to throat erosion, than chrome-moly. Stainless steel resists heat erosion better. Also we can get a slightly better internal finish when lapping with stainless steel.
Approximately 90% of the barrels we manufacture are made from stainless steel. In our experience, most of the chrome-moly barrels we make go on high-grade custom hunting rifles that are going to have a nice custom made wood stock. And some shooters insist on having a blued barrel.
An exception to the above is the large number of 50BMG barrels we make from chrome-moly. Our recommendation for steel choice with 50BMG barrels depends on the bullet type the shooter intends to use. If you are going to use conventional jacked bullets, such as the Hornady or ball ammunition, then the stainless steel barrels will probably last longer and foul less. But if your choice is one of the custom made lathe-turned bullets made from brass, bronze, copper, or even steel, then the chrome-moly barrels will probably last longer and give better accuracy. Please see our comments on moly coating and these types of bullets. If you plan to shoot both types of bullets then the chrome-moly barrels are a better choice."

This Q/A is from right here:

Lilja Precision Rifle Barrels - FAQ steel barrels

Hope this helps..

I am a fan of the cut rifled SS barrels.
I am recently starting to think like Roy, and going with the CM actions.
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