Barrel Life and The Cost of Shooting
Short Barrel Life Can DOUBLE Your True Cost Per Shot

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You Should Include Barrel Costs in Your Shooting Budget
How much does it cost you to send a round downrange? Ask most shooters this question and they'll start adding up the cost of components: bullets, powder, and primers. Then they'll figure in the cost of brass, divided by the number of times the cases are reloaded.

For a 6BR shooting match bullets, match primers, and 30 grains of powder, in brass reloaded a dozen times, this basic calculation gives us a cost per shot of $0.46 (forty-six cents):

Bullet $0.30 (Berger 105 VLD)
Primer $0.03 (Fed 205m)
Powder $0.08 (Varget @ $18.00/lb)
Brass $0.05 (Lapua priced at $60/100, 12 reloads)

Total $0.46 per round

OK, we've seen that it costs about $0.46 per round to shoot a 6BR. Right?

Wrong! -- What if we told you that your ACTUAL cost per round might be closer to double that number? How can that be? Well... you haven't accounted for the cost of your barrel.

Actual Costs per Round Can Exceed $1.00 per Shot
Every round you fire expends some of the barrel's finite life. If, like some short-range PPC shooters, you replace barrels every 700 or 800 rounds, you need to add $0.60 to $0.70 per round for "barrel cost." That can effectively double your cost per round, raising it well past the $1.00 per shot mark.

Calculating Barrel Cost Per Shot
In the table below, we calculate your barrel cost per shot, based on various expected barrel lifespans.

As noted above, a PPC barrel is typically replaced at 700-800 rounds. A 6.5-284 barrel can last 1,300+ rounds, but it might need replacement after 1,000 rounds or less. A 6BR barrel should give 2,200-3,000 rounds of accurate life, and a .308 Win barrel could remain competitive for 4,000 rounds or more.



The table above shows your barrel cost per shot, based on various "useful lives." We assume that a barrel costs $500.00 total to replace. This includes $300.00 for the barrel itself, $160.00 for chambering/fitting, and $40.00 in 2-way shipping costs. Yes, you may have a smith that works for less, but these are typical costs shooters pay for a new premium barrel, chambered and fitted.

The numbers are interesting...

If you get 2,000 rounds on your barrel instead of 1,000, you save $0.25 per shot.

However, extending barrel life from 2,000 to 3,000 rounds only saves you $0.08 per round.


NOTE: We assume component costs of $0.46 per round based on our 6BR example. If you shoot a larger caliber that burns more powder, and uses more expensive bullets and/or brass, your total cost per round will be higher.



How to Reduce Your TRUE Cost per Round

What does this tell us? First, in figuring your annual shooting budget, you need to consider the true cost per round, including barrel cost. Second, if you want to keep your true costs under control, you need to look at ways to extend your barrel life. This can be accomplished in many ways.

You may find that switching to a different powder reduces throat erosion. Moving to a powder with a slower burn rate sometimes reduces throat wear.

If you're able to slow down your shooting pace, this can reduce barrel heat, which can extend barrel life. (A varminter in the field is well-advised to switch rifles, or switch barrels, when the barrel gets very hot from extended shot strings.)

Modifying your cleaning methods can also extend the life of your barrel. Use solvents that reduce the need for aggressive brushing, and try to minimize the use of abrasives. Also, always use a properly fitting bore guide. Many barrels have been prematurely worn out from improper cleaning techniques.

"Re-Furbish" your barrel. Often a barrel that seems "shot out" still has 1000 or more rounds of good, accurate life left. You can re-crown the barrel, and have the chamber set back. You may lose an inch or more of barrel length in the set-back process, but that can dramatically extend barrel life. A simple re-crowning can also bring back accuracy to a barrel.

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