Barrel heat

Discussion in 'Competition Shooting' started by tightgroup tiger, Oct 20, 2018.

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  1. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    I have a question for those of you who shoot competition where you are shooting multiple magazines of amma at one time.
    How hot do you let your barrels get before you give them a rest to cool down?

    I was reading a post on another forum about someone who was shooting a semi-automatic and he was shooting several magazines end to end at one time with a 17 shot auto.
    I can't feel the barrel on a semi auto due to the slide.
    With a revolver I can feel the barrel and after 3 cylinders full of what I shoot, it is really hot!

    How hot can a barrel get without hurting it? I know this is subjective but I don't want to hurt my guns from shooting them until they give up and fail.
    The barrel on a revolver is different than a barrel on a semi-auto since it is detached from the frame.

    But barrel steel is barrel steel and I don't want to ruin my semi-autos due to not being able to feel the heat in the barrel because the slide is covering it.
     
  2. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    Depends on the match and course of fire. You may shoot one or two rapid fire strings which comes down to 10 rounds in 60 seconds or 10 rounds in 70 seconds.Rifle National Match Course and see section 6.4. Regardless, you are not going to manage to cook or damage a barrel in any match. Not on a good rifle anyway.
    I have seen rifles running full auto with barrels turning cherry red and they still function.
    How Hot is Too Hot for a Rifle Barrel?
    While the point of aim verse point of impact may shift you are not likely to damage a barrel in any match.

    Ron
     
  3. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    I believe OP is referring to shooting pistols.

    I never really worried about it and I have done mag dumps where 10+ magazines were shot continuously.

    When I shot USPSA, my average range practice sessions used around 500 rounds. On all-day mock USPSA stage practice sessions, sometimes 1000+ rounds were fired. Now, some of my range practice sessions use around 300-500+ rounds, often in the same pistol. On many of these sessions, pistols were shot continuously until barrels got hot, really hot (along with slides). But as long as I was able to handle the pistol without burning my hands, I kept on shooting. Unlike rifle barrels where heat really affects accuracy, I have not experienced significant deterioration in accuracy from hot pistol barrels.

    While I cool rifle barrels until I can grab them with my hands between groups, I do not worry about cooling pistol barrels when I am shooting groups.

    Shooting various factory and match barrels, I never really worried about getting barrels too hot to damage them. Even when shooting Titegroup loads which really heats up a barrel, I just avoid touching the barrel/slide so I don't get burned.

    Many torture tests have been done by military and private individuals where tens of thousands of rounds were fired continuously and I do not believe barrels were damaged by such tests. And many factory barrels like Glock, M&P etc. have surface hardened barrels and I do not believe shooting several thousand rounds continuously would damage the surface of these barrels.

    I shot a Glock 17 with over 100,000 rounds and rifling looked pristine and accuracy was still good. With concern over round count, I sold it to another match shooter who continued shooting matches with the pistol as accuracy produced was more than good enough for him.
     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  4. 243winxb

    243winxb Member

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    Not all the same. Had a Colt 357 mag barrel crack from heat. Only took 50 rounds rapid fire in near 100 degree weather.

    The M16A1 will cook off if 140 rounds are fired rapidly and continuously. If a round is left sit in the chamber for about 10 seconds. Sustained rate of fire is 12-15 rounds per minute. Info from owners manual 1985.
     
  5. Reloadron
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    Reloadron Contributing Member

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    I believe you have a point and no clue why it is reloading? Anyway if pistol then I have to agree with you. Destroying a barrel is not that easy. Pistol or rifle. I was wondering about that 17 round count thing. :)

    Ron
     
  6. LiveLife

    LiveLife Member

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    1000 rounds in 14 minutes (shooting starts at 2:00 minute mark of video) - After 1000 rounds, temperature reading showed almost 200F (2nd degree burn can occur on contact at 149F) without loss of accuracy.



    Chances are we won't push our pistols to this extreme - Full auto continuous shooting with thermal imaging (Shooting starts at 1:30 minute mark of video). As anticipated, plastic guide rod failed at 4:35 minute due to heat build up and replaced with metal guide rod and testing resumed. At 9:40 minute, one of 4 frame rail pin pulled out and shooting stopped after 1272 full auto rounds - disassembly of pistol showed wear on rifling of barrel. At 15:00 minute, pistol fired full auto after reassembly.

     
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2018
  7. Good Ol' Boy

    Good Ol' Boy Member

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    I agree with BDS.

    I normally shoot 2-300rds in about a half hour going slow doing drills.

    Comps are generally far less than that and I've never seen anyone shooting to the point their barrel has issues.

    Pistols of course....
     
