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Author Topic: Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update  (Read 22514 times)

Offline Matt Pitchon

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Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
« on: 09:19 AM, 09/28/12 »
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  • Some have been wondering about the usefulness of barrel nitriding (meloniting, QPQ, salt bath nitriding).   I can report some results based upon my barrel.

    I shoot Across the Course competitively.   The barrel on my spacegun is a cut rifle barrel, in 223, 26" long, with a 7.7 twist.   The barrel has been shooting well since it was put on the rifle, and is still shooting well today after 11,000 documented rounds.

    I wanted to see the condition of the bore, since most competitive barrels are long  gone after this many rounds.  A bench rest shooter friend has a bore scope, so we decided to take a look.   I brought along a new barrel from the same manufacturer, chambered the same way as a comparison.  What we found was astonishing (to us).

    The 11,000 round barrel showed some wear and very minor pitting in the first half of the lead in area.  In the new barrel, there was a small step where the rifling started for the lead in.  That step was worn smooth in the 11,000 round barrel.   After that, there was no visible signs of wear, pitting, firing cracking, or any other signs of defects.   After the lead in, the rifling was sharp all the way to the muzzle which appeared in perfect condition compared to the new barrel.    Unfortunately, I didn't measure how the seating depth has changed since new.

    Most of the loads used were mild, with 55gr bullets.  The rifle has also had many rounds of max loads 90gr bullets at 2800fps.

    We looked at another non-nitrided 17Rem barrel after 7,000 full power rounds.  This barrel had stopped shooting, meaning the bullets were hitting sideways.  This barrel had no rifling for the first 1"-2", was severely firecracked for the first half of its length and had chunks of torn metal away.  It was clear why this barrel wouldn't shoot.

    This is merely one data point.  My results are not scientific.  I didn't have a control barrel, and didn't measure the throat as time progressed.  I used mild loads with relatively light bullets which may have contributed significantly to the good barrel life.

    Barrel nitriding has been available to shooters for the past several years, but I haven't seen much data on long term results.   Perhaps others can share their experiences so we can determine if this process has merits for the shooting community.   My results thus far are positive.




    Offline butchlambert

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #1 on: 05:52 PM, 09/28/12 »
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  • Matt,
    I will second that. I have only a 5,000 round PPC barrel to talk about. I have others and am still shooting them.

    Offline 5spd

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #2 on: 06:24 PM, 09/28/12 »
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  • Great to know 1st hand documented info on nitrated bbls. A pal had 3 new bbls nitrated for his Rugers.

    I documented 40K+ rounds in a .223 bbl. before it gave up the ghost using a moly coated 50g vmax @ 3300 fps since day one and all I got was jumped on for being a liar when I posted my personal experiance with moly.

    I looking to have 2 bbls nitrated for my varmint rigs and that helps what you posted.
    « Last Edit: 06:28 PM, 09/28/12 by 5spd »
    I aint fast.....but my aim is Deadly!!


    Offline MT 6xc

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #3 on: 07:01 PM, 09/28/12 »
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  • Does it reduce accuracy in ANY way?
    How about on polygon rifling?
    T2K- 6XC / 308 Palma.
    High Master NRA Long Range. Sling and irons
    Trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry.

    Offline butchlambert

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #4 on: 09:02 PM, 09/28/12 »
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  • I am speaking for Melonite only by Mimi Trutec. It is not a coating only what I would call a thin, very hard case hardening of the barrel both the ID and OD. If it weren't black, the only thing that I would notice was it turned my barrel black and it was easier to clean. It makes a barrel shoot no better or worse.

    Offline MT 6xc

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #5 on: 10:14 PM, 09/28/12 »
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  • Do you do the whole barrel blank? what about the chamber?
    T2K- 6XC / 308 Palma.
    High Master NRA Long Range. Sling and irons
    Trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry.


    Offline Matt Pitchon

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #6 on: 10:26 PM, 09/28/12 »
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  • The question was posed as to whether this affects accuracy.   It is a great question and difficult to answer with absolute certainty.   The reason is as follows:

    My barrels are nitrided very early in their life.  Typically between 25 and 50 rounds.   This is just to break them in.  Before nitriding a barrel has to be completely chambered, threaded and ready to go.   After nitriding the surface is so hard, only carbide tools have a chance of cutting it.   Further, why would you want to cut off that wonderfully hard surface you have just put on the barrel?  The problem with fully determining the affect on accuracy is that there is only that first 25-50 rounds to compare to.   This is not enough for me to get a good reading on a barrels potential.

    Having said that, I can compare a prior barrel in exactly the same configuration as my nitrided barrel.   It was the same manufacturer, chambered the same way, same twist, same length.  The accuracy of each barrel was the same.  Note that I am a sling shooter with irons, not a benchrest guy.   So, for me, if they shoot about 3/8" to 1/2", I'm happy.  Both the nitrided and non-nitrided barrel met this test.

