If you have ever thought of getting involved in precision shooting, or are already immersed in the Precision Riﬂe Series competition, Bartlein Barrels is an industry name to know. Frank Green, Tracy Bartlein and Andy Kihn, who all previously worked for Kreiger Barrels, founded Bartlein Barrels and built it into what many are familiar with today – and for good reason.
Green sat down and gave us the ins and outs (pun intended) of their process and concepts of what makes them one of the best in the industry.
American Shooting Journal Who are the people behind Bartlein Barrels?
Frank Green We are experienced shooters, reloaders and hunters who have been working in the ﬁrearms industry collectively for over 30 years.
ASJ What is your title and tell us more about your background?
FG My title depends on which hat I’m wearing at the time. For the most part, I would say sales and technical service manager. I also do research and development for gun manufacturers, and riﬂe testing.
ASJ How did Bartlein get involved in the PRS?
FG Well, GA Precision-built riﬂes are used in the PRS more than any other builder, and GAP is one of our top customers. Also, other customers like Wade Stuteville at Stuteville Precision, who used to be one of the lead guys at Surgeon Riﬂes, Surgeon Riﬂes, Accuracy International, Dave Tooley, Marc Soulie at Spartan Riﬂes, Mark Gordon at Short Action Customs and several other makers use our barrels, and not just in PRS. You can ﬁnd our barrels in short- and long-range benchrest, F-Class and Palma matches, high-power riﬂe matches and many others. A lot of people say that we are the go-to barrel maker. Becoming involved in the PRS just happened naturally.
ASJ Why would someone choose your barrels over another maker in the industry?
FG The uniformity in our barrels and bore ﬁnishes are second to none. Our riﬂing machines are so accurate that we can carry the twist rate to the fourth decimal point (example: 11.3642). The process of single-point cut riﬂing is the most stress-free way to riﬂe a barrel. The twist is exact. Other forms of riﬂing can have variances due to the process they use. Also, the bore and groove dimensions are more uniform.
We pre-lap (a smoothing process) our barrels before riﬂing and ﬁnish-lap the barrel after riﬂing. There is no need to ﬁre-lap or conduct any other sort of bore polishing to the barrel. Contrary to what others say, a lapped barrel will not wear out earlier versus an unlapped one. In our experience, our barrels will typically last longer than a button barrel. Our desire is to make the best and be the best.
ASJ What types of barrels do you oﬀer?
FG We oﬀer chrome-moly steel (CM 4140) and stainless steel (SS 416R).
ASJ Which steel do you think is better?
FG Neither, from what we can see. If we had to pick one, we would lean towards the chrome-moly, possibly because it lasts longer, but how long a barrel lasts is subject to many variables: type of powder being used; how it is being shot and cleaned; types of bullets being shot, etc.
ASJ People often ask what “T-style” riﬂing is. Can you explain that?
FG We call it transitional riﬂing, but some refer to it as either gain twist, progressive twist or incremental twist. We can cut virtually any twist into a barrel, subject to tooling, of course, and we can start the twist at 1 in 14 and end up at 1 in 7, and have it uniformly increase from the breech to muzzle. We can also increase it very slowly, say, from 1 in 7.5 at the breech to a 1 in 7 at the muzzle.
“A cut barrel, even with a straight twist, is more uniform and consistent than a button barrel”
ASJ What are the beneﬁts of the transition-style riﬂing?
FG I’ll quote a great bygone-era barrel maker named Pope:
“The advantages of the gain twist are three: A) A lower twist rate at the breech gives less friction to the bullet, causing it to start easier and quicker, giving the powder less time to burn in front of the chamber, therefore less fouling than in a barrel with a uniform twist at the same muzzle pitch; B) The slight change in riﬂing angle, in connection with choke bore, eﬀectively shuts oﬀ any gas escaping and prevents gas cutting, which is another cause of imperfect delivery; C) It holds a muzzle-loaded bullet in position much better than a uniform twist.
I will add some more to this. First, I feel this applies more to a lead-bullet shooter than a jacketed-bullet shooter, but some of the why and why-nots do overlap. With a transition-style barrel the bullet cannot go to sleep. The riﬂing is always putting a fresh bite on the bullet as it goes down the bore of the barrel. This is why I always go back to a cut barrel being better than a button barrel.
A cut barrel, even with a straight twist, is more uniform and consistent than a button barrel. With button riﬂing, the button can hit a hard or soft spot in the steel, and it will slow the button down. The button could speed back up and complete its twist, but either way you end up with a non-uniform twist. This and a twist that keeps getting slower towards the muzzle are accuracy killers and consistently lead to problems such as ﬂiers. Even a slight gain in twist will help accuracy and not hurt a jacketed bullet. What has been conveyed to us – and this goes back to Pope’s ﬁrst point – is that shooters have noticed that they can run a slightly heavier powder charge versus a shooter with a straight twist barrel.
