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Thread: Barrel Life ?

  1. #1
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Barrel Life ?

    What would you expect to get out of a Sako 85 Stainless "Cold Hammer Forged" Barrel before needing to replace as "Shot Out"?

    I've had several rifles throughout the years, just hunting, not a lot of range time, so had actually never heard of the idea of wearing out a barrel til lately, reading on here actually.

    Now, heavily into reloading, I have put over 500 rounds through a two month old rifle and am wondering what it takes to wear it out, what I can do to lengthen the life, etc. Went through a pretty detailed break in and am pretty tight on cleaning, don't do "Hot Loads" beyond book Max's, spend time lettin' it cool down a LOT.....

    Am I only going to get 5000 rounds or so as I have read or what is that all about?
    It is .270wsm, 24 3/8" barrel, and shoots tight as all get out,
    some top loads flying at 3400fps, but most around 2600 -3000fps if that applies?
    Thanks
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  2. #2

    Default 5000 accurate rounds will be a good life

    You're on the right track for long barrel life if you clean it after every session, don't use hot loads too often, and importantly don't keep shooting with a hot barrel, that will kill it for sure.With the 270 wsm the throat will deteriorate and accuracy will drop off before 2000 hot rounds at the most.This excludes freak rifles like my friends 6mm which still has hunting accuracy after 10,000 rounds.I can't explain that. The223 may give you 10,000 shots the '06 about 5000 and the 22rimfire up to 200,000,they just polish the bore. My last 22-250 died after 2500 warm loads. Best of luck.

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    I have shot out one barrel in my life because I was trying to do it. I ran 5600 rounds through an '06. Eroded half way up the barrel but would still shoot 1.5" five shot groups at 100 yards. I put 5000 rds though a 222 mag and it still shot 1/2" groups when I sold it. Barrels last a lot longer than most people think. I believe more are ruined through over cleaning than over shooting. Just don't let the barrel get to hot to touch and it will last you a very long time. Enjoy. J.

  4. #4
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Over cleaning

    Old Rgr, what do you mean by over cleaning? too much brushing, soaking solvent too long, mixing solvents, or use of abrasive paste?

    Until lately all I knew was Hoppes #9, and dry til white, then oil

    So now I'm reading all kinds of stuff about copper fouling etc and would love to see more discussion on it, if anyone can bear it

    For example, at range with handloads I am really into the barrel cooling some and don't know how to figure out fouling so i run a Boresnake once or twice about every seventh round, just to pull the loose crud out,
    Only run twenty five to forty rounds at each range session then at my shop i always clean pretty extensively, tho I don't know if i have ever gotten ALL the trace of blue off the patches......

    and feel there is a point of just going too crazy with that so I run dry patch til white and oil and put it away,

    I do wonder about using a brush, if I weren't all worried about the copper fouling in there I could get white patches really easily after just solvent push a few times and dry it out, this barrel is easy to clean,
    Should I quit scrubbing for copper?
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

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    Member hodgeman's Avatar
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    I think newer barrel steels hold up much better than the old stuff.

    The 220 Swift and 264WM got a reputation for extremely short barrel life with barrels of their day but several newer cartridges (your 270WSM for instance) have similar characteristics without the bad reputation.

    My guess is that unless you're a REALLY dedicated shooter interested in benchrest type accuracy you're unlikely to have an issue. I have seen several older rifles with bunches of rounds down the bore, lots of field use, some with throats eroded and some just plain abused that shot good enough to smack a critter with. None were MOA rifles but none were really bad either.

    With reasonable care, judicious loading, and routine cleaning you ought to get a lifetime of service from your rifle.

  6. #6
    Member 1Cor15:19's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by hodgeman View Post
    With reasonable care, judicious loading, and routine cleaning you ought to get a lifetime of service from your rifle.
    I agree with hodgeman. Most concerns about barrel erosion and decreasing accuracy have no application to hunting rifles. This is not to say that barrels do not wear out, but for big game rifles you should expect many thousands of rounds before you encounter any worries.

