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understanding barrel life

It’s an undeniable fact that barrels have a finite lifespan. This leads to frequent questions about the differences in barrel life between our carbon fiber wrapped barrels and traditional stainless steel barrels. The bottom line is that the expected barrel life from our carbon wrapped barrels is at least as good as that of any stainless steel barrel if not better.

The carbon composite has a higher heat capacity than that of steel meaning that for a certain amount of heat input, our carbon barrel’s temperature will rise less. Also, by carefully controlling the orientation of the fibers and ensuring that there is no excess resin in the wrap, our carbon barrels dissipate heat away from the hottest parts of the barrel. This causes the barrel to heat more uniformly and keeps peak temperatures lower. These effects together result is a barrel that heats slower and cools faster. Extensive engineering modeling backed by live fire testing confirms this.

Another common question is how much barrel life one can expect from a specific cartridge. The answer is that it depends. Different cartridges, with varying pressures, powder volumes, bullet construction, bullet caliber, etc., wear barrels at different rates. Additionally, factors such as rate and volume of fire, cleaning habits, and even the environment further complicate barrel life predictions. An apt analogy is to compare your barrel to a set of tires on a sports car. The higher the performance of the car and the harder you drive it, the faster the tires will wear out. In general, due to how Proof carbon barrels handle heat, you should expect the same or better life as with a conventional stainless steel barrel.

What causes a barrel to wear out? Wear primarily occurs through throat erosion. The highest pressure, heat and friction occur almost simultaneously at the point where the bullet engages the rifling (commonly called the throat of the barrel). The stainless steel used in all of Proof’s barrels is carefully selected and treated to maximize erosion resistance compared to competing stainless barrels. However, it should be note that improper cleaning techniques such as jointed cleaning rods, abrasive cleaners and cleaning from the muzzle can cause premature wear at the muzzle as well as well as the throat.

Determining when to replace a barrel hinges on performance indicators like accuracy and velocity. How much accuracy or velocity degradation is acceptable before replacement is primarily driven by application and individual preferences. It’s also crucial to distinguish between overall barrel life and accurate barrel life, where the latter is when the barrel no longer meets the accuracy standards necessary for your application. In competitive applications, barrels that are nearing the end of their peak accurate life are often relegated for practice and continue to perform well for hundreds or even thousands of more rounds.

In summary, a barrel’s lifespan involves a great deal of factors but the carefully selected stainless steel and carbon fiber wrap of Proof’s barrels ensure the utmost barrel performance for as long or longer than other stainless barrels.

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