stainless steel vs chrome lined

This is a discussion on stainless steel vs chrome lined within the Rifles forums, part of the Sniping Related category; While searching for upper assemblies, I found all kinds of stuff at different price points. Some of the barrels were chrome lined and some were ...

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  1. #1
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    stainless steel vs chrome lined

    While searching for upper assemblies, I found all kinds of stuff at different price points. Some of the barrels were chrome lined and some were stainless steel. What should I consider when choosing between stainless and chrome lined barrels.
    .308 Howa 1500 w/24" heavy varmint barrel
    .223 Howa 1500 w/24" heavy varmint barrel
    Rock River Arms Predator Pursuit upper on a C3 Defence lower
    http://web.me.com/rdsii64/shooter64/Welcome.html

  2. #2
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    The type of steel is far less important than the dimensional quality of the barrel and the care the barrelmaker took to stress-relieve the barrel.

    You will hear all of sorts of anecdotal stories about stainless steel lasting less than chrome-plated chrome moly steel and about the tremedous superiority of 4150 steel alloy over 4140.

    The reality is this. A barrel "dies" when its throat is so eroded that it starts ripping at the bullet jacket enough to reduce the accuracy unfit for your needs. You have to decide how much accuracy loss you can endure before the rifle isn't suitable for your uses. While stainless steel used in barrels (typically alloy 416) is not as resistant to flame cutting as bare 4140 or 4150, it will still go at least 10K rounds before the accuracy declines to where it won't meet military acceptance standards (4 MOA IIRC). In precision uses, like NRA Highpower, a stainless barrel is shot out at around 3500 to 5000 rounds, but you are talking about a barrel that won't hold 1 MOA at 600 yards. Such a barrel still has tons of life left in it for other uses. So "shot out" is a moving target and it depends on the purpose of the rifle.

    The hard chrome plating in some barrels' bores and chambers does extend life by virtute of its higher hardness and resistance to flame erosion (important in the throat) coupled with chromes high oxidation (corrosion) resistance.

    As for having to have 4150 chrome vanadium steel in your barrel instead of the more common 4140 chrome molybdenum alloy, it matters if you are going to be doing a lot of full auto or just want to pretend you are cool because you have a "milspec" barrel.

    Otherwise, it makes not one hill of beans of difference.

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    Senior Member docv_73's Avatar
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    The info above i good. The only other thing to take into considereation, is the chrome lining is applied as a liquid which hardens. It is NEVER truely as concentric as an unlined barrel, and therefore is rarely as accurate. That is the only major trade off.
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    Quote Originally Posted by docv_73
    The info above i good. The only other thing to take into considereation, is the chrome lining is applied as a liquid which hardens. It is NEVER truely as concentric as an unlined barrel, and therefore is rarely as accurate. That is the only major trade off.
    Ummm, no. The chrome "lining" is electroplated on. It is actually a chrome plating, though the chemistry and processing parameters are not the same as the "bumper" chrome that most people think is the only result of chrome plating.

    The concentricity change due to the plating buildup can be controlled accurately, as FNH chrome plates the bores of their SPR rifles and no one is complaining about their accuracy. How they do it? I can't tell for sure and I am sure they won't divulge that either.

    In any case, I'd rather have a nitrocarburized stainless steel barrel over a chrome plated bore in a chrome-moly steel barrel.

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    Senior Member Aks74n's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by proneshooter
    The concentricity change due to the plating buildup can be controlled accurately, as FNH chrome plates the bores of their SPR rifles and no one is complaining about their accuracy. How they do it? I can't tell for sure and I am sure they won't divulge that either.

    The OP is asking about AR uppers/barrels. Do you know of a company using making and chrome lining AR barrels with the care FNH puts into their SPR barrels?
    (I'm not trying to be a smart ass, I would like to buy one down the road if it's reasonably priced.)


    As a general rule of thumb, a stainless barrel will be more likely to shoot tiny groups than a chrome lined barrel.

    A chrome lined barrel's throat will last longer for the same reason 'nitriding' increases barrel life; a harder material will erode slower.
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    Senior Member Widowmaker0001's Avatar
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    If your building a precision rig,then the barrel is more import of a factor as your shot groupings are a major concern.For an AR,I would use what you can get thats been a tried and trued brand,I've had good results from both a non-lined DPMS and a chrome lined RRA also.IMHO SS vs. chromoly for a barrel and chrome-lined vs. standard all have there pros and cons.if you want reliability,look at what the military uses(chrome-lined),if you want accuracy, check what the bench rest guys like(SS typically),a barrel is only as good as production standards allow,reguardless of what material or lining is used,installing a barrel is another story,just some food for thought.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Aks74n
    As a general rule of thumb, a stainless barrel will be more likely to shoot tiny groups than a chrome lined barrel.
    Plain and simple, that is just untrue.

    The precise execution of superior design parameters is the main difference between good barrels and bad ones ("good" and "bad" being defined in accordance with final accuracy). 4140 CM versus 4340 CM versus 416 SS versus 410 SS....it's all pretty irrelevant to the question of whether a barrel will shoot well or not. ANY of these materials can be made into a hummer.

    Think of this: give me two Krieger 14-twist .224, #7, crowned at 21.75". One should be their stainless, and one should be their chromoly. Do you REALLY believe the two barrels will shoot appreciably differently? If they do, then give me TEN of each...betcha they come out equal.

    It is only when longevity, weapon purpose, and climate come into play that we need to concern ourselves with a debate over the two classes of steel.

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    Super Moderator monteboy84's Avatar
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    Nate, I think he's saying that the plating is the source of the inaccuracy, not the barrel's material. Which, that has been my experience, as non-lined Chromoly and non-lined SS both shoot better than a Chrome-Lined Chromoly barrel.

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