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    Member mainer_in_ak's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by 1Cor15:19 View Post
    I agree with hodgeman. Most concerns about barrel erosion and decreasing accuracy have no application to hunting rifles. This is not to say that barrels do not wear out, but for big game rifles you should expect many thousands of rounds before you encounter any worries.
    very true. I would expect my son to be toting around my rifles long after I'm 6 feet under.....that's how it works. My 30-30 made in 1965 (thanks for that link ADfields) will shoot 3/4 inch groups with open sights......I am the second owner, son is about to be the third and I ALWAYS bring that gun to the range. It's probably had 3,000 rounds through it........

  8. #8

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    You need to define what you mean by "wearing" out a barrel. If a BR shooter looses 0.1' of accuracy due to barrel wear than he has burned his barrel out. Most hunters dont care if they loose only .1" and probably dont even notice it.

    Also, different barrels have different personalities and one barrel may continue to shoot well asfter a lot of throat errosion and fire cracking and another wont. I have a Ruger M77 that went from .75 MOA to 3-4" groups and when I had it bore scoped the smith said the throat was toast (after about 1000 plus rounds of factory loads and "warm" handloads). That rifle also has a pathetic old synthetic stock that is the worst bed for an action I have ever seen. Someday I'm gonna do some work to the stock and see how it shoots for kicks. I also have a 25-06 Sendero (bought used) that was an extremely bad fouler. The first 3 shot group I fired with it @ 110 yds measured .24". It has been a consistant sub .5 MOA shooter since with about another 300 rounds down it. After my first shooting session with it it took quite a few Bore Tech Eliminator patches and 5 days of 24-7 Wipeout soaking at 6-8 hrs per soaking session to get the bore clean. That's how dirty it was when it shot that .24" group. After that marathon cleaning session, I took it for a bore scope and was told it was one of the worst fire cracked bores he had ever seen and it's still a shooter.

    Some barrels will hang on and others will go South fairly quick. Barrel life depends on a lot of factors. Heat and pressure are the biggest enemies and it's the throat that almost always goes first. Overbore cartridges will burn barrels quicker than non-overbore. A 270 WSM is somewhat of an overbore. You can expect about double or triple the bareel life with a 300 WSM vs a 270 WSM. And for some mystrious reason, you can expect maybe twice the barrel life with a 300 WSM over a 300 WM with about the same performance.

    The lighter the load the better and letting your barrel cool between shots is VERY important. If you use a powder like RL17, you will be getting same velocities with a little less pressure and heat. Ball powders are also supposed to be easier on throats than stick powders because they are less abrasive.

    Depending on the barrel itself, how you load it and shoot it and how you take care of it. you can probably expect 1000-2500 rounds of good accuracy with it. If you want a rilfe that lasts forever, get a 308.

    Good Shooting,

    Mark

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by mainer_in_ak View Post
    very true. I would expect my son to be toting around my rifles long after I'm 6 feet under.....that's how it works. My 30-30 made in 1965 (thanks for that link ADfields) will shoot 3/4 inch groups with open sights......I am the second owner, son is about to be the third and I ALWAYS bring that gun to the range. It's probably had 3,000 rounds through it........
    I would expect that a 30-30 that is well taken care of will last a lot longer than 10,000 rounds.

  10. #10
    Member kodiakrain's Avatar
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    Default Lifetime is the idea

    I like the idea of rifles being handed down to my sons after a load of stories of "game on the table from Dad's old favorite" kind of thing,

    To define what I mean, I think I would not be happy with 3-4" groups, even though it would kill a lot of animals with that I still want to see less than 2" while sighting in before the hunt.

    It shoots about 98% under 1 1/2" right now and probably 70% under .75" and I'm not "all that" of a shooter, this gun is NICE

    My worry with "thousands of rounds of life" is that I just ran through 500 in about forty days Handloading time, and don't see slowing down much as summer arrives. I'm having a great time with this so, even if I get 5000 rounds, that arrives less than a year from now. That would be a bummer, but maybe I can get a custom barrel made and it's all Good in the End?

    I really like the action,bolt lift, trigger break, stock fit, recoil eliminating stock, etc. of this Sako. may be the nicest shooter I have ever had so I started thinking about the 5000 rounds number as maybe I need another rifle to load for, to slow down on this one a bit?

