How long does a barrel last? About 5 seconds. KEEP READING
As is by now common enough in this column I write, ideas for topics very often come from questions that are emailed to me. As always, I figure that if someone has a question they want answered, then others might also like to know the answer. This question was about barrel life and, specifically, this fellow had been reading some materials on the interweb posted by some misinformed folks on the topic of bullet bearing area and its influence on barrel life: “Is it true that using 110 gr. vs. a 150 gr. .308 bullet will extend barrel life because of its reduced bore contact?”
NO. Not because of that.
However! The answer is also YES, but here’s why…
Wear in a barrel is virtually all due to throat erosion. The throat is the area in a barrel that extends from the case neck area in the chamber to maybe 4 inches farther forward. Erosion is the result of flame-cutting, which is hot gas from propellant consumption eating into the surface of the barrel steel. Same as a torch. There is very little wear caused from passage of the bullet through the bore, from the “sides” of the bullet, from friction or abrasion. The eroding flame cutting is at or near the base of the bullet.
When the propellant is consumed and creates the flame, the burn is most intense closer to the cartridge case neck. There are a few influences respecting more or less effect from this flame cutting. Primarily, it’s bullet weight. Time is now the main factor in the effect of the flame cutting. Slower acceleration means a longer time for the more intense flame to do its damage.
The slower the bullet starts, and the slower it moves, the more flame cuts in a smaller area for a longer time.
Bullet bearing area, therefore, has an influence on erosion, but that’s because it relates to acceleration — greater area, more drag, slower to move.
The amount of propellant, and the propellant nature, do also influence rate of erosion. Some assume that since there’s more propellant behind a lighter bullet that would create more erosion, and that’s true, but that is also not as great a factor as bullet weight. Other things equal, clearly, more propellant is going to cut steel more than less propellant. A “lighter” load will have a decidedly good effect on barrel life.
Heavier bullets, without a doubt, are a greater influence than any other single factor. “We” (NRA High Power Rifle shooters) always supposed that it was the number of rapid-fire strings we ran that ate up barrels the most, but that was until we started using heavier bullets and found out in short order that our barrels weren’t lasting as long. That was moving from a 70gr. to an 80gr. bullet.
The “nature” of propellant is a loose reference to the individual flame temperatures associated with different ones. There have been some claims of greater barrel life from various propellants, but, generally, a double-base will produce higher flame temperature.
Even barrel twist rate plays a role, and, again, it’s related to resistance to movement — slower start in acceleration. Same goes for coated bullets: they have less resistance and move farther sooner, reducing the flame effect just a little. And, folks, it’s always “just a little.” It adds up though.
There are bullet design factors that influence erosion. A steady diet of flat-base bullets will extend barrel life. There’s been a belief for years and years that boat-tail bullets increase the rate of erosion because of the way the angled area deflects-directs the flame. And that is true! However, it’s not a reason not to use boat-tails, just a statement. We use boat-tails because they fly better on down the pike, and, ultimately that’s a welcome trade for a few less rounds. An odd and uncommon, but available, design, the “rebated boat-tail” sort of splits the difference and will, indeed, shoot better longer (they also tend to shoot better after a barrel throat is near the end of its life).
The effects or influences of barrel throat erosion are numerous, but the one that hurts accuracy the most is the steel surface damage. It gets rough, and that abrades the bullet jacket. The throat area also gets longer, and that’s why it’s referred to as “pushing” the throat.
The roughness can’t much be done about. There are abrasive treatments out there and I’ve had good luck with them. Abrasive coated bullets run through after each few hundred rounds can help to smooth the roughness, but then these also contribute their share to accelerated wear. I guess then it’s not so much a long life issue, but a quality of life issue. I do use these on my competition rifles.
Keeping in mind that the throat lengthens as erosion continues, using something like the Hornady LNL tool shown often in these pages can let bullet seating depth that touches the lands serve as a pretty good gage to determine the progress of erosion. On my race guns, I’ll pull the barrel when it’s +0.150 greater than it was new. Some say that’s excessively soon, and a commonly given figure from others in my circle is +0.250. One reason I pull sooner is that I notice a fall-off in accuracy sooner than that since I’m bound by a box magazine length for my overall cartridge length for magazine-fed rounds with shorter bullets, and I’m already starting with a fairly long throat (“Wylde” chamber cut). And another is because gas port erosion is having some effect on the bullet also by that number of rounds. Which now leads into the “big” question.
So, then, how long does a barrel last? Get out a calculator and multiply how many rounds you get before pulling a barrel by how long each bullet is in the barrel and barrels don’t really last very long at all! At full burn, maybe 4-6 seconds, some less, or a little more.
