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S&W Hand Ejectors: 1896 to 1961 All 5-Screw & Vintage 4-Screw SWING-OUT Cylinder REVOLVERS, and the 35 Autos and 32 Autos


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Old 07-11-2009, 08:02 PM
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Curtis (29aholic) sent me a magazine article a while back from Handloader, entitled "Handloading the Smith and Wesson 29," by Brian Pearce.

I was reading through it again today and I noticed this paragraph:

The very early five- and four-screw guns have become collectibles, and prices have soared in recent years. Furthermore, barrel steels used during this period were intended for lead bullet loads only, while jacketed versions accelerate wear. For this reason my very early guns are only used with cast bullets.

First of all, I'm not sure if Pearce is referring to 29 barrels or to all S&W barrels from that era. I know there is sort of an endless debate on FMJ vs lead bullets and barrel wear. Some people say lead is better for the reasons stated above, i.e. it's softer. Others say that FMJ are better because with lead bullets you get lead buildup--and scraping the lead out can damage a barrel. I've also heard people say that a (softer) copper-jacketed bullet is not going to harm a (harder) steel barrel.

So what are the thoughts on this, particularly as relates to the older Smiths? Is there any truth to the fact that lead bullets are better for the older guns? Many of my Smiths are 50s and 60s guns so this has crossed my mind from time to time.

I generally shoot lead bullets but I have a you-know-what load of M41 130GR ball ammo that I cycle through my Models 10, 15, 19, etc.
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Old 07-11-2009, 08:35 PM
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I've been shooting FMJ out of my revolvers for almost 20 years now,with no visible damage or changes in accuracy.
Keep in mind that its' velocity & high pressure that can wear a barrel out.
For the most part,this happens in rifles,because of the length of barrel.I.E the bullet has farther to travel in a rifle barrel than in a handgun,so wear is accelerated.
One must also take into account the much higher pressure of a rifle bullet.
I DO know it is possible to crack a revolver forcing cone due to high pressures. I think this would happen before a barrel became worn or unserviceable.Some of the handguns we come across in our collecting have seen hard use,and they are still accurate,pits,bulges and all..
IMHO,you simply can't wear out a pistol/revolver barrel shooting the standard FMJ stuff. The bullet doesn't spend enough time in the tube.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:37 PM
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Elmer Keith wrote that right after WW I, he shot a 1911 Colt. He would get a case of FMJ ammo and a new barrel from the National Guard, as a case of ammo would wash out the shallow rifling in those early barrels.

I believe we have come a long way since those days.
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Old 07-11-2009, 11:45 PM
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Default You gotta remember

That gun writers had an almost unlimited supply of ammo, and got paid to shoot (wish I had that job)...most of what was/has been written has been based off of extreme circumstances.

As a regular reloader and semi-regular shooter, I would just about bet that I could shoot jacketed bullets (I dont cuz cast is cheaper) for the rest of my shooting life (I am 43) through my 4 screw Pre-29 shooter and it would show no ill effects.

I n otherwords, the average person that has other things to do than shoot for a living would probably never wear an early gun out in their lifetime.

Relax Aaron
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Old 07-12-2009, 09:58 AM
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Muley, I wonder how much the corrosive powders had to do with that too.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:06 AM
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Barrels will wear with use. Simply physics.

Copper is harder than lead so the abrasion factor is increased.

However, at the low velocities of handgun ammo, the wear is pretty minimal and I suspect that actually detecting significant wear would take far more shooting than the average gun sees in several lifetimes.

I have a Series '70 Colt 45 that has fired about 5,000 rounds of military ball ammo (along with a couple thousand other loads) and the barrel looks new.