    There's always another reason for another rifle right, wouldn't this one be great..."this one's just too nice to wear out..."

    Thanks for the advice on taking care of it, I'm on the right track so far.
    Ten Hours in that little raft off the AK peninsula, blowin' NW 60, in November.... "the Power of Life and Death is in the Tongue," and Yes, God is Good !

  11. #11
    Member SusitnaAk's Avatar
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    For what it is worth, My Dad had a rem, pump 760 30-06 was my grandpaw,s anyways in high school we get a hold of some shells my uncle had, from WW1 1917-18 or so we had a blast whole case of these things,Went home didn,t clean the gun just hung back up on the wall, couple weeks later i leave for the army, pretty soon couple yr,s go by and i,m home on leave to go deer hunting. I grabb the rifle from the wall, how my Dad didn,t see the green stuff ozing out the barrel I will never Know!Were like holy s....t We cleaned and scrubbed that barrel. If you looked down that bore you could see the rifling but it was as ruff as street pavement. We didn,t know about those primers would eat the barrel,So anyways we take it out and shoot the thing,To our surprise it made no difference in the groups size, I mean it had a peep sight on it, over the hood of a car and shot coffee can size groups just like it always did.It was no bech rest gun for sure. I just think some of the talk is overrated, as others stated. Load em up and go have fun and shoot your gun. Just a nother note when i was in the army, Ive see some M16,s up on the line go through 1000,s shell,s in a day. next,up, next up type deal and do that day after day whole time i was there.

  12. #12
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    Kodiakrain: I suggest you always use a bore guide; this keeps the rod from banging up the chamber throat. I use a bronze bore brush but some think that is too tough. I also use JB paste but sparingly. I also use Barnes copper remover, again, sparingly and don't leave in the bore to long, it will pit. When I use the term over clean, I am referring to damage done to the bore, cleaning it when it is not necessary. Failing to use a bore guide, using a stainless brush and abrasive paste when not necessary or leaving the copper cleaner in longer than the instructions indicate.

    I do believe the most important point is not heating up the barrel in shooting. I have had MG barrels so hot the rounds were coming out sideways and that is not good. You should always be able to handle a sporting rifle barrel comfortably with your bare hands. Hotter than that, and you are damaging your barrel.

    As I read your posts, I think you are doing things appropriately and your rifle will last your life time and perhaps your kids too. Best of luck. J.

  13. #13
    hap
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    I would not buy into the notion any particular cartridge is going to be any worse than another assuming they are about the same capacity with similar leade geometry. Different powders and bullet weights produce pressure spikes with very different peaks, duration, and timing to produce exactly the same net effect at the muzzle.

    With the high pressures there is some small amount of supercompressed gas which literally travels through the surface metal of the bore. When the barrel returns to its original size there are tiny combustion product deposits left behind. Over time they increase and precipitate cracks. Barrel steels are quite soft to slow the cracking. It yields rather than splits.

    More pressure, faster, and longer will swell the barrel more at the case mouth and that is where it starts.

    Freebore allows significantly more gas jetting as the bullet reaches the rifling and that significantly increases barrel wear.

    It is generally accepted longer necks (cartridges designed with longer necks, not untrimmed brass) reduce wear.

    A minor point, contrary to conventional "wisdom" involves heavy barrels... They cool much slower than skinny barrels and need a touch more cooling.
    art

  14. #14

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    Hap, I have to strongly disagree with you that... "any particular cartridge is {not} going to be any worse than another assuming they are about the same capacity with similar leade geometry."

    A 7mm RUM barrel is going to burn out a lot quicker than a 338 RUM or especially a 375 RUM... and a 243 will burn out a lot quicker than a 308 and a 25-06 will burn out a lot quicker than a 3-06. You are arguing against the world on that subject.

    If you put the same amount of powder or close to it down a smaller tube, you are going to create a lot more sustained heat in a smaller area not to mention powder abrasion. You are forcing that amount of gas, heat and powder through a smaller area and it is going to have consequential affect.