“More damage is done from cleaning than physically shooting the gun”
ASJ There are a lot of diﬀerent schools of thought on cleaners, and what types to use. What do you recommend?
FG We do not recommend things like Iosso bore paste. The paste cleaners get imbedded into the bore, so the next rounds ﬁred through the barrel will damage the bore. There is no way to be sure you have removed it completely from the barrel after cleaning, and some shooters have claimed that their barrel starts fouling right after use. We feel so strongly about this that we will not warranty any barrel cleaned with it. If you want to use a paste-type cleaner, we recommend Remington bore cleaner or JB.
ASJ What about cleaning brushes, do you recommend using them?
FG We only recommend using cleaning patches and solvent. If a shooter insists on using a brush, then we recommend one caliber smaller or an old worn-out one. Wrap a patch around the brush and push it breech to muzzle, unscrew the brush before pulling the cleaning rod back through the bore or over the crown. More damage is done from cleaning than physically shooting the gun.
ASJ Many shooters don’t even clean their riﬂes, and swear by this. What do you think?
FG I shoot them, I clean them, and the biggest reason is carbon fouling. The carbon fouling will keep building up and can cause pressure issues. Also, as the barrel wears over time, it won’t hold accuracy as long between strings of ﬁring. So you have to clean the barrel. I do not recommend not cleaning at all.
ASJ Frank, thank you for taking the time to talk to us today. Your knowledge and expertise are greatly appreciated.
FG My pleasure. Thank you. ASJ
The American Shooting Journal spoke with Mark Gordon, owner and founder of Short Action Customs. They build precision rifles specifically designed for the ultimate in discerning and elite shooters. Gordon is also the lead sponsor for today’s top Precision Rifle Series shooter David Preston. Here is what Gordon had to say:
American Shooting Journal How did you first get involved with the Precision Rifle Series?
Mark Gordon I got started with PRS as a precision-rifle builder to see what our rifles would have to go through. Most importantly, it was to see what the shooters demanded out of their rifles and what they needed to be successful. The bottom line is these rifles have to work every time without fail, be extremely accurate and practical to use in the field.
ASJ What is it that is creating such explosive growth with competition precision shooting?
MG I believe it’s because these shooters have a desire to be proficient with their equipment and they want to know their limits. With a mixture of classic prone shooting and demanding positional shooting, the competitors are exposed to a large spectrum of disciplines at these matches. Lastly, the best place to do that is under strict time limits and lots of stress while other competitors watch. With many more club and national-level matches popping up all over the country, you can expect the sport to grow exponentially.
ASJ You currently sponsor the number one shooter in PRS. Tell us more about how that happened.
MG We started our first rifle build for David Preston in early 2014 after developing a relationship with him from previous PRS matches. At that time, Preston was familiar with our rifles and what they were capable of. Luckily for me he wasn’t shooting for a team at the time. We spoke on a few occasions, and I offered him a position on our team. After many rounds fired, rifles rebarreled and matches shot, Preston really started shooting to his potential. We do our very best to keep reliable and accurate rifles in the hands of PRS shooters so they can do their job.
ASJ Your company, Short Action Customs, builds a lot of custom rifles. What is your favorite build?
MG There are two types of rifle builds that we love doing the most. The first is when a customer tells us to just do what we think is best. This allows us to take all of the leading-edge technology and components that we would use on our own builds and build the rifle we would want. It is great to have that kind of trust and confidence with our customers.
The second type of rifle build that we enjoy is when customers have us build rifles using components from manufacturers that we have not been exposed to. The parts industry is growing so fast, and as with any rifle build, it’s only going to be as good as the foundation it’s built on. So we really enjoy working with new components and learning about all the latest products.
My personal favorite rifle build is configured to be agile, medium weight and run smoothly. We run Defiance Machine integral scope base and recoil lug actions called the Alpha 11, Manners Composite Stocks T6A 100 percent carbon-fiber stocks and Remington Varmint-contoured barrels from Bartlein Barrels. We typically finish these rifles with custom paint from Custom Gun Coatings. ASJ
Editor’s note: You can visit Short Action Customs at shortactioncustoms.com.
Posted in Long Guns Tagged with: Bartlein Barrels, competition, Custom, Custom gun Coatings, David Preston, Defiance Machine, Manners Stocks, Mark Gordon, Precision Rifle Series, Remington, Rifles, Short Action Customs