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What's the advantage of a heavy barrel.....

Discussion in 'Rifle Country' started by harmonic, Nov 6, 2008.

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  1. harmonic

    harmonic member

    Aug 10, 2007
    ..........on a rifle vs a sporter barrel? Any real world benefit?
  2. 10X

    10X Member

    Apr 21, 2006
    Colorado Springs
    A heavy barrel is generally considered more accurate than a sporter weight barrel. There are exceptions to this "rule".

    It is stiffer than a lighter barrel and ,so, is less affected by stock pressures or ambient temperature. It disappates heat better so will retain zero for more rounds during a firing session. More weight in the rifle helps the shooter stay steady when aiming and firing.
  3. JonB

    JonB Member

    Dec 18, 2006
    Builds bigger muscles if you have to carry it. ;-)
  4. Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow

    Dr. Tad Hussein Winslow member

    Nov 14, 2007
    There are several possible advantages:

    1. Stiffness: When shooting from a cold/cool barrel, a stiffer barrel *may* be (is likely to be, but not necessarily) more accurate than a less stiff barrel, to a very small extent. Thickness adds stiffness, but it's relative to barrel length, so if you're not shooting a really long barrel (over 25"), then the advantage offered by a thicker bbl is extremely miniscule, if present at all, over a thinner barrel, when shooting cold/cool. So this is not a big advantage unless (a) you have a really long barrel (esp. 30" or more), and/or (b) you are measuring accuracy increases in tenths of an inch to your groups or less, not 1/4" or 1/2" group size shrinkage increases. So bbl quality and other accuracy factors have many many times more to do with accuracy results than bbl thickness, when comparing apples to apples (cold bbl to cold bbl shooting).

    2. Heat dissipation. This is more of a real advantage, but is only needed if you are shooting a lot of rounds. The barrel can bend as it heats, and this goes back and correlates or ties in with stiffness (#1). Marginal stiffness is not needed for a cold/cool barrel, typically, but IS needed (for extreme accuracy) for a hot barrel (esp. long ones), to minimize the amount of warping under high heat. So there are really two elements to heat viz a viz bbl thickness: one is stiffness, to prevent or minimize warping to maintain your zero when shooting with a hot bbl (if you do), and the other is simple heat dissipation - due to surface area, the *waiting time* between shots or strings of shots to wait for your bbl to become cool again is LESS, so that you can shoot a greater number of accurate rounds in a given time span. Very important for competition shooters who have to shoot X number of rounds in Y number of minutes to finish the competition stage. And there's a lot of overlap here (not just a simple dichotomy of hot vs. cold) - the cooler the bbl, the better, so even if the bbl is not "cool" when you shoot, being lukewarm is better than warm, being warm is better than very warm, being very warm is better than hot, etc. Reason being, to the extent a bbl IS warping near the muzzle as it heats, due to imperfections in the barrel, since metal shrinks at a steady rate with temperature change, the cooler it is, the less warping, and the hotter it is, the more warping. So the more surface area, the better if the "mission" or competition calls for many shots in a short time.

    3. Added mass/heaviness: This can help a little in several ways. One - less recoil and therefore less flinch development likelihood. Two - easier and quicker to get back on target for follow-ups, and Three - sitting "heavy" in the rest can actually make small vectors of movement like heartbeat and wind affect the rifle's steadiness to a smaller degree, and so can help with actual practical accuracy. This is one of Newton's law's (inertia).

    May be others, like as the man said, building up your muscles. Two and three are the main ones (point being, if you're going to take the "shots that count" from a cold bbl, such as when hunting, then a heavy bbl is just not needed at all).

    For a hunting rifle, no - the advantages are typically far outweighed by the disadvantages.
    Last edited: Nov 6, 2008
  5. USSR

    USSR Member

    Jul 7, 2005
    Finger Lakes Region of NY
    Many, many advantages - only real downside is weight.

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