    On throat length, that will have very little effect on barrel wear. Long throat or short throat, they will both burn within that first couple of inches or so of barrel very hotly, The difference between a long and short throat is only about .1-.2" from my reloading experience and I can already "feel" the rifling of my long throated Rem Sendero 300 RUM moving down the bore of my rifle after only 250 or so rounds down the tube.

    On heavy vs light barrels and cooling, in the big picture, a heavy barrel cools faster than a light barrel simply because it has more surface area. That is a fact of physics that can not be argued. A light barrel may seem like it cools quicker but that is only because it seems to warms quicker also. A heavier barrel will absorb more heat with a lower overall temp because of its mass. That is a fact of physical science and can not be debated. If you fire one 300 WM through a Sendero Varmint contour barrel and one round through a #2 sporter contour barrel, the sporter barrel will get both hotter to the touch and get hotter quicker than the sporter barrel. My 300 WSM Finnlight heats up a whole lot quicker than my 300 RUM Sendero with 2/3rds the powder and cools a lot slower. That is a fact. I have shot 50 rounds through my 300 RUM in less than than 2 hrs on a cool day with the barrel never getting more than "warm" to the touch and usually "cool" (just slightly warmer than ambient temp) to the touch.

    And this is the first I have ever read or heard that longer necks increase barrel life, which I find odd, since the neck, which is protected by the case, is not an area that gets cooked like the throat. I would gladly wager that a 270 Win would burn out quicker than a 30-06.

  15. #15
    hap
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    Hap, I have to strongly disagree with you that... "any particular cartridge is {not} going to be any worse than another assuming they are about the same capacity with similar leade geometry."

    A 7mm RUM barrel is going to burn out a lot quicker than a 338 RUM or especially a 375 RUM... and a 243 will burn out a lot quicker than a 308 and a 25-06 will burn out a lot quicker than a 3-06. You are arguing against the world on that subject.

    If you put the same amount of powder or close to it down a smaller tube, you are going to create a lot more sustained heat in a smaller area not to mention powder abrasion. You are forcing that amount of gas, heat and powder through a smaller area and it is going to have consequential affect.

    On throat length, that will have very little effect on barrel wear. Long throat or short throat, they will both burn within that first couple of inches or so of barrel very hotly, The difference between a long and short throat is only about .1-.2" from my reloading experience and I can already "feel" the rifling of my long throated Rem Sendero 300 RUM moving down the bore of my rifle after only 250 or so rounds down the tube.

    On heavy vs light barrels and cooling, in the big picture, a heavy barrel cools faster than a light barrel simply because it has more surface area. That is a fact of physics that can not be argued. A light barrel may seem like it cools quicker but that is only because it seems to warms quicker also. A heavier barrel will absorb more heat with a lower overall temp because of its mass. That is a fact of physical science and can not be debated. If you fire one 300 WM through a Sendero Varmint contour barrel and one round through a #2 sporter contour barrel, the sporter barrel will get both hotter to the touch and get hotter quicker than the sporter barrel. My 300 WSM Finnlight heats up a whole lot quicker than my 300 RUM Sendero with 2/3rds the powder and cools a lot slower. That is a fact. I have shot 50 rounds through my 300 RUM in less than than 2 hrs on a cool day with the barrel never getting more than "warm" to the touch and usually "cool" (just slightly warmer than ambient temp) to the touch.

    And this is the first I have ever read or heard that longer necks increase barrel life, which I find odd, since the neck, which is protected by the case, is not an area that gets cooked like the throat. I would gladly wager that a 270 Win would burn out quicker than a 30-06.
    I should have been more specific about the cartridge... You are correct about smaller calibers with identical cases being harder on bores... That is not the issue I attempted (poorly) to address. Would you still disagree if I added "of the same caliber" to compare just case shapes?

    However, I disagree with many of your comparisons and I will tell you why. The 243 and a 308 can be loaded with 75 grain and 200 grain bullets respectively. Using the fastest powders with the 308 and the slowest with the 243 will change the pressure spike dramatically and the 308 will suffer more than the 243. But that is taking things too far from apples to apples comparisons.

