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November 27th, 2021

How to Inspect Your Barrel Crown with a Q-Tip

The last half-inch or so of your barrel is absolutely critical. Any damage (or abnormal wear) near the crown will cause a significant drop-off in accuracy. Here are ways you can check the end of your barrel, using a common Q-Tip.

Use Q-Tip for Barrel Inspection
To find out if you have a burr or damage to your crown, you can use an ordinary Q-tip cotton swab. Check the edges of the crown by pulling the Q-tip gently out past the edge of the crown. If you have a burr, it will “grab” the cotton and leave strands behind.

Larry Willis has another way to use a Q-Tip: “Here’s a neat trick that will surprise you with how well it works.” Just insert a Q-Tip into your barrel (like the picture below), and it will reflect enough light so that you can get a real good look at the last half inch of rifling and the crown of your barrel. In most cases you’ll find that this works much better than a flashlight. Larry tells us: “I’ve used this method about a jillion times. Q-Tips are handy to keep in your cleaning supplies anyway. This is a good way to judge approximately how well you are cleaning your barrel when you’re at the range. It’s also the best way to examine your barrel when you’re in the field.”

Larry Willis is the inventor of Innovative Technologies’ Belted Magnum Collet Resizing Die. Larry explains how this die works, and offers other reloading tips on LarryWillis.com.

Permalink Gunsmithing, Tech Tip No Comments »
July 12th, 2021

Barrel End Threading — Bigger Diameter is Better

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

Our friend Robert Whitley of ARX Enterprises LLC has learned, through careful measurement and testing, that some barrels threaded 5/8″ x 24 TPI at the muzzle may not deliver optimal accuracy. The reason is that the end of the barrel can bell out slightly, like a trombone, because too much steel has been removed. This is particularly true with .30-caliber barrels, but it can also be a problem with smaller caliber barrels (even 6mm). Robert demonstrates this phenomenon in the video below. All gunsmiths, and anyone considering threading a barrel, should watch the video. At 1:00 – 1:30 Robert gauges a 5/8″ x 24-threaded .30-Caliber barrel. You can see the belling effect clear as day.

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“When setting up a commercial barrel in the lathe, we noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015” smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle. That precipitated my pin-gauging of a number of different commercial barrels that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 tpi. What I found is what’s shown on the video.” – R. Whitley

Solve Problem with a Larger Thread Diameter
If 5/8″ x 24 threading is potentially harmful to accuracy, is there a solution? Yes, you simply need to leave a little more steel on the barrel. (See Video starting at 02:40.) Frank Green of Bartlein barrels states: “We get these questions all the time. I say run the largest thread diameter that is possible.” Robert Whitley has found that a 3/4″ x 28 TPI threading does not cause the “belling effect”. Accordingly Robert recommends 3/4″ x 28 if you need to thread your barrel for a muzzle brake or suppressor. Robert explains: “We only make 3/4” x 28 TPI muzzle brakes and that’s what we recommend to customers.”

Barrel Threading AR15 ARX Robert Whitley bartlein

“See how much meatier the 3/4″ threading is vs. the 5/8″. The 3/4″ threading offers a lot more metal around the bore. There’s a lot less opportunity for the bore to become bell-mouthed…” – Robert Whitley

Barrel Threading Diameter — What’s Important to Know

By Robert Whitley
In truth, the 5/8” x 24 TPI threading never came out of any accuracy-based think tank or set-up, it’s a military .30-Cal threading for barrels that someone has to carry around (they needed to keep the barrel weight down so it was smaller in diameter and the threading had to work with that situation). People have somehow assumed because the military uses that threading for certain things that it must mean that it’s also fine for a highly accurate rifle too, but that’s not really correct.

I don’t think there is any better and realistic option than the 3/4″ muzzle threading, and we also do it so there is no relief cut behind the threads on the barrel (i.e. put the relief cut on the brake or jam nut, don’t chop down on the muzzle of the barrel). For some reason many have a hard time grasping that the metal at the muzzle end of a rifle is “sacred” and you should not cut it down any more than absolutely necessary. A little threaded pencil diameter nub on the end of a barrel is not ideal for accuracy especially if it’s threaded and you need to torque on it. I cringe when I see a barrel with something like an MTU or Heavy Varmint contour, only to have an itty-bitty pencil thin threaded nub right at the muzzle so someone can “screw on a can” or a muzzle brake.

