Today it is relatively common to see a rifle with a carbon fiber wrapped barrel, especially on rifles where weight is critical. In a previous blog post “Carbon Fiber Added” we went over some of the ways carbon fiber is utilized in hunting & shooting sports. Carbon fiber is a very strong material and when utilized properly can increase the tensile strength and stiffness of a component. Carbon fiber is also very lightweight which lends itself for use in many high end applications. These positive attributes cost money and you will notice components that utilize carbon fiber often come with a premium price tag.
Helix 6 Precision was very gracious and sent us one of their 6mm carbon fiber wrapped barrel blanks. We always jump at the opportunity to try new components first hand. The knowledge gained allows us to help our clients make informed decisions. We initially chambered the barrel with our custom 6mm Creedmoor reamer for a Terminus Zeus action. The combination has produced many excellent shooting barrels for us using Federal Premium 105 gr. ammunition. Our initial testing showed potential but we were seeing an average accuracy of ~3/4 MOA. We then re-chambered the barrel with a SAAMI spec. 6mm Creedmoor reamer so we could test a larger sampling of factory ammunition. We also re-machined the barrel to fit a Falkor 7EVEN action. Below are the results after re-testing with Federal Premium 105 gr. ammunition. We also tested Hornady 108 ELD-M ammunition.
Federal Premium 105 Berger Hybrid ammunition:
- Average velocity 3,060 fps
- Standard deviation 8.9 fps
- Average accuracy: 0.5375 MOA (4 five round groups)
Hornady Match 108 ELD-M ammunition:
- Average velocity 3,041 fps
- Standard deviation 13.7 fps
- Accuracy: 0.44 MOA (1 five round group)
The Helix 6 Precision barrel definitely prefers a SAAMI chamber and produces excellent results with both Federal & Hornady ammunition. We expect a little more speed by the time we have 200 rounds down the barrel. When machining the Helix 6 barrel we really liked how you can cut them to length and machine the carbon fiber to produce the muzzle shoulder. We finished the barrel at 25″ and suggest wearing respiratory PPE in addition to keeping the shop vac handy as it produces some nasty dust, but the flexibility is greatly appreciated (you can also run coolant to reduce dust from the carbon fiber). That flexibility does come at a cost and you are limited to 1/2″x28 tpi or 5/8″x24 tpi muzzle threads. We are accustom to having to order carbon fiber wrapped barrel blanks in specific lengths. We have the most experience with Proof Research carbon fiber wrapped barrels.
We generally reserve carbon fiber wrapped barrels for hunting rifles. This is due to the weight savings and increased cost of the barrel blank. Hunting rifles usually see less volume than our competition, or semi-auto rifles but that doesn’t mean the accuracy demands are any lower. Helix 6 Precision barrels feature hand lapped bores, high carbon fiber/low resin ratio and harmonic dampening via their unique carbon fiber lay up design. Helix 6 Precision carbon fiber wrapped barrels are also 50% lighter than a steel barrel of the same contour.
Now that we have a solid idea of what the barrel is doing we can move forward with utilizing the rifle during our December cow elk hunt. The 6mm Creedmoor cartridge and projectiles we’re utilizing today have made some evolutionary leaps forward compared to the .243 Winchester and 80 gr. Core-Lokt’s of our childhoods. Modern high BC hunting bullets and increased speed from efficient cartridges make for some soft recoiling big game rifles. We are in no way encouraging people to take risky shots or inhumanly harvest large game animals, but if you run the numbers and can close some distant you don’t always need a mega-magnum. We have given the 6mm Creedmoor hunting rifle the nickname “Fudd Snubber” because of the reaction we get from people. Follow us on Instagram (@dmr_llc) for updates this winter!