In fact, I have never seen any handgun with a worn out barrel. Anyone?
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Old 07-12-2009, 12:28 PM
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Curtis, I guess in your case, when you have 50+ Model 29s, the chances of shooting any enough to damage a barrel are pretty low even if you're using steel bullets
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Old 07-12-2009, 01:18 PM
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I do believe that jacketed will wear the barrel quicker than lead. The part the writer left out is the fact that it will take the normal shooter about 3 lifetimes to shoot enough to wear a barrel out. Can it be done, yea--- probably by a competitive shooter but not by the average joe. Sounds like he just needed a topic for his magazine slot to me. I'd love to have the time (and money) to 'shoot out' a few 29's.
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Old 07-12-2009, 02:18 PM
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Quote:
In fact, I have never seen any handgun with a worn out barrel. Anyone?
I saw guns get worn out from being shot when I worked on indoor ranges, but the only worn out barrel I ever saw was on a 1911 that had been a range rental for 10 years. There was no rifling in the first couple of inches forward of the chamber, and the edges of rest of the rifling had been worn round. The owner said it was one of the first guns they put on the range. We figured it had been shot 100k rounds, all jacketed.

The funny thing is, if I really concentrated, I could still get it to shoot a group of about 4" at 50'. So maybe it wasn't worn out after all...


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Old 07-12-2009, 03:23 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aterry33 View Post
Muley, I wonder how much the corrosive powders had to do with that too.
Corrosive powders? In 1956?

I know black powder has corrosive effects, and that some primers do, but smokeless powder?

Explain please.
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Old 07-12-2009, 04:52 PM
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Shawn, mis-type there, I meant primers.
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Old 07-12-2009, 06:16 PM
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Smile It takes a lot of shootin'

but it can be done. I have a 625-2(made in the late 80s) that received a steady diet of hardball during IPSC matches. The barrel wear gradually manifested itself with lower velocities. I was chronoing a new batch of handloads a couple years back and my underused 4" 625 was yielding higher velocities than the old 5". I reviewed my records and found the old 625 had once been the faster gun.

The probable explanation is simply a gradual wearing down of the bore which lowers pressure and thus velocity. But also note, the gun still shot very well and is now in semi-retirement. My main competion guns are now 625-6s which have no locks.
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Old 07-12-2009, 07:59 PM
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Iowegan, with IPSC, you're talking tens of thousands of rounds through that barrel right?
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Old 07-12-2009, 08:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by aterry33 View Post
Iowegan, with IPSC, you're talking tens of thousands of rounds through that barrel right?
EXACTLY! My point is that you can wear a barrel down or out over time but it takes one heckuva lot of shooting. I have a competitor friend whose old Model 25 shows the same problem. His gun still shoots very well too but he has to add more powder to his loads.
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Old 07-12-2009, 10:06 PM
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Default Rifles vs. handguns?

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Keep in mind that its' velocity & high pressure that can wear a barrel out.
For the most part,this happens in rifles,because of the length of barrel.I.E the bullet has farther to travel in a rifle barrel than in a handgun,so wear is accelerated.
One must also take into account the much higher pressure of a rifle bullet.
...
IMHO,you simply can't wear out a pistol/revolver barrel shooting the standard FMJ stuff. The bullet doesn't spend enough time in the tube.
I think I have to take issue with this explanation of the difference between wear in a handgun barrel versus the wear in a rifle barrel. Although it is true that the tube of a rifle is longer, the bullet only contacts each part of the barrel for a brief period of time. Although the total barrel metal eroded from each shot in a rifle would be more than for each shot in a handgun (due to the longer length), each inch, say, of the rifle barrel would receive the same amount of wear as each inch in the handgun barrel, all else equal.

As this poster points out, however, not all else is equal. I think the real culprit for faster barrel erosion in rifle barrels is higher pressures plus, I believe, higher temperatures. Armchair physics would suggest that higher temperatures accompanying higher pressures would heat the barrel metal to a point where more would erode, per inch of barrel. This is just my guess, however. I believe that this is the reason that rounds like 220 Swift and 22-250 Rem wear barrels faster than, say, a 223 or 308. I also believe that I learned somewhere that smaller diameter bores eroded more quickly than larger diameter bores.