Another misgiven “fact” I see running rampant is associated with comparing stainless steel to chromemoly steel barrels for longevity. Stainless steel barrels will, yes, shoot their best for more rounds, but, chromemoly will shoot better for an overall longer time. Lemmeesplain: the difference is in the nature of the flame cutting effect on these two steels. Stainless tends to form cracks, looking like a dried up lakebed, while chromemoly tends to just get rough, like sandpaper. The cracks provide a little smoother surface for the bullet to run on (until they turn into something tantamount to a cheese grater). The thing is that when stainless stops shooting well it stops just like that. So, stainless will go another 10 to 15 percent more x-ring rounds, but chromemoly is liable to stay in the 10-ring at least that much longer than stainless steel.
Do barrel coatings have an effect? Some. A little. I’ve yet to see one that made a significant difference, or at least commensurate with its extra expense. Chrome-lined barrels do, yes, tend to last longer (harder surface), but they also tend not to shoot as well, ever. Steel hardness factors, but most match barrels are made from pretty much the same stuff.
Midsouth Shooters Supply, celebrating their 49th year of serving reloading customers around the world, is excited to announce their new mobile-friendly website, new product offerings, and a week of big giveaways to celebrate their birthday!
What started as a modest, catalog-driven reloading supply company in remote New Market, TN, has grown into a technology driven, customer-focused powerhouse in Clarksville, TN. Focused on the best customer experience possible, they updated their website by making it mobile and tablet friendly. “Our customer has gotten far more comfortable shopping on their smartphone,” says Jere Jordan, GM at Midsouth, “We want to facilitate their needs better, so we’ve updated our site, so our customer can shop with us the way they want to shop and made it faster and more user-friendly.
“It’s almost our 50th anniversary, and we’re growing faster than ever before,” Michael Ryan, VP of Marketing at Midsouth, recently stated, “We’re focused on keeping up with the customer, and not necessarily the competition. We buy in bulk, break down the inventory ourselves to avoid packaging fees, and pass the savings along to the customer. This has given us the opportunity to offer things like our new Flat Shipping, overpacking for hazmat items where our customer can get the most out of each order, and exciting bulk offerings like our Varmint Nightmare X-Treme, Match Monster, and OEM Blemished bullet deals.”
Along with the new mobile website, Midsouth is launching their 49th Birthday giveaway week. A week of huge deals, exclusive offers, and daily giveaways will be capped off by one huge grand prize. They’ve partnered with SIG Optics to giveaway a truly innovative product. The new BDX line of optics from SIG offers a Bluetooth paining from a range finder, to the scope. Coupled with the app, the rangefinder/scope kit eliminates bullet drop due to distance, wind, and more factors, making your next hunt a remarkable success! You can enter to win HERE! All other prizes during the week will be chosen at random.
Owners Connie and David “Dirt” King stated, “Yes 49 years is truly something to celebrate!
In fact, we just celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary!
Our relationship with the factories and our suppliers has been good and honest, producing not only great business opportunities, but many lifelong friends as well. As for our customers, there is no way to let them know how much we truly appreciate their business over the years. We have enjoyed meeting in person and talking to many of them over the phone. Most shooters are interesting and just plain fantastic people. Then there’s our amazing staff! They make such a dream team. Some of them have been with us since we hired them as college interns 20 years ago. When we look back over the years we are truly in awe! Most our thoughts and feelings can be wrapped up in one single word: GRATITUDE!!!
48 years ago, we started out in a small shed. Located in New Market, TN, just east of Knoxville, near Jefferson City, Midsouth was a catalog driven retailer catering to a few folks who loved to load their own ammo, save a little money, and drastically increase their accuracy.
Flash forward to the present day, and a few hundred miles west, and you have pretty much the same thing, just in a bigger building, and coming to you live on the world wide web. We still believe in saving you money, being fair with our prices, and our shipping. We still cater to the reloader, but have branched out to other “D.I.Y.” folks with AR parts, and kits, muzzleloader kits, and more. We’re still a small, family owned company, with a tight-knit group of employees. Though the location changed, and the technology by which you shop with us has advanced, in our hearts, we’re still us.
Since it’s our birthday, we want to celebrate with you! You’re the reason we get to come here, flip on the lights, and get to work. We love our customers, and to show you just how important you are to us, we lined up an entire week of deals, just for you! We’re talking HAZ-MAT deals, giveaways, specials, and much more. Want to get in on our birthday presents? You need to sign up for our E-Flyer! Click here to subscribe. We will do our best not to bug you by only sending you deals to your inbox worth opening. Did we mention we’re giving away over $200 every day in gift cards, and gear? Yeah, our birthday week’s going to be AWESOME!
Take a Tour of Midsouth!
