AK and SKS Rifle Beauty Contest

We just finished our AR-15 beauty contest, but now it’s time to see those rifles from the other side of the Iron Curtain. That’s right, we’re kicking off our AK/SKS beauty contest May 1st. That’s right, just submit a photo of your AK or SKS rifle to our Facebook Page and you could win a $50 gift certificate from Cheaper Than Dirt! This contest is open to any AK or SKS platform, including pistol variants and non-standard calibers and configurations such as the Saiga or SKS Model D, etc.

Here are the rules:

  • Post an image of your AK or SKS rifle to our Facebook Wall.
  • In the description make sure you have the phrase “AK/SKS Beauty Contest”
  • Have your friends click “Like” on your photo
  • The fan photo with the most “Likes” at the end of the month (Contest ends May 31st) will win a $50 Gift Certificate from Cheaper Than Dirt!
  • One entry per person, please!
  • Keep all entries “Family Friendly” please! If you wouldn’t want your own mother to see it, it’s probably not appropriate for our contest.

 

To Chrome or not to Chrome? Myths and Facts of Chrome-Lined Barrels

Ever since the military began chrome-lining barrels on standard issue machine guns and rifles there has been debate concerning the benefits and disadvantages of chrome-lined barrels. Many of the benefits of chrome-lining are shrouded in myths and misconceptions. Chrome-lining protects the barrel from corrosion, but this is not the main purpose for lining a barrel. Chrome-lined barrels are also easier to clean, but the military would not invest in a chrome-lined barrel just to save a grunt some time swabbing out the bore.

Years ago, with the introduction of high powered machine guns and semiautomatic rifles capable of sustained high rates of fire, military armorers began to notice significantly increased barrel wear and erosion. Older models of the most powerful machine guns were capable of “shooting out” a barrel in less than 1,000 rounds! Chrome-lining was introduced to increase the barrel life, allowing more rounds to be sent down range in less time without the need to replace the rifle barrel.


Muzzle flash from an AR-15 rifle, demonstrating the immensely hot gases generated by powder combustion. Photo courtesy of bdjsb7 licensed under Creative Commons.

Nowadays, almost all military rifles are universally chrome-lined to protect the rifle barrel from excess erosion. AR-15 rifles are particularly prone to erosion when fired rapidly, in part due to the high velocity of the round, and in part due to the high pressures generated by the cartridge. While it’s not uncommon for military rifles to experience high rates of sustained fire, it’s also not difficult to fire a semiautomatic AR-15 at rates exceeding 100 RPM. Under sustained fully automatic gunfire, or rapid semiautomatic fire, an enormous amount of heat is generated. That heat is what can quickly ruin a barrel.

The leade (the unrifled portion of the barrel just forward of the chamber), as well as the first few inches of rifling, is subject to temperatures hotter than the surface of the sun and pressures exceeding 50,000 PSI. Under slow fire conditions this area is able to cool a sufficient amount in between strings of fire. Under sustained rapid fire however, there is no time for the heat to dissipate and temperatures soar into the thousands of degrees Fahrenheit. This can quickly cause damage by eating away at the rifling, “burning up the barrel” with the combination of extremely high heat and pressure. Hard chrome-lining the bore protects the leade and rifling with a thin coat of heat and pressure resistant chrome. This greatly extends barrel life in rifles that are fired for prolonged periods in full-auto or rapid fire semiautomatic modes by preventing damage to the leade and rifling.

There are many people who argue that chrome lined barrels are less accurate than an otherwise identical steel barrel. All things being equal, this is true, but for most shooters, the degree to which accuracy is lost by using a chrome-lined barrel is generally unnoticeable. A chrome-lining does diminish the sharpness of the rifling, but the accuracy loss from this is not insurmountable. Consider the Fabrique Nationale SPR rifle (what is essentially a gussied-up chrome lined Winchester Model 70) is capable of shooting a 1/2 MOA group at ranges up to 800 yards away. A sub MOA gun is a fine rifle by nearly anyone’s standards, and most well built chrome-lined AR rifles are capable of 1/2 MOA groups as well.

So, when should you go chrome lined? Most casual shooters will get by just fine with either chrome-lined or non chrome-lined barrels. The fact is, most of us don’t get out to the range often enough, nor engage in rapid fire when we do (most ranges prohibit the practice). Even shooters who occasionally engage in periodic rapid-fire with their AR-15 style rifle may not notice the effects of excess barrel wear for a number of years. A good non chrome-lined barrel can last for over 5,000 rounds before it begins to show a loss of accuracy. If you shoot 1,000 rounds a year, even blasting through a full magazine as fast as you can pull the trigger on ever range trip, it could take 5 years or more before any significant loss of accuracy begins to become apparent.