For all that, I stick to lead for handguns made prior to jacketing handgun ammo, which my very uneducated guess would be sometime in the 1970's. For me, the reason isn't wear but a nostalgia factor. I like to shoot loads that would have been shot in the guns around their times of manufacture. In fact, for this reason, I've recently turned back to swaged lead as opposed to hard cast lead bullets.

On any and all of this, I stand to be corrected, as I'm just hear to learn! In particular, I'm very uncertain as to my guesses as to the advent of jacketed or hard cast bullets.

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Old 07-12-2009, 10:28 PM
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I have had this conversation with my friend, 29aholic (Curtis) on the phone.

I know it hurts peoples egos to think that their beloved Smith .44 could have a flaw, but they did, and you guys are missing the point here.

Pearce was saying that the barrel steel of those particular era guns were designed for lead. I have that article and have sent it ot a lot of guys on this forum.

Pearce is about the best writer going these days, and is extremely knowledgeable about anything to do with guns. It wouldn't take a lifetime of shooting, or a gunwriters supply of ammo to wear out a barrel that was designed for lead bullets. Early .44 magnum ammo was loaded with gaschecked lead buulets. The wear issue with those guns has nothing to do with pressure. It has to do with barrel steel hardness. When Smith realized that guys were actually going to shoot their new .44's more than a box or two a year, they termpered the barrel steel to last longer.

If anyone wants that article, I can send them a PDF containing it.
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Old 07-13-2009, 06:57 AM
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I put 150 rounds of FMJ through used 1919 model 1905 S&W before I read about the concerns of FMJ with older Smiths. Would it take more than that to wear the barrel on it? How can I tell --If the lands and grooves blend together?
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Old 07-13-2009, 08:42 AM
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There was a article in Guns and Ammo in the 1990's about rifle barrel wear and what they said about rifle wear is probably applies to pistol barrels. They said that if a shooter stayed away from corrosive ammo and hot reloads that with factory ammo a rifle barrel reaches its peak accuracy around 1000 rounds and holds that accuracy until about 5000 rounds and then slowly starts to deteriorate. That's with a high powered rifle at very high pressures and bullets traveling at 2600 FPS or higher. Their conclusion was that the average rifle shooter never even reached max accuracy out of his rifle because so few would shoot 1000 rounds through their rifle.

I think the same would apply to pistol barrels and that they would last even longer because they endure less pressure and the bullets traveling at slower velocities. They did an article on the Glock pistol about a year after it came out and they took three to a shooting club and provided the ammo for the guns and they shot 10,000 rounds of FMJ through each and they had no failures or decrease in accuracy. I also have to say that my three Model 29's are 29-2's.

My conclusion on this is that the average person isn’t going to shoot out a barrel with standard ammo whether full metal jacket, Jacketed, or lead in their lifetime unless they are a very serious competition shooter. I would not hesitate to shoot any standard ammo whether factory or reload in my S&W revolvers for fear of wearing it out.

I am going to amend this and say after reading Gun 4 Fun's point that I would agree that care should be taken with early Model 29's and because of their very high value so I would only shoot lead. I agree with Tim that is steels are made to different strengths and if smith designed the barrels on these for lead then it's probaly best to shoot lead in them. I have a pre 36 and my gunsmith told me to shoot 158 grain bullets because that is what it was designed for and to only use 124 grain +P's for defense loads but not for target shooting.

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Old 07-13-2009, 02:47 PM
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I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I wouldn't worry about lead vs jacketed and just shoot what you want.

The only pistol that I only shoot lead out of is an early S&W 1917. While the barrel is bright and shiny the rifling is very very faint. I don't know if it is that way because of wear or if that is how it came from the factory.

It shoots just fine but I figured lead would be easier on what rifling there is.
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Old 07-13-2009, 02:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by K.38 View Post
I'm not an expert by any stretch of the imagination, but I wouldn't worry about lead vs jacketed and just shoot what you want.

The only pistol that I only shoot lead out of is an early S&W 1917. While the barrel is bright and shiny the rifling is very very faint. I don't know if it is that way because of wear or if that is how it came from the factory.

