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AR Barrels - Chrome Lined vs. Non Chrome vs. Stainless Steel

Discussion in 'Rifle Discussion' started by skydiver, Jan 26, 2014.

  1. skydiver

    skydiver Sandy,OR Well-Known Member

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    Chrome Lined vs. Non Chrome Lined vs. Stainless Steel barrels for AR's.
    Accuracy, longevity, stuck cases in the chamber, price, fouling, ease of cleaning, weight, etc. etc.
    Which do you prefer and why?
    Thanks!
     
  2. Reno911

    Reno911 Hillsboro Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    I prefer melonited. Has same qualities as pretty much all of the above and is known to produce higher velocities.

    If not then at least chrome lined. Though, I have built a few using inexpensive non chrome lined barrels with good results.

    Accuracy wise I don't think the coating or salt process or steel material used has anything to do with it. It is more of how precise the barrel was machined and rifled. Hence the reason you don't see a lot of bolt guys arguing whether or not they need a chrome lined barrel. They usually give up on a barrel after so many rounds as the rifling has worn past their "acceptable" accuracy point.

    Mostly chrome linings are added for longevity. It it hardens the steel and allows for longer barrel use. Same for stainless. It is harder and will allow for longer barrel life before loosing rifling and accuracy.

    The harder the metal the closer the molecules. So they tend to be easier to clean. Less particles capable of getting into nooks and crannies means less to clean.

    Out of all of them the salt nitride process produces a highly hardened steel and for what ever reason this slicks things up. Allowing the bullet to travel faster, giving you a faster velocity. That and you get the ease of cleaning, longevity, and if machined well, good accuracy.
     
  3. skydiver

    skydiver Sandy,OR Well-Known Member

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    Not sure if it's true, but I've read that non-chrome lined barrels are more accurate because the chrome lining process is not consistently thick along the length of the barrel. Also, chrome affects the diameter of the rifling in the peaks and valleys.
     
    oli700 and (deleted member) like this.
  4. cpy911

    cpy911 Newberg Active Member

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    I have a $100 midway AR stoner barrel non-chrome lined that I abuse shooting cast lead bullets out of. I clean up the barrel with brushes patches and a chamber brush. No problems so far.
    If I carried it into battle I would want some sort coating especially on the chamber to reduce corrosion and ensure extraction. But for a plinking and range toy it is fine. I hope to wear it out but the amount I actually get out and shoot it, my grandkids will be running it.
     
  5. Cameron72

    Cameron72 Harrington, WA Bronze Supporter Bronze Supporter

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    Melonite, no chrome.
     
  6. Classic

    Classic Federal Way WA Well-Known Member

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    A piece from an article I recently read on AR barrels...
    If you go through a couple thousand rounds a year, you might want to invest in CL barrels as they will last 3-5x longer. Chrome lining will slightly decrease precision of your barrel, but it is a very small loss. It will also cost a little more, but your barrel and chamber will last a lot longer and be easier to clean.

    An alternative to chrome lining is ferritic nitrocarburizing (FNC) aka Tennifer and Melonite. So far I am only aware of manufacturers like S&W and LWRC using this process on AR barrels. This process treats the actual surface of the barrel, unlike chroming. It is a case hardening process that infuses carbon and nitrogen into the metal itself. Many tests have shown that FNC creates a surface that is harder than chrome and resists corrosion better too. FNC has a great track record with pistols as is the case with Glock’s legendary Tennifer finish. It remains to be seen if it can handle the higher velocities and pressures associated with rifle rounds.

    Besides cost, chrome’s only downside is that it applies to the surface. Since it is nearly impossible to lay down a completely even layer of chrome, chrome-lined barrels are usually not as precise as they were before chroming. This is not to say that chrome lining a barrel will make it inaccurate. If you take a stellar barrel and chrome it, it will still be a stellar barrel. It will be just a little less precise and a whole lot more durable. Conversely, if you take a crappy barrel and chrome line it, you now have a crappy barrel that will stay with you forever.

