May 13th, 2012

Lothar Walther UltraLight Barrels — Less Heat, Half the Weight

We’re excited when major barrel-makers offer new technologies that promise worthwhile performance benefits for hunters or match shooters. Lothar Walther (LW) has developed a new bi-metal barrel system that cuts weight dramatically while promising significantly-enhanced heat dissipation.

Walther’s new Ultra-Lightweight Barrels combine steel with lightweight alloys. This results in a significant weight reduction without the use of carbon fiber, epoxy binders, or other heat-retaining materials. Beginning as an LW50 stainless blank, the barrel is precision-machined to remove excess weight. An outer casing of light-weight alloys is machined and the two are fitted together without adhesives. Basically you end up with the steel inner barrel inside a larger-diameter fluted aluminum outer barrel (see diagram). This gives you the ‘best of both worlds’ — light weight for ease of carry, and thick diameter for rigidity and enhanced heat dissipation. Near the action, the barrel remains all-steel.

Lothar Walther ultra lightweight bi-metal barrel

Aluminum thermal conductivityWe haven’t tested one of these bi-metal composite barrels, but the potential for significant weight savings is obvious — aluminum is a lot lighter than steel. What’s more, a metals expert we contacted said that a bi-metal system employing fluted aluminum over steel, if assembled properly, could dissipate heat much better than steel alone (given the same diameter). Stainless steel has a thermal conductivity factor of 16. Aluminum has a thermal conductivity factor of 250.*

Our expert also pointed out that some other composite barrel systems on the market actually increase heat retention because they place insulating materials next to the inner steel barrel. (Carbon, Fiberglass, and Epoxy are all considered “insulating substances” as they have very low thermal conductivity*.) The LW system of aluminum over metal should avoid this mistake, our expert said. Lothar Walther says: “Unlike solid steel barrels, this barrel sheds heat fast. VERY FAST!”

Half the Weight of Conventional Barrels
How much weight can you save? With a 1.200″ shank diameter (except Savage) and a muzzle diameter of 0.850″, the LW Ultra-Lightweight Barrel is less than half the weight of a standard varmint barrel of the same size. Walther claims its UltraLight Barrel can be “carried for long distances and stand up to heavy firing.” This, LW says, makes these barrels “perfect… for varmint and tactical uses”.

Pre-Chambered Ultra-Lightweight Barrels Available in .22 to .338 Calibers
Lothar Walther offers Ultra-Lightweight barrels in a full range of calibers from .22LR to .338. Each Ultra-Lightweight Barrel comes complete with chamber, crown, and breech threads. These barrels are fluted by the factory. If you order a LW Ultra-Lightweight barrel, Lothar Walter provides the services of a specialist trained in building guns with these barrels. To order one of Lothar Walther’s bi-metal barrels, CLICK HERE or contact Lothar Walthar at the address below:

Lothar Walther Precision Tools, Inc.
3425 Hutchinson Rd. – Cumming, GA 30040
Phone: 770-889-9998 | Fax: 770-889-4919
E-Mail: lotharwalther [at]

*Thermal conductivity is the quantity of heat transmitted through a unit thickness in a direction normal to a surface of unit area, due to a unit temperature gradient under steady state conditions. The factor values are based on this formula: W/(m.K) = 0.85984 kcal/(hr.m. °C). Here are thermal conductivty values for common materials: Aluminum, 250; Brass, 109; Steel (Carbon 1%), 45; Stainless Steel, 16; Carbon, 1.7; Brick dense, 1.3; Concrete (medium) 0.7; Epoxy, 0.35; Fiberglass, .04.

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