September 27th, 2010

Salt-Bath Nitriding for Barrels — Whidden is Impressed

Many shooters expend considerable time and effort to coat their bullets with friction-reducing compounds such as Boron Nitride (HBN), Molybdenum Disulfide (Moly), and Tungsten Disulfide (WS2 or ‘Danzac’). Many of these same shooters believe that coated bullets permit longer strings of fire between barrel cleanings. Also, there is some evidence that coated bullets may extend barrel life (though this remains controversial).

What if you could enjoy all the benefits of coated bullets without the effort? When you think about it, why not apply the anti-friction coating to the barrel itself, rather than the bullets? That is the thinking behind salt-bath nitriding of barrels. This nitriding process creates a very slick, very hard surface coating on the steel in the bore. The coating is only 10-20 microns thick (so it doesn’t cause pressure problems). But that coating is enough to reduce friction, and just possibly, extend useful barrel life.

MMI barrel nitriding

John Whidden, Camp Perry Long-Range National Champion in 2007, 2008, and 2010, recently had one of his Broughton 6mm match barrels nitrided by Joel Kendrick. Joel does the salt-bath nitriding for MMI TruTec. Whidden reports he “is happy as he can be with the barrel” after the nitriding process. After nitriding, the stainless Broughton 5C barrel was “every bit as accurate as before, and noticeably easier to clean”, according to John. Also, John reports that he did NOT have to change his load after the barrel was nitrided (which left it with a handsome black, semigloss finish). Whidden says, “after cleaning, the barrel takes about 3-4 rounds to settle in… that’s the same as before.” This barrel shot very well before nitriding, and after nitriding, John used it successfully at Camp Perry in the 2009 Wimbleton Cup competition.

MMI barrel nitriding

Overall, John tells us “Everything looks good. No accuracy loss, and easier cleaning.” He is pleased enough that he has sent more barrels to Joel Kendrick for nitride processing. John also said that he’s heard that nitrided barrels in some of the big caliber rifles, such as the .338 Lapua Magnum, are showing “significantly enhanced” barrel life.

MMI barrel nitriding

To learn more about salt-bath nitriding for barrels, or to place a processing order with MMI-TruTec, email joelkndrck [at], or call Joel at (704) 616-6442. Joel, a past 600-yard Shooter of the Year, is very knowledgeable about both shooting and the nitriding process. He can give you well-informed answers to your questions. Price for nitriding depends on quantity — call Joel for pricing details.

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