It shoots just fine but I figured lead would be easier on what rifling there is.
.45 ACP pistols have always had very shallow rifling. It works well with hardball, and very hardcast lead bullets ( BHN of 20-22) The lead bullets need to be this hard so that they hold the rifling properly and don't skid upon entry into the barrel when fired. Your rifling is normal like it is.

I'll stand by what I posted on the early .44 barrels. Everyone keeps pointing out some gun that has taken 10,000 rounds of jacketed ammo. Those guns are all designed for that type of bullet use. The first .44 magnums weren't. It's an apples/oranges kind of thing here.

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Old 07-15-2009, 01:13 PM
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I wonder how much longer my old 44 Magnum barrel has to live??? Pete



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Old 07-15-2009, 01:48 PM
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I have worn out at least two, and more likely three or four, issued handguns during the last 29 years. At no time was barrel wear ever a problem. For practical purposes I had unlimited ammo. I've had alloy frames break and stretch, as well as the guts wear out, but never a barrel on a handgun. I honestly do not think you have a concern. Avoid stainless steel bore brushes and your guns will live long enough to be part of your estate.
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Old 07-15-2009, 04:19 PM
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Default Get the lead out

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Originally Posted by aterry33 View Post
Curtis (29aholic)
Some people say lead is better for the reasons stated above, i.e. it's softer. Others say that FMJ are better because with lead bullets you get lead buildup--and scraping the lead out can damage a barrel. I've also heard people say that a (softer) copper-jacketed bullet is not going to harm a (harder) steel barrel.

.
Just wanted to throw this out there for newer shooters ,

If there is any lead build up in the barrel after shooting unjacketed lead bullets ,
Firing a few rounds of factory jacketed ammunition helps blow the lead deposits out simplifying cleaning the barrel.
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Old 07-16-2009, 04:16 AM
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I have a friend who has put an HONEST 125,000 rounds of mostly hardball FMJ through his Kimber .45 auto in the ten or so years he has owned it. (I say honest, because many people estimate their round count and tend to overestimate. This guy actually counts and keeps a record.) His barrel is fine but he did have to replace the barrel bushing and some other stuff (I'll give him a call at a decent hour and find out everthing he replaced and edit this message when I find out.) For many years it was the only handgun he owned, and it is still his favorite so it is used constantly. The gun could stand to be refinished; there isn't much bluing left, but the barrel only appears to be well polished inside. How Kimber barrel steel compares to Smith & Wesson I don't really know, but I imagine both are high quality. They may have used a softer steel in the small batch of early Model 29s referred to in the original post, but I don't know why they would do that in what was supposed to be a top-of-the-line handgun.
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Old 07-16-2009, 09:00 AM
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Default we have a pre-war Walther PPK, 7.65mm,PDM marked, that the 1st 1 1/2"

of rifling in front of the chamber is worn smooth. Bought it from a dealer in St Louis selling it for the family of the American GI who brought it back, he'd taken it off a dead German.

Our only guess was that it was used by one of the SS Eizengruppe(spelling?)for executions, because nobody shoots a PPK that much. & Yes we know that the PDM was the German Post office Div of police.

We have an old Browning Hi Power 9mm(prewar 36,XXX stack number)that I carried as my duty gun for years,and put at least 6000 rds of cast & jacketed ammo thru it with no visible wear to rifling.


I wouldn't worry about barrel wear as much as saving the pistol from shooting loose & blue wear on the early Smiths & Colts. Just my opinion, and thanks for the pix of the vv pretty early pistols.

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Old 07-16-2009, 11:03 AM
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Just have to post a correction and say Gun4Fun sent me that article, not 29Aholic. Getting my Model 29 guys confused
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Old 07-23-2009, 02:15 AM
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So, Gun4Fun, can you clarify WHEN S&W realized that folks were shooting the heck out .44 mags and changed the steel in the barrels? Just curious. I presume it would have been early on in the pre-29 years? Would a 29-2 have harder barrel steel than a pre-29?
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Old 07-23-2009, 11:36 AM
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From what I have read the 5 screw and some 4 screw guns are the only ones designed for lead only (at least on a regular basis).

