View Full Version : barrel materials
09-17-2002, 08:12 PM
Does anyone know what materials rifle or handgun barrels would be made of? I am just curious, following earlier postings about sway bars, scrap etc. (Not building, just interested...)
I have a feeling that it would not be the sort of spring steel found in say a sway bar, would imagine that it needs to be more ductile?
Pressure vessels such as boilers use low carbon steel, pretty much mild steel, but conforming to tight specs. on sulphur content etc. But then, barrel pressures are probably higher, so maybe a tougher steel, eg medium or high tensile, 4140, 4340? Am I way off mark here?
09-17-2002, 08:20 PM
Barrels for modern cartriges are usually made from 4140
The ones for black powder ammo, or muzzle loaders are usually made from some free-cuting stock, 12L14 ( which is quite contriversial) or 4150FM
09-17-2002, 08:29 PM
.50 cal barrels are made of special ordinance steel (don't know the #)
Various calibers and stainless steel guns are made of High tensile steels depending on the use. Obviously a .22 rimfire does not require the strength that a .460 Weatherby would. Different barrel makers prefer different steels.
09-17-2002, 09:35 PM
thrud.been a long time ( 1960's) but p o ackely barrel blank i bought in 1960's was ordinance steel...think it was 1137....$8 for a 32-40 blank,.....chrome moly ( 4140? ) was $13......65 bonnieville convert .was $3400 delivered..myself ,followed by 2 sons got our moneys worth..... speedometer went to 120 & i guarantee , it went FASTER....was going 100 miles to a state championship rifle match one sunday when i realized that i misssed a daylight saving time change.....2 lane hghwy...guardian angel came on duty as my good sense punched out............... son walked home one day ...where is the car?....transmission fell out ...it cant...bolted to bell housing ......yeah? ,golook........there it was ,u cud see it a block off ....still attached to engine ,but sitting in the road,....x/member rusted out at frame ...chained it up & drug it home ...problem solved w/ torch & scrap metal....junk yard x/members were all rusted as bad........lotsa memories...kid was 15 when he rodded the engine ..still ran great...told him he was nuts, & he wud have to do it himself ...he did!!!!!!natural born country mechanic ,... now he sits in the big city with a phone in his ear all day wearing a pair of golden handcuffs.......go figure....
09-17-2002, 09:48 PM
1903 Springfield receivers from Serial No. 285,507 to 319,921 were made of Class C steel.
Over 319,921 had both Class C and Hot Rolled Nickel Steel WD 33 NS, WD 35 NS.
1917 Enfields were made of 3-1/2% Nickel Steel.
.30 US Garand used WD 4150 Modified
Then they changed every time the phase of the moon changedUS .30 Carbine M-1 used WD 1350 Special steel in barrels
Mauser, however, from 1898 on through most of WWII used what was known as copper-bearing HSLA Steel
Every firearms designer had/has his own ideas as to what is best steel to use. In my opinion, any steel barrel with a carbon content of not more than .70% is safe for any cartridge except those that produce the highest average breech pressures, such as the short and long magnums.
09-18-2002, 11:42 PM
Al ....have to put in a caveat or two ......was on the range when a lasalle stressproof barrel let loose @ extractor cut , wrecked a ballard action & put some brass into competitors face /eye ( w/ glasses)....hoop stress & inclusions was metalurgical diagnosis...company does NOT recommend that steel for barrels nor do other makers of that type steel ....17 g. 4759 in .40 case w. 240g. lead bullet wasnt much pressure ( several years use before it let loose.)..other caveat is that barrel steels are(should ) be made to more ridgid specs than mill run..
09-19-2002, 07:48 AM
A Ballard action? Oh, man!! What a waste!! What cartridge was he using in it? In the early days of "varmint shooting" weren't Ballards sought out to custom make some .22 Hornets and so forth? So they must be considered as being fairly strong.
09-19-2002, 08:21 AM
Most of the custom barrel makers are using 4140,416,or 416R for rifles. You can get info at Shilen's or Dan Lilja's website.
09-19-2002, 09:22 PM
al yeah , 40 yrs ago we were still shooting the originals ....been away for 20 yrs or so , but suspect modern copys now in use ....actually Ballard was one othe weaker actions along w/ stevens 44 ...not recommended for modern varmint crtrdgs...worked fine for old black powder crtrdgs w/ 4759 & similar powders ......he was shooting one of the ordinary 40-60 or 40-70 's ......the win hiwall, stevens 44 1/2 , rem.hepburn & sharps would hold any varminter loaded sensibly.....win lowall hornets were common & k hornets also ..even saw a mashburn 218 bee (improved )on a lowall once ( made up by mashburn himself)maynards , & rolling blocks were not rebarrelled to varminters.....once made up a 225 win. on a hi wall that came close to 1/2 min. angle w/ one load( unusual)....little aussie martini made up into a neat hornet(scope clearance a problem & triggers wre tough to get lite /rite...) but only cost $9.95.....many almost museum pieces were cannibalized ,simply because bolt actions were in short supply in 30;s & 40'S.....if u get ahold of on of these old hornets , be sure to check the bore d. a lot of them used .22r.f. barrels (.222) & even pre war mod.70 hornets were .222. not even .223....
