How many kinds of rifle barrels are there? If you ask most casual rifle owners and even some professionals, they will tell you that there are two main ones. Custom-fitted barrels are designed by gunsmiths for individual guns, with no two being identical. Pre-fit barrels have much broader applications. Rather than fitting with the specs of a single instrument, they are chambered, threaded, and manufactured to fit any gun of a certain model.
This dichotomy seems simple enough, but only because it leaves out the diversity of pre-fit barrels. There are at least four different types, each with their own advantages and disadvantages. We will explore each one in greater detail within this article. That way, you can determine which kind most closely matches your personality and fits your needs.
Why Use Pre-Fit Barrels at All?
Here is a fun history fact: at the dawn of the Industrial Revolution, people prized factory-made products for their consistency and low costs. As a result, they viewed handmade products from artisans as relics from an older time. Manufactured items have long since become the norm, which means they have lost some of their excitement from the early days. People may benefit greatly not from choosing one type of product over the other, but rather from recognizing the value in both.
Custom fitting is basically the artisanal approach to creating a barrel for your rifle. The smith measures the most minute details of the gun — its chamber size, the thread fit, everything. Then, they craft a singular barrel that slots perfectly into the action.
The problem with uniquely crafted items is that they are nontransferable. That fancy new barrel will not be able to fit any other rifle, which would be a waste if something happens to said rifle. Additionally, the expertise required to make a custom barrel may prove quite pricy. The crafting process can also require months of labor.
On the other hand, you can buy a pre-fit barrel right now. It should fit well enough and still get an excellent performance from your weapon. Pre-fit barrels of the highest quality can be virtually indistinguishable from a well-made custom barrel. All you have to do is make sure that the barrel you choose fits the specs of your rifle’s model.
On top of all that, it costs much less than a custom-fitted barrel, and a layperson can install it themselves without need for an expert. There are plenty of good reasons for using pre-fit barrels, which is why plenty of professionals use them.
The Four Major Types of Pre-Fit Barrels
We already mentioned that anyone who wants a pre-fit barrel must know the measurements of their rifle. In addition to this, they may also want to learn about the different options available to them. For your convenience, we will provide in-depth information on the four main types below:
- Shouldered Barrels
When you load a cartridge into a rifle and close the bolt, a little gap remains between its base and the breechface. This space is known as the headspace, and its length may vary among different kinds of actions. People need to consider this factor when choosing or commissioning a barrel.
The good thing about shouldered pre-fit barrels is that they already come “pre-headspaced” for a specific action. It should result in a chamber that is just the right amount of tight. Moreover, taking care of this and other aspects in advance makes them easier to install.
- Barrel Nut Pre-Fits
Barrel nut pre-fit barrels have a similar design to shouldered barrels. The main difference is apparent in the name: its construction includes a barrel nut. Rifle owners use this component to handle the headspacing themselves, which adds another step to the installation process.
On the plus side, the barrel nut’s presence allows users to adjust this setting to their liking, rather than hoping that it fits perfectly. The barrel itself is still pretty easy to install, and the performance is just about the same as with a shouldered barrel. In short, it is great for hobbyists who like having both convenience and control over their experience.
- Savage Barrel Nut Barrels
Savage Arms is a Massachusetts-based manufacturer with a reputation for producing excellent rifles and shotguns. The Savage barrel nut pre-fit barrel is a variant on the barrel nut pre-fit, but without a shoulder. Rifle owners who want to use it must measure the shanks first. Then, they must screw it into a gage before tightening the barrel nut.
This type of barrel is tailored to the brand’s actions. With that said, gun enthusiasts do like to get creative. Plenty of people have attached Savage barrel nut pre-fits onto Remington actions — a hybrid nicknamed “Remage” — and found satisfaction in the results.
- Ruger Precision Barrels
Sturm, Ruger & Co., Inc. — better known by the less confusing abbreviation Ruger — is a fellow New England manufacturer, headquartered in Connecticut. It is America’s largest manufacturer of firearms, so naturally, it has its own special pre-fit barrel for its rifle actions.
Ruger’s take on the pre-fit barrel concept features a barrel nut shoulder that is built into the part. You can use it to adjust the headspace until it is just right in your view. Then, you can quickly thread it into the receiver and start enjoying the rifle.
Pre-Fit Barrels at OTM Tactical
Each of the four kinds of pre-fit barrels have their own benefits and unique qualities. No matter which type you choose, you can find a product that perfectly suits your rifle model and enhances its power and accuracy. In fact, you can locate great examples of pre-fit barrels from top manufacturers right here at OTM Tactical.
Our online superstore was created by shooting professionals for shooting professionals, as well as enthusiasts who aspire to their level. We only provide the kinds of pre-fit barrels and other rifle parts that we would use in competition or on the range. Check out our top-tier selection of tools and equipment today, so you can discover the greatness of pre-fit barrels for yourself.