Useable barrel life

Ravelian

Active Member
Hi all, novice question from me (and apologies if this has already been covered at length): what would you consider the typical barrel life for a hunting rifle before accuracy starts to degrade significantly? Obviously this will depend on numerous factors (calibre, intended usage, price, etc.), but for example, in my case I'm considering purchasing a second hand .308 - what would be too many rounds fired for such a rifle to be considered shot out?

I've seen read comments online saying a Remington 700 in .308 can last up to 8,000 to 10,000 rounds before losing useability, and much higher numbers for mil-spec firearms. Seems to me that most of the rifles offered for S/H sale on SD have much lower round counts (sub 1000), which could imply that round count might not be that important a consideration in evaluating a possible purchase?

Grateful for your thoughts.
 

paul o'

Well-Known Member
Anything sub 1,000 will out last the user for stalking. folks get hung up on round counts ? We not talking machine gun amounts fast and furious shooting its the norm on here to do a mix of stalking and a bit of range playing imo
 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
Hi all, novice question from me (and apologies if this has already been covered at length): what would you consider the typical barrel life for a hunting rifle before accuracy starts to degrade significantly? Obviously this will depend on numerous factors (calibre, intended usage, price, etc.), but for example, in my case I'm considering purchasing a second hand .308 - what would be too many rounds fired for such a rifle to be considered shot out?

I've seen read comments online saying a Remington 700 in .308 can last up to 8,000 to 10,000 rounds before losing useability, and much higher numbers for mil-spec firearms. Seems to me that most of the rifles offered for S/H sale on SD have much lower round counts (sub 1000), which could imply that round count might not be that important a consideration in evaluating a possible purchase?

Grateful for your thoughts.
If buying second hand, look for seller's offering to let you try before you buy...a more useful yardstick than round count. Some on here selling privately offer it, and depending which side of London you are Steve Beaty of Ivythorn Sporting offers this and has a very good reputation so would be a good dealer to visit if it is not too far for you.


Alan
 
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PKL

Well-Known Member
Don’t know about 8-10,000! For a Remmy I’d say 2000-3000 maybe less

Best barrels can do 5000

Personally I wouldn’t buy a rifle with a round count above 1000 as usually the ‘truth’ is probably the rifle has shot twice that.

A badly maintained barrel and/or used for range shooting with 1000 rounds will be a lot less attractive than a well kept and cleaned stalkers barrel with 2000..
 

gonzo

Well-Known Member
If the value of a rifle was in that sort of round count, you are looking at a pound per round!
Personally, I would try it. If it groups, then all is well with the world.

I've used/had vintage and ex mil guns with only traces of rifling or throats worn like a snake charmers flute. Which will still shoot with a bit of load tweaking. And guns with new looking barrels, that we just couldn't get to work (usually inappropriate twists etc).
 

caorach

Well-Known Member
Way back when I was looking to buy a rifle there were folks on the accuratereloading forum with Blaser R93s in 308Win going well over 10,000 rounds and they were seeing no drop off in accuracy, that's many years ago and for all I know those rifles are still going today. With modern steel and barrel tech with a 308Win any normal person may never have enough time in a single life to shoot out a barrel.

The other problem is that almost every rifle I've ever seen for sale second hand has only shot one or two boxes of ammo and I'm finding this hard to believe so I think that most estimates of round count can be complete flights of fantasy. Having watched the ability to count rounds, and measure groups, and deal with probability, I've concluded that the average shooter is extremely bad at maths indeed.

I'm mostly a stalker who very occasionally has a day on the range, I come in at the low end of shot count though I only have one rifle whereas some would be spreading their shot count over more than one. I also reload and as primers come in boxes of 1000 I have some vague idea of how many rounds I've fired, I can't account for any factory ammo but know that I've used over 2000 primers in about 12 years. Factor in factory ammo and I'm probably sitting at a shot count somewhere around 2500 - 3000 in the 12 years. I know I fire a lot less rounds than most people I've shot with and so would be very wary of any rifle that was claimed to be shooting less than 200 - 300 rounds per year, either the person using it isn't telling the full story or there's some reason why the rifle is simply not getting used - it might be a legit reason but it might also be something that wants to make you think about buying the rifle. I'd have no hesitation in selling my rifle to a mate and assuring him he'd get a lifetime out of it.
 

Woodsmoke

Well-Known Member
I seem to remember seeing it calculated as being a few seconds....
I read something about that too. It was based on a theoretical figure of 0.002 seconds of bullet 'travel time' through the barrel at a nominal 3000fps, and another theoretical figure (based on what, I don't know) of 3000 rounds barrel life. Fun maths, but I can't see it actually has any real bearing on actual barrel life :-|:lol:
 

1894

Well-Known Member
Sporter weight in stainless not mullahed with a crap rod etc = infinite.

Heavier barrel, twiddles on scope = shoot first.

Match rifle = not long

Bore condition isnt much of an indicator of accuracy in my limited experience.
 

Heym SR20

Well-Known Member
High velocities equals short accurate barrel life. Those with velocities approaching 4,000 fps accuracy starts to drop at c1,000 to 1,500. 3,000fps plus its a few thousand. 2,500 fps you can measure in lots of thousands.

Barrel heat also has a big impact - be in the habit of shooting 10 rounds rapidly in a lightweight barrel and you will shorten barrel life.

There is also the matter of acceptable accuracy. Some want little clover leafs and call a barrel shot out once it opens to 3/4" (long range target shooters). For others a 2" group is more than acceptable - close range hunting.

And also many barrels are not necessarily junk - knocking half an inch of the muzzle and recrowning can have a big effect.
 

