There are several different factors that can contribute to barrel wear. Firing multiple rounds in quick succession? All of that heat and friction is going to wear out your barrel quicker than if it cools down after every round.

Firing a lot of match-grade ammunition? While the softer wax minimises the effects of chambering, the thicker, stickier residue builds up in chamber affecting your accuracy.

The factors that affect your barrel’s lifespan are so numerous, it’s almost impossible to list them all. The make of your barrel, how carefully you maintain it and selecting ammunition that’s suitable are all important factors.

So, how can you tell when it’s time to replace your barrel? Thomas Peterson from Insite Arms gives us his advice. The simple answer: when your gun is no longer firing accurately enough.

Do you use your gun primarily for casual target practice or hunting? You may find you never need to replace your barrel. The reason for this is simple. You don’t need as much accuracy as a precision shooter does. You might be able to fire tens of thousands of rounds from your barrel without seeing enough decline in accuracy to bother replacing your barrel.

That doesn’t, however, mean you won’t see some decline in accuracy – it just means that accuracy is less important for you.

For instance, if you’re a competitive precision shooter, even .5 MOA might be a sign that you need to replace your barrel. If you’ve found your barrel is so worn that it’s decreased your accuracy to the point that shooting your preferred targets is no longer viable, it’s time to replace it.

Now, replacing a barrel could potentially be an expensive proposition. Before you go down that route, consider all of the other things that might be affecting your accuracy.

  • Your scope might be misaligned or broken
  • There could be significant wind
  • The crown could be deformed
  • You could just be having a bad day

In order to confirm that it’s your barrel that’s having problems, you’ll need to run tests. That’s going to mean a lot of shooting, but it is well worth it for the money you’ll save if you don’t need to replace your barrel.

In summary, there are multiple factors that can affect barrel wear. How much barrel wear affects your shooting depends heavily on what kind of shooting you’re doing. Firing match-grade ammo for competition practice can be a lot of fun but you need a good cleaning regime. Rapid fire shooting can be a lot of fun as well. However, just be aware that they may affect how long your barrel’s life is.