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Centerfire Rifles - Semiautomatic or Gas Operated Centerfire rifles, carbines and other gas operated rifles.

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  #1  
Old 03-18-2010, 7:18 PM
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Default Question on longevity of .223 barrels

Say, I've decided to get serious about landing my first rifle, and am looking for a nice used .223 bolt action. A friend with much rifle experience mentioned that once most .223 barrels have had 1500 rounds through them, they're significantly degraded. I was pretty surprised to hear this, does it make sense to anyone else?

My near-term desire is just getting proficient at 200-400 yard targets, not getting the firearm for varmints.
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Old 03-18-2010, 7:23 PM
BunMaster BunMaster is offline
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In reference to your average chrome lined AR barrel, I've read of guys here going 10,000 rounds before noticing anything.

It depends on the barrel, but you can expect much more than 1500 rounds out of your average modern barrel.
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Old 03-18-2010, 7:24 PM
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hopefully someone who actually knows can back me on this, but i think it depends on the type of barrel. stainless barrels are softer than steel or chromoly barrels and thus, have a shorter life. also, chrome lined barrels will live longer. someone should chime in with real numbers.

i think a SS is good for a couple 3 thousand rounds.
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Old 03-18-2010, 8:06 PM
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Kerplow, you are correct. SS barrels will give you excellent accuracy up until 2500-3500 rounds. Chrome lined can go for around 8-12 thousand.
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Old 03-18-2010, 8:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerplow View Post
hopefully someone who actually knows can back me on this, but i think it depends on the type of barrel. stainless barrels are softer than steel or chromoly barrels and thus, have a shorter life. also, chrome lined barrels will live longer. someone should chime in with real numbers.

i think a SS is good for a couple 3 thousand rounds.
Thanks, I'll keep that in mind when I'm looking at guns at the shop. It makes more sense than that metallurgy would be so poor that barrels would lose their precision so quickly.
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Old 03-18-2010, 8:23 PM
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quality SS barrels should go to 6k of acceptable accurate barrel life
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:20 PM
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forgot to mention twist rates, even vs odd number rifling, bullet velocities, bullet weights.

From what I have seen they should be able to out last your wallet for a while anyways LOL.

Chrome lined is the way to go for what suits me and has served me well over the years.
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:41 PM
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I know of a fellow who has an SU16 with around 12,000 rnds through it and it still shoots good.
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Old 03-18-2010, 10:57 PM
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I got about 7K rounds through my last Chrom-moly AR barrel before accuracy started opening up too much for my taste (1 MOA) and I replaced it.
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:19 PM
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Yes higher twist rates and higher velocities will kill a barrel sooner.

My su has 9k still shooing good, ar has 7k still good. Hp ar rifle had 4688 before I replaced it due to opening up by 1/2"
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Old 03-18-2010, 11:35 PM
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You're just as likely (maybe more?) to "wear-out" your barrel with poor cleaning techniques than by shooting it.

Though the SS does wear faster than CL as stated above.
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Old 03-19-2010, 12:09 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Kerplow View Post
hopefully someone who actually knows can back me on this, but i think it depends on the type of barrel. stainless barrels are softer than steel or chromoly barrels and thus, have a shorter life. also, chrome lined barrels will live longer. someone should chime in with real numbers.

i think a SS is good for a couple 3 thousand rounds.


Some barrel makers seem to think the opposite is true (but who knows).

From the Lilja Website:

"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. "


Throat erosion is the primary reason for accuracy loss in rifle barrels. A bolt action rifle will never see the abuse that an AR would. 10K is typical for crome-lined AR barrels and by then the bolt needs to be replaced anyway. Accuracy loss in rifles is relative. To a competetive shooter going from 1/2 moa to 3/4 moa may mean losing a match. These guys order the barrels long, and then have them set back when accuracy drops below acceptable levels. Most people will never notice anything until groups significantly open up, and believe it or not a good cleaning (JB Bore paste) will sometimes bring the accuracy back. If you are really worried get a Savage, and shoot the factory barel until it dies, and then screw on a match barrel, and keep going.
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Old 03-19-2010, 3:00 AM
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Much of the preceding is thinking about plinking as opposed to precision accuracy... I'll say a bit more about the subject:

Barrel life is a rather nebulous question, as barrels generally do not simply "go bad" as an either/or process. It's more that, over time, groups will start to widen as accuracy diminishes.

This is to say that the barrel life, if your accuracy requirements are wide, can be very long, or the barrel life can be quite short if you require extreme accuracy.

High pressure/powder charge cartridges for small diameter bullets cause faster wear than lower pressure/charge cartridges with large diameters bullets. .223 is small diameter, but relatively mild in charge/pressure.

I would say that, if you're handloading for ultimate accuracy, you can expect to see 3k (+/-1k) rounds before that accuracy diminishes. You could probably get another couple thousand staying sub-MOA. After that, you'll have a plinker barrel.

If you're using cheap ammo from wal-mart or similar, you're unlikely to see any noticeable difference in accuracy for many thousands (6-8k) of rounds.
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