When deciding whether to get a chrome-lined barrel your budget may be the deciding factor. Non chrome-lined barrels are significantly less expensive than a similar chrome-lined barrel. For a shooter who wants to build a quality AR-15 with less initial investment, non chrome-lined barrels represent a great cost-saving measure, combining the inherent accuracy of a stainless steel or chrome-moly steel barrel with an acceptable barrel life for a hunting or sporting arm. The up front savings can easily outweigh the cost of rebarreling your AR years in the future.

For the serious shooter who needs maximum barrel life as well as accuracy, a chrome-lined barrel represents the best of both worlds. The accuracy lost from a chrome lining amounts to less than 1/4″ at 100 yards, a negligible amount for most AR rifles used in tactical applications. If you do decide to go with a barrel that is not chrome-lined, be aware that you can significantly reduce the barrel life by quickly dumping 3 or 4 magazines through it without stopping to let it cool down.

If you’re building a match rifle that will be used solely for competitions where you’ll be firing slowly and you need a great deal of precision, stick with a chrome-moly or stainless steel match grade non chrome-lined barrel. If you think you’ll ever want to use your AR-15 for tactical applications, or even just rapid-fire plinking, drop the extra cash and get a chrome-lined barrel. Otherwise, be aware that without a chrome-lined barrel your AR-15 should be allowed to cool between magazines in order to avoid damaging the barrel.

Finding a Long Gun That Fits You

Finding a good fitting stock on a shotgun or rifle isn’t always an easy task. For shotguns, a good fitting stock allows you to quickly mount the firearm so that the bead is properly aligned while your cheek rests firmly against the stock. On a rifle with a scope, the length of pull is even more important because the optics need to be brought up properly aligned, but also within eye relief with good cheek weld.

Purchasing a Used 1911

John Moses Browning’s iconic 1911 pistol is one of the most well known and widely recognized handguns ever produced. It served in the US Military for well over 70 years, and many insist that it is still a superior handgun even today.

Finding A Pistol That Fits You

For a new shooter, finding a gun that they like can be a daunting task. Many new shooters want the mythical “perfect gun,” one that carries 30 rounds of ammunition, is small, lightweight with very little recoil, and chambered in a caliber that can stop an attack with a single shot. Such a gun, to my knowledge, does not exist.

March Photo Contest

Congratulations to JJ, winner of our March photo contest.

He writes about the photo saying “The only details I can really give you about the photo is that it was a photo taken in 2006 out of Fallujah, Iraq and that it was in support of Coalition Forces. The gentleman you see next to me is my spotter and the cameraman was our third team mate. I hope you and your readers enjoy the photo.” The rifle appears to be a Barret .50 BMG M107 or M82 variant.

Click the photo above to view a full size version.

Western lawman Jeff Davis Milton's, Colt SAA Sheriff's Model

Shopping for and Inspecting Used Revolvers

So, I’m heading out to the local gun show Sunday, and I’m looking for some bargains on revolvers. I’m pretty picky when it comes to purchasing used handguns, and revolvers are no exception. Many people attend local gun shows looking to find a bargain. But how do you know that Smith & Wesson Model 60 laying on the table there is a great deal and not someone else’s problem they’re trying to unload on an unsuspecting buyer?

January Photo Contest

Congratulations to Cheaper Than Dirt! Forum member CostumerGayle for her winning entry in our January Photo Contest!

She calls her photo “Breaking in an AR variant of the M4 ’til Sundown” Gayle mentions “This is my husband, breaking in a newly built upper and lower and testing it for the first time.” Gayle is a novice photographer from Shreveport Louisiana. She used a Canon 40D with a zoom lens to obtain the winning shot.

SIG MK 25 9mm

Budget Pistols: Buying Used

In our last post, we discussed choosing concealed carry handguns for a new shooter. One subject we touched on was budgeting for a pistol. Firearms, as a general rule, are not inexpensive. High quality firearms can command prices that exceed $1,000. This places many firearms outside of the average person’s budget. What do you do when the pistol that “works” for you is one that is too expensive? One solution we mentioned was buying used. The problem is, not all used firearms are the bargains that they seem.