    Hotter, smaller bores, and faster powders cause more erosion. I am not convinced powder erosion is meaningful, but some are...

    Freebore is notorious for short barrel life; the jetting gases cut far more... That is not a question and was settled a very long time ago.

    It seems counter-intuitive on the heavy barrels cooling slower, but it is fact. Heavy barrels have to rely on heat being conducted through the metal to a surface that is not incrementally larger for its mass. It still relies on the surface area to mass ratio (with other variables of course). This is simple physics and has been known for a very long time, your anecdotal experience aside.

    SS barrels cool more slowly than CM because CM is a far better conductor.

    Turbulence at the case mouth has been attributed as a major cause of throat erosion. Longer necks reduce the area of turbulent gases in the throat because the turbulence is thought to start at the shoulder. So by the time gases meet barrel steel they have straightened out significantly. It has been claimed as part of the reason short fatties are more accurate (which is looking more like myth all the time).
    art

  16. #16
    Member Dan in Alaska's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post
    On heavy vs light barrels and cooling, in the big picture, a heavy barrel cools faster than a light barrel simply because it has more surface area. That is a fact of physics that can not be argued.
    What you're talking about is not just a function of surface area. It's a function of surface area AND mass. Compared to a sporter-weight barrel, a heavy-barrel has disproportionately more mass than surface area (assuming no flutes). So, a heavywieght barrel will cool slower than a sportweight barrel because it has more heat energy to get rid of, and disproportionately less surface area in which to do it.

    For the purposes of this discussion, lets assume our barrels are perfect cylinders and look at some formulas & numbers to make a comparison. Since both barrels are made of the same material, we'll use volume in place of mass to make our comparison. We'll also ignore the bore, since we will assume both barrels will be the same caliber.

    Heavy barrel - 1" diameter, 26" long, no taper.
    Sporter barrel - 1/2" diameter, 26" long, no taper.

    Surface area of a cylinder - 2(pi)(radius-squared) + 2(pi)(radius)(length)
    Volume of a cylinder - pi(radius-squared)(length)
    Surface area to mass ratio - surface area/mass


    After crunching some numbers.....
    The heavy barrel has a surface area of 83.21 square inches and a volume of 20.41 cubic inches.
    The surface area to volume ratio is about 4.

    The sporter barrel has a surface area of 41.21 square inches and a volume of 5.10 cubic inches.
    The surface area to volume ratio is about 8.

    As you can see, the heavy barrel does have more surface area (as you stated), but it also has four times the volume (mass). Assuming both barrels start at the same temperature, the heavy barrel has 4x the amount of stored heat energy to dissipate, but only twice the surface area to get the job done. So, since the sporter barrel has a higher surface area to volume ratio, we can predict that it will cool more quickly than the heavy barrel.

  17. #17

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    Quote Originally Posted by MontanaRifleman View Post

    On heavy vs light barrels and cooling, in the big picture, a heavy barrel cools faster than a light barrel simply because it has more surface area. That is a fact of physics that can not be argued. A light barrel may seem like it cools quicker but that is only because it seems to warms quicker also. A heavier barrel will absorb more heat with a lower overall temp because of its mass. That is a fact of physical science and can not be debated. If you fire one 300 WM through a Sendero Varmint contour barrel and one round through a #2 sporter contour barrel, the sporter barrel will get both hotter to the touch and get hotter quicker than the sporter barrel. My 300 WSM Finnlight heats up a whole lot quicker than my 300 RUM Sendero with 2/3rds the powder and cools a lot slower. That is a fact. I have shot 50 rounds through my 300 RUM in less than than 2 hrs on a cool day with the barrel never getting more than "warm" to the touch and usually "cool" (just slightly warmer than ambient temp) to the touch.
    I disagree. If a heavy barrel(ie more mass and volume) and a light barrel are raised to the the same temperature, the heavy barrel will take longer to cool. Basic thermodynmics. Your first sentence is incorrect as written.

    The heavy barrel doesn't cool faster, it just has more mass/volume and takes longer to raise the temperature from the baseline.

    Sean

  18. #18

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    Dan, I agree with most of what you say except that mass aids in cooling (if I understand you correctly). I do understand and did mention the affect of mass.