Our friends, the Quinns from GunBlast, stopped by for a visit recently. We gave them a tour of our facility and let them in on our day to day. It was great to have them come by so we could share what we do, and what we believe in when it comes to our customers. There’s a personal touch we add to every product you order, from the order taker, to the packer. Check out the video and Thank You for shopping with Midsouth Shooters Supply
It was another beautiful, and exciting trip to Lake Charles, Louisiana, for the 2017 Midsouth Shooters Crawfish Cup. After driving through the larger portion of three states, and a delicious stop at our favorite LA Po’ Boy Shop (shout out to Poor Boy Lloyd’s, in Baton Rouge, LA!!!), we found ourselves back in the warm hospitality of the Southwest Louisiana Rifle and Pistol Club.
We were thrilled to see some of our old friends, meet some interesting new folks, and see just how much the competition had grown over the last 12 months. George Mowbray, and Gary Yantis, plus a big group of some of the best volunteers money could never buy, had made even more range improvements, including making The Crawfish Cup 100% wheelchair accessible! From the new rail mover, to the concrete walkways, the range looked perfect.
Our field of competitors had grown, but the elite competitors were unphased. Caspian Shooter Bruce Piatt, Midsouth Shooter Kevin Angstadt, and Black Nitride Shooter Tony Holmes all brought their A-game. A new face in the top competitors bracket was Mark Itzstein. Mark’s funny, energetic, and has the skills to back up the slight ribbing he’d dish out to his fellow shooters on the line.
Some other folks we were excited to see again we’re Jeremy Newell, who amazed us with his skill level last year, and his extensive resume of shooting disciplines in which he competes. The Yackley’s are one of the coolest families you’ll find on the range. They compete with everything they have, which is a ton of talent, and a family bond which lifts each member of it’s circle to do better, try harder, and to always be gracious. Becky set a new ladies record on the mover this year! Tim took the high honors in his category, and Sean tore up the competition as well!
Also, the Army Marksmanship Unit took home top honors in several events, to include Metallic, as well as Production. Newcomer SPC Heinauer took third in the Metallic Sight overall, and First in Falling Plates Metallic. Their group is always one to follow. Their energy is matched only by their skill!
If you don’t know who Vera Koo is, you’re missing out. Graceful, grounded, and generous, Vera had nothing but kind words, and praise for The Crawfish Cup. She also has a ton of skill and dedication! Vera took home Grand High Lady at the cup, and donated several hundred dollars of her own money to be given as door prizes.
The heat and humidity were also in attendance, as well as delicious food, and strong competition. With enough shooters to fill two days, we found ourselves extremely busy with shooting of our own. We’ll have a video of the shoot coming out soon, as well as more write-ups on sponsors, who make the entire shoot possible.
In the end, it all came down to X-rings, and the mover. Pulling off his third win in a row, Bruce Piatt took home the esteemed Crawfish Cup, with Kevin Angstadt coming in second, and Mark Itzstein coming in third. A great group of winners, in a field of exemplary shooters. Everyone tried, had a ton of fun, and made the 2017 Midsouth Shooters Supply Crawfish Cup a huge success. We’re ready for 2018 already. Are you?
One of the challenges with picking up a “new” cartridge to reload is finding the right dies at the right price. .25-45 Sharps is becoming more popular with AR-15 shooter and reloaders, and the industry is responding with new products that give reloaders more options. One such example is the new .25-45 Sharps dies from LEE. This “Pacesetter” die set includes a full-length sizer/de-primer, a dead-length bullet seater, and a Factory Crimp Die- everything you need to form .25-45 Sharps brass and reload .25-45 Sharps ammunition for your AR-15. These dies are “Very Limited Production” – but I’ll note that Midsouth Shooters Supply has these dies for ~$35. and they are in stock as of today! That’s about 1/2 what other .25-45 Sharps die sets cost!
If you are curious about LEE rifle dies, I posted an in-depth write-up that covers pretty much every detail you can think of. I also posted the following in-depth write-up that covers .25-45 Sharps precision reloading from start to finish, a great resource if you are going to use these LEE dies to load .25-45 Sharps:
If we were to ask you what kind of dies you started out with, there’s a good chance you’d respond with some caliber of LEE dies. Gavin, with Ultimate Reloader, takes us back through the LEE Pistol Dies, like it’s the first time.
“My very first set of reloading dies were LEE 44 Magnum pistol dies that came with the LEE Pro-1000 press that I started out with. Since then, I’ve acquired many more sets of LEE dies ranging from 30-06 to 9mm to 45 ACP to 357 SIG and quite a few in between. LEE Pistol Dies (technically handgun dies, but I’ll use the term “pistol” to cover both autoloader and revolver here) are some of the most popular dies because of their combination of features and value. In this post, I’ll cover the different die sets that LEE offers, compare features, and I’ll even show a demonstration of setting up some dies on a progressive reloading press!”
Feel free to hit this link to check out the full article on Ultimate Reloader!