Discussion in 'Advanced Gunsmithing & Engineering' started by markr, Aug 29, 2009.
Does anyone here have any experience with these barrels.
Quality, accuracy, longevity?
I have a Polygonal 12 twist in 30-284,hunting rifle) and am quite pleased with it,accurate, easy to clean, it does what it's supposed to do.
I have one in a .260 and love it. I only have about 150 rounds thru it so far, but it is very accurate and also one of the easiest barrel I have ever cleaned. VERY little copper build up at all.
I know of alot of people on other forums who have or had them and all were quite pleased. I dont think I've heard anything bad about them now that I think about it.
I'm getting ready to start another build,as soon as I pick out a caliber ), and I am seriously considering another LW barrel.
I have one in 22-250ai with about 400 rounds down the tube and its shoots very well also have to second the clean up one of the easiest barrels I have to clean.
They are made of much better metall than the commo, 416 + S.
Is it 410 or 630, I am not sure, and Walther keep that secret...
Structurally, the metal is tougher and I am not surprised it cleans better.
I think that they are one of the sleeper deals out there. Everyone that I have got has a great interior finish and they all shoot great. They use their proprietary stainless steel that they call LW50. The claim its longer lasting than 416 stainless. If you check on some of the other forums you will find some threads on people having some issues machining it. But I just buy the AR-15 and Savage drop-ins.
I think their LW50 is very much like 17-4 stainless. Not BR quality, but will do OK in a hunting sitution.
I have sold alot of them and chambered a few. I didn't notice that they were any harder to machine than other SS barrels.
I've used quite a few Lothar Walther barrels on AR-15's and a few hunting rifles. I've never had one of their AR barrels NOT shoot 1/2 MOA or better, these were chambered and fit with barrel extensions at Lothar Walther in GA. I've also chambered a couple of their stainless barrels and it doesn't cut as well as 416R. I've read too where it is similar to,or is the same as) 17-4PH steel and from my understanding it is a better steel, but harder to work. The barrels threaded beautifully, but I had difficulty getting a real clean chamber on them, it looked as if it tore somewhat,kind of gummy, not hard). That said, after the chambering was completed and looked crappy,to my eye), all of one minute at 1000RPM and 400 grit paper on a dowel and it looked flawless. Shot very well too, that one was a 6.5 Grendel.
I have been buying LW Chrome Moly barrels and Shilen select match stainless barrels from Brownells for 10 years.
I wish Brownells would carry a wider selection of bores and tapers of LW and a wider selection of tapers in Shilen select match.
I think that LW CM barrels shoot straight when hot, thanks to excellent stress relief.
I think that LW barrels are slow to Copper foul and fast to clean, thanks to excellent factory lapping.
The only problem I have ever had with LW is that they are so highly polished, the gimbal in the 4 jaw slipped. I can either rough up the shank or cut the thread relief slowly.
LW makes a lot of different grade barrels and blanks. Cheapest ones are not lapped etc. I don't know what grades they offer in US.
This is the answer I received directly from Gerd Walther:
For you in AISI, it is the 420 alloy.
I presume their supplier is Boehler Udderlohn in Austria.
The material we use is specialy made for us and we order not through a dealer, we order directly from the steel company here in Germany and Austria. We have the name in our house LW 50, the offical material name is X20Cr13 or if you like to look into the StahlschlÃ¼ssel, it have the number 1.4021. The steel is in a special way straightened, controled and headtreadet for our product. We know about that it isn`t easy if you like to work by your self with the steel,specialy with the standart chamber reamers which available on the marked) here all have to be corect, the tool have to be sharp speed and feed have to be corectly and it have to be used a special metal cutting oil.
AISI 420 is a Martensitic stainless commonly used in kitchen and surgical knives. It is not related to PH steels, requiring quenching from transformation to increase material condition. It is regarded as tough and stringy when machining. Steels with this characteristic often require special cutter geometry to achieve optimal results.
Well, I doubt I'll ever switch from the LW50 match grade barrels for my 6.5 X 284, and kindly note I said 'match grade'. The biggest reason is that the first barrel was exceeptionally accurate and the second and third and subsequent barrels were at least as accurate.
The steel doesn't cut like 416R. First off, when chambering the speed needs to be around 250-300 rpm. The cutting fluid should be what LW recommends and failing that heavily sulferized. The barrel should be chambered in a through the headstock lathe and cutting oil pressure fed through the barrel. I have my own PTG reamer from Dave Kiff,great guy) and he uses M-42 tool steel which cuts the LWs pretty well but a careful hand on the feed is required. The barrels do thread and crown rather nicely though.
I had one or two nationally known accuracy smiths refuse to work with an LW barrel, but I found one that does basically perfect work, the last two barrels were chambered within .0004' of each other as near as we could tell. Reason being I have at least two chambered up at a time as 20+ round strings of 6.5 X 284 are hard on ANY barrel.
I will put the LW match grade barrels in the 'best' catagory. There are other makers in that catagory, some of which I've had over the years. But the LW barrels, along with the exceptional smithing that went into my rifle have allowed me to win a couple of matches and believe me, I'm not that good. Sometimes it seems like an unfair advantage.
As always, the development of a truly good match rifle is an ongoing process.
A few painful,and expensive) lessons learned:
1. ALWAYS borescope the barrel before ANY work is done on it. If it is anything other than flawless, send it back. Any reputable maker will take a flawed barrel back. If they don't, find another barrel maker.
2. Regardless of the quality of the barrel, it will only shoot as well as the quality of the smithing that went into chambering and mounting it. Best barrel in the world will not achive it's potential for accuracy with bad work.
3. It's never seemed to make any difference whether the barrel was cut rifled or button rifled, a quality barrel shoots.
I just chambered a 1300 taper Chrome Moly Lothar Walther barrel in 7mmMag. The rifle weights 8.25 pounds + scope.
I went to the range Saturday, and with 162 gr Hornady Interlocks, it averages 0.78' at 100 yards.
I continue to be happy with LW.
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