It isn't that the barrels were made off soft steel, but they simply weren't hardened to the degree that the later 4 screw and newer guns are. The 29-2 wouldn't be involved at all.
I am not saying that you can't shoot jacketed at all in these guns, just that it should be limited in amount.

If you want a copy of one of the articles, e-mail me and I'll send it to you. If you still don't believe it, you can write the author direct and discuss it with him. He took the time to personlly respond to me.
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Old 07-24-2009, 11:42 AM
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Another issue that hasn't been mentioned here, is the tolerances which are held in manufacturing the barrel. What may appear to be wear, may actually be tolerances in boring the barrel, cutting rifling, threading cutting, and other variances in manufacturing.

It's been mentioned also in other fora, that forcing cones aren't always milled square to the cylinder face. There's also the factor about the amount of off-center entry to the forcing cone caused by a cylinder, case, and bullet which are not in perfect alignment.

While heat-generating pressure surely creates friction, and there is a decided lack of lubrication in the barrel, it would take some very detailed and extensive testing to determine what the real cause of barrel wear is.
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Old 08-06-2017, 06:56 PM
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Default Lead Verses plated

I have had one barrel wear out in my 50+ years of shooting. That was a Beretta 92FS. When first purchased, it came with 500 rounds of jacketed. Shot them up in 3 sessions., then lead afterwards. I figure that the barrel lasted about 5000 rounds total when the groups became very large at 25 yards. I drove a raw un-sized lead bullet through the barrel to have it mic out at .358. Replaced the barrel, and back to original groupings.

I do have a S&W Model 15, in 38 Spcl made in 1976 that has somewhere between 50-100,00 rounds through it, almost all lead. Only item to wear out was the cylinder which I replaced with a new one along with the center pin machined to fit. Barrel is perfect and this is the pistol used as the standard at the range as to be beat. So far, nothing newly made has so far.

I cast my lead using old 22 bullets cleaned from a range by my father when he was in college or new Dupont lead with a 5% tin mix. Lasted me for over 35 years so far.

I do use cast in my Beretta and 38Spl, sometimes in my SCCY 9mm. All other are RMR plated and I have seen no wear on any of the barrels. Including my M&P 380, which is loaded a little hot to compare with commercial loads.

I normally shoot 400-500 rounds a week split up between 5 autos and 1 revolver. So far, other than the Beretta, all barrels are mint.

My loads are below posted loads. For the autos, I build a load to shoot well and for the slide to fully function, then stop. For the 38 Spl, I am almost a full grain of Bullseye below posted loads. Great shooting and very, very accurate.

Last edited by MSgt Dave; 08-06-2017 at 07:01 PM. Reason: Corrections
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:10 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 29aholic View Post
That gun writers had an almost unlimited supply of ammo, and got paid to shoot (wish I had that job)...most of what was/has been written has been based off of extreme circumstances.

As a regular reloader and semi-regular shooter, I would just about bet that I could shoot jacketed bullets (I dont cuz cast is cheaper) for the rest of my shooting life (I am 43) through my 4 screw Pre-29 shooter and it would sh
ow no ill effects.

I n otherwords, the average person that has other things to do than shoot for a living would probably never wear an early gun out in their lifetime.

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We should all be so fortunate as to wear out a gun barrel.
If someone can afford can afford the ammo to do that, they can afford the new barrel or gun.
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:17 PM
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Default With hard cast and coated....

With hard cast and coated bullets so available (and cheap) I don't have any reason to shoot jacketed bullets unless for a special occasion.
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:35 PM
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Originally Posted by S&WIowegan View Post
I was chronoing a new batch of handloads a couple years back and my underused 4" 625 was yielding higher velocities than the old 5". I reviewed my records and found the old 625 had once been the faster gun.

