Carbon Fiber Barrel Prices Drop
Russ Chastain 07.08.14
Carbon fiber is some awesome stuff that can provide a lot of strength in a very light package. The downside is that it’s usually pretty expensive. Christensen Arms, a pioneer in the application of carbon fiber to firearms, has just made it more affordable to outfit your rifle with a light, high-tech barrel via recent manufacturing improvements, which they say allow price reductions of 25% to 63%.
Let’s be clear: These barrels are steel at the core, with carbon fiber wrapped around it in precise orientations. So, technically, they’re “carbon-fiber-wrapped,” but we’ll call them carbon fiber barrels.
Carbon fiber helps maintain a rifle barrel’s rigidity, minimizing the harmonic vibration that can cause accuracy woes. It also helps cool the barrel, which allows the rifling to last longer, especially in the throat (the vital portion of rifling just forward of the chamber), which is one of the hottest spots in a rifle barrel and usually the first place where rifling wear occurs. And as mentioned earlier, they’re much lighter than solid steel barrels.
Christensen Arms offers barrels in different grades, all of them offering high quality and tight tolerances:
“The carbon-fiber barrels are available in match-grade and select match-grade with a maximum Total Indicator Runout (TIR) of .003 inches or less, which indicates a minimal tolerance for straightness deviation. The match-grade bore measures within .0005 inches of the standard diameter and doesn’t vary more than .0003 inches for the length of the barrel. In the select match-grade bores, the groove diameter air gauges within .0003 inches of the standard diameter and doesn’t vary more than .0001 inches for the entire length of the barrel.”
Barrels for bolt-action rifles and for AR-style rifles are available in a variety of calibers ranging from .223 Rem to .338 Lapua.
The advertised price reduction of 25% to 63% was made possible by more advanced manufacturing techniques, which has allowed them to make their barrels more quickly. They call it “fiber placement machine technology.” I call it “cool.”
They say the biggest savings affects their AR-style barrels, while bolt-action barrels will see a drop of 25%.
It’s nice to see a company passing on some savings rather than just raking in more profit.
Early this year, Christensen Arms began making their steel barrels in-house, which has lowered prices on those as well.
They also make stocks, flash hiders, Viking Tactics (VTAC) barrels, AR-style rifles, and unique 1911 pistols.