« All or Nothing; A Gun Owner’s Guide to Loyalty | Main | Barrel Life, Part II »

April 21, 2006

This page has been moved to http://www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut

If your browser doesn’t redirect you to the new location, please visit The Gun Nut at its new location: www.fieldandstream.com/blogs/gun-nut.

Barrel Life, Part I

I get questions about this, so here’s a brief guide:

It’s impossible to say, flatly, how long a barrel will last. Even after it loses its peak accuracy, a barrel will often remain perfectly usable for a many rounds more. Here are some rough estimates from a gunsmith friend of mine who is anguished because I’m not listing the dozen or so qualifying factors that go into how long each of the following will last. The numbers below refer to the very best accuracy of which a tube is capable, before it starts to slide even the smallest bit.

  • .22 Long Rifle: 250,000 rounds.
  • .22/250: 1,000 rounds
  • .243: 1,000 rounds
  • .270 Winchester: 1,200 rounds
  • .308: 3,000 rounds
  • .30/06: 2,500 rounds
  • 7mm Remington Magnum: 1,500 rounds
  • .300 Winchester Magnum: 1,500 rounds

Remember that these are very conservative figures. You can have a minute-of-angle .270 that erodes until it only (!) shoots a minute and a half, and it is still an eminently usable rifle. More coming with the next rant.


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference Barrel Life, Part I:



I have two questions.

1. Once you have an "aged barrel" is there a home lapping kit to bring it back to life?

2. Dave, on a seperate note, for hunting reloading purposes is there a big difference between Norma brass, Lapua, and Nosler brass? They are all good from what I hear, but I want to scap all my old brass for my 300 win mag and start reloading with a clean slate?


I personally know of only one barrel that was shot out. It was my ex father-in law’s 264 Mag that I believe had a heavy Shaw [or a Star???] barrel screwed into a Mark X Mauser action. He must have put 800-900 VERY hot varmint hand loads through it for those 300-400 yard woodchuck shots. As I recall him saying one day at his backyard range the rifle suddenly wouldn’t print on paper.

Barrel life never concerned me. I don’t think the average hunter owns or shoots a rifle for more than 200-shots. I can only think of two rifles I own, or have owned, I’ve put more than 500-rounds through. I don’t shoot my hunting rifles *rapid fire*, either.

Really isn’t a replacement barrel is cheap compared to the price of ammo required to wear it out

I recall a custom barrel maker around Syracuse, NY that made his rifle barrels in his garage. I can’t remember his name.


Dave Petzal

To Tom: Lapping will smooth out a new barrel, but it won't help an old one. The only thing that will is to cut some of it off at the breech end, re-thread, and re-install it.

As for brass, they're all good. Weatherby used to be soft, as did Remington, but not any more. For what it's worth, I do almost all of my reloading with Winchester brass, but that's not to say it's better than everything else. Just take care not to use two different makes for one caliber; pressure problems will result.

Dave Petzal

To Mark: You're quite right. More on barrel economics coming up.


A friend of mine swears he read an article by you that you almost never clean your .22 rifle barrel. I say he is out of his mind! Who is right




I want to put a flash deflector on my rifle but the threads have been 90% smoothed out. any ideas?

Thank you


I have a Ruger M77 in 223 cal. the barrel has a slight bulge about 2'' from the end. Needless to say it has greatly affected the accuracy of my favorite rifle. I gave about $300. for it brand new from my now deceased gunsmith, I sent it in to ruger the wanted $444.00 to rebarrel it, isnt that too much?

Our Blogs