AfterSHOT: PROOF Research, the best rifle barrel, ever?

barrel harmonics
April 1, 2017  
Categories: Assorted Ramblings


AfterSHOT: PROOF Research, the best rifle barrel, ever?

Mike the Mook

At SHOT Show we had a chance to look over PROOF Research’s rifle barrels and we learned a few things.

They’re made from carbon fiber, which makes them amazingly light. Lightweight in a rifle barrel is definitely important if you have to hump the thing all day. No, not that way; we’re using grunt-speak where “hump” means “walk for long distances with a long gun at the ready or slung,” so shaving off two pounds of barrel weight can seem like dropping twenty pounds at the end of the day. It also means if you’re in an offhand (or “standing” to you non-military chuckleheads who call covers “hats”) shooting position, you’ll suffer less fatigue when trying to line up the target in your sights.

Those, however, are probably the lowest priorities on our reasons for wanting to run a carbon fiber wrapped barrel. Our number one reason is to improve accuracy.

We point-blank asked them, “What makes your barrels so special?”

It was like pulling teeth to get information from them, due to our sketchy and scruffy appearance. But when they realized we were serious about shooting, they let us in on a few things.

Their barrel-building process begins with a match grade stainless steel barrel blank that’s made in-house. They turn them down to a ridiculously thin profile and then build them back up with a pretty technical-sounding weaving procedure involving aerospace-grade carbon fiber that’s impregnated with a high-thermal resin. This gives these barrels incredible accuracy along with an insanely light weight.

That was pretty good, but having been a fan of carbon fiber over the years and a student of long range shooting, we knew that there was more to come. Because carbon fiber brings much more to the table than just cool looks and light weight.

Carbon fiber was designed to withstand temperatures of up to 1500° F. Basically it means your barrel won’t melt in a house fire, but more importantly, your rifle barrel never gets that hot while shooting. Increased heat resistance means improved heat dissipation. Your barrel will not overheat, POI (point of impact) will not shift at a high rate of fire, and more than likely it will negate the effects of mirage on long range shots.

What’s more is that carbon fiber is six times more rigid than steel and at least that much stronger. This inherently reduces harmonic vibration in the barrel.

A rifle barrel is like a tuning fork. When a bullet leaves the chamber and engages the rifling, it obviously does so under tremendous pressures. This pressure causes the barrel to vibrate as the bullet leaves the muzzle. This is why target barrels are typically thicker than hunting or sporting barrels. Thicker barrels exhibit less vibration.

That was, of course when we were just talking steel.

With carbon fiber being stronger and more rigid than steel, there is almost no vibration and nothing to throw off the follow up shot.

As for the barrels, Proof offers traditional steel rifle barrels (if you still want to roll that way) and carbon fiber wrapped bolt-action barrels for the Remington 700, Ruger Precision Rifle and Savage platforms in a variety of calibers as well as a number of options to meet any AR-platform precision rifle needs in 223 Wylde, 5.56 NATO, 300 Blackout, 308 Winchester and 6.5 Creedmoor.

We think this is simply the best barrel that you can install on your precision rifle whether it is a traditional bolt gun or an AR due to its weight, performance and construction. The price tag may be a little daunting for some, but we live by the motto: “Buy once, cry once”. You can dry your tears when you see the group sizes.


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Mike Searson

Mike Searson

About the Author

Mike “the Mook” Searson is a veteran writer who began his career in firearms at the Camp Pendleton School for Destructive Boys at age 17. He has worked in the firearms industry his entire life, writing about guns and knives for numerous publications and consulting with the film industry on weapons while at the same time working as gunsmith and ballistician. Though seemingly a surly curmudgeon shy a few chromosomes at first meeting, Searson is actually far less of a dick and at least a little smarter than most of the Mad Duo’s minions. He is rightfully considered to be not just good company, but actually fit for polite company as well (though he has never forgotten his roots as a rifleman trained to kill people and break things, and if you look closely you’ll see his knuckles are still quite scabbed over from dragging the ground). You can learn more about him on his website or follow him on Twitter, @MikeSearson.

1 Comment

  1. Echo4Tango

    I wanted to add a few things in here for our more technical readers:

    Not all carbon fiber is equal. I’m not talking about material strength or special manufacturing techniques, etc. but transferring heat (thermal radiation) vs insulating from heat. In a barrel you want the heat to have as little effect possible so that there is as little change from shot to shot as possible. A bull barrel is effective because the added material can absorb more heat before the shot placement begins to change. Fluting a barrel gives more surface area to dissipate heat quickly, and some manufactures have even experimented with CPU style heat sinks for heat dissipation as well.

    Carbon fiber is usually used for is strength-to-weight ratio and it’s insulating properties where engineers are not on much of a budget. If you wrap a barrel in a material that is not efficient at conducting heat it will heat that barrel up quicker because the heat cannot radiate away. If you also remove a bunch of material from that barrel (to make room for the carbon fiber and lighten the weight while maintaining the same profile) it will heat up even quicker! The carbon fiber will feel cooler than a comparable standard barrel because the heat is trapped inside, not escaping to the surface where it can radiate away. That carbon fiber barrel may also have less deviation for the same amount of rounds fired vs a comparable standard barrel because the stiffness isn’t changing as much with heat build up. What will happen to the carbon fiber barrel is the trapped heat built up in the thin steel will cause excessive wear and the barrel will burn out much quicker (fewer total rounds fired before losing acceptable accuracy).

    Moral of the story – you do not want a carbon fiber which traps heat! When you look at Proof’s carbon fiber you’ll notice they do not look like a traditional carbon fiber, “criss cross” weave. My understanding is that they searched for a long time to find a material and resin combination which TRANSFERS instead of INSULATES heat. There are a bunch of manufactures who don’t understand a lot of the science behind this and wrap up a barrel because it looks cool, shaves weight and the rounds fired deviate less – everything you ever wanted right? Right up until you get half the barrel life from it vs a standard barrel. Most people don’t like paying twice as much (or more) for a barrel that lasts half as long… my hat goes off to Proof Research for living up to their name and building a better product.


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