On Long Range Precision Shooting: Rifle Barrel Life
- Caleb Tillery
Featured image courtesy of Opksrj
The life of a firearm’s barrel can be extremely long if you are talking about how long it can maintain structural integrity.
However, if you are trying to shoot small targets at long ranges, your barrel life will be much shorter than you think.
The main reason long range rifle barrels are replaced well before it is dangerous is because that, after a certain amount of wear and tear, they can begin to contribute to lost muzzle velocity.
As you fire rounds down the barrel it experiences wear and tear, specifically around the throat of the barrel.
The combustion from the round being fired, combined with the projectile squeezing through the barrel, reduces the bearing surface. Once the bearing surface is reduced enough the projectile no longer has enough resistance, causing the pressure to drop.
This results in the projectile moving slower than the previous shot. It then becomes extremely difficult to come up with a correct firing solution because the speed variable continues to change, and if there’s one thing we don’t need more of when it comes to competitive shooting, it’s variables.
This usually happens within three thousand rounds depending on the caliber and can be easily diagnosed with a chronograph.
If you intend on shooting tiny targets a far distance, you will have to replace barrels on a regular basis. It’s just a thing that happens. Make sure you document your muzzle velocity and check it on occasion the ensure your barrel isn’t “shot-out.”
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