What is the deal with chrome lined barrels?


February 3, 2011, 01:43 PM
Please forgive me, I know everyone already knows the answer to that question. It's been discussed to death. Problem is I don't understand the discussions. Please remember the bulk of my knowledge about state of the art weapons is approximately 4 to 5 hundred years out of date. So please use small words.

I am looking at buying an AK (I think, I'm not sure AK are ugly, but they have a lower dollar cost of entry) I keep reading that chrome lined barrels are better (AR's too). I've accepted they are better but I would like to know why.

Aside from the cost factor I can't look at AR's because looking at all the options and spec sheets make my brain bleed. :banghead: The spec sheets might as well be written in ancient Egyptian for all the sense they make to me.

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Jim Watson
February 3, 2011, 01:45 PM
Chrome lining is corrosion and erosion resistant.
So a chrome lined barrel lasts longer shooting and is more tolerant of neglect in cleaning.

February 3, 2011, 02:16 PM
Okay. So if you use non corrosive primers and actually cleaned your rifle it really shouldn't matter for a while, correct?

February 3, 2011, 02:26 PM
It really does not matter. If you clean it (shooting corrosive or not), the rifle will last many thousands of rounds.

February 3, 2011, 02:29 PM
Umm okay, so why do people get so worked up about it?

I'm so confused.

February 3, 2011, 02:32 PM
Like Jim said, hard chrome is resistant to wear, it is much harder than the steel the barrel is made of, and thus greatly extends the life of the barrel in terms of accuracy. It will take thousands of rounds more for chrome-lined rifling to wear unacceptably than naked steel, regardless of type.

Shadow 7D
February 3, 2011, 02:32 PM
last longer, easier to clean
especially if you shoot corrosive (surplus) ammo
as for why people get worked up, IDK, I don't understand car guys, but I do understand long distance shooters :)

February 3, 2011, 02:35 PM
Some people seem to get worked up about this because that is what they learned. Chrome good, non-chromed bad. Some of this may have come from the early days of the M-16 too.

Look at the M1 Garand, one of the greatest rifles by far - non chrome.

Vern Humphrey
February 3, 2011, 02:48 PM
Umm okay, so why do people get so worked up about it?

I'm so confused.
During the Viet Nam war, we had a lot of problems with the M16. And someone noticed the AK 47 had a chrome-lined barrel. Chrome-lined got to be better, no?

February 3, 2011, 02:51 PM
In WWII, the Arisakas had chrome lined bores. I have one, a battlefield pickup, that has a bore way better than my Springfield, Krag, or 98K....and it wasn't cleaned from the time it was picked up til I got it twelve years later.

February 3, 2011, 03:30 PM
Well, as far as shotguns go, I thought the chrome bores permitted steel shot to be used.

I may be wrong on that.

February 3, 2011, 04:07 PM
There is a lot of misinformation out there on this topic, I could explain it all here, but I would just be repeating what I have learned from a little bit of research.

It does however merit study, because the idea that chrome lining is just for market demand or aesthetics is just plain wrong, I have a couple of links for you if you are interested. (the first one is the most relevant to your question)


February 3, 2011, 04:49 PM
A chrome lined barrel will last longer, will clean easier and be more corrosion resistant then a non chrome lined barrel.

A non chrome lined barrel will probably shoot more precise groups (all else being equal).

February 3, 2011, 05:13 PM
Chrome lining is a good idea for military weapons but it really doesn't add much for civilian shooters. Unless you are worried that your gun will rust a lot then your barrel should be fine without any chrome. Sure they will last longer if they are chrome lined, but if you can afford to pay for the many thousands of rounds that it costs to wear out a normal barrel then you can afford to pay for a whole new rifle let alone a measly barrel here and there.

February 3, 2011, 09:19 PM
Chrome lining of the chamber also increases reliability of feeding and especially extraction.

A chromed chamber will foul less and it and the bore are far easier to clean.
The military demanded chrome lining of the M16 after unlined M16 chambers rusted and corroded in combat causing major jams that were difficult to clear.

An unlined barrel in an AK or an AR will last a long time but extraction might be an issue in a fouled rifle and you have to be much more careful about maintenance.

February 4, 2011, 02:41 PM
Whether a CL barrel is "better" than a chrome moly or stainless steel depends on what the rifle is used for. Chrome Lined barrels are great for battle rifles, for all the reasons mentioned... more reliable feed, corrosion resistance, longer barrel life, easier cleaning.

Stainless steel barrels tend to be the most accurate. They last longer than regular old chrome moly, but not as long as chrome lined. They are favored by competition shooters and anyone who wants to wring the utmost accuracy out of a rifle.

Regular old CM barrels are inexpensive and tend to lend themselves to slightly better accuracy that CL, though not quite as good as stainless. They wear faster than CL or SS, though they are probably still good for 5,000 rounds or more on your average rifle. They are just fine if all you want is a range rifle for occasional paper punching and plinking, and don't care about the utmost reliability and performance in field conditions, or in the utmost in accuracy.

As has been said, some of the greatest battle rifles of all time, like the M1, M1903, Mauser, Nagant, SMLE, etc., did just fine without chrome lining.

For an AK or AR, especially an AR, it's more important because of the feed reliability issue.

February 4, 2011, 02:50 PM
Unlike chrome bumpers on older cars, a person probably needn't clean a chrome bore with Coke. :rolleyes:

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