When it comes your next 3-Gun rifle build, start with an accurate barrel to get the most out of your long-range shooting
By Bobby Walla
What is the heart of a 3-gun rifle? Many people could have varying opinions, but mine is the barrel. If you buy or build your rifle, the things you want it to have are: good quality internals, good trigger, and barrel. There’s tons of “add-ons” you can plug and play, but a lot of the time when people start changing things around they lose the reliability factor, which is so important, especially under 3GN rules, where we score time plus penalties. If you have the three previously mentioned parts, you can win a national championship … if you put in the work.
I’d like to preface this article by saying the barrels I am discussing are NOT the only quality barrels on the market! This write-up is going to cover three barrels that I have had great success with over the years. The main things people want to know when shopping for a barrel are accuracy, weight, and “how much is it going to cost me.” What is nice about these three are they are ALL very accurate barrels In different price points and options, so you can best weigh out the pros and cons when you’re selecting a barrel for your build or replacing a barrel you toasted out by practicing so much (hopefully).
The first company we are going to discuss is Rosco Manufacturing. You may not have known about Rosco until the last few years, but they have been in the game for quite some time. Rosco has been doing OEM manufacturing for various companies and just recently started to make a push into the commercial side of the house.
My first barrel from Rosco was its 16-inch .223 Wylde from the Purebred line. This comes with a 1:8 twist and a mid-length .750-inch gas port. The Purebred comes in a matte silver finish that is really attractive, especially sitting under an all-black rifle and a nickel boron barrel extension. The barrel weighs in at 2 pounds, or 27.82 ounces
The Rosco barrel was the only one of three to like the 75-grain ammo more when it came to accuracy. With the Sierra 77-grain, I was around 1.15-inches with three-round groups. I’m not the best precision shooter, so this could have also been the shooter not doing his part. The 75-grain Hornady produced a .94-inch group, which was what I expected from the information I learned about their extensive testing and quality control. You can pick up the Purebred for $195!
Columbia River Arms
The next to talk about is Columbia River Arms, a long-time sponsor and supporter of 3-Gun Nation! This past season they stepped up in a big way as well with their Club Series Program! Every club that completed the necessary requirements received a barrel to use at their discretion. Carl Caudle has really created a great brand over the years! He put a lot of time in working on his special “twist,” pun intended. The rifling is renowned to increase velocity, shoots pretty much every bullet weight well, and obviously … delivers increased accuracy. When shopping at Columbia River, they offer the full gamut when it comes to designing your barrel from twist rate, profiling, and gas length.
The barrel I used was one I actually had won at 3GN Nationals a few years prior and it actually now is labeled as the “Official Barrel of 3GN.” It is a 16-inch .223 Wylde, mid-length with 1:8 twist. They use a peened black finish, and it weighs in at 1.6 pounds.
Like in their advertising, they were true to their word. The 77-grain Sierras definitely shot more accurately, but it was marginal. My average group with the 77’s was .96-inch and the 75’s was a .93-inch, respectively. Suggested retail on the barrel is $299.
Finally, We will take a look at the Proof Research 18-inch carbon-fiber (CF) wrapped barrel that came standard in the $1,800 Caracal Versus. Proof has become thought of as a “Ferrari” when talking about barrels. They use a hybrid design of steel and carbon-fiber. The science behind the CF is to disperse heat more effectively and reduce weight, all while producing top-tier accuracy. The barrel that comes standard In the Caracal is an 18-inch, rifle-length gas and weighs 1 pound, 15 ounces. But comparing 16-inch barrels, they offer a mid-length and intermediate gas-length options. The 16-inch barrel weighs in at 1 pound, 11 ounces.
Like the Columbia River, the Proof liked the 77-grain Sierras better, and the spread between the groups was actually the largest. I’m not 100 percent sure if it was the barrel or me just getting tired. My best group with the 75-grain Hornadys was 1.21-inches while my average group with the 77-grain Sierras was .92-inch. The Proof is the priciest of the three barrels, retailing at $920.
The goal of this article was to be non-biased and informative, and interestingly, each of the three test barrels falls into different price points, enabling shooters to select a model based on their budget. Regardless, all of the barrels are EXTREMELY accurate, and you will be well served for thousands and thousands of rounds through either of the three.
When it comes to seeing improvement, I always recommend pass on the accessories and spend the money on practice if you are on a budget, which most of us are. Choose good internal parts, a quality trigger, and an accurate barrel, and go put time in on the range. Rifles are easy to shoot in the grand scheme of things, especially in bay matches, where accuracy is not king, but reliability is. Where most people drop time or placements is when it comes to what we call “long-range,” which is typically considered 200-600 yards. These shots are when the accuracy of the barrel, knowing your ammo, knowing your holds with the optic, and having a good trigger to decrease variables, comes into play!