    Mass absorbs heat but heat is only lost at the surface. If the surface of a heavy barrel was insulated, the heat would be retained. So surface area is the only factor in determining heat loss, or cooling. And since the surface area of the heavier barrel is greater, It will cool faster, rate wise.

    It will also cool from a lower temp because of its mass. If the same amount of heat is applied to both a sporter barrel and a varmint barrel the sporter barrel will get hotter, as in measured temperature. If we start shooting at say 40* F and we use your examples of mass, it would take 4 times the number of rounds fired through barrel of the heavy barrel to get it to the same temperature as the sporter barrel so your analogy of cooling from the same temp breaks down there. Heat is measured in calories or BTU's. If we shoot 10 rounds (assuming the same load) through each barrel each barrel will absorb the same amount of calories of heat. But the the temperature of the barrels will be different. The sporter barrel will rise about 4 times as much in temperature as the heavy barrel. Since the heavy barrel has twice the surface area it will cool at about twice the rate as the sporter. The sporter will have an advantage in that it will take less time for the heat to travel from the bore to the outside surface of the barrel, but not enough to compensate for the greater surface area of the heavy barrel.

  19. #19

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    Quote Originally Posted by seant View Post
    I disagree. If a heavy barrel(ie more mass and volume) and a light barrel are raised to the the same temperature, the heavy barrel will take longer to cool. Basic thermodynmics. Your first sentence is incorrect as written.

    The heavy barrel doesn't cool faster, it just has more mass/volume and takes longer to raise the temperature from the baseline.

    Sean
    There is nothing wrong with my sentence or anything I said. You are making an incorrect assumption in that the barrels are cooling from the same temperature. They are not... not if the same amount of the same load is fired through them. They will both absorb the same amount of heat calorie wise but not rise the same amount of temperature due to the different mass. That is basic physics, 101.

  20. #20

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    Quote Originally Posted by hap View Post
    I should have been more specific about the cartridge... You are correct about smaller calibers with identical cases being harder on bores... That is not the issue I attempted (poorly) to address. Would you still disagree if I added "of the same caliber" to compare just case shapes?

    However, I disagree with many of your comparisons and I will tell you why. The 243 and a 308 can be loaded with 75 grain and 200 grain bullets respectively. Using the fastest powders with the 308 and the slowest with the 243 will change the pressure spike dramatically and the 308 will suffer more than the 243. But that is taking things too far from apples to apples comparisons.

    Hotter, smaller bores, and faster powders cause more erosion. I am not convinced powder erosion is meaningful, but some are...

    Freebore is notorious for short barrel life; the jetting gases cut far more... That is not a question and was settled a very long time ago.

    It seems counter-intuitive on the heavy barrels cooling slower, but it is fact. Heavy barrels have to rely on heat being conducted through the metal to a surface that is not incrementally larger for its mass. It still relies on the surface area to mass ratio (with other variables of course). This is simple physics and has been known for a very long time, your anecdotal experience aside.

    SS barrels cool more slowly than CM because CM is a far better conductor.

    Turbulence at the case mouth has been attributed as a major cause of throat erosion. Longer necks reduce the area of turbulent gases in the throat because the turbulence is thought to start at the shoulder. So by the time gases meet barrel steel they have straightened out significantly. It has been claimed as part of the reason short fatties are more accurate (which is looking more like myth all the time).
    art
    When comparing apples to apples to apples, a smaller of the same case size will burn out quicker than a larger bore. If you were to somehow measure the throat erosion between a 243 and a 308 shooting loads at about the same pressure, I'm guessing you would see the 243 eroding about 2-4 times faster than 308.

    I don't know about turbulence, but the theory doesn't seem to agree with the long life that the 300 WSM appears to get.

    I might buy the freebore jetting gases idea, but I would like to see more data on it.

    As for barrel cooling, see my reply to Dan. It's very basic physics. Yes, my experiences are anecdotal, but they are very real. My 300 WSM Finnlight heats up a lot hotter, a lot quicker, with less powder and cools slower than my Sendero RUM. That's a fact.

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