The probable explanation is simply a gradual wearing down of the bore which lowers pressure and thus velocity.
How about barrel/cylinder gap changes?
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:35 PM
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I have read more than one article over the years on Rimfire rifle competitors, and the replacement of their rifle barrels. One article years ago suggested that a rifle barrel, (Anschutz, Winchester 52, etc) should be replaced about every 6000 to 8000 rounds to maintain top accuracy. Another article touted that after about 6000 rounds they would pull the barrel, cut off the chamber end, re-chamber it and re-install and it would be good for another 6000 rounds or so. Keep in mind these were all top competitors, and the only ammo used was top of the line standard velocity.

Now I had an Anschutz match rifle, and it was vintage of 1973, and it had been used by one high school rifle team competitor for 4 years, I bought and my son used it for 4 years on the rifle team, and I used it for outdoor 100 yard prone matches. Based on 500 rounds a week for 24 weeks per year for the HS Team shooters times 4 years each equals about 96,000 rounds, and I probably put maybe 1000 rounds a year through it for 5-6 years for an estimated total of around 100,000 rounds. The last time I shot it it would still hold a 1/4" at 100 yards.

The only barrel I've ever replaced was a 22-250 Varmint barrel after about 6-7000 rounds of 55 gr. Nosler's at 3650 fps (and sometimes in rapid sequence at Prairie dogs) and the 6" in front of the chamber was toast.

My opinion is heat and velocity burn out a barrel.
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:41 PM
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This is a ressurection of a 2009 thread, but I will provide a little information. For many years, S&W was apparently horrified by the thought of firing jacketed bullets in their revolvers due to increased barrel wear (of course, there were very few jacketed bullet revolver cartridges available in those days, so there probably wasn't much to worry about). The hot cartridges of the pre-WWII area (the .38-44 and the .357 Magnum) early on did not use full jacketed bullets, but rather metal capped bullets. This was because S&W felt that the bullet bearing surface in the bore should remain lead to preserve barrel life.

During WWII, the use of the .38 Special revolver for military purposes came to pass, and of course, FMJ bullets were a requirement for compliance with the Hague Convention for non-expanding bullet use in combat. So both the British Commonwealth and the US military ordered that military handgun ammunition use FMJ bullets. As a result, in early 1942 S&W changed the steel alloy used for Victory barrels from AISI 1025 to AISI 1045, as the latter was more wear resistant. So I suppose S&W thought it was an important step to take to maintain long barrel life.

I have to assume that modern barrel steels make modern handgun barrels largely immune to wear from jacketed bullets. For sure (because I have personal knowledge) there are many military M9 pistols which have fired hundreds of thousands of FMJ M882 rounds through them in training, with no barrel changes in all that time. Early M9 barrels did have some problems, but they did not involve barrel wear.

Last edited by DWalt; 08-06-2017 at 07:49 PM.
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Old 08-06-2017, 07:45 PM
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I propose more barrel "wear" is caused by powders than bullets. Notice that the handguns barrels mentioned in this thread as being worn were worse at the frame end than the muzzle. Bullet is traveling fastest at the muzzle people. Hot gasses are blasting the part nearest the chamber. Guys offer get flame cut forcing cones and frames. What makes anybody think it stops at the forcing cone ? Had a 220 swift. Accuracy fell off. Barrels erosion in front of chamber. Muzzle was fine, bullet was moving at 4200 @ muzzle, not at chamber lead. Powder scrubbing. . Which powder you run can have as much or more effect than bullet. Plus I bet it is far more likely that a lubed lead bullet has a bit of dust etc than a dry copper jacket.
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Old 08-06-2017, 08:38 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve912 View Post
How about barrel/cylinder gap changes?
I'll add some information to my original comment about my 625-2 5" barrel and it's wear. The gun was used extensively in USPSA matches over the course of approx. 15 yrs. Ammunition used was either factory jacketed hardball or comparable handloads. All ammunition was jacketed and subsonic(very modest pressure). I didn't say the barrel was worn out, just that it was losing velocity vs. original performance. This is important to USPSA shooters since we must meet required minimum velocity to maximize scores. The gun I referred to is still serviceable.

