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Thread: American Barrels vs German Barrels

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    Default American Barrels vs German Barrels

    I just talked with a rep from Accuflight and we got into a conversation about custom builds. He says they get their barrels from Germany which produce a low sulpher steel and are superior to any of the American barrel makers.

    Any comments from you experts? I would be very intersted in your insights.

  2. #2
    Member Big Al's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    I just talked with a rep from Accuflight and we got into a conversation about custom builds. He says they get their barrels from Germany which produce a low sulpher steel and are superior to any of the American barrel makers.

    Any comments from you experts? I would be very intersted in your insights.


    What he was telling you is they are buying Lother Walther barrels. I know of one U.S.A. barrel maker that is importing this same steel.

    Without getting in to hours of typing for an explanation abut the metals market, You need to know that the biggest supplier of steel for barrel makers in the U.S.A. is Crucible. Most common used barrel steel is 416R, it is sold in what is known as a melt (50 tons) when you buy in this size you as the buyer can be highly specific about the analyzes, if you want a lower than normal content of sulfur, you pay for the service and get what you want.

    So what happens to the barrel maker that cannot afford to buy a melt? He goes shopping from another maker/buyer that can afford to buy a full melt. Or you go direct to the Crucible Service center and buy what they have on hand and live with whatever the analyzes of that melt is. What is the difference between 416 and 416R? 416R is held to a vary close tolerance for the different constituents. The R of course means Rifle.

    You can go to machinery's Handbook and get a much deeper understanding about what the good and ba is about sulfur as a constituent and it's effects on steel. Just keep in mind that there is a great deal riding on barrel makers reputations and the idea that they will use an inferior grade of steel to make you a barrel is laughable.
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    Moderator Paul H's Avatar
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    Not that US bench rest competition is the be all end all of rating barrel quality, but I don't know of a single record held with a German barrel blank.

    First and foremost is what gunsmith does the work on your action and barrel. I've seen good smiths make mediocre barrels shoot very well.

    The back portch bubba smith can take the worlds best barrel blank, and the resulting rifle will shoot worse than an off the rack sks.

    Find a smith that will do good work, and use whatever blank or blanks he prefers to use.

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    Al's right Accuflight is using Lothar Wlathar barrels. They are stainless and called LW-50. This is the only stainless steel barrel that is or can be hammer forged. The steel itself and the forging make it a very tough steel. It is a propriatery steel of LW and it is claimed to have significant improvements over 416R/416BQ stainless barrel steel used by all the others. It probably is tougher and has greater wear resistance and corrosion resistance than the 400 series steels.

    Probably the only better steel for wear/corrosion/impact resistance would be 17-4 stainless. Much more expensive.

    A few companies that use LW barrels are; A-Square, Dakota, Empire, LWRC, and many companies making barrels for the 50 cal and most belt fed weapons coming from the FN plant. The barrels are very rigid and tough. They are also smooth and take very little or no break in. I find LW barrels to be very good and in a good rifle, very accurate.

    The C/M steels of the 4000 series (4140/4150/4340) are generally better stainless for wear and impact resistance but of course not so with corrosion resistance. The challenge with stainless was to make it as strong a wear resistant as C/M.

    Paul,

    Your right about the Smith but look at it the other way. A good smith with a good reputation sure won't risk using an inferior barrel.
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  5. #5

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    Thanks for the information gentlemen. I didn't know that. Do you have any suggestions on barrel break in? I have heard all sorts of shoot/clean formulas. I always wondered if this was over doing it.

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    Quote Originally Posted by windypoint View Post
    Thanks for the information gentlemen. I didn't know that. Do you have any suggestions on barrel break in? I have heard all sorts of shoot/clean formulas. I always wondered if this was over doing it.

    Most barrel makers agree some sort of break in should be used but rarely agree on the technique except that it is a shoot one and clean for a few rounds then shoot two and clean, etc. Personally I've done it many times. I guess I believe it works. It is however almost a spiritual thing. not something that can be defined but spending an afternoon or two with a new rifle is a good thing. I call it bonding with the rifle. It should be viewed as fun times and not a chore. The atmosphere and attitude may be what brings about the harmonious outcome. Either way it gives you a chance to become very familiar with the rifle and the barrel. It is shooting without overheating, as it should be. It should take at least forty rounds and a lot of cleaning patches.

    Some say it is wearing out the barrel and it is that, just like driving the new car but I just can't keep it in the garage.
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  7. #7

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    Thanks for the info guys. I was wondering if the German barrels were better, how much better could they be. There are obviously a lot of very well performing American barrels out there like Paul pointed out. I feel better about getting a Lilja now

    BTW, I from German descent

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    Thanks for the info guys. I was wondering if the German barrels were better, how much better could they be. There are obviously a lot of very well performing American barrels out there like Paul pointed out. I feel better about getting a Lilja now

    BTW, I from German descent
    I too am of German decent and am very proud of their abilities to make some of the finest metal products money can buy. However Lilja still makes some of the best barrels in the world. Be happy with the Lilja. It wont dissapoint.

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