    Offline MT 6xc

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #7 on: 10:38 PM, 09/28/12 »
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  • That's what I was looking for as far as an answer. I'm a sling and irons as well, I shot very good barrels from Gary Schneider in 6mm.  It is very interesting but a bit scary to treat a new barrel that cost a substantial amount of money.  I guess the only way to do it would be to go for it.

    Who does this process? What kind of life increase do you guess would be added to my 6XC.

    Any issues shooting HBN coated bullets on a nitride surface?

    What is the fouling like based on a hand lapped barrel, I mean do you see a reduction or the same ?

    Thank you.
    « Last Edit: 10:43 PM, 09/28/12 by MT 6xc »
    T2K- 6XC / 308 Palma.
    High Master NRA Long Range. Sling and irons
    Trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry.

    Offline loadnhot

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #8 on: 12:26 AM, 09/29/12 »
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  • May I ask what your current classification is shooting that barrel?, or what your scores are when shooting XTC?
    Are you shooting High Master scores with that barrel? Will it still clean a 600yd target?
     I would hate to spend the money and only end up with a barrel capable of Marksman scores.
    Not trying to be rude, but I would like to know how accurate the barrel is at 11,00 rounds.
    Thanks,
    Tom D

    Offline Matt Pitchon

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #9 on: 10:08 AM, 09/29/12 »
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  • There are several questions posed.  First, my classification.   At our local matches, I shoot High Master.   At the full course, I still classified a Master, and shooting mostly in the mid 760 to mid 770 level.  My best score at the full course is 780.   I just don't have that much opportunity to shoot the full course.   My best score at the 600 was 198.   Forgot the X-count, but the missed points were my fault, not the rifle.

    As far as accuracy is concerned, at the short course, I can clean the slow prone with good x-count.    Since I don't shoot enough 600yd stuff, I won't make a claim that I know enough about its accuracy there.  I do feel comfortable enough with it to take it to the Creedmoor Cup in October.

    As far as what barrel life improvement can be expected from a 6XC.  I just don't know.  I don't have one and could only speculate.   When I started out with this process, my thinking was the science was good, so I would experiment.  There was very little data and I was taking a chance.  In limited experience with cutting tools, I found the hard ones last longer than the soft ones.  As I indicated earlier, I haven't conducted a scientific experiment.  I have only one data point.

    I have no experience with any of the bullet coatings.

    As far as fouling is concerned, the barrel is very easy to clean.  It is a hand lapped barrel by a good maker.  It probably would have been easy to clean without the nitriding, but that is only speculation.

    As far as who does this, the following link might be useful:

    https://sites.google.com/site/freeballisticcalculator/black-nitride-melonite-and-qpq




    Offline FroggyOne2

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #10 on: 10:17 AM, 09/29/12 »
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  • Tom D,

    Give John Whidden a call and ask him the same questions you asked Matt. Not being rude, but he may give you a good idea about it,

    Offline butchlambert

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #11 on: 10:20 AM, 09/29/12 »
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  • I've posted this before.

    You may find this interesting, see e-mail below.

    I was the Armorer for the Army Reserve Shooting Team for over a decade so I do have quite a bit of experience with both processes.

    As I am sure you know, most G.I. barrels are made from chrome molly steel which is more susceptible to corrosion than stainless steel. Chrome lining is used on G.I. bores both to extend their shooting life and to protect them from corrosion that can be a problem in battlefield conditions where maintenance is sometimes sporadic or insufficient. Chrome lining does a pretty good job of protecting battlefield weapons. One of the objections to chrome lining is that it is thought to decrease accuracy. This seems to be a valid criticism and is backed up by machine rest tests I have conducted of identical barrels (same manufacturer but half chrome lined and half not).

    As you are aware most barrel "wear" is in the throat area. So eventually the hot gasses from the burning of the gunpowder will eat thru the chrome lining at the throat. It is rumored that at this point accuracy will plummet but I have not found that to be true. (Or if true, it is overstated or maybe only occurs for that short period when there is both chrome and bare steel in the throat simultaneously - just at the point of initial break thru.) Chrome lined barrels can continue to shoot well for thousands of rounds after the bare barrel steel at the back of the barrel (throat) has been exposed due to erosion of the chrome lining. Another criticism of chrome lining is that it can flake off later in the life of the barrel resulting in poor accuracy. Obviously, this could also cause maintenance problems if the user is depending on the chrome to ward off corrosion and thus is careless in his bore cleaning. If corrosion is allowed to occur pitting will result and that will ruin accuracy for sure.