    There are two main downsides to FNC. First, since it is relatively new, and although it was tried and tested in pistol caliber barrels, it doesn’t have long history or track record with the higher velocities and pressures associated with rifle calibers. Second, FNC is a highly toxic process. This means it is harder to set up and maintain the equipment required for this process. So facilities that offer this service are uncommon.

    Many people are saying that FNC is the wave of the future and that FNC will replace chrome in a few years. I believe that it looks very promising, but only time will tell if it will be a viable option
     
  7. Reno911

    Reno911 Hillsboro Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    This part of that article is not true. This process has been around long before Glock started using it for their barrels. The automotive and manufacturing industries have been using this process to harden gears and other related products for a long time. It only recently has been taking a role in the firearms industry. There are tons of processing plants that do only this, in other words they don't make the products, customers ship them their products and they nitride them. Many firearms industries are starting to do exactly this.

    As far as toxicity goes. It is pretty bad stuff but it is highly regulated.
     
  8. B5Ben

    B5Ben Boise Well-Known Member

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    From all that I have read, Melonite is the way to go. S&W and Adams Arms (VooDoo Barrels) are two manufacturers that come to mind that are using this process. Gives you the best of both worlds, accuracy and longevity. What else could you want?
     
  9. Reno911

    Reno911 Hillsboro Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Mossberg is starting to meloniting barrels as well. I bought one if these and it is sitting in the safe waiting to be built into a rifle.

    http://www.aimsurplus.com/product.aspx?item=xatib556m4
     
  10. Reno911

    Reno911 Hillsboro Well-Known Member 2015 Volunteer 2016 Volunteer

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    Yep.

    I don't think a manufacturer out there sells one though. I know of long range guys sending in their high end bolt gun barrels to get treated.

    I'll have to see if I can drag up the guys that are taking in small batch melonite orders. If I remember right, he was out of Vegas... You have to send your barrel in of coarse.

    Stainless is by itself harder and more resistant to corrosion. It is also more expensive metal in the 1st place. They can be cut true to bore and barrel diameter. Where as chrome lined are cut a bit larger for the lining to fill the gap.

    Melonite uses the same metals as your chrome lined barrels, if not cheaper metals. By hardening them I through the process you get a harder metal using less money.

    If you start with stainless steel and salt nitride process it. Your going to end up with an even harder more corrosion resistant stainless. And a cool dark silver color.
     
  11. erudne

    erudne The Pie Matrix PPL Say Sleeping W/Your Rifle Is A bad Thing? Bronze Supporter

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    The old Springfield 2-groove barrels made in WW2 were known to last 10,000 rounds before they were shot out. I had several new 2-grooves ($10.00 ea) that shot MOA, of course we are talking Bolt guns not semi/FA. The M-14s had chromed barrels, as well as 762 belt feds, some, like the M-73 had Stellite liners in the throat due to their high rates of fire. I believe that Mellonite will replace CL quite soon
     
  12. Sco

    Sco McChord, WA Member

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    Ice Arms (Ice Arms) Sells stainless melonite hybrid barrels. WA based company too.
     
  13. kato pup dog

    kato pup dog Hermiston Active Member

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    If ICE ARMS is a Wa based company, why is their corporate address in NH? It's listed directly on the page you linked.
     
  14. Sco

    Sco McChord, WA Member

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    I'm may have my fact all screwed up, but I thought I had read once that they manufacturer in wa but I guess incorporated in NH? I don't know and don't care cuz it's all made in USA
     
  15. TwinStick

    TwinStick In the wind Active Member

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    And the barrel manufacturer (Green Mountain Barrel Co) is in NH also. Not that it matters which state these companies are in.

    I'm liking their 18" hybrid barrel ($225). Looking into building a longer range AR next time (vs my M4gery) and this might fit the bill.