Lessons Learned Over the Years
A number of years ago I did a 30BR rifle project with Craig Kostyshyn who was big in the 30BR game and he made some of the best 30BR rifle barrels for benchrest competition. When I did the project I wanted a medium-heavy Palma type contour barrel I could use and also have a muzzle turndown for a front sight band. When he found out I was going to have the muzzle turned down he said “whoa, I need to provide for that when I make the barrel because if you turn the front down later you’ll be shooting a trombone” (i.e. the muzzle bore dimension would open up).

What he did was rough contour the barrel with the turndown (about .010” oversize) before he lapped the barrel, then when he lapped the barrel he took it easy in the muzzle area and worked the back of the barrel more. I thought he was a little bit excessive in his concerns but the barrel shot great and I wasn’t going to argue with him, after all he was shooting groups in the ones. I kind of just filed that away and never thought about it until recently when I went to have Fred from Sabreco do some chamber re-work on a commercial .30-caliber barrel I had. When setting up the barrel in the lathe and indicating things Fred noticed that the maximum-sized bushing that would fit in the bore at the chamber end was almost .0015” smaller [than what would fit] at the muzzle and he mentioned it to me. That precipitated my pin-gauging of a number of different commercial barrels I had that were threaded for 5/8” x 24 TPI. What I found is what’s shown on the video.

NOTE: This is a copyrighted article. Do not reproduce or re-link more than 75 words without written permission from AccurateShooter.com.

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October 21st, 2020

Brownells Video Shows How to Cut Chamfer on Barrel Crown

brownells crown muzzle barrel bullet accuracy gunsmithing

This video from Brownells talks about a the crown of a barrel and how the crown’s condition affects accuracy. As the bullet leaves the barrel of the gun, the shape, alignment and the condition of the crown can affect the accuracy of your shot. A proper crown is essential to ensure that the bullet leaves the barrel correctly and that the propellant gasses behind the bullet are distributed evenly on firing. A square crown without burrs and a smooth transition will normally ensure consistency from shot to shot. By contrast, a damaged crown can cause unpredictable flyers that open your group. That’s why it’s important to have perfect crowns on all your barrels.

The video explains the different types of crowns that can be used. In addition, the video shows how you can chamfer your muzzle in a home shop. If you use a properly-sized pilot, cutting a shallow chamfer is something that most guys with some mechanical skill can handle. Just be sure to use lubricant, flush chips, and don’t rush the job. Cutting the barrel is another matter. At the 1:20 mark the video shows how to use a hack-saw to remove a damaged muzzle section. While this may be fine for an inexpensive rifle that needs a “quick fix”, we do NOT recommend using a hack-saw with a vise for a competition barrel. The reason is that it is too easy for a novice to produce a cut that is not square. We suggest letting a professional gunsmith cut and crown your competition barrels.

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May 5th, 2016

Check Your Crown’s Condition with a Q-Tip

The last half-inch or so of your barrel is absolutely critical. Any damage (or abnormal wear) near the crown will cause a significant drop-off in accuracy. Here are ways you can check the end of your barrel, using a common Q-Tip.

Use Q-Tip for Barrel Inspection
To find out if you have a burr or damage to your crown, you can use an ordinary Q-tip cotton swab. Check the edges of the crown by pulling the Q-tip gently out past the edge of the crown. If you have a burr, it will “grab” the cotton and leave strands behind.

Larry Willis has another way to use a Q-Tip: “Here’s a neat trick that will surprise you with how well it works.” Just insert a Q-Tip into your barrel (like the picture below), and it will reflect enough light so that you can get a real good look at the last half inch of rifling and the crown of your barrel. In most cases you’ll find that this works much better than a flashlight. Larry tells us: “I’ve used this method about a jillion times. Q-Tips are handy to keep in your cleaning supplies anyway. This is a good way to judge approximately how well you are cleaning your barrel when you’re at the range. It’s also the best way to examine your barrel when you’re in the field.”

Larry Willis is the inventor of Innovative Technologies’ Belted Magnum Collet Resizing Die. Larry explains how this die works, and offers other reloading tips on LarryWillis.com.