    Barrel pitting was one of the reasons I got involved in Salt Bath Nitriding. I was loosing nearly as many expensive match grade barrels to improper maintenance (causing pitting) as I was to wear out. This was under the relatively benign target shooting conditions. Obviously given the reputation of degraded accuracy, using chrome lining wasn't an option. So for the past couple of years I have been Salt Bath Nitriding all of my match barrels and haven't had a single one exhibit any pitting. During that 2 yr. period shooters have put anywhere from a few hundred rounds to thousands of rounds on said barrels. I don't know how long the coating will persist so at this point I am still evaluating it as a preservative. I don't know what will happen in another year or two when these barrels get more wear on them. Salt Bath Nitriding goes on both inside of the bore and on the outside surface. So, instead of 2 manufacturing steps you have combined them into one. Salt Bath Nitriding doesn't degrade accuracy one iota, unlike chrome lining. This was the first thing that I verified when I began using the process. I broke in a bunch of barrels and then machine rest tested them for group. I recorded and kept the targets, cleaned up the barrels, and sent them to MMi TruTec for the Isonite process. When they came back I reassembled them on the same receivers with the same torque settings, same bolt carrier assemblies, same flash suppressors, etc. Then they were retested with the same ammo lots. NO degradation in accuracy and about a 1% increase in muzzle velocity.

    Chrome lined barrels seem to clean up rather easily after a range session. I found the ease of cleaning of Isonite coated barrels to be similar to chrome lined barrels. The Isonite barrels clean up the easiest of any non chrome lined barrels I have ever used. Isonite can be applied to either stainless or chrome molly but the factory needs to know what steel you are sending them because the application process varies a bit. Again, I only have about 2 yr. of cleaning experience with Salt Bath Nitrided barrels. I don't know if the ease of cleaning will continue as the barrels get more rounds on them. Generally speaking, most non coated barrels get harder to clean later in life. Although stainless has a reputation of being corrosion resistant it isn't corrosion proof (I have had plenty of them return pitted) so I coat both my C.M. and my SS barrels. The Isonite on the outside of the stainless barrels cuts reflection down so my shooters like it.

    I mentioned flaking of chrome lining inside the bore. Joel Kendrick is my contact at MMi TruTec, the company in Arkansas that does my Salt Bath Nitriding (they call it Isonite). He was mentioning using the Salt Bath Nitriding inside the bore prior to chrome lining it to get a better adhesion. He is currently working with one of the military contractors (maybe F.N., but don't quote me on that) relative to this process. He has given me permission to give out his contact information so I have cc'd him in my reply to you. He can give you the specifics of any testing and evaluation that has been done relative to this process and can give you quotes, etc. should you just be interested in the Isonite by itself as I use it.

    One last quick note on chrome lining. Such barrels have the reputation of changing point of impact when heated up. I have found this to be very true. It may be due to the way the different metals (chrome molly and chrome) expand inside the bore. What ever the reason, it does happen and, again, this was verified on a state of the art machine rest. Isonite doesn't exhibit this characteristic.

    I am sure you are well aware of some of the things I covered. Lacking specific questions, I just sort of used a shotgun approach which ended up being fairly long. If I left anything unanswered please feel free to get back to me. I have enabled my Spam Blocker to allow your e-mails to come in with out the automated hate responses that Earth Link sends out. I am sure Joel would also be glad to clarify the technical aspects of the Salt Bath Nitriding process. So far I am very pleased with it.

    Best of luck!


    At the present Mimi Trutec is not doing receivers as they do not have their FFL. They will do your non serialized parts.

    Offline FroggyOne2

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #12 on: 10:55 AM, 09/29/12 »
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  • I can say this, my next three bbl's will have this process done to them. After talking to my smith, I feel that this may well be a good way to go.

    Offline MT 6xc

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #13 on: 07:21 PM, 09/29/12 »
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  • I have a new Schneider barrel comming , should be here any time, who would you entrust this process to?

    Also, what about chamber polishing for ease of extraction on a bolt gun for rapid fire events in xtc competition.  Does the nitride process affect the chamber release in any way?

    Also, in my bolt gun the head of the bolt hits the barrel chamber as I run it forward to chamber a round.  Through the repeated rapid fire events this process of fast chambering put a wear pattern where the bolt head hits the rear of the barrel ramp.  The wear is on the barrel face, not on the bolt due to the difference in hardness the bolt head exhibits over the barrel steel.  Do you think by the nitride process the barrel steel will be hard enough to place the wear on my bolt head?


    Thanks fellas!
    « Last Edit: 07:31 PM, 09/29/12 by MT 6xc »
    T2K- 6XC / 308 Palma.
    High Master NRA Long Range. Sling and irons
    Trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry.

    Offline MT 6xc

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    Barrel Nitriding: 11,000 round update
    « Reply #14 on: 08:06 PM, 09/29/12 »
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  • Sorry, I meant the nitride process.  My barrel is chambered and headspaced by McMillian.  It comes ready to screw onto my T2k action.
    T2K- 6XC / 308 Palma.
    High Master NRA Long Range. Sling and irons
    Trust in the Lord, and keep your powder dry.


     

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