WASP vs Chrome barrel protection?


November 28, 2010, 05:44 PM
I am new to AR's and finding many thing I have questions about, this forum as given me many answers but I cannot find any good answers on if the WASP coating is good, bad or equal to Chrome lined barrels.

I have read many threads on Chrome lined verses non Chrome Lined but where does the WASP treatment fall in this continuum.

Thanks for you input,


If you enjoyed reading about "WASP vs Chrome barrel protection?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!
November 28, 2010, 07:20 PM
WASR is actually what you're refering to, I think.

I have a WASR-10 with a chromed barrel .... seems as good as anything I've seen. WASRs are known to "look" crude, and they used to have problems with canted gas tubes & sights, but I think recent ones have been better.
Mine has ugly wood but it shoots pretty accuratly for what it is.
I suspect "middle of the road" is where they fall but I don't really know.
If you get one I suggest you examine it first (that's what I did) just to make sure it atleast isn't OBVIOUSLY one with a canted gastube/sight.

November 28, 2010, 07:23 PM
CMMG "W.A.S.P." model has a NITRIDED barrel.


They use the "WASP" as an acronym for "Weapons Armament Surface Protection"

I'm sure that like all high-tech things, when done right its very good.

November 28, 2010, 07:23 PM
WASR is actually what you're refering to, I think.
The OP spoke correctly.

WASP is very similar to salt bath nitriding such as Melonite or Tenifer.

Google, anyone?

Defense Minister
November 28, 2010, 11:49 PM
The WASP coating is a process called "salt bath ferritic nitrocarburizing". Some info on it can be found here:


Here is what CMMG has to say about it on their website:


After reading the technical information from CMMGs website, many people have probably wanted to ask "If the WASP finish is better than chrome-lining, why do you only apply it to your lower-end LE series uppers?". Though I haven't asked, I suspect the reason for that is the demand for Mil-Spec uppers, and the military specification for carbine barrels is chrome lining, not salt bath ferritic nitrocarburizing.

I am not a metalurgist, and cannot tell you which one is better than the other, but the truth is probably that they are both good, and the reason for the demand of Mil-Spec uppers is the popular assumption that if the military uses it, it must be the best. But, when you consider how many years Gore-Tex was in use by civilians before the military ever considered adopting it for use in combat uniforms, that assumption no longer holds water. In fact, the public is often the beta test group for products eventually adopted for military use. In which case, we have the good stuff before they do.

One interesting thing to note is that many people feel piston ARs are the pinnacle of performance when it comes to carbines of that platform, and of the 25-30 different uppers CMMG manufactures, only two are piston operated, and one of them has the WASP finish.

If I was a bettin' man, I'd say that CMMG came up with the idea of the WASP coating because it was more cost-effective than chrome-lining, and allows them to market their products to folks who are looking for a lower-cost AR-15 without compromising quality by using chrome-moly barrels that have not coating or lining at all, while still giving the Mil-Spec addicts what they demand in their more expensive line of carbines and uppers.

November 29, 2010, 11:15 AM
Originally Posted by Tommygunn
WASR is actually what you're refering to, I think.

The OP spoke correctly.

My bad. I think my eyeglasses need cleaning.:o

November 29, 2010, 11:16 AM
Chrome lined barrels to milspec are 2MOA. The chroming process requires button rifling oversized, and plating back to dimension. That makes it a difficult job to get a precision bore. Almost no barrels marketed as precision use chrome, it's strictly a milspec standard for corrosion protection.

Nitriding is a molecular treatment of the surface material, incorporating new elements to surface harden it. Nitriding can be more corrosion resistant, more high temperature erosion resistant, less expensive, and doesn't require oversizing the bore. The final rifling is what you still get after nitriding, not a rippling thickness variation that can spike barrel pressures beyond SAMMI specs. It happens. It has put some barrel makers out of business.

The public reads chrome plate as milspec and insists on it. It's over 70 years since it was standardized, and it's not the leading edge or best way to get a protective treatment. It just happens to be the government way. Most makers selling barrels won't buck the trend because they know the customer always thinks they are right, and has money in hand. Nitriding is becoming more available for those shooters who know better. As for positioning it in a lower cost line of LE weapons, those are the ones being bought and paid for by the individual officer. Government buyers extending contracts get the chromed lined because that's what the Feds are doing, and they aren't going to overextend their credibility. Government buyers have deeper pockets, the more expensive guns get discounted in volume, and everyone keeps their job.

Chrome or nitride? Don't know yet, I would put my money on nitride if I can get it on what I want. I doubt I will shoot 15k rounds through it, for me there is less to go wrong than the scheme currently conducted. In the future, a hammerforged nitride barrel will be cheaper.

If you enjoyed reading about "WASP vs Chrome barrel protection?" here in TheHighRoad.org archive, you'll LOVE our community. Come join TheHighRoad.org today for the full version!