We throw around the phrase "worn out" loosely in this thread. What is the definition of "worn out"?

There is a general attitude that revolvers were all made to shoot lead bullets. Interestingly, Model 1917 revolvers were expected to shoot 230 gr hardball when they were produced.

I have no way to respond to barrel/cylinder gap changes since I have no data from when I first took the gun out of the box.
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Old 08-06-2017, 11:43 PM
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"There is a general attitude that revolvers were all made to shoot lead bullets. Interestingly, Model 1917 revolvers were expected to shoot 230 gr hardball when they were produced."

True enough, but in 1917 there would have been very little experience in firing FMJ bullets in a revolver to know if bore wear would have been a problem or not. I can't think of any military FMJ bullets anywhere being used in revolvers at that time. Of course the German Luger and Mauser pistols were using FMJ bullets, as well as the U. S. M1911, but those were in semiautomatics, and I know nothing about their barrel metallurgy. Every Colt M1917 barrel I have seen has very light rifling. Whether they were made with very shallow grooves or resulted from firing jacked bullets in quantity I have no idea. I also have a 1920s M1911 barrel with its rifling visually in about the same condition.

Last edited by DWalt; 08-06-2017 at 11:44 PM.
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Old 08-07-2017, 01:32 AM
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Default Temperature...

I'm winging this, but the temperature in the chamber and barrel comes from two sources. The temperature of the burning of the powder and the thousands of pounds of pressure that it develops. (remember the hot bicycle pump?) Higher pressure loads generate higher temperatures, which surely leads to more rapid erosion.

Fighter plane's machine gun barrels would only be good for a few thousand rounds before they would be burned out. Even in the field with more tame ammunition, machine gun barrels have a short life.
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Old 08-07-2017, 02:45 AM
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I have a 686 which has had the forcing cone area roughly doubled in length after quite a bit of competition use using FMJ bullets. Still shoots well enough for DA work.

My various .44s show no signs of wear after many thousands of rounds of swaged lead using powder charges over 20 grains!
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Old 08-07-2017, 04:17 AM
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Default 20 grains?

Quote:
Originally Posted by jaymoore View Post
I have a 686 which has had the forcing cone area roughly doubled in length after quite a bit of competition use using FMJ bullets. Still shoots well enough for DA work.

My various .44s show no signs of wear after many thousands of rounds of swaged lead using powder charges over 20 grains!
20 grains of what powder? I shot thousands of swaged bullets through my model 10 and the dealer that sold it for me said it didn't look like it was used anywhere near that.
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:01 AM
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Hello Forum;

I don't know much about rifle or pistol barrel wash-out, wear, whatever you want to call it, but I do remember my time on the Army rifle team and in between matches we would sit around the arms room with a visiting Division level Master Armorer who would go through our M-14's like he was the original inventor. We would get whatever replacement or spruce up, fine tune parts he felt would give is any miniscule advantage.

What I also remember very well was the "stacks", literally stacks, awaiting large wooden crates for shipment back to CONUS, of Browning M2 .50 Cal. Machine gun barrels. Every M-113 APC had one of those guns, most trucks in a ring mount, and the Heavy Weapons Platoons, had one with tripod too. So probably thousands of barrels and I remember him saying they were so far gone they would be rendered into scrap and were just being sent back to be properly scrapped in lieu of some foreign "bad guys" getting hold of them.

Like an above poster said....at least machine gun barrels with high rates of fire (remember you dang well better have the issued hot mitt if you needed to change that M2 barrel on the fly)..........certainly do wear out.
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Old 08-07-2017, 08:34 AM
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While they are not handguns, I have inspected many heavily used M16A2 barrels using a borescope. Even though plated, the bore walls, especially ahead of the chamber, resemble nothing so much as cracked dried-out mud in a riverbed.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:00 AM
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I suspect heat has a lot to do with wear. Not having a chance to cool down metal will wear faster. I don't personally shoot that fast, usually 3 seconds between shots at my fastest. I doubt I'll wear out any barrels.
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Old 08-07-2017, 09:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gun 4 Fun View Post
I have had this conversation with my friend, 29aholic (Curtis) on the phone.

