Performance Enhancing Drugs for the Precision Rifle… Wait, what???

OK…  Kristofer S. and I were kicking around cryo barrel treatment last night and it led into a discussion I rarely have on facebook, but was of great value.  See the oxymoron there?  LOL…

Most are familiar with cryo treatment.  For those of you that aren’t, cryo treatment is essentially dropping the temp on a barrel blank to a very low degree.  Often as much or more than -300F.  The premise is the stick will be relieved of stress through tempering.  This is supposed to lead to more consistency shot to shot.  That’s all any accuracy enhancement really is essentially.

The discussion we briefly held then morphed into things like carbon wrapping barrels, etc. to enhance performance.  My response to these things is simple.  Prove it.

I hear grand claims often.  And even if I doubt them, there is the very real possibility things such as these are minor or even major gains in performance.  But…  In a world where gunsmiths are variables and not constants, I’d like to rely on a little more.

Proof reached out to me to try some of their carbon wrapped barrels.  I was flattered and tickled they wanted to send me a few blanks at no cost to build up.  I thought this sounded like a great opportunity to build a demo rifle.  You know, something that I could let customers shoot when we hold range days.  Needless to say I was excited.

When the claims of the salesperson who contacted me over the phone reached a fever pitch, I asked how they quantified all the hype.  Silence.  I suggested we prove it.  I was willing to help.  So I said, send me a couple of virgin blanks, I’ll chamber them in a pooch chambering like 308 match, foul them, clean them, shoot 20 5shot groups, and then send it back to Proof so they could relieve the blank and carbon wrap it.  I’d then reinstall it on the same action and shoot another 20 5shot groups and compare.

Granted, this isn’t as scientific as it should be, but if I did the smithing, and used a chambering not known for being hard on throats but still had plenty of match ammo available, along with only changing the barrel with/without carbon, we should have at least some small inclination as to whether the carbon wrapping really made a measurable impact.


I never got a return phone call and they never sent the blanks.  They also didn’t send the AR15 complete barrels they committed to on an earlier call.  Don’t get me wrong.  I’m not upset with Proof.  I don’t care about a bunch of ‘free’ stuff that actually costs me time and money.  After all, I was on the hook for a high dollar action, stock, complete set up, and optics along with ammo to make this work, so it wasn’t like somebody handed me a $6K rig to play with…  LOL.  Still, I’ll admit freely I was put off by the fact that when I was simply analytical with them and asked some basic questions I’d assume any true rifle smith would ask that the faucet was shut off.

In summary, there is a great deal of merit in trying new things and pushing back the envelope in the name of accuracy and performance.  Most people trudge along and do today what others did yesterday, so I have a profound respect for folks who innovate.  I also see performance enhancing tiny bottles of energy at every checkout line in America.  I see a “performance enhancing” fill in the blank for everything under the sun.  So I hold a healthy skepticism, as should we all, when it comes to things like this.

Are things like cryo and carbon the future?  Possibly.  I’d submit to you all however, even if cryo, carbon, and other things can slightly potentially elevate the accuracy of a weapon, they’re still only “potential” gains folks.  If the guy running the reamer is a moron, it won’t matter that you spent $1K on a really great barrel blank…  So keep it in perspective.

Shoot well my friends, and shoot often…