Alantoo

Well-Known Member
Snip... or there's some reason why the rifle is simply not getting used - it might be a legit reason but it might also be something that wants to make you think about buying the rifle. I'd have no hesitation in selling my rifle to a mate and assuring him he'd get a lifetime out of it.
My furniture maker father maintained that when it came to second hand tools he would always go for the one which was well worn...He reckoned that no-one would wear down a bad tool...only their favourite one...they would chuck or replace a bad one. The unworn one was the one that was left on the rack or in the drawer with the good one being sharpened and resharpened and used because it was good steel, good balance, good shape and etc.

I can imagine a poor rifle could be similarly frustrating, and after failing attempts to get them to group, left in the cabinet or passed on with a low round count...

Maybe a high round count is something to be looked for rather than the opposite! :)

My first centre fire and moderator were bought second hand from a range owner. I was told by Simon Lawrence that the Titanium moderator had 15,000 .308W and 30_06 rounds though it. I presumed more than half of those would have been on my barrel, which was no less precise than the new rifle I replaced it with after a further 1000.

I have kept a record of all the rounds through the new rifle and the targets...I keep a running total on the target sheets and notes of rounds shot at deer in between range sessions...1488 total so far. I am sure (I hope) I am not the only nerd to know precisely.

Were I to sell the rifle, I could provide the folder of targets so the purchaser could see exactly what it had accomplished and whether it was going downhill or not...but I ain't.

I see it as a positive thing that I will continue to shoot it until I wear out the barrel...I will then know I have had my full money's worth out of the investment.

Alan
 

Glyn 1

Well-Known Member
My old estate rifle (Sako 85 .243 Win) had at least 4000 rnds though it, all 75 grn factory loads. That was after six years of hard use. It was as accurate the day I handed it back as the day I got it new, the lads are still using it for park culling now with another five years and God knows how many thousand rounds on the clock!

I never saw a sporting shooter or stalker 'shoot out' a barrel until we saw the rise of the garden shed riflesmith?
 

gonzo

Well-Known Member
Like used cars. You buy what you see. Miles on the clock are not a good indicator of whether it's any good.
But if you know nowt about cars, you will choose the simple metrics.
 

reiver

Well-Known Member
Sauer quote 10,000 rounds in there barrels and Steve Beaty say they should do upwards of 20,000 if the barrels are looked after properly
 

ejg

Well-Known Member
I recon one could get at least 50000 rounds out of a hammer forged 308, accuracy might go down a bit in that time. you would only need one rifle in your life. Anyone who wants that … go for it.
Why would I waste my shooting life on mediocre accuracy? I would rather not even fire a single shot out of that mediocre barrel that came in the rifle... not even waste one minute with it and get a lovely precision barrel fitted. Then enjoy my hobby on a different level.
that is just me. If I have the slightest hint that a barrel is not performing to my standards... it is out... gone.
edi
 

NigelM

Well-Known Member
It's all down to case capacity vs bore size, heat of burn for the specific powder and pressure.

I have nuked a 6.5x47 Lapua stainless PacNor barrel in under 1000 rounds. In terms of case capacity vs bore diameter it is of very similar proportions to 308 Win. I was running double base powders at 62k psi, which whilst under CIP pressure and showing no signs did a lot of damage.

Factory ammunition tends to be loaded at far more conservative pressures and usually with single base powders so are much kinder on a barrel.

Different steel types erode at different rates. A std 416R barrel will wear faster than a LW barrel which is made of a harder steel.

There is no "rule" for how long a barrel lasts for in any chambering, it all depends what it's made of and what you feed it with.

I learnt my lesson :)
 

Laurie

Well-Known Member
There are four factors in barrel life

1) the cartridge and its internal ballistics characteristics - how big a case / what weight powder is burned v bore diameter / area. So 338 Fed say will give much better barrel life than 243 Win despite using the same basic (308) case as the combustion gasses are being forced down a much larger hole with a greater surface area so any give spot doesn't absorb as much heat. What pressure is the cartridge designed for? A 300 magnum such as 300 Win Mag not only shoves a lot more erosive gas down the bore than a 308, but does so at higher pressures being designed for 65,000 psi MAP.

2) the cartridge's actual loading - pressure and type of powder as some grades burn at lower temperatures than others. This is more of an issue for handloading shooters, but a Hornady 'Light Magnum' (or whatever they call this now) in 308 or 30-06 as examples will produce more wear than the common or garden varieties. Heavy bullets cause more wear than light ones from the same cartridge at the same pressures too.

3) the type of barrel steel and its manufacture. The best of the factory hammer forged barrels from Sauer, Steyr etc are very tough indeed and 10,000 308 rounds wouldn't be ridiculous. Match grade stainless steel barrels used in match or custom super-precision sporters are conversely very 'soft' due the metal's inherent qualities, also because drill-boring followed by button or cut-rifling methods as used here don't surface harden the metal as hammer forging does. Soft steel is used because that allows the barrel maker to produce super-accurate and consistent bore / rifling and also facilitates the gunsmith who receives the rifled 'blank' to machine it into a chambered and threaded, maybe fluted final product on small workshop lathes traditionally.

4) user expectations and usage. What is is acceptable accuracy for a stalker - 'Minute of deer' would normally be classed as totally worn out by a competition shooter in a high precision discipline who therefore scraps a barrel at a lower round-count. (The proviso here is that the low volume shooter doesn't ruin the barrel through over / bad cleaning practices and materials.) Then there is type of use, the key issue being rate of fire and how hot the barrel becomes as result. So the field shooter who primarily takes single cold barrel shots would see much better life than the PRS / Tactical / Practical / Civilian Service Rifle competitor whose discipline involves rapid strings of fire as fast as the bolt can be manipulated.
 

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