  8. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I don't do torture tests, mag dumps, or even extended practice at rapid fire pace, so I will not likely overheat a pistol barrel.
    It doesn't take long for a stainless steel revolver to get unpleasantly hot to the operator, though.

    A target rifle must hold its accuracy through NM rapid fire or a LR shooter getting off his 20 in a hurry before the conditions change. That is why you pay $400 for a match barrel. Accuracy is maintained, but shooting hot is not doing the barrel life a favor. Of course the rifle is burning ten times the powder in a smaller bore, so it is not a direct comparison.
     
  9. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    To be blunt, it’s really this simple:

    In competition: You shoot the stages as designed at the pace between stages dictated by the match pace. Barrels are expendable, if you want a barrel/firearm to last forever, you don’t compete with it.

    As for practice, where you are your own match director, controlling your pace - shoot less rounds per practice stage, focus more on technical execution. Run the set up dry fire between each live fire, you’ll buy enough time to manage your barrel temp. Again - barrels aren’t lifelong investments. If your competition pace puts on so much round count you’ll have to replace a barrel during season, it’s probably worthwhile to have a backup/practice firearm to take all of your practice volume, so you don’t get stuck with a “near dead” barrel, or stuck waiting for a smith. For a factory pistol, you just replace the barrel, break it in, and roll. For most action pistol competition, the precision demand isn’t so great you will burn out barrels very often.

    In any action shooting sports I have played, we get pistols hot enough even the slide is too hot to touch without feeling like they could burn your hand. In some competition, we have shot enough that rifle and revolver barrels didn’t just FEEL like they would burn, they WOULD burn.

    Most pistol barrels aren’t thick enough to have a huge thermal gradient between breechblock surface and chamber. If you can touch it without sizzling, it’s not doing significant damage. In cowboy action shooting, many guys even wrap their shotgun barrels to prevent burns to their hands, because the thin wall barrels will get super hot, super quick.
     
  10. Jim Watson

    Jim Watson Member

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    I was wondering about that, but I realized that I don't hold my pistol by the front end of the slide after a long USPSA field course. I don't know how hot it gets.
    But the exposed barrel and cylinder of a revolver heat up enough to make the last reload of a long stage very unpleasant.
     
  11. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    As others have said, pistols and rifles are different in terms of the damage risk posed by heat. With a (straight-walled cartridge) pistol barrel, you're not generally anything like the volume of super-heated gasses blasting away at the throat, nor are you ripping copper jackets through the barrel at 3k FPS.

    If what you're talking about is USPSA, the guns and barrels will generally have lifespans well into the tens of thousands of rounds. Even when the shooting finally gets to them, it's not generally the case that they "give up and fail." They gradually get looser and looser in their fit, and often get a little "slower" as the bore gradually opens up by a few ten-thou's. Groups begin to slowly open up. It's not like a machine-gun-barrel situation where the thing starts throwing pure knuckleballs because you've burned out every bit of the rifling, or where it melts and droops to the point where it never shoots straight again.
     
  12. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Interesting side question: Given identical ammo, will a semi-auto barrel or a revolver barrel end up hotter after, say, 32 rounds fired in the space of 20 seconds? The revolver barrel is "air-cooled" during any running around or reloading, but the semi-auto has multiple points of contact with the slide as a heat-sink... and perhaps "gulps" air every time the action cycles?
     
  13. Varminterror

    Varminterror Member

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    @ATLDave - revolvers stay a lot cooler than pistols. The hottest part of a revolver or pistol (or rifle) is almost always the chamber, and the revolver distributes the firing among 5-8 chambers, putting less heat into each respective chamber. You can say you’re putting the same number of shots into a much larger mass, or you can break up the cylinder. If you mentally cut apart the cylinder into equal sections per chamber, you have smaller heat sinks than a breech block found in a pistol, but with more exposed surface, and most importantly, less heat happening inside each respective chamber. So you pick how you want to view it - less heat into nearly the same respective mass, or the same heat into a much larger mass.

    BUT!! A guy has to be mindful to compare the same cartridge in both. Comparing a powderpuff .38spcl with 4grns of Bullseye to a full pressure 9mm will be an irreconcilable bias. Comparing a 44mag running 23.5grn H110 to a 45acp running 6.5grn CFE Pistol is also biased. Recognizing here - it’s a pretty narrow application where you might legitimately be comparing a 9mm revolver to a 9mm pistol.

    Of course, it should go without saying - some powders run a LOT hotter than others. Double base, high glycerin powders will trump single base powders, naturally.
     
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  14. ATLDave

    ATLDave Member

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    Well that makes sense! Seems obvious, now that you say it.
     
  15. tightgroup tiger

    tightgroup tiger Member

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    Thanks guys, that what I needed to know, after your experiences you've shared and BDS's videos, I can see I'm worrying about nothing.
     
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