I know it hurts peoples egos to think that their beloved Smith .44 could have a flaw, but they did, and you guys are missing the point here.

Pearce was saying that the barrel steel of those particular era guns were designed for lead. I have that article and have sent it ot a lot of guys on this forum.

Pearce is about the best writer going these days, and is extremely knowledgeable about anything to do with guns. It wouldn't take a lifetime of shooting, or a gunwriters supply of ammo to wear out a barrel that was designed for lead bullets. Early .44 magnum ammo was loaded with gaschecked lead buulets. The wear issue with those guns has nothing to do with pressure. It has to do with barrel steel hardness. When Smith realized that guys were actually going to shoot their new .44's more than a box or two a year, they termpered the barrel steel to last longer.

If anyone wants that article, I can send them a PDF containing it.
I don't doubt the writer says this, but I do doubt steel being heat treated for lead rather then copper. I also question where the writer got this information... but on a high note - even if you were to shoot out a 4 screw 29 barrel, someone would still buy the gun! The Mohs hardness scale rates lead at 1.5, copper at 3 and steel at 4 - 4.5. It's not the friction of the material so it must be the heat generated by firing and primers / powder are the wear culprit.

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Old 08-07-2017, 11:34 AM
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i could see this as being a valid concern in the 1930's or 40's but we've been firing jacketed bullets for over 100 years now. If your pistol barrel wears out before the gun does it was a manufacturing defect.
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:26 PM
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No one has mentioned that older (around WW I) S&W box lids said that their guns were meant for lead bullets. That does suggest that they knew even then that jacketed bullets wore barrels faster.

M-1917 barrels are rifled to handle jacketed GI .45 ammo. But the guns were meant for emergency war supplements to Colt autos,and no one was concerned that they would eventually wear more than with lead bullets.The guns would certainly long outlast the war!

How many rounds were in a case of that ammo that Elmer ordered from the Natl. Guard? How much shooting did he do? A BUNCH! I wouldn't be surprised if a "case" of ammo meant 5,000 rounds!

I've never worn a barrel and I've shot many jacketed rounds.

In rifles, with much higher velocities, we do see worn barrel throats after maybe 5,000 rounds. The small bore magnums with large case capacity wear faster than those shooting bullets at lower speeds.

Roy Weatherby said that his barrels would last as well as most hunters needed, if sighted-in and then shot mainly at live game.
Weatherby magnums are not target or plinking rifles. They are for killing animals.

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Old 08-07-2017, 07:38 PM
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If you cut a jacketed bullet open or shoot one into wet sand it's a copper steel coated jacket. There's no way that a soft copper jacket is going to wear out a hardened steel barrel. I did a lot of wet sand ballastics testing and found out every copper coated bullet has a thin steel jacket.

Now I use moly coated leadcast bullets. I do not wash the moly out of the barrel. I run some full power jacketed bullets at the end of the shoot just to keep the feel of the full power loads. The moly eliminates wear of the forcing cone and barrel.
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:54 PM
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"How many rounds were in a case of that ammo that Elmer ordered from the Natl. Guard? How much shooting did he do? A BUNCH! I wouldn't be surprised if a "case" of ammo meant 5,000 rounds!"

IIRC, a case of .45 ACP ammo was indeed 5,000 rounds.
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Old 08-07-2017, 07:57 PM
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The M9 I was issued to take to Afghanistan seemed to me to have a worn barrel. The first half inch or so after the forcing cone looked washed out, and the accuracy was less than I had come to expect from other M9 pistols I had shot. Of course I have no idea how many rounds had gone down the barrel before I got it!
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