View Full Version : What does a 'worn out' barrel look like???

November 18, 2004, 10:10 AM
I'm looking around for a used 22-250 or .220 Swift, but I read a lot of stuff about how these 'hot' rounds will wear out a barrel pretty quickly.
In an otherwise well cared for and maintained rifle, what should I be looking for to indicate a barrel that is near or has already passed it 'best before' date?
Any obvious tell tale signs or things to measure, or is it more a case of eyeballing it using decades of experience to form an opinion?

Firing a few test groups would obviously be a good thing, but that's far from convenient in my part of the world (Ireland).

Thanks for all the great info I've already picked up here.

November 18, 2004, 12:14 PM
If most of the inside of barrel looks bright, but it's dull or "frosted" for in inch or more in front of the chamber, that's bad. Erosion starts there first. A little erosion may not hurt accuracy much, but as it continues, things can go downhill fast.

Cape Canaveral

November 18, 2004, 01:11 PM
A little erosion may not hurt accuracy much, but as it continues, things can go downhill fast.
Hi John, thanks for the reply.
Am I correct in thinking that this is because as the barrel erodes, the bullet doesn't fit as well as it should, and some gasses get past the bullet before it engages the good rifling further along the barrel?
I can see (I think!) how this could cascade into more and more damage being done faster and faster.

November 18, 2004, 04:10 PM
That's exactly right.


November 19, 2004, 01:10 AM
If you can get your hands on a bore scope to look at the throat, just in front of the chamber where the riflings begin, the edges of the lands should be nice and sharp. Look at a new barrel, then at the one you're considering. Throat erosion will be plainly evident when you can see it properly.

December 3, 2004, 10:07 AM
It doesnt really matter what the barrel looks like, what does matter is how it shoots.

I've seen old milsurps that looked like someone used concrete to clean out the barrel that shot suprising well, and Ive seen other barrels look great that couldnt group well at all.

I've got some target rifles that are due to be rebarreled. Accuracy with one of my .308's with handloads started out at 3/8 of an inch at 100, but after several thousand rounds, the best it'll do know is about an inch and a quarter.

All barrels that have been shot extensivley will show some signs of erosion, but what really matters is what you consider acceptable accuarcy. I know target shooters that will change out a barrel once it gets to the inch at 100 mark, but that rifle would be more than acceptable for a hunting rifle. Some calibers such as the .300 mag, 220 swift,or even the .22-250 are notorious for eroding sooner that other calibers, sue top the large amounts of powder burning in a small diameter.

Visual signs will give an idication that erosion is taking place, but its not a real indicator of how well or poorly a rifle will shoot.

December 3, 2004, 02:05 PM
It doesnt really matter what the barrel looks like, what does matter is how it shoots.

I appreciate that, Watchman, but I need some sort of starting point, and having an idea of what a badly worn barrel looks like gives me something to be going on with.

Further research leads me to think that something in .243 might suit me better anyhow- good for everything from varmints to light deer, and no slouch at the range for a bit of informal paper punching out to middling ranges?
And MUCH kinder to barrels than .220 Swift or 22-250 :)

AND, there's a HUGE variety of ammunition available :)

Harry Bonar
January 2, 2005, 10:47 AM
:) Dear Sir:
Many, many barrels will not group, or be deemed, "worn-out" when they just need a good cleaning. Use J. B.Brost bore cleaning paste from a supplier like Brownells, a paste, and scrub particularly the throat area - if, as the other gentlemen have said the area at the throat area is frosted or dull then the throat is not in good shape.
Depending on the caliber and barrel contour it could be set back several threads and re-chambered it would be good as new as the muzzle area hardly ever "wears out".
What really wears the throat out is rapid firing getting the barrel so hot you can't hold on to it. I know a boy who shot a Rem Sendero in 300 W. Mag. several boxes of hot reloads through it one after the other. When I got the rifle by trade it was "set-back" and the throat WAS gone.
Even the 220 Swift will last thousands of rounds if properly cleaned and loads are puiblished by reputable loading books.Take one out in a hot summer afternoon, shoot rapidly hot reloads; do this with no cleaning week after week and yes, you have a damaged throat.
Over-bore cartridges are bad also; some .264 Win. Mags. will show accuracy and velocity degredation just working up a load - then regardless what's marked on the barrel you've got 270 velocities.
Hope I've helped. Harry
P.S. "How does it shoot"? He's right, seat your bullets out just several thousands (Be sure you don't touch the lands) and you might help your accuracy.
Yes, a 6MM Rem. would be a fine choice, or a 243.

January 3, 2005, 06:25 AM
Thanks for the info Harry, I've picked out an almost new CZ 550 in .243, so we'll see how that goes.


January 7, 2005, 08:04 PM
I used seafoam in a spray can to clean the bore in my m44 mosin nagant. It started out as a very dull, gray colored bore even after scrubbing several times with a bore brush. I pulled the bolt plugged the muzzle with a golf tee and filled the bore with seafoam and let 'er stand muzzle down for a couple of days. Then I pulled the plug, drained the barrel, ran a bore brush through, then a patch and it looks like new.