Permalink Tech Tip 4 Comments »
May 3rd, 2014

Voyeur’s Guide to Barrel Chambering On Rifleman’s Journal

On German Salazar’s Rifleman’s Journal website, you’ll find an excellent 5-Part Series on barrel chambering. The Series, entitled The Voyeur’s Guide to Barrel Chambering, is not intended to be a “how-to” instructional treatise for gunsmiths. Instead, German’s 5-Part Guide is aimed at the end user — the shooter. German explains: “This Series isn’t intended for anyone who owns a lathe; instead it is for those of us who send an action off to get a new barrel installed. Those who have the equipment know what to do and how to do it and I have nothing to teach them. On the other hand, if you’ve ever wondered just what goes into barrel fitting, this is it.”
PART I | PART II | PART III | PART IV | PART V

With well-written text and dozens of very high-quality images, German takes you through the chambering, threading, shoulder-fitting, and crowning processes from start to finish. The idea is to give the “barrel consumer” a clear idea of the processes involved when a barrel blank is converted into functional form, complete with chamber, threaded tenon, fitted breech, and crown.

We highly recommend German’s 5-Part Voyeur’s Guide to Barrel Chambering. German, with the aid of John Lowther (who ran the machines), did a great job. The series has already drawn much attention from our Forum members, along with praise. After reading the articles, John C. from Australia wrote: “Your Chambering articles… really are excellent [and] informative for those of us too scared to watch our gunsmith chamber one of our barrels lest we distract him at a crucial moment!”

We know you’ll learn something from reading through German’s 5-Part Series. And if you see a photo on German’s website that intrigues you, simply click on it to see a larger, higher-resolution version. All the images in the Voyeur Series on RiflemansJournal.com can be zoomed to larger formats.

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June 24th, 2012

Dan Lilja Now Offers Pre-threaded Barrel Option ($30 Extra)

Lilja Rifle Barrels prethreadedDan Lilja of Lilja Barrels has announced that, starting this month (June), his company will offer a pre-threading option for in-stock and made-to-order Lilja barrels. The price for the threading option is $30 per barrel. The first offerings will be for Rem 700 actions, and Lilja will, later on, offer pre-chambered barrels as well. Dan tells us: “To begin with we are threading for the Remington 700 actions. Other action types will be added in the future. And we are also planning to offer chambering along with the threading for a limited number of cartridges in the near future.”

CLICK HERE for CAD drawing .PDF file showing pre-threaded Rem 700 barrel shank dimensions.

Details of Pre-Threaded Barrels — Gunsmithing Still Required
Pre-Threading will only be offered, initially, on 28″ or 30″ blanks (length prior to threading). The barrel will NOT be finish-crowned, and Lilja does not offer muzzle threading except for drop-in AR-type barrels. Dan points out that his pre-threaded barrels are not ready to install: “The barrels will still require a gunsmith, experienced at fitting barrels to actions, to make the final fitting and headspacing adjustments on a lathe and using headspace gauges. Lilja will turn these threads for the nominal dimensions for the action type. But action makers have tolerances and other operations such as truing an action face or bolt or lapping bolt lugs can change dimensions enough that headspace or thread shank length may need to be modified.”

Lilja Rifle Barrels prethreaded

Story lead from EdLongrange. We welcome reader submissions.
Permalink Gunsmithing, New Product 1 Comment »
November 1st, 2009

Basic Gunsmithing Videos from MidwayUSA

Larry Potterfield, owner and founder of MidwayUSA, has created some basic gunsmithing videos that are worth watching. These show some key aspects of rifle metal-working, such as crowning a barrel. Be aware that these videos are really just teasers — they don’t illustrate most of the critical preparatory steps a skilled gunsmith will do, such as leveling his lathe precisely, and indicating the barrel very, very carefully. Nonetheless, there are some good, basic tips in the videos, which should be informative for all shooters, whether they do their own smithing or not. Please note that benchrest smiths may employ more advanced methods.

VIDEO One: Cutting and Crowning a Barrel (Radiused Crown)

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VIDEO Two: Threading and Chambering an Octagon Barrel

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VIDEO Three: Trueing the Bolt Face on a Mauser 98

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