09-23-2002, 07:38 PM
I use bushing stock with a 1.010 press fit and welded into the breech end. 2 oz. cannon Pyrodex and 2 tight wads make for a big pop.
I still have my 1917 30.06Eddystone Enfield
my grandad gave me back in the 60's.American walnut stock. Got little balls with flames all over it. Still nice and accurate.If your looking for good steel,go to the Carpenter Steel co.Reading, Pa. There is a book that tells you all you need to know about working the steels these folks still make.Written in 1937 "Tool Steel Simplified" by Frank R. Palmer is excellent. One of my most important tools is this book.
09-25-2002, 01:50 AM
toolabard.....tool steel simplified is mandatory for anyone interested in making own tooling....great info! ....but hard to match up carpener proprietary seels w/ 01,d1 etc.
09-25-2002, 07:34 AM
I once owned a rimmed .222 Rem. on a Martini Cadet action that was the most accurate rifle I've ever owned. 21.5 gr. of DuPont(then) 4198 behind a 55 gr Sierra Spitzer would cut cloverleafs or less at 100 yards. It had a 10 x Unertl scope that had the sharpest definition I've ever seen. Wish I still had it---it was stolen about 10 years ago. Hope the sucker that stole it had fun trying to find ammo for it!!
09-25-2002, 12:57 PM
Am I correct in assuming that large bore barrels for black powder charges (Oh, say a muzzel-loading cannon for instance) can be made of most any steel found in a scrap yard as long as it is sound and of the proper dimentions?
The reason I ask this is that I assume the worst commercial steels available today are better than the best steels of 150 years ago -- and both are better than bronze.
09-25-2002, 01:29 PM
I disagree about bronze cannon barrels, IF, you are talking about "Gun Metal Bronze" This was the standard of naval cannon for centuries(?). I would rate it ahead of a cast iron cannon barrel any day of the week as being stronger and less inclined to rust. I don't know the year, but Gun Metal was not generally replaced until Krupp introduced "fluid steel" sometime back in the mid 1800's.
09-25-2002, 11:05 PM
Al ...i still have 100 of that .222rimmed aussie brass (i think somewhere) .....had a shot out hiwall hornet , iwas going to rebarrel & chamber for .222rem.rimmed ..never got to it......valuable stufflong gone.... kids & g/ kids ...c.c. johnson ,up in central ohio put some .222rem.(rimLESS)on hi walls ..worked well , if u werent in a hurry & slipped past extractor......
unertles were great scopes ...had several years ago....& u needed that xtra ht. of external mounts on that aussie martini.........lots of fun memories from 50 yrs ago...torpedo back chev. hunting buggy w/ creases all over roof from high scopes w/ line of site that cleared roof , but barrel on sandbag DIDNT!.....,interior in shreds from leaving a pointer in it while we hunted another pair( way down on learning curve,)......rifle rest that clamped to window so u could elevate w/ window handle for those 400 yrd chuck shots ..calling game warden sat. morn. one week after end of season & when he answered ,hung up & went quail hunting...(better not give away all the secrets) hunted w/ letcher langston, died way to early , but in 1957, w/ a .22, could hit a quarter thrown in the air 3 out of 5 ,not bad for a non pro country boy !!!! ....been more interested in conservation than hunting the last 2o yrs...but with all the above , every one I knew was careful not to overkill ( if only for enlightened self interest) u wanted to have that covey survive for next season....
if there is justice , there is a special hell for thieves of favorite rifles.....
09-26-2002, 04:12 PM
You remind me of a veterinarian I once knew in Nashville, Tenn.
10-15-2002, 10:58 PM
Peter , you asked about sway bars etc. The metals in cars made in the 50's maybe 60's differ from the stuff used to day. The old stuff made good knives, chisles, heat ti ,beat it andit was predictable. Not so with some ofthe modern alloys. Fron coil springs from a48 chrysler couldbe unwound, and worked. Tried it again with a modern chrysler and it looked like a possums tail (including the scraggly hairs) when it was worked. Down right embarrassing!. Be careful of generalizations when you load it or walk under it with a heavy load http://bbs.homeshopmachinist.net//wink.gif Steve
10-16-2002, 08:48 PM
Sturn Ruger uses 4140 on some of their barrels. I get the end cut stock from them.
10-25-2002, 04:30 PM
You related to the late, great Harry Pope??
10-27-2002, 01:54 PM
Peter, I ran across an article about native gunsmiths in Africa making muzzle loading musket barels out of old VW steering gear shafts. Also, the VC in 'Nam used to make them out of black pipe or anything else they could get their hands on---I would not reccomend black pipe, though!!